Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

Religious Brother

"Identity and Mission of the Religious Brother in the Church"
New Vatican document on brothers (click here)!

Published on December 14, 2015


All CFR Friars are called to be "friars minor", that is, "lesser brothers" after the example of Saint Francis himself. Out of these God calls some friars to serve at the holy altar; these are priests who live out the priestly vocation as Friars of the Renewal. Other friars are called to live as Religious Brothers, or more commonly known as “Lay Brothers". A lay brother is a friar who is consecrated to God through the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. It is in this consecration that the lay brother finds his identity. Because he is consecrated to God who is Lord and Father of all he in turn becomes a "brother" to all in the Body of Christ. Ultimately he is a witness to charity. Since our Lord wished to establish a unity of believers with love as its foundation now fraternal charity is the life breath to any authentic Christian living. The lay brother has as the focus of his lifestyle to live fraternal charity. Fraternal charity is, in essence, his vocation and this is the message his life preaches both silently, through countless acts of service, and verbally, as he encourages those around him to live a deeper love of God. His brotherhood is expressed in many ways and through many different apostolic works ranging from greeting people who pass him on the street or being porter at the friary to works such as being the Servant (superior) of a friary. He participates fully in the community's apostolates of hands on work with the poor and evangelization including but not limited to preaching. The lay brother, however, is especially blessed with being able to serve the other friars in community by "keeping the home fires burning". It is the emphasis on a life of service to the larger fraternity that often won the lay brother the reputation of being the "mother" of the community.  

The life of the lay brother is often seen as earmarked with a deep contemplative prayer life as traditionally his life is a rhythm of work and prayer. From prayer he finds the strength, guidance and foundation for the apostolic life of fraternal service. Most often the brothers find and serve Jesus through the "sacrament of the moment" that is the ordinary events of daily life and the people who surround him. The radical observance of the Holy Gospel is the goal of every lay brother and it is this reason that drives him to bring the presence of God and the good news of Christ to every situation and to every one he meets on the streets, in the alleys, in the friary, on the bus, and everywhere else. Very often he becomes like leaven in the dough, making everything rise to life with the love of God. It is only by drinking the living water of God in contemplation that he is able to do this. "Whoever does the will of my Father is brother, sister and mother to me." Mt 12:50

"The world you are inheriting is a world which desperately needs a new sense of brotherhood and human solidarity. It is a world which needs to be touched and healed by the beauty and richness of God's love. It needs witnesses to that love. It needs you to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world."

-Pope John Paul II at the Solemn Mass, World Youth Day, Toronto, July 28, 2002.