01 Nov Document of the 2018 OFM Plenary Council
Those who have ears, let them listen to what the Spirit is saying … to the Friars Minor today
DOCUMENT OF THE OFM PLENARY COUNCIL
12-28 June 2018
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Dear brothers, may the Lord give you peace!
I am happy to present to you the Final Document of the 2018 Plenary Council of the Order, beginning with a passage from the book of Revelation which we reflected on during lectio divina at the Council:
“I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” (Rev 2:3-5;7).
What a strong and direct passage, flowing from the love of the Lord for his Church, in which he recognizes her perseverance, tenacity and fidelity in enduring persecution. At the same time, he reproaches her and corrects her because she has abandoned the intensity and freshness of her first love. Then he invites her to remember her fall, to be converted and to go back to the “works she did at first”.
The Lord also brought us on a similar journey, inviting us to listen to his voice coming to us today through the world, the Church and the Order; exhorting us to discern which path to take to renew our love for God, for each person and for everything he has created; urging us to go forth to undertake the work to which he calls us today.
This text is a Word that I hear addressed to me and to the whole Order. It asks us with power and insistence to be converted and return to our original passion, accepting the action of the Holy Spirit in us with the same openness and passion as our seraphic father Francis. Return to our first love!
Listening to the many talks and contributions during the PCO, I had the joyful realization that we Friars Minor are deeply anchored to the Gospel and to the example of Jesus. And it is the Gospel that helps us to deepen our faith, our hope and our ability to love and to dream. It is the Gospel that invites us to draw on God’s passion for each one of us, so as to translate it into our concrete commitment to our brothers, the Church and the world. The strength and light for our ongoing conversion is the Gospel. All this will lead us to an active listening to our brothers, it will make us listen to the hopes, disappointments and dreams that each one brings with him.
Let us then allow the Spirit lead us to a renewed love for the Trinity and for the brothers of the Order. The Spirit will open us to hear the voice of God speaking in the world, and at the same time the voice that arises from the People of God and from all of creation. Let us allow ourselves to be brought back to our “first love”, to God and to the centrality of the Trinity in our lives — this love will then imbue our ways of thinking and acting.
This document is the fruit of the reflection of the Council Members and of the General Definitory who have gone through a synodal process, coming up with a text that allows us to know more about our reality. It can help all of us to move into a listening, prayerful and reflective attitude, to discern and then identify concrete ways to go forth, responding with joy to the Lord who calls us to conversion, for a more authentic Franciscan life in a world that is changing so rapidly.
I hope this text allows everyone to go through the various steps indicated and to go even further. My desire is that all of you — all of the Entities, individual fraternities, and each brother — might continue the journey begun with the PCO and, in your turn, carry forward this process of listening, discernment, and going forth in the various contexts in which you live.
The document concludes with concrete proposals on three topics that we consider fundamental: our charismatic identity, young people and the care of our “common home”. This does not exclude also considering other issues that emerged in the PCO or others related to the context in which you live.
I therefore ask that each Entity of the Order and every single fraternity enter into this process and translate it into definite life choices.
Furthermore, I remind you that the PCO and this Document, which are the fruit of a process of listening and reading the signs of the times, are an important part of the journey towards the 2021 General Chapter, in which we will have to reflect, discern and decide on the life of the Order in the near future, taking advantage of the opportunities that the Church and the world offer us.
Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to the Council Members for their commitment to preparing and carrying out this process that helped us listen and discern where the Spirit of God is speaking to the Order today.
Rome, 1 November 2018
All Saints’ Day
Br. Michael Anthony Perry, ofm
Minister General and Servant