Following in the footsteps of the great Gregorian Reform movements of the 10th and 11th Centuries, and in the spirit of the Alcantarines, the F.L.A. is an attempt to return to the original purity of the Franciscan life as it had been lived in the little mountain hermitages; we are not in favor of causing divisions within the Order of the Church.
The F.L.A. seeks a moderate and balanced approach to a reformed lifestyle, never seeking the rigid poverty and exclusive solitude of the "Spiritual's" hermitage. On the contrary, the importance is felt to balance solitude and apostolic work and preaching. However, if simple Franciscans are to preach the truth well, we hope to establish a firm bond with the T.O.R.'s (Third Order Regular) from the Franciscan University of Steubenville as our Custos, to help us humbly preach and counsel to the humblest people of our day.
The Penitential Movement follows the example of our Seraphic Father, Saint Francis of Assisi. Entrance into the Penitential State is a formal ecclesiastical act involving the full approval of the bishop, a change of external garb to a penitent's habit, and a committment to a radically changed lifestyle.
Eremitical colonies often require an informal committment of the three evangelical councils of obedience, chastity, and poverty in a way similar to the commitment of the first hermits of the Eastern deserts. As such, these penitent hermits were no longer seculars nor were they vowed monks, but they constituted an informal religious, eremitical expression with a distinct Order in the Church that was both authentic and unique. Yet, like the first hermits of the desert, the F.L.A. hermits are still lay people.
We hold that only the clerics may preach to the people regarding "deeper" theological topics such as church structure and the sacraments. As Fratres Conversi, our only goal is to preach Repentance and Penance to all God's children.
Chris Dickson, F.L.A.