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CONFERENCE OF GENERAL SPIRITUAL ASSISTANTS OFS – YOUFRA


2016 - 3                                                                                    Year 23                                                                                     n. 91

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The Secular Franciscan Order

And the works of mercy

 Lino Temperini Tor [1]

 

"It is my burning desire that, during this year of Jubilee, the Christian people

reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy " [2]

 

The works of mercy

The works of mercy are charitable actions with which we help our neighbor in their corporal and spiritual need" (Catechism of the Catholic Church , Vatican City 1999, n. 2447, pp. 645-646). Following the teaching of Jesus and the example of the early Christian communities, the Catholic Church has always shown a preferential love for the needy in body and spirit.

Jesus also indicates the extent of our merciful love: "Be merciful, as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6,36).

The works of mercy are extracted from the passage of the Gospel according to Matthew on the last judgment (25, 31-46). "Bury the dead" is taken from the book of Tb 1.17f. The current understanding is made by S. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologiae , Pars II-II, q. 23, a. 2-3; q. 32. a. 2 to 1.

Saint Francis of Assisi and mercy

             The centrality of mercy in his spiritual experience. The Poverello of Assisi begins his life of conversion by showing mercy. He was imbibed by the mercy of the benevolent God and wanted to fulfill gestures of mercy. In the Testament recalls: "The Lord led me among the lepers and I showed them mercy" (cf. 2Test 2: FF 110)[1] .

             For St. Francis, "Doing mercy" implies concrete actions and not just sentiments of compassion. He begins by embracing a leper!

             The mercy of God goes through his whole existence and regulates the rhythms of his apostolate in the light of the Gospel message.

In his Testament of 1226, on the eve of his death, he rereads his whole life in the light of divine and human mercy. Guided by the mercy of God, the Poverello of Assisi becomes a servant of mercy and begins to serve the lepers [2].

Saint Francis embracing the leper.

Evangelical poverty and the Third Order of Saint Francis

             "The brothers and sisters of penance", as sons of St Francis of Assisi, are deeply involved in the practice of the most genuine values of the Gospel and, in particular, in the binomial penance/works of mercy. The question of poverty enters into this context.

             The comparison with the First and Second order is enlightening for us to understand the significance of poverty in the background of the Franciscan Family. The First and the Second Order understand "the highest" poverty in its ascetic and Christological aspects. We know the vast literature and the endless debates on the making of the Franciscan poverty. Poverty assumes a theoretical significance and becomes an ideal, a force that stimulates divergent potentialities and attractions. For centuries the problem of evangelical poverty polarized the most engaged intelligences and personalities in the way of perfection. The highest poverty - write the Rb 6,4 and the RsC 8.4 - makes poor in things and rich in virtues. It makes one to be more free to adhere closely to Christ and to the neighbor.

             The "Franciscan Penitents", secular and regular, do not enter into the disputes on the poverty of Christ and the apostles, of the primitive and medieval church, of St. Francis and the followers of the Poverello of Assisi. The Tertiaries, normally, choose the evangelical poverty with the intention of social and charitable assistance. They do not exclude the biblical sense of imitating Christ who "emptied himself" (Phil 2,7) and the function of ascetic purification. These theological significances are present and active, even if often implicitly.

             The constant adherence to the practice of charity and the commitment to the everyday life do not permit the brothers and sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis to pause on abstract and often sterile discussions, if not lacerating and deleterious. A certain pauperistic narcissism, which exalts the poverty as an absolute and idealized value, often away from real life, was not absent in the Franciscan world.

             Instead, when a sister or brother of penance decide to live devoid of movable property or devotes his property by testament to "consociatio poenitentium", has before his eyes and in his heart the multifarious needs of the poor and the amount of charitable services provided to their advantage.

            Coming from the people and remaining "in the world" in the midst of the people, or at least, very close to the existential reality of the people, the Third Order of Saint Francis shares with attention the problems of the people and with generosity performs works of mercy. The orientation to the concreteness in poverty/charity is also motivated by the fact that the Tertiaries, most of the times, belong to the simple people and are persons not interested in too much of academic sophistications, not introduced to theology and not concerned with abstract discussions. They are people immersed in everyday life and feel involved in alleviating the suffering of others.

            It is in this spirit that the fraternities of Franciscan tertiaries are owners of goods and do not despise to accept donations to its title, without legal cover-ups. The goods are not for the exclusive use of the Tertiaries themselves, educated in austere life and in freedom, but for the needs of others!

            Between the word of God, living and with a cutting edge (cf. Heb 4:12), and the effective attention toward the materially and spiritually poor, there is a close consequential link. And the verification of the actualization of the Gospel in the point of view of charitable works constitutes the parameter of judgment at the end of time (cf. Mt 25, 31-46). The service of charity, i.e. the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, will have more weight on the Scale of the Judge. This will be the concrete criterion for assessing our earthly existence.

            "He who does not love does not know God," warns the apostle John (1 Jn 4,8). "He who does not love abides in death" (1Jn 3, 14). In fact, "he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen" (1 Jn 4, 20). It is not for anything else that the invisible God is made visible in Christ, who became man and was manifested to us.

             It is not enough to love in words: you have to love "in deed and in truth" (1 Jn 3,18). The faith of a Christian, negligent to the poor is dead, is an appearance or an illusion, as would say St. James (Ja 2,2s; 14f).

             In the great era of Franciscan Poverty, projected by the apostolic community and modeled in part after the model of the primitive church, the Third Order comes therefore with its own style and characteristic: sharing the bread with the hungry, welcoming the homeless, dressing the naked, speaking for the marginalized, supporting the unemployed, comforting the hopeless, illuminating the lost and encouraging the weak (cf. Is 58,7), etc.

             This is the program of our brothers and sisters of penance, who follow the example of Francis of Assisi who stripped himself of everything and took care of the lepers. Become poor to donate, so that the goods are transformed into works of mercy in the name of Christ.

             The ancient Rule [3] (or Memoriale propositi) of 1221 transposes the spirit of charity of Francis and orders that each penitent give at least one coin so that the ministers of fraternity can meet the needs of the poor (n. 20). It also recommends some works of mercy, even if limited, to the brothers and sisters of penance. The members of the Order must dress poorly, practice fasting and abstinence to be more free and available at the service of the brothers (nn. 1-11 and n. 22f). They must also provide whatever is needed and is convenient to the sick (n. 22).

             The Rule of the penitents, or of Nicholas IV (1289)[4], echoes the Gospel mandate of love that makes themselves at the service of the brothers. The Memoriale propositi speaks of "opera misericordiae facienda" (n. 21) and the Rule of Nicholas IV speaks of "misericordiae opera exercenda" (12.9). The Rule (Rp) urges everyone to donate current money, so that the needs and the convenience of the poor and of the sick are met (12, 3-7).

             Living and clothing like real poor, fasting with perseverance, the brothers and sisters of penance can be solicitous toward the less affluent, who are often marginalized by the rhythms of a restless and often inhuman society (cf. Rp 3, 5 and 8).

The cry of the poor and the voice of the facts

             Franciscan Studies in recent decades have brought to light the precious historical evidences that document the charitable activity of penitents, or Franciscan tertiaries. Either for the cultural limitations or for the fact that they are immersed in the daily life of the society, the Tertiaries do not dedicate themselves to theoretical problems and do not participate in the debate about the nature of evangelical poverty, but look at the face of reality and are attentive to the cry of the needy.  The signs of the times and the appeal of present history urge the tertiaries to intervene in the emergencies of concrete situations.

             The witness of historical sources and archival documents presents us with a great number of penitents, or Franciscan tertiaries, who devoted their goods or part of them to the various works of charity.

            In the past centuries, among the beneficiaries of charity are the poor in general, then the pilgrims, widows and destitute girls, abandoned children, blind, lame, lepers, the wounded in war, the sick assisted in hospital or at home. Prisoners as well were assisted. The penitents build modest hospices, manage canteens for the poor, administer hostels for girls, welcome orphan girls, care for the recovery of the prostitutes, oversee on justice in the markets and on the correctness of the weights, protect public sources, preserve the bridges etc. And all on free service and with their own property! When the means were lacking, the tertiaries went on begging to assist the poor and to keep alive the charitable works. All this variegated dynamism of the works of mercy is amply documented by scientific studies[5] .

            The Secular Franciscans are committed to animate a new world, always in evolution, shaped by the mercy of God who loves and forgives, illuminates and saves, insists but does no violence. He loves us with a benevolent love that gives and asks nothing. He urges us to follow the strategies of divine love and to put in to practice the therapies of charity.

St. Lodovico, King of France, the patron saint of the Franciscan Third Order,

Serves the poor at the table

(Miniature in the biography of G. Saint-Pathus, Ms 5716, sheet 137

In the National Library of Paris)

 NEWS - CHAPTERS - VISITS - MEETINGS

Hungary – National Elective Chapter

The National Elective Chapter of the OFS of Hungary was held from July 14 to 16 at the National Shrine Mátraverebély-Szentkút, with the theme: "To desire the spirit of the Lord and his works" (cf. Const. OFS, 11). There were 57 chapter members who participated in the Chapter and there was a good number of observers and Tibor Kauser, the Minister General of OFS was also invited. There were also 9 Spiritual Assistants (2 Franciscan sisters, 7 OFM, 1 OFMConv, 1 OFMCap), and Fr. Benedek Dobszay, Minister Provincial of OFM. The elective chapter was presided by Ana Fruk, Counselor to the Presidency, accompanied by Fr. Amando Trujillo Cano, TOR, General Assistant OFS-YouFra. The later made a presentation of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia of Pope Francis. The opening Mass was presided by Fr. Benedek. There was a meeting of the Spiritual Assistants, the Minister Provincial of the OFM and Fr. Amando on the morning of 15th July to discuss the results obtained and the challenges that the Assistants are experiencing in their service to the OFS. The elections were held on the same day in which Kerekes László was elected National Minister, and Beke Márton as the International Councillor. The new Council and the national Minister were installed by Ana Fruk, during the Eucharistic celebration on Friday July 15, which was presided over by Fr. Amando. On the following day the concluding Eucharist was presided by Fr. Tihamér Papp OFM, the National Assistant of OFS. The Chapter took place in an atmosphere of fraternity, prayer and reflection.

Krakow, Poland - International Meeting of the Franciscan Youth

In preparation for the celebration of World Youth Day, was held the International Meeting of YouFra (IIG) from July 22 to 25, in Azory, Krakow, close to the liceo Zespół Szkół Ogólnokształcacych nr 5, within the territory of the parish of the Immaculate Conception, run by the Friars Minor. The main theme of the meeting was "Mercy is the source of joy, serenity and peace" (cf. Misericordiae vultus , 2). There were 100 participants, among whom there were Franciscan youths, Secular Franciscans and Spiritual Assistants, coming from 27 countries. The meeting was held in a joyful and fraternal atmosphere, wherein was celebrated the cultural diversity of the fraternities present. Among the participants there were six members of the CIOFS Presidency: Tibor Kauser, Ana Fruk, Andrea Odak, Fr. Jose Antonio Cruz Duarte, OFM, Fr. Francis Dor, OFM Cap, and Fr. Amando Trujillo Cano TOR. Fr. Amando celebrated the opening mass. On the second day Andrea Odak, Fr. Amando and Ana Fruk made a presentation on the theme of the meeting. On the same day the Holy Mass was presided by Fr. Jan Maciejowski, OFMConv, Provincial of Danziga and the present President of the Conference of the Franciscan Provincials of Poland. The following provincials were also present: Fr. Jarosław Kania, OFM, Prov. Immaculate Conception, Krakow; Fr. Rufin Maryjka, OFM, Prov. S. Maria degli Angeli, Krakow; Fr. Alan Brzyski, OFM - Prov. Wroclaw, and Fr. Tomasz Żak, OFMCap, Prov. Krakow. In the afternoon there was a round table in which the representatives of five national Fraternities of YouFra explained the involvement of their fraternities in the works of mercy. On Sunday, the participants went to the National Park of Ojcowski where they celebrated the Eucharist, presided by Fr. Francis Dor, OFMCap. On the last day, the Franciscan Youths were invited to use in future the text of the celebrations of the YouFra, approved by the CIOFS Presidency, and to participate in the competition for the logo and the hymn of the Franciscan Youth. The Concluding Eucharistic celebration was presided by Minister General Fr. Nicholas Polichnowski, TOR, on behalf of the Conference of the MM.GG. of the First Order and TOR. The Liturgy of the Hours on these days was presided by various spiritual Assistants.

Krakow, Poland - World Youth Day 2016

During the World Youth Day (WYD) 2016, held in Krakow from July 26 to 31, six members of the CIOFS Presidency (Tibor Kauser, Ana Fruk, Andrea Odak, Fr. Jose Antonio Cruz Duarte, OFM, Fr. Francis Dor, OFM, and Fr. Amando Trujillo Cano, TOR) accompanied a significant group of Franciscan Youth. All of them participated in the events of the general program of the World Youth Day and the activities of the "Franciscan Village", held on Wednesday 27th, in Krakòw-Olszanica, via Korzeniaka 16, at the Provincial Curia of the Friars Minor Capuchin (Prov. of Krakòw). The program of the village was comprised primarily of a meeting of young people with the Franciscan General Ministers (Fr. Michael A. Perry, OFM, Fr. Marco Tasca, OFMConv, Fr. Mauro Johri, OFMCap, Fr. Nicholas Polichnowski, TOR, Tibor Kauser OFS, and Sr. Deborah Lockwood, OSF), in addition to some testimonies, to the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a flea market and musical concerts. The Franciscan Village has been organized by the Franciscan Family of Poland and was attended by approximately two thousand Franciscan Youth, religious and friars, including some Ministers Provincial.

Paraguay - National Elective Chapter

The National Elective Chapter of the OFS in Paraguay was celebrated from August 12 to 14, 2016 at the Oasis Franciscano - in Itaugua. The Chapter was presided over by Silvia Diana, member of the CIOFS Presidency and the delegate of the Minister General, Tibor Kauser, and Fr. Jose Antonio Cruz Duarte, OFM, Assistant General to the OFS  on behalf of CAS. In a spirit of prayer, fraternity, service and hospitality the Chapter was attended by 30 chapter members and 16 observers, representatives of 1001 Secular Franciscans of Paraguay. Fr. Marcelo Benitez, OFM, the National Assistant of the OFS and Fr. Tomas Acosta, OFM, the National Assistant of the YouFra were present for the meeting. Higino Fabián Díaz Noceda was re-elected National Minister, Alcides Isidoro Martinez was elected International Councillor and Roque Amarilla as International Councillor substitute. The mass of the Installation was presided over by the General Assistant Fr. Jose Antonio Cruz Duarte, OFM.

Madagascar - National Elective Chapter

The National Elective Chapter of the OFS-Madagascar was held in Ambositra, a city 282km south of the capital Antananarivo, at the center of the national headquarters of the Inter Franciscan Conference - Madagascar (CIFM) from September 1 to 4, 2016. The Chapter was presided over by Michel Janian, International Councillor, delegate from Tibor Kauser, Minister General OFS, assisted by Fra Fidèle Rakotoariveharitsoa, OFMCap, delegate from CAS. The first day, after Fr. Jean Charles, OFM, guardian of the Islands of Madagascar and Mauritius, presided the opening Eucharist, was mainly devoted to the triennial report of the outgoing national Minister and the works on the National Statutes. The second day was dedicated mainly to a conference and to the group-works on the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia of Pope Francis. The third day, September 3, was dedicated to the elections. There were 25 voting chapter members with 4 assistants, other than the delegate of CAS and the above mentioned Guardian of the Friars Minor. Raboanary Gérard Cécilien was re-elected to the double function of National Minister and International Councilor (second term). Jean Philippe was elected as the International Councilor substitute. The Chapter was held in a good, typical Franciscan climate of peace, brotherhood and mutual respect. On Sunday, September 4, the concluding Mass was celebrated together with the Catholic community of the Parish of Saint Vincent de Paul at Ivato Ambositra. During this Holy Mass, presided by Fra Fidèle, delegate of the CAS, the new Council was presented and received the blessing. The Capitulars shared a lunch with some leaders of the parish community to mark the end of the Chapter and their stay in that place.

Slovakia - National Elective Chapter

The National Elective Chapter of the OFS in Slovakia was celebrated from September 2 to 4, 2016, at St. John Paul II Centre of the Franciscan Sisters of the Transfiguration at Melcice. There were 29 voting chapter members and an invitee, the National Minister of the OFS of Croatia. The Chapter was presided over by Andrea Odak, the Councillor of the Presidency for the YouFra, delegated by Tibor Kauser, Minister General OFS, who was assisted by Fr Francis Bongajum Dor, OFM, General Assistant OFS-YouFra. Josef Gazdik was elected National Minister for the second mandate and Lucia Spodniakova was elected International Councillor for the third mandate. The opening Mass was presided by Fr Josef Konc, OFMCap, National Assistant and President of turn of the Conference of National Spiritual Assistants. The concluding Mass was presided by Fr Bruno, OFM, Regional Spiritual Assistant. It is worth noting that the works were held in a very fraternal climate. None of the National Assistants has been able to be present during the works of the Chapter and none of them had submitted any report. Some assistants had communicated the reason for their absence.

New Zealand - National Elective Chapter

The National Elective Chapter of the OSF-New Zealand was held from September 2 to 4, 2016 at St. Francis Retreat Center, Hillsbourough Road - Auckland, a center of the Friars Minor. There were 25 Capitulars with active voice, 6 assistants and some observers. The Chapter was presided over by Jenny Harrington, International Councillor, delegated by Tibor Kauser, Minister General OFS and was assisted by Fra Mario Dorado, OFMCap, delegate from CAS. All the work was done in a typically Franciscan climate of joy, simplicity and fraternity. Lloyd de Melo was elected National Minister, Chantal Healy was elected International Councillor and Colleen Logan International Councillor substitute.

Australia-Oceania - National Elective Chapter

The National Elective Chapter of the OFS in Australia-Oceania was celebrated from September 9 to 11, 2016 at the “St Joseph's center for Reflective Living” in Baulkham Hills NSW 2153. The Chapter was presided over by Jennifer Harrington, member of the CIOFS Presidency and the Delegate of the Minister General of the OFS, Tibor Kauser, and by Fr. Carl Schafer OFM, Delegate of CAS. In a spirit of prayer, fraternity, service and hospitality the Chapter was attended by 35 Chapter Members and two observers. There were two National Assistants to the SFO: Fr. John Cooper, OFM, and Fr. Louis Schmid, OFMConv, and three Regional Assistants. Lola Kelly was elected National Minister, Andrea Burvill was elected International Councillor and Maria Iadanza International Councillor substitute. The Mass of Installation was presided over by Fr. Carl Schafer OFM.

Poland - National Elective Chapter

The 10th National Chapter of OFS in Poland was held in Warsaw, in the Franciscan Center at the convent of the Friars Minor OFM, Province of Santa Maria degli Angeli in via Modzelewskiego 98, from September 16 to 18, 2016. The Chapter was presided over by Ana Fruk, International Councillor, delegated by Tibor Kauser, Minister General OFS, who was assisted in this service by Fr. Robert Rabka, OFMCap, delegate from CAS. There were representatives of the 18 regions of the OFS present in Poland. On the first and second day there were 57 chapter members of the OFS with the right to vote, in addition to some observers. Fr. Rufin Maryjka, OFM, Minister Provincial of the province of Santa Maria degli Angeli and other 12 Friars Assistants (3 National Assistants and some regional Assistants), coming from all the families of the First Order, and 3 representatives of the Franciscan Youth were all present on the first day. On the third day, reserved for the elections, there were 59 chapter members of OFS with voting rights (two new members, elected on the day before, were added to the National Council). From the vote, were elected: Joanna Berłowska as National Minister and Maria Teodorowicz as International Councillor. As regards the climate of the fraternal encounter, the Chapter was held in an atmosphere of dialog, understanding and mutual cooperation. It was well prepared with a lot of commitment from the part of the local fraternities of Warsaw, who were occupied with the organization (preparation of food, service in the kitchen and at the reception, distribution of room and all sorts of help in any problems). The Friars of the local community of the OFM and the 3 National Assistants helped in the spiritual part.

Ecuador - National Elective Chapter

The National Elective Chapter of the OFS in Ecuador was held in Azogues, in the Convent of the Friars Minor “Nuestra Señora de la Nube” from September 16 to 18, 2016. The Chapter was presided over by Marielide de Lima Tagliaferro, International Councillor of Venezuela, delegated by Tibor Kauser, Minister General OFS, assisted in this service by Fr. Jose Antonio Cruz Duarte, OFM, Assistant General to the OFS. The National Assistant of OFS, Fr. Willan Mora OFM, and the Regional Assistant, Fr. Freddy Sucuzhañay OFM were all present for the Chapter. In addition Fr. Victor Hugo OFM, the guardian of the Convent of "Nuestra Señora de la Nube" was also present throughout the Chapter. There were 59 chapter members and some observers from the 6 regions of the OFS existing in Ecuador. The Chapter was held in an atmosphere of prayer, work, reflection, dialog and Franciscan joy. On the first day, Carmén del Rocio Sánchez Sánchez led a conference on: "The importance of the testimony of the Secular Franciscan in the present context". Saturday was dedicated to reports and elections. John Hernán Palacios Verdugo was elected as National Minister and Doris Elizabeth Benavides Márquez was elected as Vice-minister. The Mass of Installation was presided over by the General Assistant, Fr. Jose Antonio Cruz Duarte, OFM. On Sunday, before finalizing the priorities, Fr. Jose Antonio Cruz Duarte OFM, conducted a conference on "The Spiritual Assistance to OFS and Youfra and its Importance". The concluding Mass of the Chapter was presided over by Fr. Freddy Sucuzhañay OFM.

Mexico - National Elective Chapter

The National Chapter of OFS in Mexico took place from September 23 to 25, 2016, at St. Pope John Paul II Pastoral Center, in San Juan de los Lagos, Jalisco. The Chapter was presided over by Tibor Kauser, OFS General Minister, accompanied by Fr. Amando Trujillo Cano, TOR, General Assistant OFS-YouFra. There were 84 chapter members and around twenty observers and collaborators. The three national Assistants to the OFS were also present: Fr. Jesus Arrondo Aguerri, OFMCap, President of their Conference, Fr. Abelardo Aranda Echeverria, OFM (who is also the Assistant of National YouFra) and Fr. Francisco Vargas Aceves, OFMConv. The four provincial Ministers (3 OFM and one OFMConv) had also participated in different ways and times. The Chapter members were very happy to have the presence of the General Minister of OFS and to be able to communicate with him in Spanish language. The Chapter was held in an atmosphere of prayer, work, reflection, dialog and Franciscan joy. The elections were held on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25. Angel Guadalupe de la Rosa Quintero was elected as the National Minister and, in accordance with the national Statutes, he took also the office of the International Councillor. Teodora Jaime Rojas was elected National Vice-Minister and automatically became the substitute International Councillor. The opening Eucharistic celebration was presided over by Fr. Juan Medina Palma, OFM, Minister Provincial. During the concluding Eucharistic celebration, presided by Fr. Amando, the new Minister and the National Council were installed by Tibor Kauser. On Wednesday 21, a meeting was held with Regional Ministers and about 500 members of the OFS, coming from different regions of the center and the southeast of Mexico at the Franciscan House in Mexico City. On Thursday 22, yet another meeting was held with about 400 members of the OFS, coming from the regions of the west and the north of the country, at the parish of San Diego, assisted by the OFM friars, in the city of Aguascalientes. In both meetings and during the Chapter the Minister General made a presentation that was much appreciated. Fr. Amando had separate meetings with the spiritual assistants during the meeting at the Franciscan House and during the Chapter.

[1] see L. Temperini, Misericordia, in Dizionario Francescano, Padova 1995, 1141-1150.

[2] Cf. L. Temperini, Francesco di Assisi. Cronistoria Psicologia Itinerario spirituale, Torino 2012.

 

[3] See the critical edition in L. Temperini, Carisma e legilazione alle origini del Terzo Ordine di S. Francesco, Editrice Franciscanum, Rome 1996, pp. 77-109.

[4] The full text in L. Temperini, Carisma e legilazione, cit., pp. 113-155.

[5] For documentation of the concrete works see L. Temperini, Il penitente francescano nella società e nella chiesa nei secoli XII-XIV, in AaVv, La “Supra montem” di Niccolò IV (1289): genesi e diffusione di una regola, ed. Analecta Tor, Roma 1988, pp. 366-367; Id., Penitenti poveri per servire i poveri (sec. XIII-XV), in Il Signore ti dia pace, Bologna 1991, pp. 107-119.

K O I N Ō N I A
...together on the journey

CONFERENCE OF GENERAL SPIRITUAL ASSISTANTS   OFS – YOUFRA

 

2016 -2                                                                                     Year 23                                                                                     n. 90

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MERCY: TRANSFORMING GRACE AND MISSION

TO LIVE MERCY IN FRATERNITY

Fr. José Antonio Cruz Duarte, OFM

Introduction

What does it mean to live mercy? How do we live mercy in fraternity? These questions pop up immediately when we write about “living mercy in fraternity”. To begin, it will help to define precisely the meaning of the terms, which will help us understand the underlying reality they seek to describe. What do we understand when we say mercy? When we say fraternity? The dictionary defines fraternity as a feeling of affection that binds brothers and sisters together. Fraternity is a feeling of affection for someone who is close, those who are “neighbors”. Consequently, we can say that to live mercy in fraternity is to live mercy among brothers and sisters, among those who are close, who are neighbors.

A doctor of the law asks Jesus in the Gospel of Luke: “Who is my neighbor? (Lk 10,25-27). For Jewish tradition, neighbor is someone who belongs to the family circle, with the possibility of widening the circle to include someone who is part of the Covenant with God, that is, a member of the same community. In this perspective it is not possible to love one’s enemies. In Jewish tradition it is only possible to create fraternity with those who participate in the Covenant, who are part of the people of God. We can say that fraternity is determined by family ties, by pursuing the same objectives and the same beliefs. Christianity widens the concept of neighbor.  In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus presents a new idea of neighbor that goes beyond the the dimension of family or membership in the same community. He invites the doctor of the law to widen his concept of neighbor; it is: “The one who acted with mercy toward him”. Jesus reminds the doctor of the practice of justice expressed in the works of mercy.  Neighbor, fraternity and mercy are terms which are intertwined and relate to one another.

Christianity is characterized by its presentation of “neighbor” in a universal way. Neighbor is all humanity saved by Jesus Christ. Jesus, the new Moses, presents a New Law in the eight Beatitudes. He proposes: “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. And pray for those who persecute and slander you” (Mt 5,44). His proposal transforms the concept of neighbor. 

In recent centuries equality between all human beings has been presented as the foundation of universal fraternity, ignoring the fact that: “The history of faith has been from the beginning a history of brotherhood, albeit not without conflict... Faith teaches us to see that every man and woman represents a blessing for me, that the light of God’s face shines on me through the faces of my brothers and sisters...Thanks to faith we have come to understand the unique dignity of each person, something which was not clearly seen in antiquity... At the heart of biblical faith is God’s love, his concrete concern for every person, and his plan of salvation which embraces all of humanity and all creation, culminating in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ”[1].

Fraternity – what is it?

Fraternity is the path of fulfillment for human life. It is not possible to fulfill oneself humanly without being in communion with others. Without living in fraternity it is impossible to survive physically, psychologically and spiritually. “In the heart of every man and woman is the desire for a full life, including that irrepressible longing for fraternity which draws us to fellowship with others and enables us to see them not as enemies or rivals, but as brothers and sisters to be accepted and embraced”[2]. Fraternity is an essential dimension of humankind, because humans are relational beings. “The basis of fraternity is found in God’s fatherhood...It is a fatherhood, then, which effectively generates fraternity”[3].

Fraternity is the dream of God revealed by the prophet Isaiah: “The wolf will dwell with the lamb; and the leopard will lie down with the kid; the calf and the lion and the sheep will abide together; and a little boy will drive them. The calf and the bear will feed together; their young ones will rest together. And the lion will eat straw like the ox. And a breastfeeding infant will play above the lair of the asp. And a child who has been weaned will thrust his hand into the den of the king snake. They will not harm, and they will not kill, on all my holy mountain. For the earth has been filled with the knowledge of the Lord, like the waters covering the sea” (Is 11, 6-9).

When the other is seen as brother or sister, his or her fulfillment becomes a priority and precedes our own fulfillment. Saint Francis calls this fraternal attitude loving obedience.  “And should a subject see that some things might be better and more useful for his soul than what a prelate commands, let him willingly offer such things to God as a sacrifice; and, instead, let him earnestly strive to fulfill the preslates’s wishes.  For this is loving obedience because it pleases God and neighbor”[4].  

When Saint Francis composed the Canticle of Brother Sun in the spring of 1225, he included all of the other creatures, widening in this way the notion of fraternity.  Saint Francis “stretches the idea of human fraternity into that of cosmic fraterntiy, revealing not only an ecological consciouness but also a true relationship with all of Creation”[5].  But we must be careful not “to put all living beings on the same level nor to deprive human beings of their unique worth and the tremendous responsibility it entails”[6]. Cosmic fraternity is not based on the equality of all beings, but rather on the creative love of God. “Every creature is thus the object of the Father’s tenderness, who gives it its place in the world”[7].

Cosmic fraternity can also be grasped by the expression “integral ecology”, where it is understood “that everything is interconnected, and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others”[8].

Pope Francis says that we “together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect”[9].  This communion is realized “when our hearts are authentically open to universal communion, this sense of fraternity excludes nothing and no one... Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth”[10]

Mercy – what is it?

For Pope Francis, mercy is a program of life. The theme of mercy is abundantly present in his talks, homilies and catechetical teachings, because “mercy is the heart of the Gospel!”[11]. “The calling of Matthew is also presented within the context of mercy...  Saint Bede the Venerable, commenting on this Gospel passage, wrote that Jesus looked upon Matthew with merciful love and chose him: miserando atque eligendo”[12]. Pope Francis chose this expression as his slogan and program of life[13]. He declares that mercy is the face and the name of God[14], and also that “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy”[15].

In the Bull “Misericordiae Vultus” there is a definition for mercy.  “Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness”[16].

“God is love” (1 John 4:8.16), and “This love has now been made visible and tangible in Jesus’ entire life. His person is nothing but love, a love given gratuitously... Everything in him speaks of mercy”[17].

In the parable of the merciful father (Lk 15,11-32), Jesus reveals how God acts, how mercy overcomes everthing, how it fills the heart with love and consoles with pardon[18].

To Live Mercy in Fraternity

Fraternity promotes mercy, and mercy is only possible in fraternity. Fraternity is the space where mercy is lived.  But fraternity brings about mercy and it is not just the social constitution of a human group.  More than a juridal form designating a human grouping, fraternity is a way of being for its members.

The parable of the merciful father (Lk 15,11-32), “contains a profound teaching for all of us. Jesus affirms that mercy is not only an action of the Father, it becomes a criterion for ascertaining who his true children are. In short, we are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us....  the words of Jesus who made mercy an ideal of life and a criterion for the credibility of our faith: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7)”[19].

Mercy shows “God’s action towards us... By its very nature, it indicates something concrete: intentions, attitudes, and behaviors that are shown in daily living. .... As the Father loves, so do his children. Just as he is merciful, so we are called to be merciful to each other”[20].

We are invited open our hearts: “Let us open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity, and let us recognize that we are compelled to heed their cry for help! May we reach out to them and support them so they can feel the warmth of our presence, our friendship, and our fraternity”[21].

Conclusion

The Pope tells us: “At times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives. For this reason, I have proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as a special time for the Church, a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective”[22].

Jubilee is always an extraordinary time to live what is essential to human life and resize it according to parameters that are not measurable because God has imprinted in men's hearts a mark of his divinity: mercy, another name for love.

NEWS – CHAPTERS – VISITS – MEETINGS

Roma – Seraphicum – CIOFS Presidency

From April 2nd to 9th 2016, the meeting of the CIOFS Presidency was held at the Seraphicum College, Rome. There was a fraternal and respectful atmosphere among the members of the Presidency. A sign of brotherhood was the farewell given to Br. Martin Bitzer, OFMConv, who ends his service after 12 years. In this meeting the rotation of the chairman and secretary of the CAS on duty took place.   Br. José Antonio Cruz Duarte OFM outgoing president thanked the members of the CAS for the work done and presented the new President Br. Amando Trujillo Cano, TOR, and the new secretary Br. Francis Bongajum Dor, OFMCap. The liturgy, a sign of union with God, was simple but well attended. With the participation of all we got to finish well all the topics that were proposed in the agenda.

Vietnam – National Elective Chapter

The National Elective Chapter of the OFS in Vietnam was celebrated from May 13th to 15th in Thu Duc - Ho Chi Minh City, at the Retreat House San Damiano. In a fraternal atmosphere, 40 chapter members took part. The Chapter took place with the support of the Vietnamese Province of the Minor Friars of St. Francis of Assisi. Augustine Yoon, Councilor of the CIOFS Presidency, delegated by the OFS General Minister, presided over the Chapter with Br. Luke Young JinYoo, OFM, as delegate of the CAS. On May 15th, as planned, the election of the new Council took place, and Paul Nguyen Van Hoa was elected National Minister, Anton Phung Bai International Councilor and Joseph Vu Van Khai substitute International Councilor. The elected members accepted the election. The new National Executive Council was installed during the Holy Mass of Thanksgiving.

Malta – National Chapter

Between May 20th and 21st, in the "Franciscan Center" of Floriana, the National Elective Chapter of Malta took place presided over by Tibor Kauser, OFS General Minister, together with Br. Martín Bitzer, OFMConv, General Assistant OFS. Anthony Vella was elected National Minister and Godwin Vella Clark, International Councilor.

Ethiopia - Visit and professions

From May 22nd. to 29th. 2016, according to a decision of the CIOFS Presidency, Jenny Harrington, Councilor of the Presidency Br. Francis Bongajum Dor, OFMCap, General Assistant OFS-YouFra made an extraordinary visit to Ethiopia. The purpose of the visit was to hold a moment of formation for the Spiritual Assistants, to evaluate the situation of certain groups of people formed by the Capuchin Friars in different missions with a view to begin again the OFS in Ethiopia, and that Jenny Harrington, according to her assessment, might accept the profession of some, on behalf of the General Minister OFS, Tibor Kauser. After a day of formation for Spiritual Assistants, the visitors met groups in four different locations: Addis Ababa, Kanafa (in Soddo), Bushulo (in Hawassa) and Meganasse, all followed by the Capuchin Friars, although in Bushulo and Kanafa some nearby Franciscan sisters accompany closely these groups. On Sunday 29th. during the Eucharistic celebration presided by Br. Endale OFMCap, vicar of the Custody of Ethiopia, in the Church of San Francesco in Meganasse, Jenny Harrington received the profession of 23 Secular Franciscans, and then appointed a council to animate the nascent fraternity.  Other professions are planned in the coming months in other cities according to the availability of the Presidency to send someone to receive them. To be noted is the great commitment of the Capuchin Friars in promoting the OFS in their churches and fraternities.

Quito, Ecuador - IX Latin American Congress OFS-YouFra

In Cumbaya, Quito, Ecuador, in the Retreat House "San Patricio" of the Salesian Fathers, from May 25th to 29th 2016, the "OFS-Youfra IX Latin American Congress" was celebrated. From the Presidency of the OFS International Council (CIOFS) Tibor Kauser, OFS General Minister, Chelito Nuñez, General Vice-Minister OFS, Andrea Odak, Councilor for YouFra, Silvia Diana and Ana María Rafo Laos, both Councilor for Latin America, Portugal, Spain and the Portuguese-speaking nations, Br. Amando Trujillo Cano, TOR, and Br. Martin Bitzer OFMConv, General Assistant OFS-YouFra attended. The event organized by the OFS National Council of Ecuador with the collaboration of the OFS Presidency was attended by 17 national fraternities of the OFS and Franciscan Youth in Latin America and the Caribbean. The theme of the Congress was: "Secular Franciscans, a family of Christian values in America." Moments of prayer (Mass, Lauds, Vespers, Eucharistic Adoration), fellowship and formation marked the event. The nine working groups examined the different issues presented. The members of the CIOFS Presidency coordinated and animated the three workshops: 1. Guidance and animation of the OFS; 2. The Franciscan Youth and the family in Latin America; 3. The spiritual assistance of the local fraternity. The opening Mass (Wednesday, May 25th.) was presided over by Br. Amando, president of the Conference of General Spiritual Assistants, while the closing Mass (Sunday, May 29th.) was presided over by Br. Martin. In this Eucharist Br. Amando made a fraternal acknowledgement of Br. Martin for his 12 years of service as General Assistant OFS-YouFra. The afternoon and evening of Friday, May 27th was devoted to a trip to the "Middle of the World", the historic center of Quito and the Convent of St. Francis, where the participants were welcomed with dances and songs typical of Ecuador and a dinner offered by the national Council and by the OFM Friars. For more information, you can consult the web page www.congresoofsjufra.blmogspot.com .

Italy - Pastoral and Fraternal Visit

The fraternal and pastoral visits of OFS-Italy were made by Tibor Kauser, OFS General Minister and Br. Francis Bongajum Dor, OFMCap, General Spiritual Assistant OFS-YouFra from June 1st to 5th 2016. The meetings and exchanges were made at the national headquarters in viale delle Mura Aurelia 9, Rome. 12 members from the 13 in total of the National Council were present for the visit - the majority remaining from start to finish (the representative of the Franciscan Youth was absent). The visitors started the visits with a Mass presided by Br. Francis in which he prayed for the success of the visits and reminded all of the main purpose of the visits according to the OFS General Constitutions. Then, after a brief plenary session of introduction, the visitors over the following days listened to each member individually and shared with the four Spiritual Assistants together. Tibor also saw all the registers and archives. A day with the regional ministers was planned and realised. Many came to the meeting, each one giving a very brief presentation of the situation of the OFS in his or her region. On the 3rd day, everyone went to the Monastery of Santa Chiara in via Vitellia for vespers with the sisters, followed by a conference held on Mercy by Sister Elena, Poor Clare. Since everything was well prepared and carried out on time, the visits (fraternal and pastoral) were concluded a little early on the afternoon of the fourth day, with a plenary session in which the visitors presented the conclusions and some recommendations.

It is important to note that the work began every day with Holy Mass and morning prayer in the Chapel of the National Headquarters. Both the visitors were very pleased with what they saw as an experience of fraternal relations and commitment to the service of the Order in the National Council of the OFS-Italy.

San Juan, Puerto Rico - Formation workshop for Spiritual Assistants to OFS

On Thursday, June 2nd. a formation workshop for the spiritual assistants of the OFS in Puerto Rico took place at St. Anthony School, in San Juan Porto Rico. The workshop was organized by the National Council and the OFS National Minister, Isabel Lima Pérez, and was directed by Br. Amando Trujillo Cano, TOR, General Assistant OFS-YouFra. Ten assistants attended the meetings, nine Capuchin brothers and a Friar Minor, including the National Assistant, Br. Luis Gonzalez, OFMCap, and the former National Assistant Br. Luis Oscar Padilla OFMCap. The themes presented and discussed were: 1) The Origin, history and mission of the OFS, and 2) The spiritual and pastoral care of OFS. The workshop was a good opportunity to clarify some doubts and look for ways to improve the service of spiritual assistance to the OFS fraternity. The meetings were concluded with a fraternal agape.

Utuado, Puerto Rico - Formation workshop for Secular Franciscans

From Friday 3rd to Sunday, June 5th a formation workshop was held for the Secular Franciscans of Puerto Rico in the house "San José de la Porciúncula", Utuado, Puerto Rico, organized by the National Council and the OFS National Minister, Isabel Pérez Lima;  it was directed by Br. Amando Trujillo Cano, TOR, General Assistant OFS-YouFra. About 60 Secular Franciscans from various local OFS Fraternities of the Island attended the workshop. The themes were: 1) The Origin, history and mission of the OFS, 2) The identity of the OFS, 3) Active presence of the OFS in the Church and in the world, 4) The spiritual assistance and pastoral care of the OFS, and 5) the sense of brotherhood in the OFS. The workshop took place in an atmosphere of fraternity and active participation. The working groups and plenary sessions were very fruitful. The work was accompanied by liturgical celebrations and fraternal recreation, surrounded by an exuberant nature.

Ukraine - National Elective Chapter

The National Elective Chapter in the Ukraine was held from June 3rd to 5th at the "House of Mary and bread" managed and restored by the OFS National Council, in Starij Ostropil, Khmielnickyi region. The Chapter was presided over by the delegate of the General Minister Tibor Kauser, Attilio Galimberti, member of the CIOFS Presidency and Br. Rufino Maryjka, OFM, Provincial Minister of the Province of Saint Mary of the Angels of Krakow as the Delegate of CAS. In a spirit of prayer, fraternity, service and reception it was attended by 52 representative chapter members of the 1,300 Secular Franciscans of Ukraine.  The three National Assistants, and a National Assistant of YouFra, and some local assistants were also present. Natalia Almiz was elected National Minister, Dina Francesca Szabalina was elected International Councilor and Christina Lopaczak Deputy International Director. At the Mass of installation, the National Assistant, Br Krzysztof Pelc, OFMCap presided.

Bulgaria - Sofia Chapter of the fraternity

In Bulgaria there is an OFS fraternity in Sofia, the only fraternity established in Bulgaria, and another in Zhitnitsa, of which nothing is known about the canonical erection. The fraternity of Zhitnitsa consists of older and infirm women. The fraternity of Sofia consists of only 6 brothers. The elective Chapter of the OFS fraternity of Sofia in Bulgaria was celebrated on June 17th at the "Center of the Parish Church of St. Joseph” in Sofia. The Chapter was presided over by the delegate of the General Minister Tibor Kauser, Attilio Galimberti, member of the Presidency CIOFS and Br. José Antonio Cruz Duarte, OFM, General Assistant. The spiritual assistant Br. Marcin Grec, OFMCap, and Br. Jaroslaw Babik Guardian, OFMCap, were present. Vesselin Krastev was elected Minister of the fraternity, and Elizabeta Bosilkova was elected vice-minister.

Dominican Republic - National Elective Chapter

The National Elective Chapter of the OFS of the Dominican Republic was celebrated from June 24th to 26th, in Santo Domingo. The Chapter was presided over by the delegate of the General Minister Tibor Kauser, Isabel Lima Peréz, National Minister of Puerto Rico, and Br. Gerardo A. Vargas Cruz, OFM, Custos of the Franciscan Custody of the Caribbean as a delegate of the CAS. In a spirit of prayer, fraternity, service and reception, 14 regional ministers of the 15 regions attended the chapter. Br Juan Miguel Gutierrez, OFM, and Br Fernando Samaniego, OFM, National Spiritual Assistants were present. María Mejía was elected National Minister, Luismi Diego Ruiz was elected Deputy Minister, Aida López was elected International Councilor. The inaugural Mass was celebrated by Br. Gerardo A. Vargas Cruz, OFM.

Lusaka - Zambia – Formation Course

From June 22nd to 25th, a formation workshop was held at St. Bonaventure's University Institute in Lusaka - Zambia for Spiritual Assistants and members of the OFS National Councils of English-speaking East African countries. This was the first planned and realized by the coordination of the Africa Project of the CIOFS. It was attended by 90 delegates including 16 Spiritual Assistants from ten different countries including Angola and Mozambique that are Portuguese-speaking. The project was approved and sponsored in part by the CIOFS Presidency and had as the main theme: "let's start again because until now we have done little or nothing." The animators of the workshops, Jenny Harrington, OFS, and Br. Francis Bongajum Dor, OFMCap, made presentations on the identity and nature of the OFS, guidelines for formation, roles and responsibilities of major superiors and spiritual assistants, and on the social teaching of the Church. A third speaker, Daniel Chidemu from Zimbabwe gave a testimony about the family. All participants were hosted at the three convents of the Friars Minor that make up St. Bonaventure's University Institute. At the end of the work, the participants who were able, made a pilgrimage to the Marian Shrine in Lusaka. The Africa Project Coordinator, Adolph Assagba OFS-Togo did not have a visa for Zambia, and so was absent. But he sent a greeting of encouragement to all the participants. With the grace of God, for next year, members of the Africa Project foresee a forthcoming workshop in French for West and Central Africa. Despite the initial uncertainty and some difficulties in communication and organization, this workshop was a great success, thanks to the support of the Friars Minor of the place.

United States - OFS Quinquennial Congress

From June 30th to July 4th, in the city of Saint Louis, Louisiana, USA, the Quinquennial Congress of the OFS was celebrated. Among the 600 participants were also four members of the Presidency CIOFS: Tibor Kauser, OFS General Minister, Ana Fruk, Jennny Harrington and Br. Martin Bitzer, OFMConv, who, in addition to presenting the different topics asked of them, made up a round table on Saturday, July 2nd. The speakers were as different as the form of presentation of their reports. Work in small groups made possible the participation of all delegates. Br Martin presided over the Mass of Friday, July 1st. Reflections, moments of celebration and fraternal sharing experienced in a very organized and structured environment meant that this Congress took place with great success. The US National Council together with its national Minister Jan Parker demonstrated a great unity and capacity for work which involved a large number of collaborators, starting with the members of the OFS Regional Council based in Saint Louis. The presence of Secular Franciscans from various regions of the United States is a positive sign that opens up interesting prospects for the OFS recovery in that country. For more information, you can visit the website. http://www.quinquennial.org/

Words of Gratitude to Br. Martin Bitzer, OFMConv

The Conference of General Spiritual Assistants would like to thank Br. Martin Bitzer for his fraternal service to the OFS and CAS carried out during these twelve years, extending to him the best possible wishes for his new assignment. Martin Bitzer, OFMConv, was appointed General Assistant of the OFS and YouFra on July 2nd, 2004. Thank you, dear Br. Martin, from the heart.

[1] Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter Lumen Fidei, 29 June 2013, n. 54 http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20130629_enciclica-lumen-fidei.html

[2]Pope Francis, Message for the celebration of the World Day of Peace – 1 January 2014, n.1.

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/peace/documents/papa-francesco_20131208_messaggio-xlvii-giornata-mondiale-pace-2014.html

[3] Ibid n.3.

[4] Admonition III. Perfect Obedience.  Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, Volume I, p. 130.  New City Press, New York, 1999.

*NB – In medieval ecclesiastical language the term prelate generically designates any person who is responsible for the “care of souls”, from bishops to parish priests.  Francis extended the concept to include the “ministers” of the fraternities, who are called to care for the souls of the brothers (See Earlier Rule IV, 6).

[5] Card. Roger Etchegaray, Homily at the celebration of the Jubilee of the Franciscan Family in 2000: http://www.vatican.va/jubilee_2000/pilgrim/documents/ju_gp_20042000_p-5c_it.html

[6] Pope Francis, Laudato sì, 24 May 2015, n.90. http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

[7] Ibid. n.77.

[8] Ibid. n.70.

[9] Ibid.n.89.

[10] Ibid. n. 92.

[11] Pope Francis, Address to participants in a course sponsored by the Apostolic Penitentiary, 28 March 2014. http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2014/march/documents/papa-francesco_20140328_corso-penitenzieria-apostolica.html

[12] Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, 11 April 2015, n.8. http://www.iubilaeummisericordiae.va/content/gdm/en/giubileo/bolla.html

[13] Cfr. The explanation of the Coat of Arms of Pope Francis. http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/elezione/stemma-papa-francesco.html

[14] Cfr. Pope Francis, Angelus, 18 August 2013. http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/angelus/2013/documents/papa-francesco_angelus_20130818.html 

[15] Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, 11 April 2015, n.1.

[16] Ibid. n.2.

[17] Ibid. n.8.

[18] cfr. Ibid. n.9.

[19] Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, 11 April 2015, n.9.

[20] Ibid. n.9.

[21] Ibid. n.15

[22] Ibid. n.3.

                                             K O I N Ō N I A

                                             together on the journey                       

 

2015 - 2                                         Year 22                                   no. 86

 

                                                                                                       DOC,  PDF

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FAMILY FOR THE OFS AND FOR THE YOUFRA


THE FAMILY IN THE RULE AND GENERAL CONSTITUTIONS OF THE OFS
Fr. Martín Bitzer, OFMConv


Introduction

The fact that a rule so small as that of the Secular Franciscans devotes an entire article (17) to the family, tells us of the importance of family in the life of a Secular Franciscan.1
The family is an essential part in the "form of life" of every Secular Franciscan. The OFS Constitutions reaffirm this idea when they say: “Secular Franciscans should consider their own family to be the first place in which to live their Christian commitment and Franciscan vocation.” (Const. OFS 24.1)
This article has two parts. In the first we present the text of the Rule which speaks of the family and we offer our comment about it.
Considering, then, that the General Constitutions of the OFS are the application of what is contained in the Rule in its details, we think that only reading the texts constitutes the best commentary on what the family is as contained briefly in the Rule. And so we decided to quote the texts of the Constitutions dealing with the topic without giving an explanation.

K O I N Ō N I A
...together on the journey

CONFERENCE OF GENERAL SPIRITUAL ASSISTANTS OFS – YOUFRA


2016 -1                                                                                     Year 23                                                                                     n. 89

DOC     PDF

MERCY: TRANSFORMING GRACE AND MISSION


The four series of Koinonia this year will concentrate on the theme of mercy, as gift that comes from God, to transform the life of Christians, directing them towards the mission which consists in being “Merciful like the Father” (MV 13). 1

The following are the topics of articles which will be presented:

Koinonia 2016-1: The Jubilee of Mercy and the Pardon of Assisi.
Koinonia 2016-2: To live Mercy in Fraternity.
Koinonia 2016-3: OFS and the Works of Mercy in History.
Koinonia 2016-4: OFS and the Works of Mercy today.


JUBILEE OF MERCY AND THE PARDON OF ASSISI
Fr. Martín Bitzer, OFMConv

Introduction

The intuition and the intention to convoke an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy by Pope Francis, - the highest expression of the style with which he is carrying out his Petrine ministry – brings our minds immediately to the saint of Assisi, who wished that divine pardon and mercy reached all, and not only a privileged few.

 

K O I N Ō N I A

                                             together on the journey                       

2015 - 1                                         Year 22                                   no. 85

 

                                                                                                       DOC, PDF

 

CONFERENCE OF OFS GENERAL SPIRITUAL ASSISTANTS -- YOUFRA

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FAMILY FOR THE OFS AND FOR THE GIFRA

 

Introduction

 

From October 5 to October 19, 2014, it was celebrated in Vatican the Extraordinary Synod about the family, in which the main theme was: The pastoral challenges on the family in the context of evangelization. In this Synod, the Church, with the pastoral guidance of Pope Francis, dedicated another moment of reflection and pastoral attention to the family, together with prayers.

The members of the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS), as Saint Francis‘s sons and daughters, wish to satisfy the mission of the Church For the next six years, in fact, among the priorities of the OFS, it is rightly that about the family (cf.. Conclusions of the General Chapter OFS, Assisi 1 to 8 November 2014).

Giving voice to the OFS of the whole world, the four numbers of Koinonia of this year 2015 will focus their articles in the importance of the Family for the OFS and for the YouFra.

In this first number, Br Francis Bongajum Dor, OFMCap, will consider the theme of the family in the Magisterium of the Church, since the Second Vatican Council until today. In the second number, Br. Martin Bitzer, OFMConv, will consider the family in the Rule and General Constitutions of the OFS. The third number, edited by Fr. Amando Trujillo Cano, TOR, will be dedicated to the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization. Finally, the fourth number, edited by José Antônio Duarte Cruz, OFM, will focus on the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.