Following is a Booklet on the Order of Eden Franciscans
My Father’s House Retreat Center, Moodus, CT
& St. Michael’s Parish, Brattleboro, VT
This OEF group of domestic (lay, secular) followers in the Franciscans and Carmelites which has some married, and some single, who gather once a month as an OEF covenant and fraternity community and use social media to meet as well.
More books have been written about St. Francis of Assisi than about any other saint. He is the patron Saint of peace, the patron Saint of ecology, the patron Saint of Italy and the patron Saint of animals. St. Francis of Assisi and St. Theresa of Lisieux are two of the most popular Saints.
The Franciscan Family, as one among many spiritual families recognize that they are called to follow Christ in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Clare of Assisi, St. Francis of Paola, St. Padre Pio, St. Therese of Lisieux who hold a special place in the Church’s family circle of devotions.
First Profession with Fr. Bill McCarthy,
Jim Tibbetts and 11 new members
We celebrate this by incorporating them into a unified devotional framework. This OEF group is not imposing a devotion but let’s everyone find their own personal devotion, for the purpose of growing in relationship with God. As a Covenant charismatic/ Franciscan community, developing into a religious Institute and public association we are following these Saints lifestyles and rules. This Franciscan, Carmelite, Minims blend of spirituality deepens a person’s spiritual lifestyle.
Led by the Spirit, they strive for perfect charity in their own domestic (secular or lay) state in a committed covenant community to serve the Lord and the Church.
Jesus told his disciples to bear his yoke together, in community too (Mt 11:29). In community, the Lord manifests his presence in the midst of his people (Mt 18:20).
OEF started at My Father’s House retreat center (MFH) which is located in Moodus, Connecticut. Its thrust is Catholic and ecumenical, charismatic, family and community. The spirituality centers on a personal relationship with Christ and since Jesus spent part of his time healing – likewise the OEF is a group of healing. Healing of the body and soul comes about through good nutrition, Christian teachings, meditation, relaxation, exercise, fun, prayer, forgiveness and an open heart for God’s grace and beauty to enter in. In my Father’s House there are many rooms as scripture notes. The Brattleboro, VT group, of OEF has a brother-sister relationship with the CT – OEF group at My Father’s House center.
St. Francis of Assisi, St. Francis of Paola and St. Padre Pio are three of the greatest miracle-working Saints in Italy and two had stigmata’s! Their life, rules, teachings and prayers are part of OESF vision.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; Where here is hatred, let me sow love; where there is discord, harmony; where there is injury, pardon; Where there is error, truth; where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
The Call to Sainthood (Holiness)
All people’s, especially Christians are called to Sainthood (to be holy). “You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” (Eph 2:19-20). Paul called all his fellow believers saints: (see Rom 12:13, 16:15; 1 Cor 16:1, 15; 2 Cor 1:1; Eph 1:1; Phil 1:1; 4:21-23; Phlm 5). (translations “saints” as “holy ones,” has the same meaning.) The term “communion of saints” refers to the bond of the living and dead in Christ. The “Mystical Body” is about this communion of Saints, which we are called to be Missionary Apostle’s of.
The Communion of Saints, is part of the charism of the OEF group. The main OEF Saints are; the Franciscans; St. Francis of Assisi Saints: St. Clare, St. Francis of Paolo and St. Padre Pio. Our Carmelite side; St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. John of the Cross. These are the three Mendicant Orders; Franciscan, Carmelite and Minims plus the Covenant Community.
The Institutes of Consecrated Life (Annuario Pontificio) has four categories: Canons Regular, Monastic Orders, Mendicant Orders and Clerics Regular. The OEF as a lay group are rooted in the Mendicant Orders: Franciscans, Carmelites and Minims.
Mary is the Mother of Jesus, Mother of the Eucharist, Mother of His Mystical Body, the three theological bodies; and Mother of the Order of Eden Franciscans. Devotion to Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Pentecost through the rosary, praise, tongues and meditation and other devotions is part of our charism. She is also the New Eve, the Daughter of Zion and Ark of the Covenant. This makes her the first in line in the Order of Eden, as the New Eve. Many Saints have followed her as the New Eve in her lifestyle. The Virgin Mary is the Queen of the Saints. Hail Mary Full of Grace!
St. Francis of Paolo, O.M. (1416-1507) learned from the Franciscan friars and then left, became a hermit and started his own Franciscan order. Later named them the Order of Mimni (OM). They lived on a strict diet (fruits, vegetables) and were mostly hermits. He lived in Italy and became one of the greatest healers and miracle working saints of all time. He raised the dead, walked on water, healed people with a simple herb or tea and started over 500 small home monasteries. He was one of over 150 canonized vegetarian Saints! He had a fourth vow: dietary discipline.
St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897) a French Carmelite; her simplicity and practicality of her approach to spiritual life became an influential model of sanctity and she is a Doctor of the Church. Together with St. Francis of Assisi, she is one of the most popular saints in the history of the Church. Pope Pius X called her “the greatest saint of modern times”. The Basilica of Lisieux is the second most popular place of pilgrimage in France after Lourdes. She read and absorbed the works of, St. John of the Cross including: The Ascent of Mount Carmel, the Way of Purification, the Spiritual Canticle, the Living Flame of Love. Passages from these writings are woven into everything she herself said and wrote. The OEF uses these in their contemplative orientation.
Contemplatives following St. Clare’s contemplative lifestyle that are our inspiration are, St. Benedict (the founder of the Benedictines, and later the Trappists) and St. Bruno (the founder of Carthusians) and St. Theophan the Recluse (Russian Orthodox Hermit) are also part of this comparative contemplative approach to get the best of these traditions for the OEF, and a hopefully future contemplative/ hermetical branch! Praise God! St. Benedict had monasteries each under their own authority; St. Bruno had hermits in a monastic setting and St. Theophan left being a Bishop and scholar of Jesus prayer, to become a Hermit and mystic.
The Order of Eden Franciscans (OEF) emphasize purification by teaching how to juice fast and about a lifestyle for health and healing, which encourages a pure (kosher) diet, healthy (plant-based, life food) diet; a yearly seven-day juice fast and a “Health & Healing” retreat at MFH. These can help heal degenerative diseases. At Vatican II in the document Lumen Gentium it states, “the Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.”
Uniqueness of the Order of Eden Franciscans
There are many Secular Order groups in the U.S. This group is unique in some of the things that it does, such as teachings, blending of the Carmelites and Franciscan; and the use of videos on these; and other things include:
1. Virgin Mary’s Privilege: It is the Virgin Mary’s privilege, analogically, to belong to an Order of Eden! The linage of Eve goes to Mary as Our Lady of Eden. The first prophecy (Gen 3:15) spoke of the woman (Mary) who with her Seed would repair the order of the fall in Eden. St. Jerome (300 AD) quotes: “Death through Eve; Life through Mary,” which is a theme picked up by St. Augustine and several other Church Fathers. Eden is the Garden of Life, a model for Health, Healing and Wholeness! In the east, the Greek fathers tended to focus on a return to Adam’s state in paradise: a recovery of the image and likeness of God (imago Dei) that had been lost in the fall. The Latin, or western, fathers also focused on a return to Adam’s previous condition, but they saw something more at work. Tertullian (ca. 160-220) was the first Church Father to express the belief that the Christian receives a fuller measure of grace than Adam received because Adam lived before Pentecost (i.e. Christ). The Order of Eden Franciscans are rooted in Eden (the beginnings) with the Virgin Mary as our model and guide.
2. Healing Body and Soul: Among the tasks Jesus gives to his apostles on their mission, he includes the healing of the sick (Mt 10:1, 5; Lk 9:1, 2; Mk 16:18). The Acts of the Apostles in fact narrates the therapeutic activity of Peter, Paul, and other disciples of Jesus (3:1; 4:9, 10, 14, 22, 30; 5:16; 8:7; 9:17, 18, 34; 14:8-10; 28:8, 9, 27; cf. 10:38). In addition, Paul mentions the chrism of healing (iasis) in 1 Corinthians 12:9, 28, 30. The OEF emphasize on prayer for healing (spiritually) and physiological (fasting and diet) types of healing for body and soul, especially for those with degenerative disease or long-term health issues. OEF is not a medical group but a spiritual group.
5. Ecology: St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of ecology; The Order of Eden Franciscans are concerned about the environment and about climate change. The diet and lifestyle make a difference to the climate. We have only one earth and need to take care of Mother Earth! Our Lifestyle seeks to benefit the earth, such as with diet. The food chain is one of the biggest problems, along with other technological issues.
8. We are a secular order community, a fraternity which can also be called a lay or domestic order who live out in covenant friendship in hermit community lifestyle. Pope Leo XIII, (a secular Franciscan) Christian perfection consists in “an exalted state of the soul in order to endure every difficulty and hardship … such a state requires rejection of worldliness, strict mastery of the self, resignation and self-control in adversity. And this practice of virtue,” he adds, “is exactly what St. Francis declared to be the foundation of his order.” There are nine Secular Franciscans who were Popes; thirty-Four secular Franciscans who have been proclaimed Saints; and thirty-two secular Franciscans have been beatified.
9. Entrance into the OESF – In the First Rule (1209) the time of probation is given for joining the Franciscan Order. “And when the candidate has returned, the minister should give him the habit of probation for one year.” … “When the year of probation has finished, the candidate should be received into obedience. … ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’ Lk 9:62” The first year or time period is as a candidate, then on the annual profession ceremony they are professed as an Associate in the Order of Eden Franciscan for a full year. At the next profession ceremony, they make their second profession to become a permanent member of this Franciscan based covenant community.
The Franciscan formation program strives to educate, inspire, and challenge individuals on their spiritual journey. The Lay Franciscan/ Carmelite formation has reading and DVD material for the Associates. A Consecration of Mary is in one session, other meeting sessions are on the Franciscan, Carmelite and related traditions. We also have discussion times and questions and answers, as part of the meetings which usually last only an hour. A monthly meeting is required, others are optional. A yearly retreat is highly recommended with the group! Pope Benedict XVI in God is Love (Deus Caritas Est:; “But this process is always open-ended; love is never ‘finished’ and complete; throughout life, it changes and matures, and thus remains faithful to itself.”
Are you curious about the Order of Eden Franciscans? Do you need support in your spiritual pilgrimage or a community? Do you think God may be calling you to follow the Gospel after the manner of some great saints like St. Francis of Assisi, St. Clare, St. Francis of Paola or St. Padre Pio; or St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross or St. Therese of Lisieux; St. Benedict or St. Bruno? Perhaps God is calling you? If you answer “yes” to questions like these, please join us at one of our monthly Order of Eden Fraternity Gatherings to look into it?
10. The Holy Mass – For the OEF the Holy Mass is not required daily but encouraged more than once a week, if possible. Many Saints besides St. Francis of Assisi encouraged this: “Therefore, I desperately plead with you, my worldly superiors, take time to set aside the cares and preoccupations that consume your attention, and receive the holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ with passion, remembering him and his holiness.”
The Divine Office and Rosary – This covenanted Franciscan group emphasizes nine forms of the divine office, one of these is suggested daily as part of belonging to this religious order:
(a). Standard Office; Liturgy of the Hours form;
(b). Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
(c). Franciscan Office from St. Francis,
(d). Rosary as Meditation (traditional),
(e). Rosary as Scriptural rosary (approved text by OESF),
(f). Rosary as Movement (walking, stretching format approved),
(g). Praise and Tongues (the original divine office),
(h). Jesus Prayer Meditation, (hermitical, private office),
(i). Professional Catholic Devotionals instead of above eight (for a temporary time, approved from the OEF leadership).
The Divine Office is encouraged at least once a day in one of the nine forms just mentioned, as the Spirit leads. The practice of saying the rosary instead of the Office is allowed, or just saying the Our Father. This is found in St. Francis of Assisi last writing The Testament (1226). The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary is at least once a week.
His Holiness Paul VI wrote his Apostolic Exhortation for the Right Ordering and Development of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary; (Marialis Cultus). “We wish now, venerable Brothers, to dwell for a moment on the renewal of the pious practice which has been called ‘the compendium of the entire Gospel’ the Rosary.” He and other Popes encouraged it!
11. Religious Habits and Penitential Garb
Wearing a religious habit or garb is not required, but it’s fun and devotional for those who want to wear one, especially during the monthly meetings. These are clothing like shawls or simple shirts for men that can be worn at events or other times. Tunics, hoods, meditation caps and vestments have a long religious history. In the Rule of 1289, Nicholas IV described the habit of the penitents thus: “They should wear a habit of plain and inexpensive cloth…” St. Francis was an expert in fabrics, fashions and clothing because of his family business, he encouraged devotional wear. There were various styles, colors in the beginning as new Friars came from all over.
12. Hermits in Community – Because many OEF live at a distance and can only come once a month to the gathering, the rest of the time they are OEF hermits in community; devoted to contemplation or ministry activities. We are a community of; Hermits of St. Francis of Assisi, like St. Francis of Paola’s order. Being integrated into a domestic religious Fraternity bringing in the Franciscan & Minims, Carmelite, Benedictine and Carthusian spiritual traditions; incorporating us into them! Praise God!
In Closing: St. Francis of Assisi calls the faithful to a life of penance, in the exhortation (The Letter to all the Faithful, p. 12), Francis describes the elements of the conversion process: 1) love of God; 2) love one’s neighbor; 3) turn away from our sinful tendencies;4) receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and, as a result of the above, 5) producing worthy fruits of penance – such as a renewed life characterized by charity, forgiveness and compassion toward others.
Francis speaks in ecstatic terms of those who embrace this way of life: “Oh, how happy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and persevere in doing them since the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon them and He will make His home and dwelling among them. They are children of the heavenly Father whose works they do, and they are spouses, brothers and mothers of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“In my Father’s house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you: because I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2
This booklet is an edit of the Order of Eden Franciscans Lifestyle and Structure. It is not part of the SFO or connected to the national Secular Franciscan Order or to the Padre Pio organization or to the Secular Carmelites! This is a domestic Franciscan, Carmelite, Minims covenant community. We use the spirituality, writings and rules of the three Mendicant Orders: Franciscans, the Carmelites, and Minims as an integrated whole. Adding the new fourth branch of Covenant Communities. These four are the foundations for the Order of Eden Franciscans. They are a merger of the four spiritualities! Praise God!
Come, visit us and ask questions and look into us! As O.T. scripture says; “there is something new under the sun.”