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 secular (lay, domestic) followers in the Franciscans and Carmelites is mostly married, some single, who gather once a month as an OEF covenant and fraternity community.
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
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 blend of spirituality deepens a person’s spiritual lifestyle.
Led by the Spirit, they strive for perfect charity in their own domestic (secular) state in a committed covenant community to serve the Lord.
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.
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!
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. Our monastic side of St. Clare’s convents 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 Bishop and Hermit: Jesus Prayer) are also part of this comparative contemplative approach to get the best of these traditions for the OEF.
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.
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., many are full of elderly and the groups are dying out. 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.
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.”
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:
1. Standard Office; Liturgy of the Hours form;
2. Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
3. Franciscan Office from St. Francis,
4. Rosary as Meditation (traditional),
5. Rosary as Scriptural rosary (approved text by OESF),
6. Rosary as Movement (walking, stretching format approved),
7. Praise and Tongues (the original divine office),
8. Jesus Prayer Meditation, (hermitical, private office),
9. Professional Catholic Devotionals instead of above eight
(for 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.
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), 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 covenant community. We use the spirituality, writings and rules of the Franciscans, the Carmelites, the Benedictines, the Carthusians and the charismatic Covenant communities.
Come, visit us and ask questions and look into us!
Peace to you, God Bless! For more information:
In CT contact; Theresa Root 860-798-9372,
In NH or VT contact; Jim Tibbetts 518-573-3105