Today was a day of reflection and prayer for the Chapter.
At 10:00 a.m., the Minister General presented today’s speaker: His Eminence, Luis Antonio Gokim Cardinal TAGLE, Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila, the Philippines, and President of International Caritas.
The theme of his first talk was on prophecy. According to the Cardinal, all religious must question their own way of proclaiming the Gospel. These days we are experiencing the difficulty of globalization, we can learn everything about everybody but we have difficulty proclaiming the truth that saves.
As proclaimers of Christ, our biggest challenge is being too preoccupied by the strategies, by the techniques of communication, as though we were advertising experts. However, what we say should liberate people, not manipulate them as the media often do, who are more interested in amazing people than in offering them truth.
The solution lies in following the example of Jesus Christ. He always preached starting from human and concrete realities, and tried first and foremost to enter into a relationship with people. The world needs witnesses. To that end the Cardinal concluded his speech by pointing out some concrete situations, for example in Syria, Lebanon and the Philippines. In these realities, one must be quietly open to those in misery, and open to the good that can be found in troubled people. In this the religious can be prophets, proclaiming the salvation of the Risen Christ and trying to be authentic and consistent about what they preach.
At 11:30 p.m., Mass took place in the Lower Basilica of St. Francis. Cardinal Luis Antonio presided, surrounded by the Capitulars, the confreres of the Sacred Convent community and numerous lay faithful. His homily was in both Italian and English and the simplicity with which he proposed the Gospel commandment to love one another really struck a chord. The Cardinal asked those present to raise their hands if they were married. He invited them to love their spouses and children, as Jesus does—the one who never abandons us. Then, the Cardinal turned to the religious and joked about them not raising their hands. However, he invited them all the same; to love as Jesus loves, that is, to always remain close with one’s brothers.
Evening Prayer was held at 5:00 p.m. Afterwards, the Cardinal gave his second talk, this time on theme of mission in the face of change. The Cardinal said that human life is always marked by changes; it is all about grasping every moment of existence as a positive opportunity. Also, he said that being called to the responsibility of Minister General can be understood as a blessing, beyond all the hardships it may involve.
He then asked each Capitular to make an examination of conscience: what changes in ourselves, in our brothers, in the Church and in society, do we desire or fear? In this historical time, the biggest change has been the development of the Internet. Are we able to see the possibilities that it offers our mission? There are many opportunities for renewal for the Church; we must be capable of dialogue, sharing and expressing new life to all people.
Finally, the Cardinal conducted a question and answer session. Very importantly, he invited us Conventuals to be holy, amid the spontaneity and problems of daily life in every social sphere.
Friar Aurelio ERCOLI, Chronicler