Every brother is a gift given by God to the brotherhood.
Accepting each other as brothers is born of our faith in God as Father of us all. On the basis of this faith we can say, as Francis did: “ the Lord gave me brothers!” Therefore, Franciscan brotherhood or fraternity is not born of our good will or of our virtue but as a gift from God.
However, we not only say that we are brothers but lesser brothers, Friars Minor. Minority is the distinct form that defines our fraternal relationships and the exercise of our good works. So, the term “minor” which Francis took from the Gospel is a term of relationship: one is minor in relation to the other.
“Therefore in the love that is God, I beg all my brothers,” says St Francis, “those who preach, pray, or work, cleric or lay, to strive to humble themselves in everything.”
In Great Britain some exercise their minority as priests, others as teachers or catechists, as advocates for asylum seekers and prisoners, in spiritual accompaniment and counselling, in caring for our elderly and sick brothers or in the daily domestic and administrative works in our fraternities. But we are all Friars Minor.
Our General Constitutions helpfully state that:
“The Friars are to accept one another just as they are and as equals, so that the whole fraternity may become a privileged place of meeting with God.” (GC 40)
Presently, there are five fraternities in the Custody where we live out our fraternal life together: Stratford (London), Woodford Green (London), Glasgow , Clevedon (Somerset) and Birmingham.