Pope Francis says "God touched Francis' heart through the mercy offered to his brother, and he continues to touch our hearts..." to Franciscans - FULL TEXT
MESSAGE OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE GENERAL CHAPTER
OF THE ORDER OF FRIARS MINOR
I greet with affection you who are taking part in the General Chapter of the Order of Friars Minor. A grateful thought goes to Fr. Michael A. Perry, who has finished his service as Minister General, and I offer my best wishes to Fr. Massimo Giovanni Fusarelli, who has been called to succeed him. I extend my greetings to all your communities around the world.
For many months, due to the pandemic, we find ourselves living in situations of emergency, isolation and suffering. This critical experience, on the one hand, spurs us all to recognize how much our earthly life is a path to be traveled as pilgrims and strangers, itinerant men and women, willing to relieve ourselves of things and personal demands. On the other hand, it is a propitious occasion to intensify the relationship with Christ and with the brothers: I am thinking of your communities, called to be humble prophetic presence in the midst of the people of God and witness for all of brotherhood and of a simple and joyful life.
In this difficult and complex time, in which there is the risk of being "paralyzed", despite everything you are experiencing the grace of celebrating the ordinary General Chapter, and this is already a reason for praise and thanksgiving to God. In this Chapter you intend to "renew your vision ”and“ embrace your future ”. The word of St. Paul guides you: " Arise ... and Christ will enlighten you " ( Eph 5:14). It is a word of resurrection, which roots you in the paschal dynamic, because there is no renewal and there is no future except in the risen Christ. With gratitude, therefore, you open yourselves to welcome the signs of God's presence and action and to rediscover the gift of your charism and of your fraternal and minority identity.
Renewing one's vision: this is what happened to the young Francis of Assisi. He himself testifies to this, recounting the experience that, in his Testament , he places at the beginning of his own conversion: the encounter with lepers, when "what was bitter was changed into sweetness of soul and body" ( Test1-4). At the roots of your spirituality is this encounter with the least and the suffering, in the sign of "giving mercy". God touched Francis' heart through the mercy offered to his brother, and he continues to touch our hearts through the encounter with others, especially with those most in need. The renewal of your vision can only start from this new gaze with which to contemplate the poor and marginalized brother, a sign, almost a sacrament of God's presence.
From this renewed gaze, from this concrete experience of encounter with one's neighbor and with his wounds, a renewed energy can be born to look to the future as brothers and minors, such as you are, according to the beautiful name of "lesser brothers", who St. Francis has chosen for himself and for you.
The renewing force you need comes from the Spirit of God, from that "holy operation" ( Regola bullata10, 8) which is the unequivocal sign of his action. That Spirit, who transformed the bitterness of Francis' encounter with lepers into sweetness of soul and body, is still at work today to give new freshness and energy to each of you, if you allow yourselves to be provoked by the least of you. our time. I encourage you to go out to meet the men and women who suffer in soul and body, to offer your humble and fraternal presence, without great speeches, but making your closeness as younger brothers felt. To go towards a wounded creation, our common home, which suffers from a distorted exploitation of the earth's goods for the enrichment of a few, while conditions of misery are created for many. To go as men of dialogue, trying to build bridges instead of walls, offering the gift of fraternity and social friendship in a world that is struggling to find the way to a common project. To go as men of peace and reconciliation, inviting those who sow hatred, division and violence to conversion of heart, and offering the victims the hope that comes from truth, justice and forgiveness. From these meetings, you will receive an impetus to live the Gospel ever more fully, according to that word which is your path: "The life and rule of the Friars Minor is this: to observe the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" ( and offering the victims the hope that comes from truth, justice and forgiveness. From these meetings, you will receive an impetus to live the Gospel ever more fully, according to that word which is your path: "The life and rule of the Friars Minor is this: to observe the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" ( and offering the victims the hope that comes from truth, justice and forgiveness. From these meetings, you will receive an impetus to live the Gospel ever more fully, according to that word which is your path: "The life and rule of the Friars Minor is this: to observe the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Regola bollata 1.1).
While in a large part of the Order you face the challenges of declining numbers and aging, do not let anxiety and fear prevent you from opening your hearts and minds to the renewal and revitalization that the Spirit of God awakens in you and between you. You have a spiritual heritage of inestimable richness, rooted in the evangelical life and characterized by prayer, fraternity, poverty, minority and itinerancy. Do not forget that we receive a renewed gaze, capable of opening ourselves to the future of God, from closeness with the poor, the victims of modern slavery, refugees and the excluded of this world. They are your teachers. Embrace them like St. Francis did!
Dear brothers, the Most High, the Almighty, may the Bon Lord make you be and become more and more credible and joyful witnesses of the Gospel; may he grant you to lead a simple and fraternal life; and take you on the roads of the world to sow the seed of the Good News with faith and hope. For this I pray and accompany you with my Blessing. And you too, please, don't forget to pray for me.
Rome, San Giovanni in Laterano, July 15, 2021