How important it is to live a Christian and religious existence without getting lost in disputes and gossip, cultivating a serene dialogue with all, with meekness, mildness and humility, with poor means, proclaiming peace and living soberly, content with what is offered to us! This also requires a determined commitment to transparency, to the ethical and solidaristic use of goods, to a style of sobriety and spoliation. If, instead, you are attached to the goods and riches of the world, and place your security there, it will be the Lord Himself who will strip you of this spirit of worldliness in order to preserve the precious patrimony of minority and poverty to which He has called you through Saint Francis. Either you are freely poor and minor, or you will end up being stripped.
You only need to lose track of who you are, or who you thought you were supposed to be, so that you end up lying flat on the dirt floor basement of your heart. Do this, Jesus says, and you will live.
Minority calls to be and feel oneself little before God, entrusting oneself totally to his infinite mercy. The prospect of mercy is incomprehensible for all those who do not recognize themselves as “minors,” that is, little ones, needy and sinful before God. The more aware we are of this, the closer we are to salvation; the more we are convinced that we are sinners, the more we are disposed to be saved. It happens thus in the Gospel: The persons who recognize themselves poor before Jesus are saved; instead one who thinks he has no need does not receive salvation, not because it is not offered to him, but because he has not received it. Minority also means to come out of oneself, of one’s schemes and personal views; it means to go beyond the structures — which are also useful if used wisely –, to go beyond habits and securities, to witness concrete closeness to the poor, to the needy, to the marginalized in a genuine attitude of sharing and service.
We always look to you as our elder brothers. I would like to ask you to be good witnesses for us. Your testimony as Franciscans in your individual lives and in your fraternal lives is good for us. it is important for us to see how you are living your Franciscan charism, your prayer life, your vocation. But also, it is important for us to see your fraternities. One of the major challenges for us is to strengthen the fraternal bonds in our fraternities. In the last 38 years since the renewal of our Rule, we have passed through many changes. Our life has changed a lot. But, we need your help, your assistance and the testimony of how you live your fraternal life to help us transform our fraternities from pious prayer groups into true secular fraternities and it is not an easy job. We need your spiritual assistance. We need your love and personal commitment. It is not always easy to find friars to be spiritual assistants, but I kindly invite you to come and see our fraternities and give us your help. We all belong to the same fraternity, we are living the same charism, we deeply need your presence in our lives and we need this life-giving union. We are strongly convinced that we belong to the same fraternity, the same Franciscan family and we will do our best to help you as friars in your mission, in your service, in the church and in the world.
In a very real sense not one of us is qualified, but it seems that God continually chooses the most unqualified to do God’s work, to bear God’s glory. If we are qualified, we tend to think that we have done the job ourselves. If we are forced to accept our evident lack of qualification, then there’s no danger that we will confuse God’s work with our own, or God’s glory with our own.
Jesus chose a person [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Peter] who was sincere and generous, (who was) a believer and spontaneous, who knew how to welcome Him into his boat and with Him sail away from the shore, when it was required of him. Simon abandoned the assurances of having his boat secure on the shore, to acquire the safety of sailing with Jesus. (He) witnessed firsthand the love which by the lakeside encouraged those who had followed (Jesus) there, enflaming their hearts and hopes. Overwhelmed by the growing ties between the Lord and himself and by the awakening of his People, Peter believed Jesus’s word; he rowed out into the lake and let down the nets, while his purely human experience strongly advised him against it. God had chosen a modest fisherman, one who was able to be filled with wonder, time and again, by works, wisdom, personality and extreme love of Jesus.
This is why humility, spiritual poverty, is so precious: it locates our identity securely in the one place where it will be safe from all harm. If our treasure is in God, no one can take it from us. Humility is truth. I am what I am in God’s eyes: a poor child who possesses absolutely nothing, who receives everything, infinitely loved and totally free.
Together with Pope Francis, we [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][the Order of Friars Minor] are called to preach the Gospel by “going out” into the world. Like Jesus and Francis, we are called to minister to the widows, the orphans, the aliens and the lepers of our day. We must continue to open ourselves to the world of the 21st century, to hear the cries of the people, and to struggle with them to confront the social, economic and environmental crises that we are facing.
Francis sends us to the gospel, which is, at the same time, both beginning and end. But, in a certain sense, the gospel also points to Francis, who shows us how to live the gospel with simplicity of heart and integrity of faith. And we Franciscans must, live the gospel; all that we are and do must be informed by the gospel, without limiting ourselves to a “careful reading” or intellectual contemplation.
… Celano makes clear the prior and more fundamental relationship upon which the gift and challenge of fraternity must be constructed: the absolute and unconditional bond of love and trust with the Lord Jesus. It is this foundational relationship that Francis came to embrace, that directed his every activity and his every choice, and that led him to a profound experience of the Trinity as a circle of love and mercy into which all of humanity and all of creation is invited to participate. The post-synodal document on Consecrated Life, Vita Consecrata (1996, par. 14) makes clear this same radical demand: that we must enter into an intimate relationship of love and trust with the risen Lord Jesus if our lives are to be transfigured, transformed by God and with Jesus. All authentic discipleship must be grounded in the experience of “intimacy with the Master,” where we see “Jesus only”(Vita Consecrata, par. 14). It is when our lives are rooted in the eternal love of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit that we are able to see beyond our own personal limits and sinfulness, to see beyond the limits and sinfulness of the brothers, and to recognize the mystery of the grace of God’s uncontrollable mercy and love, which comes to console us in our difficulties and challenges us to live in the freedom of the children of God.