Minister General, Br. Michael A. Perry delivered this homily at La Verna during the celebration of Mass for young people on the vigil of the Feast of the Stigmata of St.Francis, September 16th2018.
First of all, I would like to thank you for once again accepting the invitation to climb Monte della Verna this year. Let’s try to answer what it means to climb this holy mountain, what practical impact might the making such a journey have on our lives?
Climbing La Verna is climbing Calvary, which is the place that witnessed one of the greatest events in human history. Itis certainly the place of victory over sin and death, but before that it is the place of suffering and agony; it is the place of the death of the innocent. We climb La Verna because we want to touch the wounds of Christ— in other words,whatever causes pain, anguish, uncertainty,frequent discouragement and (why not?) a sense of failure. We climb this mountain because we want to understand the paradox that St. Paul offers us in his letter when he tells us that the only thing that we can boast about is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to us, and we to the world.
In a world where exclusion and marginalization are the order of the day, where populist and xenophobic mentalities are increasing, and the geopolitical climate is fragile, it is urgent that we direct our gaze to the wounded Christ in order to combat the phantom of fear that hammers at our doors, preventing us from welcoming human beings in a spirit of solidarity. These people must leave their homelands to come into a new situation, against their will and for reasons that are little understood.
Let’s try to imagine that instead of those 177 people who were on the ship “Diciotti” on August 20th last in Catania, we were the ones who had to suffer the indifference of the political arm-wrestling that was unmoved in the face of such pain. Imagine if we were living in a hellish exile where oppression, exploitation, and even loss of freedom, were all present. You surely heard that one of the rescued children was living in the dark for a whole year. Then, as if all this were not enough, it took five days to disembark these people while the whole world could see that the situation on the ship was becoming more and more critical. How would we have felt if we had to suffer all this? Could we have endured? Would we survive? I invite you to participate in an act of solidarity—putting ourselves in the shoes of those people soas to awaken within us feelings of pity and compassion.
Dear friends, this is one of the stigmata that today we are invited to acknowledge in our body. To paraphrase the words that Saint Paul gave us in the First Reading, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, nor does coming from this country or that country, being Europeans, Americans, or Africans, or being part of a robust and sustainable economic community; no, what matters is being a new creature. Be new creatures! Be men and women who can embrace with great love what the world wishes to discard, because they are seen by many as unwanted and a nuisance.
On May 15thlast, three friars arrived in Havana, Cuba, to form a new international fraternity in Holy Cross parish. As well as offering support to the Cuban members of the Custody of St. Mary of Hope (3 Solemnly Professed friars and 6 in Initial Formation), Brs. Manuel Pineda (from Guatemala), Francisco Gearóid Ó Conaire (from Ireland), and Jesús Aguirre Garza (from Mexico) will explore possible future presences and ministries. Their criteria will be the needs of the local church, discerned in line with our Franciscan charism, guided by the Order’s document, ‘Ite Nuntiate’, and with an emphasis on Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC).
Other friars have expressed interest in being part of this initiative. In dialogue with the Custos, Br. José Santos Pérez ofm, friars are encouraged to come, visit, and discern for three months before making a final decision.
The fraternity will present proposals regarding present and future international initiatives in Cuba to the Custos and the Minister General in July 2019. In the meantime, as well as serving in a parish, they will meet with many people and groups around the country, as well as experiencing Cuban realities first-hand.
For further information, please contact Br. Luis Gallardo OFM, General Secretary for Missions at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ignacio Ceja OFM (General Definitor) at email@example.com
“Today more than ever, the Feast of Pardon invites us to commit ourselves to the lives of all those who suffer in the world. Today’s politicians are driven by the search for a consensus and a populism that threatens to lead this world more and more towards selfishness and closing in on itself. On the other hand, the Lord urges us to return to the source of our faith “. Br. Michael A. Perry, General Minister of the Order of Friars Minor, has just concluded the celebrations for the Assisi Pardon. “The policy of closure is caused by ‘fears’ that are not based on real facts, but on often erroneous interpretations that are likely to generate collective hysteria. This hysteria – he explains – is an induced phenomenon that provokes people and gives them permission to treat the stranger or different no longer as human persons, but as animals or savages “.”
How can a tradition that is over 800 years old still be current?
First, because the Franciscan charism is based on evangelical values, such as simplicity, humility, truth, honesty of life and thought, sharing, forgiveness. The Gospel is forever because it is the living Word that enlightens human beings. Moreover, St. Francis embraced principles that are for every age: respect for others and for creation, fellowship, welcome, care of others, friendliness, tenderness, the way of seeing others as sons and daughters of God, as images of God.
It seems that there is a lessening of the sense of sin and the practice of confession (the sacrament of reconciliation) in our society. So why do so many people feel the desire to ask for pardon and forgiveness?
There is always goodness in the human heart. It always holds a seed of love and above it has a conscience that tells it what is just and what is the right think to do or to think and what is wrong, unjust, sinful. Sometimes there is the idea that everything is sinful and other times, however, that nothing is a sin. Still, we know thatsin is a lack of love for God and for people.
Then there are many who perceive this lack and seek confident forgiveness in God who is mercy. The practice of confession is a gesture of humility in which the person recognizes who she or he truly is before God.
There are those who claim the Assisi Pardon and such practices are simply the fruit of a popular religiosity that does not transform people’s lives …
The Church and Pope Francis recognize signs of true faith in popular devotions.
It is up to the organizers to make sure that that religiosity or devotion moves the practitioners to the truth of God and the Gospel.
Regarding the life transformation, it is enough to ask the people who have participated several times and have experienced the grace of pardon.
Who are the pilgrims asking for pardon?
Usually they are people who walk a spiritual path and have the desire to grow and mature in the faith and in works where love is lived concretely.
Do you have any particular memories linked to the Assisi Pardon?
Assisi has become a reference in the world for interreligious dialogue, for prayer for peace, for the search for pardon, forgiveness and reconciliation. Usually in the celebration of the Assisi Pardon, people overcome certain difficulties in interpersonal relationships.
I have often seen people hugging each other and asking for mutual forgiveness.
Today people need this type of forgiveness that becomes a bridge for drawing near to each other and destroys the walls that divide and separate us.
The original text (in Italian) may be read here: agensir.it
The teaching of religion is compulsory in schools in Jordan. The Terra Santa College carries out this teaching distinctly to both Christians and Muslims. Education in the Christian faith of the students of Terra Santa College takes place mainly under two aspects: one theoretical and the other practical.
Regarding the first aspect the Christian religion is taught to all Christian students for three hours a week, one of these is dedicated either to prayer, or to watching a film about the life of Saints. For our Christian students we follow the programme of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, while for Muslims the programme of the Government Ministry.
The practical aspect aims to develop in our students what they have learned during their lessons and to learn how to live it out; particularly evangelical charity. The various activities, which are coordinated by the teachers of each department, take place both inside the school and outside, and both Christian and Muslim students participate. I note just a few examples:
Pilgrimages to places such as the Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo, the site of the baptism, and to Our Lady of Anjara;
Initiatives to help the poor and needy;
When the month of fasting for Muslims (Ramadan) occurs during the school year, Iftar are organized in which all the students participate in a joyful family atmosphere.
Two activities, which we do in collaboration with the “King Hussein Cancer Centre” and the “Tkiet Um Ali”, characterise our College, by sensitizing students to the value of volunteer work.
Through these programs we try to educate our students about human and spiritual values, solidarity, fraternity, coexistence, and respect for others in order to be good citizens.
This article is part of a series profiling the work that friars are doing throughout the world to accompany young people in faith. These stories are only a sample of the ways countless friars walk with young people today. As we Franciscans prepare for the 2018 Synod of Bishops Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. May these stories inspire all who read them to an ever-deeper commitment to sharing the Joy of the Gospel with our young sisters and brothers.
On 3 September 2018, Br. Roberto Genuin, OFMCap was elected General Minister of the Capuchin Order.
Br. Roberto was born on September 20, 1961 in Falcade, a town in the Belluno civil province of the Italian region of Veneto. At eleven years old he entered the Seraphic Seminary of Castelmonte (Province of Udine). He made the year of novitiate in Lendinara (Province of Adria-Rovigo). Br. Roberto made temporary religious profession on October 3, 1980 and perpetual profession on June 30, 1985. In 1986 he completed the bachelor of sacred theology summa cum laude at the Laurentianuminter-provincial theologate in Venice. Br. Roberto was then ordained priest in his home parish in Falcade on June 27, 1987. As a member of our International College in Rome from 1991 to 1996, Br. Roberto completed the research doctorate in utroque iureat the Pontifical Lateran University.
In a letter dated 5 September 2018, Minister General, Br. Michael A. Perry, on behalf of the General Definitory and the Brothers of the Order, congratulated the newly elected General Minister and assured him that he will be remembered in prayers for the future ministry that awaits him in the service of the Capuchin brothers.