Since you have been chosen by God who has given you this new kind of life, and because of His deep love and concern for you, you should practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others. Don't worry about making a good impression on them but be ready to suffer quietly and patiently. Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony. Let the peace of heart which comes from Christ be always present in your hearts and lives, for this is your responsibility and privilege as members of Christ's body. And always be thankful.
Remember what Christ taught and let Christ's words enrich your lives and make you wise; teach them to each other and sing them out in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing to the Lord with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, and come with Christ into the presence of God our heavenly Parent to give God your thanks.
We, as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, desiring to seek personal perfection and to dedicate our lives to the service of others, do hereby form the Mercy of God Community, and adopt the following as our Rule.
We are a community of professing men and women from various Christian traditions who choose to live in the spirit of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. Although we each identify with our own particular traditions, we freely choose to worship and live together prayerfully, peacefully, and ecumenically. As an inclusive community, we welcome candidates regardless of racial, ethnic or national origin, physical ability, marital status, previous religious life experience, affectional orientation, work or professional background, socio-economic status, or place of residence.
Jesus heralded charity, love for God and neighbor, as the basic commandment which all His followers should strive to fulfill. So many of Christ's teachings and parables emphasize the importance of love. Saint Paul speaks of love as the greatest of all virtues. In his first Letter to the Corinthians, we are reminded, "If I gave everything I have to the poor, and if I were put to death for preaching the Gospel but didn't love others, it would be of no value whatever." Saint Francis teaches his followers that their mutual love should exceed the love of a mother for her own children. Therefore, we shall strive to reflect perfect love in the communities in which we live. Where charity abides and thrives, communities experience inner spiritual growth of their members and fruitful accomplishment of their apostolates.
We promise to live the Gospels of Jesus, "in the manner of Saint Francis and Saint Clare." To achieve this end, Francis and Clare remain the principal inspiration and example by their total commitment to the Gospel. We consider this Rule an undeniable means to the deepening of personal sanctification, and a secure path to the fulfillment of our Christian commitment.
As a contemporary model of holiness, our community also is committed to offset the scandalous divisions among the Christian Churches. We strive to be the gentle presence of true Christian community for all the world to see "How good and joyful it is for brothers and sisters to live together in unity." The Mercy of God Community seeks to respond, by example, to Christ's prayer "That all may be one."
We shall pursue Christian unity; foster a profound personal and community spirituality based upon the presence and uncluttered teachings of Jesus Christ; emphasize prayer and meditation; respect all denominational traditions; extend the Gospel message and other truths beyond parochial bounds, and be prophetic to the whole Church. United in Christ, we shall extend ourselves beyond the boundaries of our individual traditions in order to embrace the priesthood of all believers. In the Letter to the Ephesians we are told, "There is one Body, one Spirit, just as you were all called into one and the same hope when you were called. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Creator of all, over all, through all, and within all." This truth guides our ecumenical spirit of Christian unity.
We are committed to outward ministries of reclaiming persons for Jesus Christ; outreach to the alienated, disenfranchised, powerless, fallen away, and despairing, and to perform spiritual and corporal works of mercy and other good deeds of renewal, reconciliation, and healing. Our dedication to Christ will be reflected in our love and service to our neighbor. Jesus teaches that, "Whenever you did it to these my brothers (and sisters) you were doing it to me."
Governed by equality, collegiality, freedom of expression, and democratic process, we reach community decisions by consensus or majority resolution. We adhere to the belief that there are no religious superiors among us, for all are servants among equals.
We embrace our commitment to the virtue of Poverty, as we choose to be detached from material possessions and to use our resources and goods in the best way possible. We are confident that God will provide the means by which we will live and serve.
Our commitment to the virtue of Chastity ennobles our capacity for human affection. It transforms our passion into total love of God and neighbor. Celibacy is optional; if chosen, it provides greater availability to give ourselves more fully to our neighbor with the very love of Christ.
In all matters, we pledge ourselves to the virtue of Obedience, which is to Jesus Christ and the message of the Gospels. Through prayer and spiritual guidance, each Brother and Sister discerns God's will.
A bold and total service to Christ requires a unity among our brothers and sisters. We place ourselves under the Holy Spirit, who inspires this Rule and who guides its interpretation and implementation. With confidence, we pray that God will continue to shine the light of the Holy Spirit upon us.
Brothers and sisters, I beg you through the mercy of God to offer yourselves as a living witness holy and acceptable to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may judge what is God's will, what is good, pleasing, and perfect.
Adopted 6-25-93; Revised 11-10-02.