ROME — The General Minister of the Order of Friars Minor has distributed a seasonal message of peace and hope, emphasizing to Franciscans the importance of new evangelization.
In “Be Not Afraid, Go and Bear Witness,” Fr. José Rodriguez Carballo, OFM, wrote this month that the worldwide mission of friars is to “communicate to all the great news that has changed the fate of history, namely, that Jesus who suffered under Pontius Pilate, died and was buried, on the third day rose from the dead and lives forever.”
He wrote: “The General Chapter of 2009 invited us to restore (as center focus) in word and deed the gift of the Gospel. In fact, in its final document, Bearers of the Gift of the Gospel, the Chapter reminded us that ‘since the early days, the fraternity saw itself called to proclaim what they were living,’ i.e., the Gospel, a gift that is the cause of its origin.”
Because Fr. José will be participating this fall in the new Synod of Bishops, which will be devoted to “new evangelization,” he used his Easter letter to describe the meaning and the history of the term. He answers the questions: “How do we prepare for this ecclesial event and actively participate in it in some way or another?” The General Minister offered nearly three pages of ideas, including a list of five options for evangelizing “within the secular context in which we live.”
Fr. José reminded readers that Pope John Paul II, “who coined the expression of new evangelization,” recommended: “new ardor, new methods and a new language to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel.”
In the letter, written on March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the General Minister said: “It is also true that among those who say they are agnostics and atheists, there are also many who seek God. This gives us both hope and strength to continue preaching the Gospel without fear and triumphalism, yet confident in the power of Him, which we proclaim as both risen and present among us in the truth of his message. The New Evangelization is a call to know, love, and serve not one thing, nor even a doctrine, but a person, that is, the person of Jesus.”
Earlier this month, the Provincial Office mailed a hard copy of the General Minister’s letter to all HNP friaries.
Information about the Order, including links to its Facebook and Twitter, can be found on OFM.org.