On May 17, all the provincial superiors, vice-provincial and some vicars were present in the general house to participate in the Extended General Council organized as soon as the spread of the Pandemic decreased and the various Countries relaxed rules and restrictions.
Don Antonio Saturno, pastor of the parish "Saint Philip the Apostle" presided, in the chapel of the Generalate, the Holy. Mass at 5 pm. starting the meeting. Some young sisters cheered the celebration with songs and musical instruments.
The meeting of the General Council Extended to the Provincial Superiors, presided over by the Superior General Sr Paola Dotto had its official beginning on May 18 in the chapter hall of the Generalate in Rome. The message of Sr Paola was rich in motivations for reflection and sharing, expressing the desire and the need to take care of this family together, sharing the same values with a common style and criteria.
Illuminated by the Word of Jesus: "Remain in My Love", for this Extended General Council, we thought and proposed the theme: In minority and in fraternal communion we live the charismatic gift in the Church for the world.
… We wish to be open to the Spirit, to initiate processes of communion and care, as the Pope says, in a Franciscan minority attitude, a charismatic element constitutive in our life and mission... The evangelical value that the Spirit of the Lord has entrusted to our Family is the missionary spirit: the witness and the proclamation of the presence of Jesus in our life, in our History, and in the History of every man...
The days alternated with reflections and sharing on topics offered by the speakers and on concrete situations experienced throughout our religious Family or specific provincial and vice-provincial realities. Here are some essential points that have guided in reflection and evaluation:
Mgr. José Carballo offered us some CHALLENGES as POSSIBILITIES:
To restore enchantment to our lives we need: Passion for Jesus; create fraternity and awaken hope; go from structures that infantilize relationships that form adults and free people; live in the suburbs and listen to the cry of the poor; be prophets, do not play to be; Heal the person and innovate structures.
Father Cesare Vaiani, ofm who presented the speech with the theme: "Minority: value and Franciscan lifestyle for fraternal communion and missionary witness".
Father Caesar chose to start from the literal meaning of the term "minority", and then introduce us into the language of Saint Francis with the adjective "minor" which refers to the choice of the name "friars minor" (cf. FF 386) which explains a strong connection to the virtue of humility, foundation of all virtues. He points out in Admonition 12 (cf. FF 161) that minority is linked to humility and also closely linked to poverty. In Admonition 14 (cf. FF 163) he clarifies that true poverty does not consist in material deprivation, but in accepting a few rude words or that someone else decides to take something from us that belongs to us.
What is the deep reason for choosing minority? Jesus is the reason, because He is the first one who became minor. Minority is the substance of the essence of Christ according to Francis. The "Christology" of Francis is based on the lowering of the Incarnation, a God who becomes less for us and together with Mary chose poverty.
Father Cesare also referred to art. 57 of our Constitutions emphasizing, in the context of poverty, attention to the signs of the times. In the Rnb, in chapters n.14 to 17, he presents the itinerancy as a Franciscan characteristic: he insists on how the friars must go, not so much on what they must do, except the greeting of peace. Father Cesare considered our journey a grace, an opportunity to start over, to conversion.
The Father affirmed that art. 73 of the Constitutions expresses full harmony with the Franciscan charism, which lives service with attention to the poorest. He also explained the minority in relation to work as a grace to be lived in an attitude of returning to God the graces received from Him.
He also referred again to the Constitutions, art. 15 and the Directory art. 11, to demonstrate how the conception of work is in full in harmony with St. Francis.
There is also an ecclesial minority: Francis chooses to keep a place as minors even in the Church with a strict submission to the diocesan clergy, without accepting ecclesiastical appointments. The temptation today, too, is to appropriate the service of authority.
For Francis, minority is also a choice that breaks down social barriers: the first fraternity is interclasses (noble and poor) and is placed with the poor, at the service of the excluded, like lepers. Perhaps it is this minority that still arouses admiration and sympathy towards Francis.
Father Alessandro Angelisanti, ofm of the fraternity of Loreto, involved in the pastoral care of all vocations with particular attention to family ministry. He began the reflection by asking us questions-provocations to identify: What about the vocation; the who of the vocation and towards whom?
From all the answers and reflections, Father Alessandro offers these clear indications: Every pastoral ministry is always vocational, it is the experience of acting as a bridge between the Lord and the person you meet to make him feel loved, called. It is always a time for a vocational pastoral, the whole of life is marked by the vocational dimension. The goal is the intimate union with the Lord Jesus.
Father Alessandro presented the passage from the Gospel of John (1:36-37) and told us that we are called to go where the young people are, then we can invite them to come and see our communities. What spaces do young people occupy today?
Every man in the depths of his heart is "very good", nothing of him must be discarded and forgotten, because he was created by God. The risk that we consecrated run is to have a partial look at the emotional world and the body. "Everything is a very good thing", our gaze must be directed by this faith.
"The holy grace of baptism gives us two goods: the image of God immediately and the likeness that awaits to be worked with us". Not even grave sin can scratch this image. The mandate that the Father has entrusted to us is to fulfil this likeness. Become "similar" to the image that God has put in us and become it through the "service" required.
Father Alessandro then presented the path of the beloved disciple with three stages:
- The Grace of the beginning: The thought is fixed on Jesus. The Lord makes us feel all His love for us.
- The Grace of weakness: it is the grace of reality, of recognizing that our own strength is not enough, we must collaborate with God.
- The Grace of the transforming union: We are called to live in relationship with Him in everything, to go towards others, in our reality, with lights and shadows, with the power of being in relationship with Him who gives us light. The beloved disciple is always in the right place, the image of the beloved son of God is held tight, he defends it with feelings, with thoughts and with actions and this is the grace of the transforming union.
Father Alessandro then continued his presentation offering us explanations regarding:
- The line of the body that automatically proceeds according to age and the evolutionary stages of growth.
- The line of the emotional world that becomes a light on our experience, shows us where we are and progresses only if we make choices.
- The line of identity that calls us to live the reality of being "children" in order to feel and live as "children loved by God". The final goal is to live a transforming union with the Lord. By our presence, by our history, we can help others to come to this union.
Following the Lord Jesus means not wanting to become better, but living communion with the sisters and with every person, with everyone, with the desire to bring everyone into the heart: at the center there is the Lord, around, all the other faces.