Under 10: Final Message to all the friars
(includes Hi Res Official Photo) We, friars minor solemnly-professed for less than ten years (U10), called from five continents, have gathered for the Fourth International Chapter of Mats, celebrated in Guadalajara and Mexico City from June 2-10, 2012. We experienced an event that witnessed the participation of more than 140 friars from provinces throughout the world, accompanied by the Minister General of the Order, Br. José Rodriguez Carballo, the General Definitorium, and the organizing committee. The motto of the chapter – Aspicientes in Iesum – taken from the Letter to the Hebrews, announced from the beginning what has developed during our intense journey of work and fraternity, that is, a rereading of the Gospel beatitudes in relation to our Franciscan identity. The leadership of the Order placed themselves at the service of the young friars, sharing their joys and worries, prepared to listen attentively to the questions, concerns, and hopes of all those who attended or followed the event from a distance.
An Assembly Gathered in Prayer
The official opening of this chapter—like all the working sessions—occurred in an atmosphere of prayer, with the celebration of First Vespers of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, a theological image for relationship in faith and a model for every evangelical fraternity. The pilgrimage to the Franciscan sanctuary which houses the image of Our Lady of the Expectation of Zapopan, the celebration of the Eucharist, and a party in the friary with the members of YouFra (Young Franciscans) and the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS) were moments which showed clearly our deep communion with the people of God and with their most ancient traditions. This essential characteristic of the Franciscan charism enabled us, despite the diversity of nationalities and languages, to feel welcome and truly a part of the Franciscan family in Mexico. The friar delegates from each conference gave presentations concerning the different situations of each province or custody, sharing not only statistics, but above all, their experiences, forms of new evangelization and future projects.
Rekindle the Gift of God within You
The Minister General led the primary discussion of the chapter, expounding briefly the most important aspects of his letter to friars Under 10, Rekindle the Gift of God within You, a letter addressed to all young friars in the Order. However, he did not merely offer a synthesis of the letter, but more: he shared with passion both his personal motivations and the contents of the text. Confiding in us all the things that are, for him, a font of joy and worry concerning the order, he continued with a systematic exposition of some essential elements of the Franciscan charism and identity: the primacy of God, who guides the life of prayer toward a new search for silence and asceticism; fraternal life, in the context of the age gap between generations, over-work, and virtual relationships on the internet; and the unity of vocation and mission which at every stage of formation must allow light to shine forth. Franciscan identity in light of the beatitudes cannot exist without the witness of evangelical radicalism, a consequence of embracing with courage and passion the challenge of living in fraternity and sine proprio. Questions from the assembly followed in a spirit of gratitude and confidence, not diminishing or ignoring the worries or questions which will be courageously faced in the future. They include: the place of lay brothers and their formation; the tendency to over-work and its impact on community life; the life of faith; personal and spiritual accompaniment; and renewed closeness with the people of God, above all in communion with the poorest and the outcast.
Various brothers were invited to give testimony to their personal experience. They spoke about their ministry and mission in different parts of the world, giving voice to the gift of sanctity that God has given them in different forms, like itinerant preaching in South America, mission ad gentes in Bolivia, Morocco and the Holy Land, and hidden identity in China, to name a few examples. Br. César Vaiani from the Province of St. Charles Borromeo in Lombardy, Italy, helped us with a moment of reflection on the writings of St. Francis, noting the connections between the Gospel beatitudes, a Franciscan interpretation of them, and the possible ways in which they can be lived.
On the day dedicated to mission, we were able to experience more closely the reality of initial formation in the province of Saints Francis and James (Jalisco), together with the Secular Franciscan Order and YouFra. The closing of the chapter was celebrated in a pilgrimage on foot, followed by a celebration of the Eucharist in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the model of evangelization and inculturation, in Mexico City. The gathering, which began in Guadalajara under the protection of the image of the Virgin of Zapopan, was concluded in an atmosphere of prayer and recollection, commending ourselves to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Poor.
With Our Eyes Fixed on Jesus
As brothers gathered for the Fourth Chapter of Mats, we recall the many difficulties in our fraternities and the temptation to live a mediocre form of daily life. Here, we were able to see and believe that living the Gospel in the style of St. Francis is both beautiful and possible. We ask the whole Order, with a filial spirit, for fraternal help to find faith and passion for the Gospel way, to rediscover the creative fidelity and radicalism of life that God and the world demand of us. Let us accompany each other to live the beatitude of fixing our eyes on the Lord, so that we may take the risk of casting out in new forms of evangelization and commit ourselves to authentically evangelical relationships, so that the experience of prayer and fraternity lived in these days of the International Chapter may extend to each and every day, until the Last Day.
We brothers gathered in the Chapter of Mats give thanks to the Lord for the gift of being able to celebrate our vocation together, to the Minister General who has convoked this chapter, to the General Definitorium for their active participation, to the provinces of Jalisco and the Holy Gospel (Mexico City) for their fraternal, generous and festive hospitality, and to all the provinces of the Order which have sent us to participate in this fraternal gathering. Finally, we thank the various committees which have worked in the preparation and carrying out of this encounter, which we consider a grace.
May the Lord give you peace!
Your brothers Under 10,
Together with the Minister General and his Definitorium
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Under10 Official photo - (Click for Hi Res Photo)