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Guidelines for an Evaluation of our Life of Poverty and Minority

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November 16, 2016

povertà minorileREFLECTION - In the Little Flowers of St. Francis, we read a very telling episode where Francis is open to learning a profound lesson from a simple country man:

“Tell me,” he said, “are you Brother Francis of Assisi?” And when Francis assured him that he was, the peasant said, “Well, then, try to be as good as everyone thinks you are, because many people have great faith in you. So I urge you, never let there be anything in you different from what they expect of you.”

PDF: Poor and Lesser Ones: Where Are We? (English)

As followers of St. Francis, this simple and direct call to authenticity is an ever present challenge for us Lesser Brothers. When Cardinal Bergoglio chose the name Francis, a call to authenticity of life was sent to the heart of all our endeavors. In fact, Pope Francis, through his simple way of living, preaching, and teaching has brought fresh attention and a specific direction to the term ‘Franciscan’. It has become widely synonymous with a way of life that is materially poor, unassuming, ecologically sensitive, centered on kinship with all living things, and especially concerned with peace and justice for the poor of our world. So many people look to us to be Poor and ‘Lesser Ones’. The renewed challenge is for us to identify as closely as possible with our brothers and sisters who are living at the margins of social, cultural, economic, and political life; the modern day ‘powerless’. They are the ones at greatest risk of global climate changes since they will bear the greatest consequences for any failure by the community of nations to act immediately and decisively to reduce our human impact on the environment.

This resource booklet asks the question, “Where are we?” in regard to our commitment to a way of life that is lived in simplicity and solidarity both at a personal and community level. It encourages us to examine seriously questions about simplicity of life, proximity to our brothers and sisters living on the margins, and the relationship between our individual lives and what is taking place in the world today in order that we might embrace our vocation in new and fresh ways.

This document’s relationship to other Franciscan texts and to our most recent General Chapter is clearly set out in the Introduction, which indicates a distinctive approach – in that this booklet is a practical tool, with an inductive rather than deductive approach. Our values, and the practical living out of those values, are at the heart of the evaluation process that we are proposing to all the brothers world-wide, with the goal of encouraging greater commitment to a way of life that honestly expresses who we profess ourselves to be. This way of life is rooted in the experience of our Lord Jesus, “Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to cling to, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness.”2

The document invites us to focus on four areas: being ‘Lesser Ones’; living Gospel Poverty; being poor amongst the poor; and working in a spirit of fidelity and devotion. All of these are firmly grounded in our Franciscan Gospel tradition and concern our relationships with God, with one another and with our world. We also wish to take up the insights of Pope Francis who speaks of

“the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, the conviction that everything in the world is connected, the critique of new paradigms and forms of power derived from technology, the call to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress, the value proper to each creature, the human meaning of ecology, the need for forthright and honest debate, the serious responsibility of international and local policy, the throwaway culture and the proposal of a new lifestyle.”3

I encourage you my dear brothers to read, reflect, and act upon the challenging words of this brief document in your personal lives, and also with the brothers of your local fraternity. May the Holy Spirit work in our hearts so that we may be brought to a continued conversion of life.

November 1st, 2016
Feast of All Saints

Br. Michael A. Perry, OFM
Minister and Servant

Prot. 106651

Source: ofm.org

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