CONVERSION OF LIFE
Our Main Charism
What is the distinctive mark or charism of Franciscan Teriary life? The answer is to be found in the earliest designation of the Order: The Order of Penance of Francis of Assisi. The Order of Penance in the church did not begin with Francis; it actually predated him by centuries. Initially instituted for sinners who were publicly alienated from the church and were seeking restoration, it eventually welcomed those who wished to enter upon a life of penitence, even though they were guilty of no serious public sins. This Order of Penance had its highs and its lows through the centuries, but received a renewed impetus in the middle ages, especially through the efforts of Francis...
But what did this penitential life consist of? To a considerable extent the term "penance" had come to be identified with acts of mortification and self-denial. It was external forms of penance such as fasting, abstinence, and self denial that were at the forefront, and not the biblical notion of a basic change of life...[After the Second Vatican Council] it was felt that any revision of the Rule had to see penance as the central value. This was seen primarily in the sense of a "turning around" in life. The Greek verb metanoein rendered the Hebrew shub that in its most concrete sense meant a "turning around" on the road. This meaning carries over into the New Testament's call to conversion of life, which signified a change in direction in life or in the Pauline assertion of setting aside the "old person" and walking in a newness of life.
Fr. Roland Faley, TOR. "Recapturing a Vision: Conversion," in History Of The Third Order Regular A Source Book (2008).
Profession of Solemn Vows at Saint Francis Friary Chapel