The Gospel

Franciscan Spirituality is centred on the Gospel. The Friars, Poor Clare nuns, Sisters and Brothers of the Third Order and Secular Franciscans all profess to live the Gospel. 
Article 4 of the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order states: 
The rule and life of the Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people. Christ, the gift of the Father’s love, is the way to him, the truth into which the Holy Spirit leads us, and the life which he has come to give abundantly.
Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to the gospel

From the earliest days of the Franciscan movement the word ‘penance’ had

a special meaning. When the first friars went forth to preach in Italy and were asked who or what they were? They answered simply that they were “penitents” from the town of Assisi. By these words they expressed that the whole purpose of their life was to live in penance. 

What does that mean? The word ‘penance’ has several meanings. What Francis meant by it is, the biblical understanding of a total turning to God. This is what Jesus was referring to when he said: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Repent means change. Change, for the kingdom of God is at hand. Penance means change or conversion.