The word "charism," from the Greek Charizesthai, means "gift" or "grace." Every religious order is a unique gift and grace to the Church. This charism is lived out in a particular “spirituality," a way of relating to God and serving his people. The Capuchin Franciscans have a unique charism and spirituality rooted in the life and example of St. Francis and the inspiration of the Capuchin Reform.
The fraternal Gospel life, living and praying together as lesser brothers, is the unifying identity of all Franciscans. The Capuchins, desiring to return to the original inspiration of St. Francis, stressed certain aspects which they viewed as central to an authentic living of this Gospel brotherhood. The Capuchin Constitutions define this unique identity as follows:
"Let us strive to give priority to a life of prayer, especially contemplative prayer, to cultivate, together with a spirit of minority, radical poverty, both personal and communal; and, out of love of the Lord’s cross, to manifest a life of austerity and joyful penance… While exercising among ourselves the freedom of brothers, let us joyfully live among the poor, the powerless and the weak, sharing their life, and let us maintain our special approach to people. In many ways, above all in the work of evangelization, let us promote an apostolic dynamism that is carried out in a spirit of service."
The unique charism and spirituality of the Capuchins takes its most concrete expression in the life and witness of the order’s many canonized saints. Among these incredible men, several commonalities are clear: centrality of the Eucharist, fervent devotion to Our Lady and her Rosary, long hours in prayer, bodily mortification and an austere lifestyle, and a special affinity and closeness to the common people, especially the poor.
The following links provide articles and information on the various dimensions of Capuchin spirituality.