WHO ARE THEY?
The Order of the Minims, founded by St. Francis of Paola, is a religious institute of solemn vows. It is modeled on Christ who “gave up all he had, and assumed the nature of the servant”, and on His teaching: “Unless you change and become like a little child, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Following this way and the invitation of Christ, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me”, the Order in humility and penance pursues its final goal which is the attainment of perfect charity. The members strive to give daily witness to evangelical penance by embracing a perpetual Lenten life style which demands a total conversion to God, loving participation in Christ’s expiation of the sins of the human race, and an urgent recall to penance. This commitment requires the practice of charity, love of prayer and an intense asceticism.
In origin the Minim religious are hermits. In addition to reviving the spirituality of the desert fathers, they have succeeded in joining contemplation with action.
THEIR CONSECRATED LIFE
Through the vows of chastity, poverty, obedience and commitment to a perpetual Lenten life-style, the Minims live the charism of evangelical penance. By means of ‘consecrated chastity’ they give witness to that preferential love for the Lord who loves with an undivided love. Integral to the poverty they profess their activity includes significant physical labor. By means of the vow of obedience, they follow the example of Christ by offering themselves and their wills to God. Obeying with an attitude of humility and respect, they submit themselves to the will of their superiors who act as representatives of God.
Unique to the Minim Order is the fourth religious vow whereby the members commit themselves to live a perpetual Lenten lifestyle. The spirit of this vow consists in embracing the penitential demands of the holy season of Lent in a permanent manner so that the Minims live a perpetual, yearlong and lifelong Lenten life-style. This extraordinary commitment, characteristic of the Minims, entails a total conversion of the mind, heart and life to God. Through this lifelong spirit of mortification the Minims strive to unite themselves more intimately to the atonement and redemptive work of Christ.
Part of the practice of this vow entails perpetual abstinence, inside and outside the monastery, from meat and their by-products. This practice may be extended for those who wish to refrain from dairy products and eggs. Such a diet may be dispensed with a doctor’s prescription and with the permission of the superior. If, in particular circumstances, it is difficult to observe the Lenten diet outside the monastery, the religious can take nourishment of any food. In such cases of dispensation an appropriate substitution of some other form of mortification may be enjoined to keep the spirit of this penitential commitment.
Embracing voluntarily and with love “this spiritual life, humbly and penitently”, one should observe it with joy, mindful “of being committed to a religious yoke that is truly sweet”.
Perseverance in prayer is at the heart of the religious commitment of the Minims. Celebration of the divine praises and constant intercession for the needs of their brethren form the substance of the Minims prayer life.
The Minim religious perpetuate in the Church the spirit and the practices of Lent in preparation for the heavenly Easter. They live the Liturgy as a source of spiritual, personal and communal growth. The Liturgy of the Hours is celebrated in common each day.
The practice of ‘strict silence’ is a necessary condition for developing an intimate relation with God. Such periods of silence are integral to the Minims life style. They are prized as offering signs of the penitential spirit of the Order and are observed with particular care in time of prayer, study and rest.
The love of God gives unity to the entire religious life and enhances fraternal life in the community. Each religious must adapt himself to the common life and be zealous for the welfare for the brothers with self denial and a spirit of sacrifice.
The primary apostolate of the Minim religious consists in the witness of their consecrated life, evidenced above all through their dedication to prayer and penance. The Minim priest, as desired by the Holy Founder, should commit himself in a particular way to the proclamation of the Word and the ministry of Reconciliation.
The Order may also assume the pastoral care of parishes. This must be done in a way which safeguards the nature of its charism and permits fidelity to the special calling of the members.
VOCATION AND FORMATION
The vocation to the Order of the Minims is a call to follow Christ ‘in the radical evangelical mode’ expressed in the demands of the perpetual Lenten life-style, that ‘great penance undertaken for love of God and of the brethren.’ A proper formation for this unique calling is of paramount importance for the individual religious and for the life of the Order. This formation is particularly carried out in three areas of education – prayer, study and self-discipline.
The young or adult aspirants have their first experience of the Minim vocation in a ‘House of Welcome’ for a period of time, and then they make their pre-novitiate.
For admission the candidate is required to present the documents of birth, baptism, confirmation, non-marital status, certificates of studies (with latest scholastic marks), medical certificate of good health and the testimony to his good morals from his parish priest.
The Novitiate is best described as a ‘school of faith’ where the novice and his formation superiors discern whether or not God calls him to live the vocation of the Minims. He commits himself to grow in fidelity to such a call, to study and imitate the Holy Founder and to live according to the spirit of the Lenten life-style to which all minims by vow bind themselves.
PROFESSION OF VOWS
The novice admitted to profession pronounces the temporary vows of perfect chastity, voluntary poverty, obedience and his embrace of a perpetual Lenten life-style. The duration of the profession of temporary vows is five years. The vows are renewed each year for the first three years and once for the final two years.
At the end of five years of temporary vows, the candidate who has demonstrated adequate spiritual and human maturity to his superiors and community may be admitted to the profession of solemn vows. This solemn profession binds the member to the Minim religious for life – this life and the next.
Minim Brothers are those who consecrate themselves to God, binding themselves to live the life of a Minim religious after the model proposed by the Founder. Like him, they do not aspire to the priesthood, but profess the same Holy Rule as the others, both clerical and non-clerical. As willing collaborators to the religious clergy, they are committed to assist in the domestic duties of the religious community.