While Clare and her religious sisters were still subject to the confines of the monastic cloister, Francis and his religious brothers moved beyond the walls of a monastery, rectory, or cathedral house—the typical locations of male religious life up to that time. Francis saw Jesus’ personal model and his instructions in the Gospel as an example for an itinerant lifestyle that involved popular preaching, daily work, communal prayer, and encounter with women and men of all backgrounds and in all locations. It was both freeing and risky.
Jesus Christ is the center and inspiration of our lives as Franciscans. He is the way, the truth, and the life. In him we live and move and have our being. He clarifies our thinking with his teaching. He directs our actions with his value system. He moves our hearts with the power of his presence in our lives.
Therefore, to observe the gospel means that we live Jesus, that we make his life and teachings and values our own, just as Francis of Assisi did.
The vision which has been so faintly suggested in these pages has never been confined to monks or even to friars. It has been an inspiration to innumerable crowds of ordinary married men and women; living lives like our own, only entirely different.
~G.K. Chesterton, Saint Francis of Assisi