As the Year of Consecrated Life begins, one friar encourages Franciscans to reexamine their faithfulness to their founding charism. With the Order’s General Chapter approaching, he recommends friars reconsider the role of non-ordained friars in the Order.
A couple of days ago, we began celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life, which runs from Nov. 29 to Feb. 2, 2016.
In announcing this year, Pope Francis wrote, “I am counting on you ‘to wake up the world’, since the distinctive sign of consecrated life is prophecy. This is the priority that is needed right now.”
We have an opportunity this year, he wrote, to examine our presence in the Church and to respond to the “new demands constantly being made on us, to the cry of the poor.”
We also have an opportunity to reexamine our faithfulness to our founding charism. During this Advent in particular, since Advent is a time full of hope for the future, we have the opportunity to reflect on how we can regain St. Francis’ desire that his order be a poor brotherhood, literally the Order of Friars Minor.
In his letter to the Order regarding the Year of Consecrated Life, the General Minister noted that “there is a surprising convergence between the central themes of the Year of Consecrated life and those we have proposed for our own reflection in the Lineamenta for the preparation of the 2015 General Chapter of the Order of Friars Minor.”
Specifically, he wrote, “the upcoming General Chapter… will have as its fundamental theme the primary vocation which our founder, St. Francis, has left us in the name that he has given us, Friars Minor. In this name, we are called to live in an authentic manner our brotherhood and minority in our day, so as to be true bothers and minors among and amid the people of our contemporary humanity.”
In this spirit of being true brothers, a number of Brazilian brothers have made a proposal for the next General Chapter. They ask:
- That a solemnly professed brother or two be elected by each conference as a legitimate member of the General Chapter
- That the chapter calls for a more extensive reflection of the identity and lay character of the Order
- That articles three and 174 of the General Constitutions be modified to allow brothers to be elected to all offices of the Order, including General Minister, Provincial Minister, Custos of the Holy Land, the Custos of an autonomous Custody, and their Vicars
- That initial formation include one year, “before professional and ministerial formation,” dedicated to Franciscan studies
The full text of this proposal can be found online.
This year, we live in an Advent full of hope: a hope for a renewed appreciation of our way of life, a hope for vocations drawn to our life of responding to the cry of the poor, and a hope that we might be truly equals as brothers in the Order of Friars Minor.
— Br. Jim, a former missionary to Peru and Bolivia, works at St. Francis Inn, the Province’s soup kitchen in the Kensington area of Philadelphia.