Transitus of St. Francis of Assisi 2022

“Remember that when you leave this earth you take nothing with you that you have received, only what you have given; a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage” – St Francis of Assisi

Friar Bryan Hajovsky, OFM Conv. (Instructor) during the Transitus Service at St. Francis High School, in Athol Springs, NY

Fr. Luis Palacios Rodriguez, OFM Conv. (Parochial Vicar)~ Adoration during the Transitus, at St. Julia Parish, in Siler City, NC

Fr. Nader Ata, OFM Conv. (Parochial Vicar at Assumption and Chaplain for FrancisCorps) with the FrancisCorps volunteers who celebrated Transitus by reading different reflections from Francis’ followers, during the Transitus service, at The Franciscan Church of the Assumption, in Syracuse, NY.

From the Transitus Service of our friars of our Blessed Agnullus of Pisa Province Custody ~ Franciscan Friary, in Wexford Ireland

Led in prayer by Friar Bob and Friar Richard, with a reflection by Friar Germain {29:55 mark in video} the friars of our St. Mark Friary (Fr. Richard Florek, OFM Conv., Fr. Germain Kopaczynski, OFM Conv., Fr. Bob Benko, OFM Conv. – pastor, Fr. Carl Zdancewicz, OFM Conv. – parochial vicar (photo cred), Fr. Michael Sajda, OFM Conv. – parochial vicar, and Fr. Joe Dorniak, OFM Conv.) gathered to celebrate the Transitus with the people of St. Mark Catholic Church, in Boynton Beach, FL.

With the friars leading them in prayer: Fr. Richard-Jacob Forcier, OFM Conv. (Shrine Rector/Director), Br. Paschal Kolodziej, OFM Conv. (Shrine Staff Friar), and friar Joseph Krondon, OFM Conv. (student friar), the pilgrims of The Shrine of St. Anthony, in Ellicott City, MD who gathered in our chapel, with many of our friars of the Ellicott City friaries to celebrate the Transitus together in community, heard a beautiful reflection by Br. Douglas McMillan, OFM Conv. (friar in residence) [26:48 mark in video] on the life of our Seraphic Father, St. Francis of Assisi.

Diaconate Ordination Announcement

It is with great joy that our friars will gather on
Saturday, December 10, 2022,
at the Franciscan Church of the Assumption (Syracuse, NY)
for the 10:30 a.m. Diaconate Ordination
of our confrere, Friar Emmanuel Wenke, OFM Conv.

Family, friends and parishioners will join our friars in celebration of Friar Manny’s continued journey as a Franciscan Friar Conventual, of Our Lady of the Angels Province. Br. Manny Solemnly Professed his vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, in September of 2018. From 2017 – 2020, he served as a Theology Instructor at our Archbishop Curley High School (Baltimore, MD). Since then, Br. Manny has been living in and serving from our St. Bonaventure Friary (Toronto, ON), while in study for the priesthood. During our 2022 Province Chapter, Br. Manny was newly assigned as a Provincial Delegate to the Order of Franciscan Seculars (OFS). After his Deaconate Ordination, Friar Manny will serve as a Deacon, through the ministries of our friars of our St. Francis Friary, in Syracuse, NY.

Keep him and all of our friars in the varied stages of formation, in your continued prayers.
[Read more about Friar Manny]

For more information on Vocations,
visit FranciscanVoice.org or
email our Province Vocation Directors –
Br. Nick Romeo, OFM Conv. and Fr. Manny Vasconcelos, OFM Conv.,
at vocations@olaprovince.org.

Reflection by Fr. John J. Burkhard, OFM Conv.

The Catholic church is not a daily news item. When it does hit the headlines, it is often for the wrong reasons. Surely, the most sustained and intense media scrutiny of the church came following the disclosure of the extent of clergy sex abuse and the bishops’ woeful response to the victims and their lack of accountability to the faithful.

Annual Blessing of Animals 2022

Traditionally, as we prepare for today’s Transitus and for tomorrow’s Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, throughout our province ministries, our friars hold a Blessing of the Animals. Here are a few photos from this past weekend’s events:

The friars of St. Francis Friary, who serve in ministry in Syracuse, NY (Assumption Church, Franciscan Place Chapel & Gift Shop at Destiny USA, FrancisCorps, and Syracuse University) gather with the faithful and their pets on the friary lawn, for this year’s blessing. (video)

The Friars and Postulants of our Inter-Province Postulancy (Chicago, IL) started a new tradition in their neighborhood this year; for the first time, hosting the Blessing of Pets. (more photos)

The friars of St. Paul Friary, serving in ministry at ST. Paul Parish (Kensington, CT) gathered with the faithful in the school’s parking lot. (more photos)

Friar Pedro’s 1st Blessing of the Animals at our newest province pastoral ministry, Our Lady of Fatima, in Ludlow, MA, (more photos)

Fr. Joseph Angelini, OFM Conv. (Director & Chaplain), and Melissa Miscevic Bramble (Director of Operations) with the pilgrims of Saint Kateri National Shrine and Historic Site, enjoyed a chilly day of blessing.

Fr. Richard Florek, OFM Conv. (Pastor Emeritus), Fr. Michael Sajda, OFM Conv. (Parochial Vicar) and Fr. Bob Benko, OFM Conv. (Pastor) at St. Mark Catholic Church in Boynton Beach for Blessing of Household Pets on Saturday October 1, 2022

Creatures great and small were blessed by our friars serving at UNC Chapel Hill Newman Catholic Student Center Parish (more photos)

To keep up with the events held throughout our province, including photos and more information, follow our province Facebook page, and utilize our “Locations” page on this website, for hyperlinks to our many province ministries. For more information on vocations, email vocations@olaprovince.org.

Reflection by Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv.

CAN I KNOW TRUTH?

(Part Five: IS LIBERAL DEMOCRACY PRETENDING TO STAND FOR JUSTICE  WHILE IT IS ACTUALLY ON AUTOMATIC PILOT?)
12 Days on Pilgrimage in August
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6).

Would you agree that Pope Emeritus Benedict is thinking about liberal democracy today as if it were on automatic pilot? That he is asking if liberal democracy is holding absolute values or pretending to stand for values as absolute justice? Is Benedict “spooking” us? Let’s take a closer look at his “spooking.” Modern liberalism and democracy are synonyms. The logic is procedural, i.e. making arrangements. That means the official way of doing something has no claim to what is good or true. Find the maximum number who are looking for happiness and protect them from their happiness being taken away.[1] Moreover, procedural means having rules, a juridical system, and prisons for those who break the rules. However, the procedural definition does not raise any questions about absolute values. Rather it recognizes the historical rise of liberalism, science and capitalism. How might Benedict be out to “spook” Europe and us? Is he alerting us that a group can come in and take away liberal democracy? Is he “spooking” us to look closely and ask: why is taking another’s freedom away wrong, on what basis, and to counter the efforts of any group? I have tipped my hand.

Why and how? For Pope Emeritus Benedict: reason has to engage faith. He worries about the growing sense of the absolute autonomy of reason and its self-sufficiency. If reason does not look for truth; if reason is procedural, i.e., reduced to making arrangements; if reason is instrumental, i.e. pro-science, pro technology, concerned with creating the greatest number of happy people; where is the balance? That is the problem for Benedict. In a sense it is a neutral problem, but is it? If society is not callous and violent, if society does not exclude from office those with a Christian view, liberal democracy might or might not have absolute values. He never denies history. I suggest that he sees liberal democracy in the West, including the USA, on automatic pilot, and the West only pretending to be committed to absolute justice.

The historical facts in the last century demonstrate that liberal democracy has not always been that great. Nor is it clear that liberal democracy is holding the value of absolute justice. How liberal democracy was almost lost is remembered by the seniors still living in what was East Germany for a while, and East Central Europe.[2] They like to sanitize, forget, and, understandably, look ahead. Pope Emeritus Benedict wants the West to think about absolute values, as “absolute justice.” Benedict wants the West to remember the thought of his predecessor, Pope St. John Paul II, and his encyclical Veritatis Splendor.[3]

They both have psychological anxiety [4] because of the attenuation of religion, not the loss of religion totally. John Paul II addresses the tendency of the people to wander away from the moral absolutes and the guidance of the Church in matters of morality. Benedict teaches moral absolutes vis-a-vis relativism. Benedict’s essays are an echo: without moral absolutes and an orderly political arrangement, something abominable will violate absolute human rights.

What tends to be overlooked by Christians is why and how Benedict points out that liberal democracy intersects with Christianity. The lens of the Popes is to fight off authoritarianism in its various forms from 1933 through 1989, the breakup of the Soviet Union,[5] and beyond. If liberal democracy gets saturated with moral relativism, if liberal democracy simply massages the idea, history discloses the abrogation of personal freedom. Someone or some group with power always overwhelms,[6] as the National Socialists and Bolsheviks did.

Benedict sees an attenuation of moral authority due to lack of knowledge and conviction about absolute values. Without it, where will your allegiance go, what is left that can be described as “Christianly”? If authoritarianism is picking up Christian support, isn’t authoritarianism almost being protected as if it were laminated? His worry is: where is Christianly resistance if not founded on moral absolutes? [7] To me, his claim that liberal democracy is not holding the value of absolute justice but only pretending to do so, is “thick.” To claim that liberal democracy is on automatic pilot and pretending to stand for absolute justice aligns with the poet T. S. Eliot’s image of “hollow men,” and that of W. B. Yeats: “the best lack all conviction; the worst are full of passionate intensity.”[8]

Is the West as “hollowed out” a grave cause for worry? Is being hollowed out applicable to the Church’s moral authority and her absolute values? I suggest a leakage. Who listens to Pope Francis when reporters ask about moral absolutes? On September 15, flying from Kazakhstan, he was asked about the loss of faith in countries such as Germany, especially among the youth. He replied: “It is true that the spirit of secularization, of relativism, challenges these things; it is true. What you have to do, first of all, is to be consistent with your faith.[9]

Pope Francis echoes Pope John Paul II: “Truth enlightens man’s intelligence and shapes his freedom, leading him to know and love the Lord” (Veritatis Splendor). Francis told reporters:  “It is true that the West, in general, is not at the highest level of exemplarity right now. The West has taken wrong paths.” Are the three Popes missing anything? Are they consistent with Catholic belief?

Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv. Univ of Notre Dame eondrako@alumni.nd.edu

____________________________

[1] Putin’s unjust war in Ukraine is how one can try to take rights away. President Mikhail Gorbachev, 1931-2022, introduced glasnost. He visited and knelt at the tomb of St. Francis in Assisi for a half hour. Closer to home, it is not difficult to enumerate efforts to take away freedom. We ask: on what basis?
[2] Our pilgrimage began in Prague, circled through Germany and Austria, and to Bratislava, then a respectful visit to the tomb of Jozef Cardinal Mindszenty at Esztergom and ended at Budapest.
[3] On the feast of St. Alphonsus Marie Liguori in 1987, John Paul II set out to write an encyclical letter on absolute values as the very foundations of moral theology, …. Veritatis Splendor, 6 August 1993.
[4] Think of the father of modern existentialism, Soren Kierkegaard, and the reasons for his anxiety.
[5] Putin’s unjust war in Ukraine is his effort to reset the breakup of the Soviet Union on Christmas 1991.
[6] Think of the classic antiChrist in the Book of Revelation.
[7] Benedict’s Values in a Time of Upheaval, Truth and Tolerance, and many more essays, may be indicating that he sees, for the first time, this problem is true and becoming amplified in the West.
[8] The Pope Emeritus’  readers often want more details about how he is constructing his arguments and diagnoses. His theological, philosophical, and historical training include  underdevelopment as his style.
[9] I  will refrain from taking the bait to apply the image of “hollowed out” to the political parties in the USA.

Fr. Edward J. Ondrako, OFM Conventual
Research Fellow Pontifical Faculty of St. Bonaventure, Rome
Visiting Scholar, McGrath Institute for Church Life
University of Notre Dame
Feast of the Guardian Angels – October 2, 2022

Ministry Community – SU Catholic Center

Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Fr. Gerry Waterman, OFM Conv. serves the university community as the Catholic Chaplain for Syracuse University. Through his ministry, he helps to provide “dynamic programming that encourages community and faith-building.” In addition to celebrating Mass and facilitating the sacraments for the Catholic community at SU, the Catholic Center provides many opportunities for enrichment and service. One such weekly event is the Thursday Night Dinners, when every Thursday of the semester, the students and greater community gather for Mass, free dinner & dessert, and fellowship. On the last Thursday of the month, the evening includes one of the many Service Initiatives at SU; the Sandwich Ministry through which hundreds of sandwiches are made and distributed by Assumption Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen (an outreach of our pastoral ministry – Assumption Church) and the Samaritan Center on W State Street, in Syracuse.

Pictured Above: The first Sandwich Ministry event of the Fall Semester was held on Thursday, September 29, 2022. Joining the SU community were our Syracuse based FrancisCorps 24 Volunteers and Br. Tim Blanchard, OFM Conv., who serves in the Office of Institutional Advancement our St. Francis High School, in Athol Springs, NY.

Celebrating St. Francis’s Feast Day!

Throughout the province, our ministries are holding varied celebrations in honor of the October 4th Feast Day of our Seraphic Father, St. Francis of Assisi, including the Blessing of Animals, as well as Transitus Services and Feast Day celebrations. Spend some time in prayer with our friars at a Province Ministry Location near you.

Here are examples of some of the scheduled events. Click on the image to link to the ministry’s website:

Most Holy Trinity-St. Mary Catholic Church, Brooklyn, NY (also Blessing of the Animals on Saturday, October 1st at 11:00 a.m.

Reflection by Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv.

CAN I KNOW TRUTH?

(Part Four: THE “TRICK” OF AN IMMUNIZATION CLAUSE)
12 Days on Pilgrimage in August
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6).

“We are only passing through!” From her youth, Queen Elizabeth II, who died on the feast of the Nativity of Mary, was telling the world that she had belief and could reason well. For seventy years as monarch she exemplified that there is no antithesis between hope for heaven and loyalty to the earth. Her hope was also hope for the earth, and very quietly, without wavering, Queen Elizabeth II lived hope for something greater and definitive. Does anyone doubt that her focus was: Christians must bring hope into what is transitory, into the world as it changes, the old giving way to the new? Her public statements respected the dignity of the person and reflected a modern Christiainity. In other words, close listening to her ruled out a Christianity that would be for speciously sophisticated individuals who respect God. Moreover, a person participates in making who I am before God. Requiescat in pace.

Pope Emeritus Benedict was born in Bavaria (photo insert at left of his birthplace) a year after the future Queen Elizabeth and grew up on the same raft in the stormy sea. Europe was shaken to its core by conflicts that he found noxious and nihilistic. To give up on truth, to jettison truth from the raft ostensibly because of its weight, and to reduce truth to opinion, is now a stance protected by society. A “protective clause” forbids truth claims[1] and engagement of controversies in debate, disallows any view from being defeated, and forbids amendments to truth claims. He found that emendation of the Enlightenment was a rupture and an elevation of relativity. Such an immunization clause[2] which forbids rational decisions is noxious because every thought is reduced to opinion.

Truth is at stake, truth needs time, truth matters. Second, the modern sense of the primacy of the political system includes familiarity with the local, state, national or international politicians who promise everything; but how society actually gets organized makes the difference. Benedict asks: is order on the basis of utility or on the basis of justice, at least some form of justice and social identity?  He knew well that Fascism gave a form of identity based on resentment for the overdemand of reparations after World War I which reduced Germany from the richest country in Europe to the poorest. The new Marxism, on Benedict’s eastern border, was offering a vision of making sacrifices now with a promised payoff from an ever-illusive utopia. Marxism was easy: just overthrow the morality of the bourgeois now and all will be well.[3]

Benedict recognizes the complexity of the ensuing primacy of the political in the West and changes in Islam in the East. Goals are supposed to regulate political ideologies, but there is no evidence that this is happening. Benedict observes that secular modernity and its call for human rights, its claim to reason, its refusal to be subject to any Church, its dream of depending on generosity with equality: economic, gender, ethnic, or social, arises and reproduces itself. Religion is left behind because, in the view of the self-styled cultured elite, religion has impeded progress, whether in the economic realm, or in the use of reason, or in justice as they define it.

It may surprise many that Benedict argues why secular modernity is not a complete break from Christianity, but funded by Christianity. His view of the modern debate is:[4]

  1. The state itself is not the source of truth and morality. It cannot produce truth from its own self by means of an ideology, … nor via the majority. It is not absolute.
  2. The goal of the state cannot consist in a freedom without defined contents. … The state requires a minimum of truth, of knowledge of the good. It is defined by justice on the basis of what is good for everyone.
  3. The state must receive from outside itself the essential measure of knowledge and truth with regard to that which is good.
  4. A pure rational evidential quality independent of history does not exist. Metaphysical and moral reason comes into action in a historical context.
  5. Christian faith has proved to be the most universal and rational religious culture. It offers the basis of a rational moral faith without which no society can endure.
  6. The state receives its basic support from outside, from a reason that has come to maturity in the historical form of faith. By merging with the state, the Church would destroy both the essence of the state and its own essence.
  7. The Church remains “outside” the state, in its own proper place and within its boundaries. The Church performs for the state the service that the latter requires, to shine forth the moral truth to the citizens. Truth must be vigorous. The Church must form its members to convince and to be a leaven for all society.

Are Christian faith and modernity compatible, the Holy Father asks? If tolerance is one of the foundations of the modern age, then tolerance claims recognize the essential truth. A spiral of violence runs through the history of religions, and it has to be broken. To dismiss the claim to truth in the Christian faith as the fundamental condition for a new reconciliation of Christianity with modernity is to make an incorrect diagnosis. Benedict repeats essential points about truth, tolerance and freedom. Freedom must relate to truth. Law is constitutive of freedom. The absolutely ideal human situation never existed, nor will a perfected ordering of freedom be achieved. We struggle for the relatively best possible framework of human coexistence, to preserve anything good that has been achieved, to overcome anything bad that exists at the time, and to guard against the outbreak of destructive forces as he and Queen Elizabeth saw.

Queen Elizabeth and Pope Emeritus Benedict, their teenage years during war, her coronation on 2 June 1953, his ordination on 29 June 1951, and seven decades, bear witness to the question of the role “truth” plays as a gift for everyone, which aims to alienate no one.

Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv. Univ of Notre Dame eondrako@alumni.nd.edu

_______________________

[1] At a University in Canada, the Dean of Studies said to me: “Never make any truth claims.”
[2] Cyril O’Regan, University of Notre Dame, uses immunization clause for protective clause.
[3] Lenin said: find a few useful idiots. He did and we saw them exemplify the absence of the divine.
[4] Pope Benedict XVI, Values in a Time of Upheaval (San Francisco: 2006), 67-70.

Fr. Edward J. Ondrako, OFM Conventual
Research Fellow Pontifical Faculty of St. Bonaventure, Rome
Visiting Scholar, McGrath Institute for Church Life
University of Notre Dame
Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael – September 29, 2022

Reflection by Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv.

CAN I KNOW TRUTH?

(Part Three: EUROPE AS A “STAND IN” FOR SECULAR MODERNITY)
12 Days on Pilgrimage in August
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6).

Our Marian Franciscan pilgrimage took us through central Europe where several of our twenty-eight pilgrims have roots. We prayed and celebrated Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Altötting, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s favorite place in his beloved Bavaria. In this third essay, I turn to his thoughts on why Europe is a “stand in” for secular modernity. “If Europe is to survive, … it involves encountering with reverence that which is holy to another. We can and must learn from that which is holy to others, but it is our obligation both in relation to them and to our own selves to nourish our own reverence for the Holy One and to show the face of the God who has appeared to us, the God who cares for the poor and the weak, the widows and orphans and strangers, the God who is so human that he himself became one of us, a suffering man whose compassion with our suffering gives us dignity and hope.”[1]

Why is Europe a stand-in for secular modernity? Together with Pope St. John Paul II, Benedict lived through the horrendous consequences of the relativization of truth in our modern period. As we drove through Munich, the University and buildings that were home to the Gestapo, their court, prison, and execution place, tears flowed. I remembered the Second World War, in particular, the conviction and courage of Sophia Scholl and her circle of friends in the White Rose Movement. They dared to criticize the unjust regime and were decapitated on Hitler’s orders. Our guide did not mention that poignant fact. Sophia and friends[2] demonstrated their intent to get to truth and love for truth without insisting that they had truth in their back pocket. Today their graves nearby are covered with fresh white roses daily.

Students who refuse to live the lie counter modern reason that has given up on the search for truth and reduced it to only opinion. No doubt the White Rose circle was familiar with Plato’s Republic and its three phases: first, a generation that has shown a degradation of the search for truth; second, a new and young character to the politics without a commitment to truth; and, third, the failure to talk about truth which enables those who seek power to gain it then feel free reign to use power as they choose. John Paul II and Benedict lived with the consequences. Today, all with good sense ask: What are you going to do to prevent the world from being laid waste anew by hatred and violence and falsehood?

As storekeeper, so to speak, to Pope John Paul II, an incredibly engaged Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) had his hand in the writing of Fides et Ratio. The irony is that he wrote a commentary on Fides et Ratio about reason as subject to pathology, to a deformed version of reason. In 1999,[3] the future Pope Benedict already saw the pathology of faith in secular modernity with several forms in fundamentalism which is always around.

Pope Emeritus Benedict finds pathology in fundamentalism as a modern production which is doctrinaire and narrow. Both Christians and Muslims have been irrational and violent and done fanatical things. Reflect on reason that does not scrub away fundamentalist thinking or fanaticism. Fundamentalism produced by reason arises as a reaction formation. The problem links with the suggestion that every religion does not have conviction. Religion is substitutable or worthless. To put religion on hold as a person grows up in favor of personal preference is not the Catholic way of formation. Benedict adds that the pathology of believers, in any form, is spread by hyper-rationality. Evangelical forms of Christianity, for example, do not have doctrines that develop as Catholic doctrines do. Another example is evidence that anyone can be as apocalyptic as any subgroup of Muslims misguided by jihadism.

Pope Emeritus Benedict deals with these issues in the pattern of  the thought of St. John Henry Newman, who insists that there is a good account and a bad account of reason. Newman grew up in England in the nineteenth century, when the English religious ethos was not to believe too hard: i.e., Yes, God exists; yet, don’t ask if God is triune. Yes, Jesus lived in history; yet, don’t ask if he was human and divine. Don’t ask about claims that Mary was his mother. Don’t ask too much about his death on the cross and claim that Jesus is the savior of mankind.

Benedict follows Newman’s distinction between the extrinsic and intrinsic connection. There is an extrinsic not intrinsic connection that Christianity leads to violence. Newman recognized the pathology of fanaticism as insistence that one thing is absolutely true and ought to be imposed on others. Thinking that is not pure enough is worth fighting for. On intellectual grounds, that is how fundamentalist thinking is the fuel about what is true and not true. Catholics know many examples of historical difficulties when the Church allowed periods of disagreement with patience and forbearance. The first years after Vatican II were a time of “experimentation.”

The important point that Benedict is making about Europe as a “stand in” for secular modernity is that it has arrived on the scene out of the dark ages with a message of human rights, reason as not subject to a Church, and the need for a generic equality in economics, gender, ethnicity, and social equality. Secular modernity, democracy, or equality relate to justice. He asks: Is it a break from Christianity or funded by Christianity? The United States imported secular modernity from Europe, and it has less resistance; therefore has worked.

When Christianity was called on to stand against the fanaticism of National Socialism and Communism, Catholics like Saints Maximilian M. Kolbe, Edith Stein, and others stood up. Conservative Protestants stood up as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who had been teaching at Union Theological in New York City. Liberal Protestants, on the other hand, had the view that faith is relative to the historical moment and offered very little resistance. Thoughts?

Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv. Univ of Notre Dame, eondrako@alumni.nd.edu

______________________

[1] Pope Benedict XVI, Values in a Time of Upheaval (San Francisco: 2006), 149, 150.
[2] Significantly, the White Rose students were reading about conscience in now St. John Henry Newman.
[3] Pope Benedict XVI, Truth and Tolerance (San Francisco: 2004), 183-209.

Fr. Edward J. Ondrako, OFM Conventual
Research Fellow Pontifical Faculty of St. Bonaventure, Rome
Visiting Scholar, McGrath Institute for Church Life
University of Notre Dame
Feast of St. Wenceslaus, patron of the Czech Republic and Slovakia
– September 28, 2022

 

Greeting and Message of the Minister General

Dear confreres, Peace and All Good!
At the beginning of this year, we put out some “guidelines,” as members of the Conference of the Franciscan Family, to help us carry out the Franciscan Centenary in the most meaningful way possible. The Centenary will culminate in 2026 with the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Easter of our Seraphic Father St. Francis. We said that this celebratory journey “offers us a valuable opportunity to invigorate the richness of our charism with a prophetic vision toward the future.” The core of our charism is, without a doubt, evangelical fraternity. This ideal is challenged by the current situation of the world, in which “the sense of belonging to a single human family is fading, and the dream of working together for justice and peace seems an outdated utopia” (Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, 30). As we know, wars driven by various interests, often fratricidal wars, are proliferating around the world. Moreover, the power figures of the world persist in extending their domains, in spite of shedding innocent blood. However, it certainly must not be so among us: “whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all” (Mark 10:43-44). The only prophetic choice for us is called the “Gospel,” the Gospel “sine glossa,” but lived in an intelligent way. In celebrating our “Brother from Assisi,” I invite you to discern, in fraternity, how we should live intelligently in a way that is appropriate to our charism and our times. Let us keep in mind, however, that “prophetic vision” and “self-interest” are competitors, one at the expense of the other. The choice is ours. Let us choose to live our charism authentically and not let the logic of the world and of power permeate our hearts!
May St. Francis teach us the way!