The General Minister, José Rodríguez Carballo, OFM, addressed his Easter letter to the elderly and infirm friars of the Order.
He reminded these friars that 2006 marks the beginning of the eighth centenary of the Order, and it is also the year of the Extraordinary General Chapter. For this reason, he told the friars, he had chosen to address his Easter letter to them.
“I address you,” the General wrote, “our elderly friars and, in particular, you, our sick friars, who are living ‘icons’ of the poor and crucified Christ for us and are, therefore, ‘privileged’ friars of the fraternity, as our father St. Francis wished.”
The General wrote them “in order to express my friendship, my fraternal affection and my gratitude; to say that you are important to the Order, to the Church and to the men and women of our times; to entrust to your prayers the vocations to our Order, the missionary projects of the Order and of the General Minister and General Council, and, above all during 2006, the Extraordinary General Chapter and the eighth centenary of the beginning of our forma vitae.”
Basing most of his letter on the San Damiano crucifix, the General said, “The conversion of Francis began with a question addressed to the crucifix in 1206: ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’ It is the question which we also, during this year, must put to ourselves in order to hear once again the response of the Lord, in order to change our life, as the project The Grace of our Origins says: ‘Let us listen in order to change our life,’ making it visible and significant; to live everything you have promised in your profession with renewed enthusiasm and to discern what the Lord is asking of you during this stage of your life. It is a matter of a challenge.”
After reminding the friars that they are valuable to the Church, he said, “And you are also precious to our Order. Above all, because you constitute a considerable part of our fraternity; more than 4,700 are above 70 years old. The majority of you participate actively in the life and mission of the fraternity; indeed, in many regions, it is you who carry out the activities, presences and ministries. You are precious especially because you are a reservoir of experience, wisdom, capacity to accept what is essential and important, and an example of generous fidelity. Yes, old age is not the end and the culmination of a spiritual life; you still have a lot to give us, especially at this providential moment in which we are engaged in ‘recovering’ our history in order to rewrite it and to rewrite it in a new way so as to open it up to the future.”
The General closed his letter by quoting from Pope John Paul II’ s Letter to the Old in 1999, “Despite the limitations which come through age, I keep the taste for life. I thank the Lord for that. It is nice to be able to spend oneself in the cause of the Kingdom of God up to the end.”
The full text of the General Minister’s letter can be found on the Web at the link below.