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Rap song for Ecological Conversion, “Laudato Si’ Revolution”

The 1st of September 2020 is the World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation and the first day of the Season of Creation. As part of the Laudato Si’ Revolution, a global Franciscan campaign for integral and ecological conversion, the JPIC Office celebrates this year’s World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation with the newly released RAP SONG, “Laudato Si’ Revolution” by Br. Sandesh Manuel, OFM.

The music video, which is the second video of the campaign, is full of energy and inspiration for ecological conversion. It urges us to take a bold move to live our Franciscan vocation more radically in today’s world. Pope Francis asked us to get engaged in the interreligious dialogue for the integral ecology. That’s why the video contains various clips from multi-religious groups around the world. We hope you listen to it, watch it, sing to it, share it with others, and take part in the action. We believe that it has enough power to get other religious traditions and youth together in the campaign. Let’s feel the beat and take action!

“We need to let go of ego till we don’t know vanity
We are not God, our role is humanity
Many things have to change why don’t we start with us?
But I know there are naysayers that want to discuss

Others are passive, choosing not to change
All of their habits, then they wonder why they’re blamed
And in terms of business and consumerism
I think we’ve lost track of what’s real and what really isn’t

In one way or another we all wanna see the light
So how about we start living today in the name of Christ?
Like Saint Francis and let go of our possessions
Do that and see what happens to all your obsessions

Put your hands up when you listen to this song
Rejoice in Jesus’ name, realize we can get along
We can’t replace beauty with man-made constructions
Change the way you live and let go of all your obstructions!”
(second verse)

 

The Plenary Council of the Order 2018, in number 188 tells us:

“In evangelization and catechesis, to make use of art, culture, and nature in the light of Laudato si’; to use new technological tools, inviting young people to participate more deeply in the real world, and involving them in the realities of the poor, of the Church, and of God in a more concrete and incarnated way; making sure that connections are created with people from other cultures, countries and continents”

Koinonia: A Secular Franciscan in today’s world

The Second Vatican Council and the Rule of OFS given in 1978 have made clear the role of the laity in the church and in the world. They recall all the faithful to the baptismal mission to which, without any exclusion, all are called: “They are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ. They carry out their own part in the mission of the whole Christian people with respect to the Church and the world”[1]. And it is in this context that all members of the Secular Franciscan Order, on the day of their Profession, are called to renew their baptismal promises. Thus they commit themselves to live the Gospel in the world according to the example and teachings of Christ, inspired by the Writings of Francis and following the Rule of OFS[2]. In their secular condition, the Secular Franciscans must therefore witness that the Franciscan charism and spirituality are lived according to the different aspects of life, such as family and work, in joy and suffering, with the presence and participation in social life, in the fraternal relationship with all creatures, up to the meeting with all, who are brothers and sisters in the same Father (GGCC art.12).

The challenge generated by the rapid change and sometimes by the deterioration of the moral and traditional values ​​of the family and the society, must involve every member of OFS to live authentically their identity as a Franciscan secular. This must be rooted in the Gospel of Jesus which continually invites them to the highest, visible and effective witness without ever forgetting that the mission entrusted to each baptized person requires a continuous search for the face of God in one’s brothers and sisters and in every situation of life. Jesus reminds us of this when he says that: “…I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me” (Mt 25: 35-36). In all these situations, the coherence of faith helps and encourages us to see each one as brothers and sisters, to love them as we ourselves would like to be loved, in deepest respect for the Gospel commandment of love. An ethics of reciprocity can help us to find permanent solutions to the many discriminations and indifferences of our time. The world needs ‘persons renewed in love’ who are not afraid of getting their hands dirty by serving others, people who recognize that they have been called to live not for themselves, but for Christ and for the world.

Secular Franciscans are therefore called to “…commit themselves to a faith-inspired reflection on the Church, her mission in today’s world and the role of Franciscan laity in the Church”. (GGCC art. 14.1). In order not to frustrate the commitment of one’s mission in the world, each Secular Franciscan should never forget the fact that although he/she is called to live in an atheist world, wounded by the indifference of division and individualism, “baptism does not take them from the world at all, as the apostle Paul points out: «So, brethren, in whatever state each was called, there let him remain with God» (1 Cor 7:24). On the contrary, he entrusts a vocation to them that properly concerns their situation in the world. The lay faithful, in fact, «are called by God so that they, led by the spirit of the Gospel, might contribute to the sanctification of the world, as from within like leaven, by fulfilling their own particular duties. Thus, especially in this way of life, resplendent in faith, hope and charity they manifest Christ to others»”[3].

 

This is an extract from an article written by Br. Pedro Zitha OFM. Download and read the full text:

Koinonia 2020-2“The Secular Franciscan and the Immigrant”

N. 106

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DOC : EnglishItalianoEspañolFrançais

 

[1] Christifideles Laici, no 9.
[2] Cfr. OFS, Rite of the promise of Gospel life, no. 31
[3] Christifideles Laici, no 15.

Message of Solidarity for the Friars and the People of Lebanon following the explosions that rocked the City of Beirut

Bro. Francesco Patton, OFM
Custos
Custody of the Holy Land
Jerusalem

Rome, August 25, 2020

Dear Bro. Francesco,

May the Lord give you his peace!

On behalf of the General Definitory and the entire Order, I wish to extend our prayers for, and solidarity with, the Friars and the people of Lebanon following the recent explosions that rocked the city of Beirut. The loss of innocent lives, the suffering of so many who have been injured, and the devastating destruction of property, which has left hundreds of thousands of people homeless risk creating a sense of hopelessness. The crisis of the new Coronavirus pandemic and the collapse of the political order heighten the anxiety and threaten to create a power vacuum that could lead to further suffering and uncertainty.

Please convey to our Franciscan brothers, the Christian communities they serve, the various leaders of the Christian churches, and other religious leaders with whom you are in contact, our sincere concern and our offer of prayer, that God might provide light, courage and strength to the people of Lebanon. Our greatest wish is that there might be a movement of solidarity among the nations so that necessary financial, logistical, and other support can be provided in a timely manner to assist the Lebanese people in this most difficult moment.

I also appeal to the Franciscan entities of the Order to provide financial assistance where possible, working closely with the Custody, as it serves those in greatest need.

Fraternally yours in Christ and St. Francis,

Bro. Michael A. Perry, OFM
Minister General and Servant

 

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Prot. MG 139/2020

We Franciscans come together to celebrate the “Season of Creation”

The Season of Creation is approaching — it begins on September 1st 2020,  which marks the World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation, and continues until October 4th, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, Patron Saint of Ecology and Ecologists [1]. Many Christians join in this special time to reflect, pray, and implement concrete activities that will lead humanity towards a lifestyle of solidarity that cares for our Common Home.

The Season of Creation is an ecumenical initiative that has been celebrated since 1989. For decades, during this annual season Christians across the globe have focused on being reconciled with our Creator. The Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch, Dimitrios I, proclaimed September 1st as a day of prayer for creation in 1989. In fact, the Orthodox Church year begins on that day with a commemoration of how God created the world. Other major Christian European churches embraced the day in 2001, and Pope Francis followed up for the Roman Catholic Church in 2015.

We Franciscan friars are enthusiastically joining in this ecumenical initiative. Several Provinces of the Order, through their JPIC offices, have organized activities in conjunction with the wider Franciscan Family. This year, our participation has more energy and hope because of the project called The Laudate Si’ Revolution.

 

We’d like to tell you about some activities that the General Curia’s JPIC Office is promoting:

September 1st  – Launch of the music video, “Laudato Si’ Revolution” (on JPIC Facebook)

September 5th – Web Seminar: “Eco-Pastoral Center and the Eco-village Movement”. Available only in English, and registration is required HERE.

September 5th – Live: “Revolución Laudato Si’”, available only in Spanish (Facebook and YouTube)

September 12th – Web Seminar “Global Laudato Si’” (East). Aimed at friars of the Order in Initial Formation. In cooperation with the General Secretariat for Formation and Studies

September 19th – Web Seminar “Global Laudato Si’” (West). Aimed at friars of the Order in Initial Formation. In cooperation with the General Secretariat for Formation and Studies.

September 19th: Live: Laudato Si’ Revolution. Available only in Portuguese (Facebook and YouTube)

September 26th and 27th – “Ecological Conversion Retreat” in cooperation with the World Catholic Climate Movement and JPIC-Franciscan Family in Colombia. Available only in Spanish. Registration required HERE before September 24th.

 

For a video that promotes the Season of Creation:

[1] John Paul II, Inter Sanctos, Apostolic Letter proclaiming Saint Francis of Assisi as patron of ecology (1979)

Koinonia: Francis of Assisi and the unknown brother

In every human being there is an attitude of self-defence and a sense of fear towards the other, especially if the latter is a stranger. The reaction to these situations, if supported by poor knowledge, is that of not wanting to meet others. This attitude sometimes becomes a reason for repudiation and intolerance, causing the closure towards the newness of the other who is seen not as a gift but as a problem. The unknown, in some cases, is even considered as a danger. The history of the Israelites exiled to the land of Pharaoh confirms the drama of the fear of the human being towards the unknown.

Then a new king arose over Egypt, who had not known Joseph. And he said to his people: “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war befall us, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” (Exodus 1: 8-10).

The brother who comes from another nation is often seen as a stranger, an invader, an individual who can break down and put at risk our securities, those of the law, of the rules, of the culture, etc. Even Francis of Assisi experienced this ‘fear’ towards the other, represented, in his case, by the lepers of his time. He was not paralyzed by any fear, neither of ignorance, nor by the nausea of having to meet an ‘unknown-leper’. Instead he opened his whole heart by recognizing the leper the right of identity as a human being who must never be denied the dignity that derives from being a creature of God. Also the meeting of Francis of Assisi with the Sultan is a reason for reflection to see how ‘a meeting can lead to renewal’. Here Francis refuses the pre-judgment to see ‘the other as an enemy’ but puts himself in the attitude of considering him as a friend, a brother to meet, to listen, to embrace and to share with him the gift of friendship and peace. In this sense it can be said that ‘the Poverello of Assisi’ becomes ‘a very rich man’, a good and just man who understood that only ‘the love of the other and for the other’ is the fruit of a renewed relationship, which is stronger than the power of weapons. As Pope John Paul II said; “The challenge is to combine the welcome due to every human being, especially when in need, with a reckoning of what is necessary for both the local inhabitants and the new arrivals to live a dignified and peaceful life”[1].

To lead the gospel life in our daily lives every Christian, as member of the Church and of the Order, can be aware of the importance of promoting “an authentic culture of welcome capable of accepting the truly human values of the immigrants over and above any difficulties caused by living together with persons who are different”[2]. We still have a lot more to learn from Francis of Assisi.

 

This is an extract from an article written by Br. Pedro Zitha OFM. Download and read the full text:

Koinonia 2020-2“The Secular Franciscan and the Immigrant”

N. 106

PDF: EnglishItalianoEspañolFrançais

DOC : EnglishItalianoEspañolFrançais

 

[1] Pope John Paul II; Message for the celebration of the XXXIV World Day of Peace 2001, 13.
[2] Erga Migrates Caritas Christi, no 39.

Koinonia: The OFS Rule as a response in times of great changes

The only act by which a human being can correspond to the God who reveals himself, is the act of unlimited readiness. It is the unity of faith, hope, and love.”[1]

The explosion of COVID-19 has taken the world unawares and is predictably going to cause unpredictable changes in the world. In 2007, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a Lebanese-American scholar, statistician, and former option trader and risk analyst published a book titled “The Black Swan the impact of the highly improbable[2]. According to the author, greatest changes in the lives of individuals and collectivities always begin from highly improbable and unpredictable events. This is what is termed a Black Swan. The encounter of Saint Francis with the leper, for example, was a Black Swan. COVID-19 is a Black Swan with global impact. Such phenomena do not have space for stereotype responses, because they were not predictable. We can neither reverse the situation nor change it, people have died, people are dying and the contagion continues to spread.  However, we can change, in fact, entire cities and nations are under lock-down for the past 2-4 weeks. This is change. But the change to which this situation obliges us is deeper, it is a conversion.

How can the OFS Rule be of help to Secular Franciscans in such a situation? We are called to perfection of charity, love of God above all else and love of neighbour as Christ has loved us. We should never lose focus of this, because the Rule itself is a path to this and not an end. Conversion keeps us on the right path. Changing times come and go but the call to holiness remains and the Rule will always be of help in every. Now, for example, is the favourable time to renew our personal and fraternal lives in conformity to the Rule we have professed as brothers and sisters of penance. The Rule states: “Let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel itself calls conversion. Human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily”[3]. Saint Paul says “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1Cor 13:3). Charity is always creative.

In these times that community celebrations are not even possible for many, our love of God and neighbour should even be more creative in our forms of prayer, communication and activity. The OFS General Constitutions offer some guidelines to this effect: “Some means to cultivate this characteristic of the Franciscan vocation, individually and in fraternity, are: listening to and celebrating the Word of God; review of life; spiritual retreats; the help of a spiritual adviser, and penitential celebrations. … The fruits of conversion, which is a response to the love of God, are the works of charity in the interactions with the brothers and sisters[4]. The present experience of lock-down is new to many. The uncertainty continues to loom over all as the pandemic continues its course across the globe. One thing is certain, God is with us, even as he descended in the furnace with Daniel and his companions. Spiritual assistants are and will continue to be of great help to the brothers and sisters of the OFS especially in such times.

Conclusion

Hans Urs von Balthasar is known to have held strongly that “life is a vocation because reality is a provocation”. Such situations as these certainly provoke us either to seek God for refuge, assistance or for a solution. Like St. Francis, we may want to ask: “Lord, what do you want me to do?”. These times call for discernment in fraternity and openness to the Spirit. “Those who seek the Lord will not be disappointed” (Ps 9:11). In such a situation, God’s will for us might be heard only through the very cry of those suffering. COVID-19 opens our eyes to the fact that humanity is more united than many are tempted to think. If one person is infected, we are all in danger. It provokes us to sincere prayer, penance and to concrete acts of charity towards all affected brothers and sisters. By doing good to others, you do it to yourself. We should join hands to ensure that even if we cannot come together for meetings or celebrations, no brother or sister is left alone, alive or dead.  “When I was in sin, writes St. Francis, it seemed too bitter for me to see lepers. And the Lord Himself led me among them and I showed mercy to them. And when I left them, what had seemed bitter to me was turned into sweetness of soul and body[5].  God may be waiting for us exactly where we do not want to go. When love of neighbour obliges us to leave our false securities to go to help others, there we will meet Christ, and it will be sweetness of soul and body. The OFS Rule is a gift for Secular Franciscans to live these difficult times of COVID-19 with joy and hope and to bring solace to many.

 

This is an extract from an article written by Br. Francis Bongajum Dor, OFMCap. Download and read the full text:

Koinonia 2020-1“The OFS Rule as a Response in Times of Great Changes”

N. 105

PDF: EnglishItalianoEspañolFrançais

DOC : EnglishItalianoEspañolFrançais

 

 

[1] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Communio 37 (Spring 2010). © 2010 by Communio: International Catholic Review, https://www.communio-icr.com/files/BalthasarVocationFormat2.pdf (2/04/2019).
[2] Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan the impact of the improbable, Random House, New York, 2007.
[3] OFS Rule n° 7.
[4] OFS General Constitutions, Art. 13.1-2.
[5]Testament, 2-3.

The Coronavirus crisis – a turning point | A Franciscan Perspective on COVID19

Since the Second World War, no event has caused the world so much unrest, anxiety and conflict as the coronavirus pandemic engulfing all countries. What hardly anyone could conceive has spread across the world like wildfire. A virus makes humanity – who considers itself the superior species – aware of its weakness and pulls people’s vulnerability and mortality into the public eye. Nature is now painfully teaching humans that it is stronger than our illusion of limitless possibilities, as well as our belief in eternal progress. Moreover, the virus destroys the “economic dogma” of the necessary progressive increase in profits, with devastating results. It turns out that an economic and progress doctrine has been imposed on a world that is now unable to cope with the virus. The mirage of prosperity stands on shifting sands. In this pandemonium, it seems that systems with a social orientation fare better than those based on neo-liberal theories.

In recent weeks, perhaps extending for months, people around the world have been forced to “fast”, whether they like it or not. Restrictions on entry, closure of schools, kindergartens and non-essential businesses. The coronavirus forces people to forego pleasure, consumption and free movement. Instead, “social distancing” and quarantine are required. Even worse, the virus threatens jobs and increases social injustices worldwide. All this scares many people and destroys trust in politics and institutions. Uncertainty is spreading and the longer the anti-measures take, the more the resistance of those who are only concerned with their own freedom and benefit grows. Scapegoats are sought and old stereotypes resurface. Since there are no easy answers to the complex situation, fake news and conspiracy theories rear their heads again. Unreasonableness connects right-wing populists with left-wing ideologues and religious hardliners. In this situation, we must exercise patience, understanding and truthfulness.

Spiritual orientation can also provide guidance. In this context, we could draw inspiration from those who follow the guidance of Francis and Clare of Assisi. While they lived in another century and faced other crises, social problems, and epidemics, their work may still shape our present actions. According to his own words in the Testament, Francis finds his way out of this personal life crisis because he dared to overcome the “social distancing” towards lepers imposed by society and the church at that time through friendship and solidarity. This was done on medical grounds, i.e. to avoid contagions, but also because lepers were deemed sinners from a theological standpoint. And yet, the noble Clare does not abide by the rules of her class and looks after the poor and socially excluded. The encounter with suffering and misery also poses the question of God and one’s own self-image. “Who are you and who am I?” are the existential questions handed down from Francis. In both cases, God’s image changes as we face human misery and the fragility of life. They find the “good” God, empathetic and not punitive, among the poor and the lepers. Both of them were plagued with illnesses and nearing death for most of their lives. This shaped their perception of illness and death. They want sick sisters and brothers to benefit from the greatest possible help and relief at that time. At the same time, they encourage people to accept illness with active patience as part of life, while regarding disease as an opportunity for human growth and maturation. Death is neither kept secret nor suppressed in any way. For them, it is a part of life that instils no fear because it cannot destroy authentic relationships of love and belonging. For it is not in death where the hazard lies but in the unkindness of selfishness. Challenged by crises, diseases, social distance and injustice, as well as driven by a changed image of God, they create a brotherhood lifestyle that stands in stark contrast with the hierarchical society and church. This lifestyle, which is also based on religion – everyone in Jesus Christ as brothers and sisters is a creature of the same God – has a universal character. More importantly, other believers and all creatures are also included. Their experience of poverty, disease and exclusion will help them discover a God who cares about all creatures and fosters life. What is more, the perception that a happy life arises from the gift of the compassionate and sympathetic relationship, and which cannot be acquired through money, property or power, transforms their view of people and the world. Instead of the “Homo Economicus”, they focus on the “Homo Fraternus/Sororius”, which produces social and economic effects. Instead of inserting themselves in the emerging pre-capitalist monetary economy, they favour manual labour to ensure that the people’s economic activity is embedded in social relationships. In doing so, they overcome an economy of profit at the expense of humanity and nature, falling back on a gift economy that defines social, cultural and ethical values in addition to monetary values. With the human and world view of “Homo Fraternus/Sororius” and a gift economy, they are prepared for unforeseeable crises and able to deal with them in a learning process.

So, what could we learn from our coronavirus crisis, inspired by Francis, Clare and the Franciscan-Clarian tradition? Here are a few suggestions: The “physical distance” that is now necessary should be practised through a responsible “social closeness” to those most affected: the poor, the elderly, the sick and those who are losing their livelihoods as we speak. To maintain the distance necessary for health reasons through new forms of closeness, care and solidarity, we must apply imagination, spontaneous flexibility, intuition and unconventional humanity.

Instead of enabling large companies to pay dividends through tax funds, the aim now is to use funds to save lives, alleviate poverty and preserve jobs. Instead of returning to the “normality” of the profit of the neo-capitalist economy, what we need now is the courageous transformation of the economy into a truly social market economy. The crisis of this pandemic has clearly shown that the previous practice of capitalism cannot withstand such a situation. Apparently, it is time to question the neo-liberal economic system and its dogmas of eternal growth, and to take other structures and mechanisms seriously. We must understand this crisis as a mandate to change course, lest we seek to keep on building humanity’s future on shifting sand. There are already approaches to this, for example, in a gift economy, in a solidarity economy and many more. Sustainable and future-oriented business is now the order of the day. Likewise, we should do something more and faster now to protect the balance of nature and thus to preserve creation, our common home. Demands to soften the already insufficient decisions to protect nature must be rejected. We cannot and must not go back to the “let’s keep the money flowing” attitude. If so, we would have learned nothing from this crisis. Basic ethical and moral attitudes to shaping coexistence, the economy and dealing with creation must now be discussed and implemented.

This pandemic also entails a questioning of God’s image by believers and their religious practice. The theodicy question arises again: why does God allow this? Images of God that are reduced to ideas of omnipotence, perfectionism, immutability or dispassion (apatheia), as well as mechanical or causal ideas are rather difficult. In major crises, people guided by the spirituality of Francis and Clare are also open to the God who appears as freedom-loving among the poor, the sick, the marginalised and among those who accept life as a precious gift. This image of God forms a commitment to a better world in which peace, justice and a future-oriented approach to creation are given a chance.

However, the path to a better world demands that we leave this one behind. Moreover, this crisis opens up other paths now. This raises the question of what is really important to us, what is really worth something to us and what does this mean for our future together, our common home? Patience, one of the Franciscan virtues, is required to answer such questions. Patience is now also in demand from all of us, and that does not only mean passive endurance, bearing the burden, and fearful waiting. Otherwise, the nerves will soon be bare. Patience is also the active force of perseverance and confidence in a difficult time, the end of which is not yet in sight. When combined with trust and faith, patience is the basic attitude that has confidence in life. Those endowed with patience do not simply feel at the mercy of the crises but face the challenges found in dire straits and storms, knowing that crises also offer opportunities to learn and mature. Patience keeps an eye on the glimmer of light at the end of the dark tunnel and knows that a day will follow every night. Sure, it doesn’t just wipe away fear, but it keeps you from depressive paralysis and unnecessary panic. It is the force necessary, perhaps a painful one, to take steps towards the coming summer. Of course, the patience we need now has its price: to adhere to the necessary discipline and show solidarity with the risk groups and the sick, all over the world. With such patience, we will not only overcome this crisis, but hopefully also shape a future that is worth living in for everyone with matured humanity, an increase in knowledge and new skills.

 

Br. Johannes B. Freyer, OFM
Missionszentrale der Franziskarner
Bonn, Germany

This article was originally published in the JPIC Newsletter: CONTACT (04-06.2020).

Press Release: General Chapter

The General Definitory, after an attentive reflection and as a result of the dialogue and moments of discussion with the Presidents of the Conferences, during the extraordinary session of Thursday 30 July 2020, has decided that the General Chapter of the Order will be celebrated in Rome from 3 to 18 July 2021, at the International College “San Lorenzo da Brindisi” of the Friars Minor Capuchins.

As Art. 140 § 1 of the General Statutes states: “The convocation of the General Chapter is to be made by the Minister General at least six months before its celebration through a letter to the Order, in which the Chapter Members are convoked and the dat of its announcement and the principal topics are indicated.”

If the turn of events of the Covid-19 pandemic would oblige us to postpone the date, the General Chapter will be held in Rome from 6 to 21 September 2021.

The Theme and Logo of the Chapter chosen by the General Definitorium are the following:

Theme:
Renewing our Vision, Embracing our Future
“Arise … and Christ will give you light” Ep. 5:14

 

 

Br. Sergio Galdi d’Aragona, ofm
Secretary of the General Chapter

The Amazonian Ecclesial Conference: The Unity and Diversity of our Church | August 8th  – Online Seminar

Following a synodal process, a new Ecclesial Conference came into being on June 29th,2020. What was the process that led to its creation? Who participates in this Conference? What prospects does the Pan-Amazonian region have? To get answers to these questions, why not participate in the online seminar? It will be available with simultaneous translation in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

The celebration of the special Synod for the Amazon that took place in Rome during the month of October 2019 was an important step in a long process of listening that has been taking place in the base communities of the Pan-Amazonian region. As a result of the dialogue that took place during the synodal sessions in Rome last October, a proposal was made to“… [create] a Bishops’ organism that promotes synodality among the churches of the region, helps to express the Amazonian face of this Church and continues the task of finding new paths for the evangelizing mission, especially incorporating the proposal of integral ecology, thus strengthening the physiognomy of the Church in the Amazon. It would be a permanent and representative Bishops’ organism that promotes synodality in the Amazon region, connected with CELAM, with its own structure, in a simple organization and also connected with REPAM” (Final Document of the Amazon Synod n.115)

On June 29th, this Episcopal organism (or structure) was established and, according to Vatican News, it was inaugurated virtually. The participants, who were linked by video conference, were the President of CELAM, Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos, OFM, the President and Vice President of REPAM, (Cardinal Claudio Hummes, OFM, and Cardinal Pedro Barreto, SJ) as well as one Bishop for each country that shares the Amazon territory (9) — because of its size, Brazil has two representatives. Other participants include Bishop José Luis Azuaje, from Caritas Latin America and the Caribbean, Sr. Liliana Franco from CLAR, and Mauricio López from REPAM. There are also three representatives of the original peoples, Patricia Gualinga, Sr. Laura Vicuña, and Delio Siticonatzi. The Vatican participants are Cardinal Baldisseri from the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Ouellet from the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Luis Tagle from the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and Cardinal Czerny from the Dicastery for Integral Human Development.

The Order’s JPIC Office has invited three members of the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon to participate in this seminar: Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos, OFM, president of CELAM, Sr. Laura Vicuña Pereira, Franciscan Sister and Catechist, and Maruicio López, executive secretary of REPAM. The session will be chaired by Br. Valmir Ramos, OFM, Definitor General, and the Order’s General Animator for Evangelisation.

 

The Online Seminar takes place on Saturday, August 8th 2020:

10.00 AM Los Angeles, (USA)
11.00 AM El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica
12.00 PM Chicago (USA), México, Panamá, Colombia, Ecuador, Perú
01.00 PM Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay
02.00 PM Sao Paulo (Brasil), Argentina, Uruguay
07.00 PM Madrid (Spain), Portugal, Italy

 

In order to participate, please register HERE: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_w7Gtq0cNSIqZPlXKlBi_ew

 

As Members of a ‘Cosmic Fraternity’, All Creatures share the same Dignity and Vocation given by God | Homily of the Minister General for the Feast of the Pardon of Assisi

“Praised be You, my Lord, who with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun…, through Sister Moon and the stars…
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,…Sister Water,…Brother Fire,…
Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us…
Praised be you, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulations.”

 

Two thousand twenty will be remembered as a year of great infirmity and tribulation for the entire world. Every human community on this tiny planet Earth has been affected in one way or another by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Presently, more than 650,000 people worldwide have died, of whom 35,000 in Italy. More than 17 million have tested positive for the virus but scientists tell us that this is probably only a small fraction of the total number of infected. The social, cultural, economic, and spiritual lives of people everywhere – our lives – have been profoundly disrupted. Many have experienced deep psychological disturbances leading some to give up hope and commit suicide. More troubling, we have no idea about how the virus will evolve. This creates profound uncertainty about the future.

These consequences are all too real for those of us gathered here today to celebrate the Feast of the Pardon of Assisi. We cover our faces with masks; we maintain social distance from each other; we walk about in fear of the invisible enemy; fewer pilgrims are gathered in this sacred space this year for our pilgrimage celebration; the annual ‘Franciscan March’which was supposed to celebrate its 40th anniversary will have to be postponed for another time.

The new Coronavirus has also opened the eyes of more people – and I hope it has opened the eyes of those of us gathered here in prayer – to the deep, longstanding, social and ecological wounds simmering just below the surface in most if not all societies. These wounds, symbols of serious social and institutional sin, have in the recent past caught little attention among those who are part of the majority or ‘privileged’ classes. This is not the case for those who are counted among the ‘minority’, who have experienced serious social infirmity and tribulations on a daily basis for most of their lives. This was demonstrated most clearly by the cruel murder of George Floyd, an innocent black man in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States who was held down by the police in a choke hold. Despite his plea for mercy, for oxygen – eight minutes and forty-six seconds, “I can’t breathe,” no mercy was shown by those entrusted with the duty to save lives. But the plight of George Floyd, his murder, is not limited only to the United States. It is the experience of so many people around the world – in England, France, Italy, India, South Africa, Brazil, to name only a few places – who have systematically been excluded, reduced to a life of poverty, who ‘can’t breathe’ because of the color of their skin, the social class to which they have been assigned, because of their religious convictions, or their sexual orientation. The experience of suffering and tribulations spoken of by St. Francis are not something experienced only at the personal level. The spiritual insight of St. Francis, his cry for mercy, pardon, and reconciliation also has a social dimension that, if embraced and followed, will produce within each of us a profound conversion. This conversion will produce the fruits of an authentic, just, and joy-filled life as disciples and co-missionaries with Christ, with Mary, and with St. Francis.

The new Coronavirus pandemic is allowing us to examine something else that is deeply troubling, which is producing ever-greater suffering and tribulation for the vast majority of the world’s inhabitants. I am speaking about the deep socio-economic divide that is increasing. Those who control the forces of economic production and distribution – the multinational corporations (Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google) – are getting richer at an alarming rate, even in these uncertain times of the pandemic while the poor, the excluded, people of color are becoming poorer, marginalized, pushed to the brink of survival at an alarming rate. It is they who face the greatest risks and bear the worst consequences of the pandemic because they have nothing to fall back on, no reserve resources, no significant social assets to draw upon. At the same time, we also are witnessing a deepening of the environmental crisis, the unrelenting destruction of the natural environment – the rain forests; oceans, seas, and rivers; the atmosphere that provides oxygen for our lungs; the melting of the two ‘Poles’ and an alarming rise in sea levels, which, in turn, is forcing mostly the poor to abandon their homes and become ‘environmental refugees’. All of these destructive social inequalities and abuses of nature create favorable conditions in which deadly pathogens previously held at bay in protected natural environments can make the leap from the animal to the human community, bringing unforeseen danger and suffering. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has enabled us, perhaps for the first time in our lives, to recognize the deeply interconnected nature of all living things, and the need for us to repent and change our lives.

Brothers and sisters, the call to repentance, conversion, to open our minds, hearts, and lives to a new way of living together on this planet is more urgent now than in any other moment in human history. Conversion requires that we hear “Both the cry of the earth and the cry of the Poor” (cf. Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, par. 49). But is this not also what Francis of Assisi intended when he prayed that all people, and I would add, all of the created universe, might be admitted to paradise, might come to an experience of what St. Matthew calls the “Beatific way of life,” (Mt. 5:1-11) defined by living in just and right relationship with one another and with all of creation?

Today, we come to this sacred place of the Porziuncula, a place of prayer, encounter, pardon, mercy, and love. God has brought us here so that we might enter more fully into the divine drama of Jesus’ redemptive act of liberation from sin and the reconciling power of the cross that invites us to seek the way back towards God, towards one another, towards ourselves, and towards creation. We come as brothers and sisters, carrying in our hearts, our minds, and our bodies every living creature, so that all might participate in the liberating power of God’s reconciling love. As St. Paul tells us: “We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom 8:22-23). The very act of this adoption, this redemptive process, is nothing other than the full reconciliation of all things in Christ Jesus, achieved through Jesus’ death on the cross (Col. 1:20). It is here where the testimony of St. Paul and that of St. Francis converge, offering us a new way forward to experience the graced consequences of a reconciled life.

In his Canticle of the Creatures, Francis offers us a road map for attaining a life of Beatitude, of ‘Paradise’ recovered. In the Canticle Francis celebrates God’s loving presence in all of creation. He looks to nature for guidance on how we are to model our relationships with God, one another, and with the natural world. He recognizes in creation – Brother Sun, Sister Moon and all other elements – the call for us to live in total dependence on the Creator. He invites us to open our lives to an understanding of our authentic identity as members of a ‘cosmic fraternity’ wherein all creatures share the same dignity and vocation given by God from the moment of creation (cf. C. Vaiani, Storia e teologia dell’esperienza spirituale di Francesco di Assisi, Milano, 2013, p. 378). This one fraternity, this common home, has been created by God and given the vocation to love, serve, and honor the Creator by loving, serving and honoring one another. Humans and the creaturely world have as their vocation the duty to support and complete one another, not to compete against and destroy one another. We are co-responsible with and for one another, especially for the poor and excluded. We are co-responsible for the life of the natural environment, showing gratitude and respecting nature’s proper limits, not pushing the planet to the brink of ecological disaster.

“Come to me, all who desire me, and be filled with my fruits. You will remember me as sweeter than honey, better to have than the honeycomb.” (Sir 24:19-20). These words of consolation offer to us the hope that God will always be merciful, will always welcome us back, no matter how far we stray in our lives, and no matter how far our human communities have strayed from the practice of love, care, justice, and mercy to each and every human being, and to the natural world, our common home.

Brothers and sisters, God is calling us through this great celebration of the Pardon of Assisi to abandon all that leads to death, all that robs us of God’s mercy, pardon, peace, and joy. We are invited to live as beloved children of a loving God, destined for freedom, destined for love, destined for God. There is no room for fear, no room for exclusion, no room for apathy or inaction. In God’s paradise, all are welcome, all are forgiven, and all are loved. May Mary, Mother of Jesus, embrace and console us as together we renew our pledge to live in authentic friendship with God, one another, and with our mother earth, our common home.

 

See also:  Catholic News Service’s  story about the Feast of the Pardon of Assisi and the Minister General’s  Homily: “Conversion has personal, social dimensions, Franciscan leader says

 

 

Koinonia: Saint Francis and changes of his time: reconciling the Gospel with history

The gospel experience of Francis, writes Eloi Leclerc, is not a simple episode in the history of Christianity. It has an exemplary and prophetic value[1]. Francis of Assisi lived during a time of great socio-political and economic changes. European societies were moving from feudal systems to communal cities. Financial economy founded on free trade was taking over from that based on land ownership. New associations of common interest were shaking traditional social equilibrium of relationships. There was great mobility of persons, a reality that seriously challenged the Church that for long had found her equilibrium on the monastic model of “stabilitas loci”. It was a time of crises and expectation. Therefore, what did Francis do to become such a model of Gospel witness transcending times and cultures? Eloi Leclerc outlines three features of Francis that we will consider here. First, Francis’ rich human nature. Secondly, the breath of the Gospel and, thirdly, Francis’ complicity with the movement of history[2].

Francis’ rich human nature: all the biographies bear witness to the rich personality of Francis even before his conversion, his passion for life and beauty and his love for his city that would take him to war against Perugia. This resulted in his experience as a prisoner. His ambition for social greatness sent him on the roads to the Puglia for a war expedition. His ability in business was such that he could sell both cloth and horse with no difficulty. In his joyousness, love for life and parties and poetry earned him the title of “king of the youth” in his city. His sensitivity to the needs of others, made him generous to a fault, though fear of lepers kept him away from this particular group.  He overcame this fear despite himself, through merciful service to the lepers, and this for him was a gift of grace as he narrates in his Testament. His experience of the fragility of sickness before conversion and at the end of his life was likewise an enriching experience. He could talk to the sick from the depth of their misery that he shared. Francis  incarnated in himself the life and aspirations of his contemporaries. He was one with them; he spoke their language and shared in their joys, sufferings, and dreams. The words of St. Augustine came true for Francis in a prominent way when he says of God: “Our hearts are made for you and they are restless till they rest in you”.

The breath of the Gospel: The Gospel has in it the power to renew the Church and bring new life to the world. It can restore life to dry bones (cf. Ez 37). As a river flowing from Christ, the Gospel brings abundant life to the world of men and cultures: “Flowing into the sea, it makes the waters wholesome. Wherever the river flows, all living creatures teeming in it will live” (Ez 47:7.9). Francis and the movement sparked by him is proof of this, thus confirming the promise of Christ Jesus who says: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (Jn10:10). Inspired specifically by the Gospel of the sending out of the apostles (Mt. 10:1-10), Francis discerned for himself and his followers the specific mission to live the Gospel in its pure simplicity and to take the Gospel of peace to the people of his time where they were, on the roads, in town squares or battle fields. Eloi Leclerc puts it very beautifully when he says: “the world of men is a battle field. The messenger of the Gospel must not appear as a rival or a competitor in the scramble for riches and power[3]. The radical choice of poverty made Francis and his followers particularly harmless.

The flame of the Gospel was so strong in Francis that when he could no longer travel due to ill health, he resorted to writing and was so daring to the point of addressing a letter to humanity. He opens the Letter to the faithful in these words: “Brother Francis, their servant and subject, sends esteem and reverence, true peace from heaven and sincere love in the Lord to all Christian religious people: clergy and laity, men and women, and to all who live in the whole world. Because I am the servant of all, I am obliged to serve all and to administer the fragrant worlds of my Lord to them[4]. This letter is the basis for all the Rules of the Third Order down the centuries. He brought the breath of the Gospel to the people by every means available to him. The conversion to Christ and the Gospel rather sharpened the human qualities of Francis and opened up the horizons of his world. And that is how it supposed to be.

Francis’ complicity with the movement of history: “The salvation that God offers us is an invitation to be part of a love story interwoven with our personal stories; it is alive and wants to be born in our midst so that we can bear fruit just as we are, wherever we are and with everyone all around us”[5]. Eloi Leclerc observes that “there are times when excessive asceticism, and intense spiritual life, dampens sensitivity and renders persons more or less foreign to visible and tangible reality[6]. This did not occur to Francis. Francis used the movements of history to take him to his objectives in the same way a good surfer would use the waves of the ocean. This is certainly how Christian life is supposed to be. When one attains such a degree of faith, then there is no more space for lamentations. Every experience becomes an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel and an invitation to join in the dance of creation in praise of the Most High Glorious God. Docility to the Holy Spirit and attention to the changing times yet in total submission to ecclesiastical authority has marked the Franciscan movement from the beginning until date. In one of his last recommendations to his followers Francis clearly expresses this fact: “I have done my part; May Christ teach you that which is yours to do”. This is certainly the main reason for the diversity and dynamic creativity typical of all Franciscan groups, including OFS.

 

This is an extract from an article written by Br. Francis Bongajum Dor, OFMCap. Download and read the full text:

Koinonia 2020-1“The OFS Rule as a Response in Times of Great Changes”

N. 105

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[1]Éloi Leclerc, François d’Assise le retour à l’Évangile, Desclée de Brouwer, Paris 1981, ed. 2010, pg. 203, (my translation)
[2] Cfr. Idem.
[3]Eloi Leclerc, op. cit., p. 83. (Le monde est un champs de luttes. Le messager de l’Evangile ne doit pas apparaitre comme un rival ou un concurrent dans la course à la richesse et au pouvoir )
[4] Second Letter to the Faithful, 1-2.
[5] Francis, Post-synodal Apostolic exhortation Christus vivit to young people and to the entire people of God, n° 252.
[6] Eloi Leclerc, François d’Assise, op cit. p. 204.

Feast of St. Clare 2020: Letter of the Minister General

The Lord does not save us from history but within history

 

My dear Poor Ladies of St. Clare, may the Lord give you His peace!

“Lord God, look, I have been left here alone with you.” You probably recognise that this heartfelt cry of desolation was uttered by our Mother St. Clare on Christmas Eve 1252[1] when, incapacitated by her serious illness, she could not join her sisters in celebrating the Nativity of the Lord. How can we fail to see in it the lament of Jesus during his agony in the Garden of Olives? And that of so many of our brothers and sisters who, threatened by Covid-19, suffer isolation so distressing for the human heart? On that night, Clare experienced deep loneliness: Francis, who next to God was her only consolation, had died[2]; the friars were in conflict; and she herself was alone, carrying the burden of her infirmities. It is this loneliness that she presents to the Lord, and God gives her the consolation of hearing the hymns sung by the friars in the Basilica of St. Francis.

 

 

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Because of Covid-19, a certain community of Poor Clares was forced to adopt maximum isolation measures. Each sister had to stay in her cell to assist recovery and to avoid infection, making it impossible to gather in the choir and refectory. So painful and so distressing! These sisters told me how consoling it was for them to follow the liturgies presided over by Pope Francis on little radios, listening to his homilies which became the basis of a form of life reduced to its essentials. “A time is coming […] when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me”[3].

Yes, the Lord does not save us from history but within history[4], he does not save us from Covid-19, but within Covid-19, he does not save us from loneliness, but within loneliness, he does not save us from fear, but within our fears.

And hasn’t fear become our daily lot and our companion since the beginning of this pandemic? Fear of the other from whom we must protect ourselves, fear of the wolf that has entered the sheepfold, fear of the evil at work inside us, fear of transmitting death to the other, fear that becomes panic when the virus does its deadly work on our loved ones, and when our own symptoms suddenly give alarming signals. How we tremble before the death of the Poor Crucified One who, asphyxiated, placed his spirit in the hands of the Father! If the coronavirus shakes us so much, it is because it touches the vital breath within us and destroys it… Fear also of the separation and abandonment that some of you experienced when you had to entrust your sister to hospital care, when you saw her leave without being able to be with her at the moment of the great passing.

What is striking is that the death of St. Clare seems to have taken place in a climate of an astonishing heavenly presence: Clare saw the King of Glory coming to her[5], a Sister saw a multitude of virgins approaching the saint’s bed in procession, and the Virgin of virgins bowing her face maternally to that of Clare[6].  Speaking to her soul, Clare whispered: “Go calmly in peace, for you will have a good escort”[7]. When the door to the Communion of Saints is opened, can one die alone?

“My sisters and daughters, do not be afraid because, if the Lord is with us, the enemy cannot harm us. Have confidence in our Lord Jesus Christ because He will free us”[8]. After several weeks in a long tunnel with Covid, sisters told me how the Good Shepherd had kept his promise: “no one will snatch my sheep out of my hand”[9]. They give thanks for all the solidarity they received, for the attentive and competent medical care they were given, for the intense prayer that, on all sides, young and old alike, raised them to heaven so that they might be freed from illness.

It is seldom a pleasure to take the place of the leper, the one from whom others flee. But when one allows oneself to be loved in that situation, what a sweet fragrance arises, what a space of welcome, communion, and charity then opens up!

Yet another community generously responded to the appeals of the poor at their door, even though they worried about the financial difficulties they faced because of lockdown. To their astonishment, benefactors also knocked at the monastery door to offer their contribution. In her great and centuries-old experience, the Church rightly implores the Lord to deliver humanity “from plague, famine and war”. She knows that the health crisis leads to an economic crisis, which can, unfortunately, lead to a social crisis. Indeed, many of you share this concern for tomorrow with your loved ones affected by unemployment. More than ever, we are invited to trust in Providence, because so far the Lord has not abandoned us, nor will he abandon us. Living in simplicity, avoiding all waste; living in solidarity, doing our best to do any good we can do.

Perhaps this event will also be an opportunity to build a new world based no longer on the paradigm of globalisation, at the commercial or cultural level, but on a return to the local, to the family, to the regional[10]. Can we not dream of a new vision of work, business and the economy that is more inclusive and based on solidarity, where the soul and vulnerability would be its fertile foundations?

We are counting on you and on the wisdom of your way of life to help us to dare to be new following this crisis. Unexpectedly and abruptly, during the phases of confinement, we were forced, like you, to make do with restricted spaces and to remain there for a long time. This was in total contrast to the normal way of our society characterised by extended spaces (journeys, social networking, etc.), and frenetic rhythms (“everything, right away”, ever greater speed, etc.). Some will have retained from this experience only the limitation of freedom that it entailed, the challenge of finding oneself facing one’s own deadly dynamics, relational violence due to lack of communication, lack of forgiveness, lack of acceptance of the other. And we perceive the richness of your witness: the enclosure is a small battlefield in the heart of the planet, where you teach us not so much about fuga mundi as about fleeing from flight from the world[11], where you teach us to live in the depths of space, to enter into the colour of the different hours of the day and into the kairos of God, alternating words and silence building relationships of communion with the help of the Spirit. It is very touching that some of you while sadly missing the Eucharistic celebration, the centre of your day, accepted this situation as a call to live and strengthen the “sacrament of our sister”.

This sacrament of our sister, which not only makes our brother Jesus present but is also a bearer of salvation and health, because we have experienced that by taking care of ourselves we have taken care of our sister. Likewise, our sister, in taking care of herself, has also taken care of others.

Your monasteries are reservoirs of peace, serenity, hope, and compassion for those who are on the front lines of the battle. In the helplessness that we experienced with you because we were unable to go out to help the sick and the needy, we dared to pray intercessory prayer with you. Not only praying for ourselves or others in their loneliness or sickness, but also for those risking their health and lives by taking care of others.

With our Mother St. Clare, keep your gaze fixed on the Poor Crucified One, listen to him cry out: “All you who pass by the way, look and see if there is any suffering like my suffering”. Let us respond with one voice, with one spirit to the one who cries and weeps: “Remembering this over and over leaves my soul sinking within me”[12]. May the compassion that you can show from a mother’s heart become a fragrant perfume[13] that can console so many afflicted and sick people, supporting health personnel who are so generous and devoted, encouraging families, and inflaming the hearts of the young people whom the Lord is calling to follow him.

Compassion means to suffer with. This little virus has taught us that we are all in the same boat; it indiscriminately attacks rich and poor, powerful and small, just and sinful. In solidarity with suffering humanity, help us to persevere in prayer to hope against all hope: “Our help is in the Name of the Lord!”[14] . This solidarity transforms the limits of human boundaries to include every human person, every living being, enabling us to embrace our true identity as interconnected beings living in a common home. This awareness helps us to assume the role God has given us as promoters of dignity and protectors of the human community and the environment, Laudato Si’.

In this year we commemorate the witness of the first Franciscan martyrs killed in 1220: they lived the martyrdom of blood. Is it not given to us, as to St. Clare, to live the martyrdom of patience[15], the “passion of patience”[16]? Both are fruitful: if Tertullian could say that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of new Christians, is it not the same for the toil of patience?

 

 

Rome, July 25th, 2020
Feast of St. James

Fr. Michael A. Perry, OFM
Minister General and Servant

 

Cover: Icon written by the Poor Clare Sisters of the Monastery of St Clare, Paganica (L’Aquila), Italy.

Prot. 109898

 

[1] PC III, 30.
[2] TestCl 38.
[3] Jn 16:32.
[4] Cf. John Paul II, homily 8 December 2004.
[5] PC IV, 19.
[6] PC XI, 4.
[7] PC XI, 3.
[8] PC III, 18.
[9] Cf. Jn 10:28.
[10] Cf. Giuseppe Buffon, Il futuro sotto la mattonella – Osservatore Romano 24 April 2020.
[11] Cf. Brother David d’Hamonville, Abbot of En Calcat, La Règle, La communauté et la règle bénédictine, Vivre ensemble longtemps, KTO broadcast.
[12] 4LAg 25-26.
[13] Cf. Jn 12:1-8.
[14] Ps 124:8.
[15] Cf. M. B.  Umiker and F. Sedda, Santi per attrazione, Edizioni Terra Santa, Milano 2020.
[16] Cf. Madeleine Delbrel, La joie de croire. Edizioni Terra Santa, Milano 2020.

Evangelization in the Parish and COVID-19

Dear Brother Secretaries of Mission-Evangelization,

Peace and Good!

From the SGME we want to reach you with a greeting of solidarity and hope. In solidarity with the difficulties that you and the communities that you accompany are living in these moments of pandemic because of the Covid19, and also of hope, because in faith in the Risen Lord we know that this is not the end, and that we can glimpse a better future and “a new normality”.

It is worth reading this text:

We are called to an attitude of hope, beyond the paralyzing effect of two opposite temptations: on the one hand, the resignation that passively undergoes events; on the other, the nostalgia for a return to the past, only longing for what was there before. Instead, it is time to imagine and implement a project of human coexistence that allows a better future for each and every one” (Pontifical Academy for Life, Humana Communitas in the Age of Pandemic: Untimely Meditations on Life’s Rebirth“, 22.07.2020).

All of us are called to collaborate in this dream and in the emergence of a better future, as this is our task as evangelizers, to announce a better world – according to the coordinates of the Kingdom of God – and to collaborate in the creation of the conditions that make it real.

This letter is also an invitation to read the Instruction that the Vatican has just published on the Parish: “The pastoral conversion of the Parish community in the service of the evangelising mission of the Church” by the Congregations for the Clergy, 20.07.2020.

There are many entities, fraternities and confreres involved in parish work. We know that from the parish we can make a good and great evangelization.

We would like to remind you that before this instruction, our Order, through the SGME, had already published a text on the parish in 2009: “Sent to Evangelize in Fraternity and Minority in the Parish“.  Confronting the two texts we see how ours,  not only goes ahead to touch on some themes that appear in the instruction, but also gives us many clues for action, along with  a reading of the “signs of the times”, which  does not appear in the present instruction.

Let us dare to read, together with the instruction, our text on EVANGELIZATION IN THE PARISH, as brothers and minors, seeking to be also, “outgoing parish”, community of communities, promoter of evangelization. The invitation is also to share this letter and these texts with the secretaries of Evangelization of your entities and to invite them to read them and to make, from them, an evaluation of our projects and evangelizing practices.

The text of the Instruction can be found at this address:

http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2020/07/20/0391/00886.html#ing

 

The Order’s Handbook for Parish Ministry:

English: Sent to Evangelize in Fraternity and Minority in the Parish
Español: Enviados a Evangelizar en Fraternidad y Minoridad en la Parroquia
Italiano: Inviati per Evangelizzare in Fraternità e Minorità nella Parrocchia

Let us take advantage of this time of confinement to update and revise our evangelizing practice from the “outgoing parish”.

 

Rome, July 25th 2020

Your brothers,
Br. Alonso Morales, ofm
Br. Valmir Ramos, ofm
Br. Antonio Lanzi, ofm

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Stories of Change: Energy Transition in Franciscan Fraternities

“A global consensus is essential for confronting the deeper problems, which cannot be resolved by unilateral actions on the part of individual countries. Such a consensus could lead, for example, to planning a sustainable and diversified agriculture, developing renewable and less polluting forms of energy, encouraging a more efficient use of energy, promoting a better management of marine and forest resources, and ensuring universal access to drinking water.”  (LS n.164)

Over the past few years, the climate crisis has demonstrated the need to look for new alternative renewable energy systems. In various countries, the Franciscan friars have been carrying out a process of energy transition in their houses, parishes and schools; the majority have opted for solar energy.

We discover that it is a slow process and that sometimes it is difficult to decide to begin, but at the same time, we know with hope that it is not impossible. First of all, we must become aware of the environmental problems and particularly think, reflect and discern from the perspective of the victims of the environmental crisis. Only if we can relate the environmental crisis with the social crisis will we be convinced that change is necessary.  We believe that we need significant changes that involve the participation of many people on a global scale, at the same time we think that meaningful change comes from below, from the home, the parish, the school, where we must be involved from the grassroots.

As part of the Laudato Si’ Revolution campaign, we are sharing some stories with you about energy transition in some of the Order’s fraternities. They are practical examples of friars who, together with their fraternities and pastoral communities, have ventured into renewable and low-pollution energy for the benefit of their communities and future generations. We invite you to read these stories, to share them with your fraternities and pastoral communities. Perhaps you will be the next to make the energy transition. You can read them here: www.laudatosirevolution.org/energy-transition/.

If you want to tell your story of energy transition, send it along with some pictures to pax@ofm.org.

Koinonia 2020 – 2 (N.106): The Secular Franciscan and the Immigrant

The Secular Franciscan and the Immigrant

 

For many centuries many people have been forced to live an exodus, the emigration from their land, and this problem still remains today as a real suffering for entire populations. Emigration therefore continues to be a topic of constant debate, which feeds more discussion than practical action. It is the paradox of our times in which globalization makes us say that “the world is a global village”, but in which nations are still divided, closed and hostile more than ever. Emigration and its consequence, immigration which is rooted in the opposition “between us and others” are increasingly causing a large number of internal conflicts. They are manifested in clashes between nationalities, ethnicities, political affiliations or religious beliefs, especially causing disadvantage to those who are persecuted in their country of origin, with consequent aggravation of problems in the countries of refuge. Unfortunately, people seem to have no memory of history and often refuse to learn from the past. It would be nice and constructive for everyone to be aware that they are pilgrims in the world, so as not to consider anyone as “different” because they belong to another nation.

 

  • Koinonia 2020-2“The Secular Franciscan and the Immigrant”– Fr. Pedro Zitha, OFM

N. 106

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Respect the Divine Good in Creation: Campaign of the Laudato Si’ Revolution

The JPIC Office launched the Laudato Si’ Revolution on May 24, a global movement for integral and ecological conversion, i.e., environmental, economic, and social ecology. There are several initiatives in it, such as lifestyle change, energy transition, Laudato Si’ pilgrimage, etc.

The JPIC Office also collaborated with Br. Sandesh Manuel OFM, musician, guitarist, and YouTuber, for a series of video campaigns to promote the Revolution. The first video, released on July 15 – the feast of St. Bonaventure, is entitled, “Respect the Divine Good in Creation.” The powerful message of the video urges the viewers to change their perspectives and hearts to recognize the Creator in Creation.

“Christ is found in all creation, including the earth—we call home. The theology of creation by St. Bonaventure says that God can be found in all creatures because they are created out of God’s unconditional LOVE. According to him, the Creation is the open Bible (Bible and earth), the first Revelation. But few people realize that their actions and indifference towards the well-being of the earth and the people in the periphery are symbolic and synonymous with the suffering of our beloved Savior.

We need to create a new culture, a new civilization that gives full respect to the infinite Love and Goodness of God in Creation. Only then will we be able to sing together with St. Francis of Assisi and St. Bonaventure ‘Praised be the Lord of Creation (Laudato Si’ Mi Signore)!’ You and me, all of us are being called to this revolutionary mission today, the revolution of tenderness, the revolution of vigor: Laudato Si’ Revolution!”

Every single Franciscan is invited to this movement. Watch the video:

Communique from the General Definitory – Tempo Forte of July 2020

The ordinary sessions of the Tempo Forte in July took place from Monday 6 to Friday 10 July 2020, preceded by two extraordinary sessions on 11 and 25 June.

General Chapter of the Order: The General Definitory examined the responses received from the Conference Presidents and decided that the Chapter would take place in Rome, in a reduced form and, depending on the evolution of the pandemic, close to the Solemnity of Pentecost or, at the latest, in September/October 2021.

With the approval of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Br Ignacio CEJA JIMÉNEZ, Definitor General, was elected “General Delegate pro monialibus”, to replace Br Fernando MENDOZA LAGUNA, who returns under the obedience of his Minister, to the Province of Saints Peter and Paul in Mexico.

There was also a change in the College of the Lateran Penitentiary Friars: Br Ciro STANZIONE returned under the obedience of his Minister, to the Salerno-Lucanian Province of the Immaculate Conception, in Italy; on 2 June the Apostolic Penitentiary appointed Br Victor JOHN, of the Custody of St John the Baptist, as Ordinary Minor Penitentiary at the Papal Basilica of St John Lateran.

During this Tempo Forte, the Definitory met with the General Bursar, Br John PUODZIUNAS, OFM, and the Controller, Dr Donata GENTILINI, to discuss some important financial matters.

Four Provinces (in Italy, Mexico, and the United States of America) were granted a derogation from Art. 166 §1 of the General Statutes, so that they may postpone their respective Provincial Chapters by more than three months.

In full respect of the anti-Covid norms and following the prescriptions of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life by letter of 1 July 2020, the Provincial Chapters of some entities in Croatia, Italy, Poland, and the Czech Republic took place. The General Definitory examined and ratified the acts of the elections that took place during these Chapters, as well as those that took place outside Chapter: a Definitor for the Province of the Most Holy Trinity in Chile, a Councillor in the Custody of St. Anthony of Padua in the Philippines, and four Guardians (Cuba, Poland, United States of America, South Africa).

Br Reginaldo Rômulo MONTE CANTO, of the Custody of St. Benedict of the Amazon in Brazil, was elected Visitator General to the Province of the Holy Cross in Brazil (Belo Horizonte).

In accordance with Art. 170 §2 of the General Statutes the General Definitory elected the Definitors of the Province of Ireland.

In addition, Br Hugh McKENNA, who will also serve as local bursar, was elected for the next three years as Guardian of the St Isidore’s College in Rome; he will be assisted by Br Juri LEONI, as Vicar.

The Definitory examined the Final Reports of the Canonical Visitations that took place at the Pontifical AntonianumUniversity and the Provinces of Our Lady of Hungary and St Francis in Vietnam.

Ten new scholarships were granted, and 70 were renewed for the academic year 2020/2021; of these, 43 are for students who are not members of the OFM.

In addition to granting two former friars readmission to the Order without the obligation to repeat the Novitiate and welcoming an Olivetan monk into our Order, the following cases of departure from the Order were dealt with:

– Indult of exclaustration for three years: 2
– Dispensation from solemn vows: 8
– Secularisation ad experimentum: 4
– Secularisation pure et simpliciter: 3
– Dispensation from the obligations of priestly ordination: 2
– Dismissal from the Order: 1

 

The next Tempo Forte will be held from 7 to 18 September 2020.

To the praise of Christ and the Poor Man of Assisi. Amen!

 

Rome, 11 July 2020

 

Br. Giovanni Rinaldi, OFM
Secretary General

We are called to a radical choice to live our Franciscan charism authentically

Marking the fifth anniversary of the publication of the encyclical Laudato Si’, on the care of the common home, and at a time when humanity is going through one of the greatest health crises, Pope Francis has declared a special Laudato Si’ anniversary year. The themes addressed in the encyclical take on greater importance in the current context where social and ecological crises have become evident and acute. One need only look at the shameful inequality in access to health care in many countries.

Integral ecological conversion is one of the proposals made by the Pope in his letter, since the problems are not presented in an isolated way, but are interconnected. An integral conversion should encompass, among other things, the political, social, environmental and economic aspects. In this way, it will be possible to face the tremendous socio-environmental crisis that we are experiencing.

The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development calls on all humanity “to celebrate a special anniversary year of Laudato Si between 21 May 2020 and 24 May 2021. “We hope that the anniversary year and the ensuing decade will indeed be a time of grace, a true Kairos experience and “Jubilee” time for the Earth, and for humanity, and for all God’s creatures”. For this purpose, the DPIHD offers a programme highlighting the Laudato Si’ platform of initiatives as a call to various institutions to get involved and commit themselves to a long-term plan – 7 years – as a path towards full sustainability in the spirit of Laudato Si’.

Also, in June, the Interdicasterial Desk of the Holy See on Integral Ecology presented the document On the way to the care of the common home – Five years after Laudato Si’”.  The text is a call to action, providing elements that will guide and contribute to bringing the plans and projects on the care of the common home to life.

These two initiatives of the Holy See encourage and challenge us as Franciscans to commit ourselves to our way of life and our mission of care and safeguarding. Furthermore, we see with joy that, with the Laudato Si’ Revolution campaign, promoted by the JPIC offices of the Order and of the Franciscan Family, we are in full communion and harmony with the whole Church. “As individuals, fraternities, entities and as an international order, we feel strongly challenged to make a clear and radical option in the direction of the ways of living indicated by Laudato Si’” (PCO/18 n. 154).

JPIC Newsletter: CONTACT (04-06.2020)

Brothers and Sisters,

Fraternal greetings from the brothers of the JPIC Office of the General Curia. We present to you the recent edition of the “Contact” Newsletter that allows us to be in communion and informed of the initiatives to promote and experience the values of JPIC.

English – CONTACT

Español – CONTACTO

Italiano – CONTATTO

In this edition of “Contact” we have included a special section on COVID-19, to share various actions that the brothers are carrying out in solidarity during these difficult times. We thank the JPIC animators who have sent these stories to the Office to share with all of you.

Peace and good!

Br. Rufino Lim, OFM
Br. Jaime Campos, OFM
JPIC Office
Rome

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