This morning’s Mass was presided over by Friar Tadeusz ŚWIĄTKOWSKI, the Assistant General for the African Federation of Conventual Franciscans (AFCOF). During the Mass, he mentioned the 27th anniversary of priestly ordination of three Capitulars from the Province of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe in Poland (Gdańsk): Friars Adam KALINOWSKI, Eugeniusz WETTA and Kazimierz SZULC, the Provincial Custos of the Provincial Custody of St. Francis of Assisi in Kenya.
Friar Jude delivered the homily. In it, he mentioned that as prophets we must not try to guess the future, we must instead listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit who speaks to us in the present within our concrete situations.
Friar Damian-Gheorghe PĂTRAŞCU, the Postulator General, started today’s Chapter session by reading a summarized version of his report. As we did during last night’s prayer service in the Basilica, we continue to thank the Lord for the many brothers and sisters whom the Church has recognized as examples of holiness. We are invited to increasingly cultivate knowledge of these examples of virtue and spread the word about these holy ones the Lord has sown among us.
Then, Friar Joseph BLAY, the General Delegate for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation made his presentation. Over the last six years, he was primarily committed to visiting our formation houses around the world. Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation is part of our DNA as Franciscans, so we need to train our youth in these values, too. Likewise the whole Order must be sensitive to safeguarding creation and to practicing the integral ecology that Pope Francis has asked for in his encyclical Laudato Si’.
Next, Friar Silvestru BEJAN, the Delegate General for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, spoke to the Capitulars. He underlined how the “Spirit of Assisi” is certainly in vogue, but it must be reintroduced within our own Franciscan mission of living the Gospel. We want to meet and dialogue with people, not argue over abstract theological concepts. This year marked the 800th anniversary of the meeting of St. Francis of Assisi with the Sultan AL-KAMIL. An exhibition based on this theme has been created at the Sacred Convent. Tomorrow morning, the Capitulars are invited to attend the inauguration of the exhibition.
Finally, Friar Timothy KULBICKI, the Secretary of the Executive Committee for the Revision of the Constitutions, took the floor. He thanked all the collaborators, in particular Friar Bernardo COMMODI who returned to the Father’s house on July 17, 2017. It is good to remember that the work of creating the new Constitutions was a commitment shared by most of the Order. The Holy See approved the text of the Constitutions and gave it a very positive evaluation.
The Capitulars then met together in seven “mixed groups” to dialogue about the reports that had just been given; the mixed groups were composed in such a way so that Capitulars from different geographical and linguistic areas could dialogue together.
The day concluded with Evening Prayer I of the Solemnity of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
Friar Aurelio ERCOLI, Chronicler
In our first reading this morning, we hear a continuation of the story of the Council of Jerusalem. Peter speaks of how the Holy Spirit has guided him and others to baptize the Gentiles. James speaks about how this was foretold by Amos the Prophet. One of the apostles speaks about the present and the future. The other speaks about the past. This dynamic is one that we should remember in these days of chapter.
We need friars who speak about the past. We need to review this mandate which is now over and evaluate it. This is the recent past. We need friars who remember our history like Tim Kulbicki and Igor. We need friars who can speak of our earliest days as an Order like Wayne and Valentin.
But we also need friars who can speak to us of the present and future of our Order. We need to listen to the voices of the friars from young jurisdictions which are growing rapidly. We need to listen to our prophets who view things from the viewpoint of God. We need to listen to those who are practical, who have common sense.
If we listen, if we share our insights, we too will know where the Lord is calling us to go and what he is inviting us to do.