The first missionary religious congregation for women in the history of the Church and the world is the Institute of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary founded in 1877 by BL. Mary of the Passion, now in the 139th year of its course.

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Mary - like in its approach.

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Holy Father addresses the relatives of 1st and 3rd Order Franciscans




Sala Clementina Thursday, November 23, 2017

Dear brothers,

the "Lord Pope", as St. Francis called him, welcomes you with joy and welcomes you to the Franciscan brothers who live and work all over the world. Thank you for what you are and for what you do, especially in favor of the poorest and disadvantaged.

Everyone likewise is called lesser, " is read in the Unbound Rule . [1] With this expression St. Francis does not speak of something optional for his brothers, but manifests a constituent element of your life and mission.

Indeed, in your form of life , the adjective "minor" qualifies the noun "brother", giving the bond of fraternity its own quality and characteristic: it is not the same thing to say "brother" and to say "little brother". For this reason, speaking of fraternity, you must keep in mind this typical Franciscan characteristic of the fraternal relationship, which requires a "minor brothers" relationship from you.

Where did Francis come to inspire to put minority as an essential element of your fraternity? [2]

Since Christ and the Gospel are the fundamental option of his life, we can safely say that minorities, though not lacking in ascetic and social motivations, arise from the contemplation of the Incarnation of the Son of God and summarize it in the image of being small , like a seed. It is the same logic as "getting poor from rich that was" (cf. 2 Cor 8 : 9). The logic of the "plundering" that Francis made to the letter when he "stripped himself, to the nakedness of all earthly property, to give himself entirely to God and to his brothers." [3]

Francis's life was marked by the encounter with the poor God , present among us in Jesus of Nazareth: a humble and hidden presence that the Poverello worships and contemplates in the Incarnation, the Cross and the Eucharist. On the other hand, we know that one of the evangelical images most impressed by Francis is that of lavender of the feet to the disciples in the Last Supper. [4]

Franciscan Minority is for you a place of encounter and communion with God; as a place of encounter and communion with the brothers and with all men and women; finally, as a place of encounter and communion with creation.

Minority is a place of encounter with God

Minority is a special feature of your relationship with God. For St. Francis man has nothing but his own sin, and it is worth the value of God and nothing else. That is why your relationship with Him must be that of a child: humble and confident and, like that of the Gospel publisher, aware of his sin. And attention to spiritual pride, to Pharisaic pride: it is the worst of worldliness.

One characteristic of your spirituality is to be a spirituality of restitution to God. All the good that is in us or that we can do is the gift of the one who for St. Francis was the Good, "all good, the high good " [5] and everything is returned to the" Supreme, Almighty, and Good Lord ". [6] We do it through praise, we do it when we live according to the evangelical logic of the gift, which leads us to go out to ourselves to meet others and welcome them in our lives.

Minority is a meeting place with the brothers and with all men and women

Minority lives first of all in the relationship with the brothers the Lord has given us. [7] How? Avoiding any superiority behavior. This means eradicating easy judgments about others and speaking badly of the brothers behind them - this is in the "Yellow Cards"! - ; [8] reject the temptation to use authority to subdue others; avoid "paying" the favors we make to others while those of others we consider to be due to them; to turn away from us anger and disturbance for the sins of his brother. [9]

Minority lives as an expression of the poverty you have professed, [10] when cultivating a spirit of non-appropriation in relationships; when you value the positive that exists in the other, as a gift that comes from the Lord; when ministers, especially ministers, exercise the ministry of mercy, as the Letter to a Minister expresses magnificently , [11] the best explanation that Francis gives us of what it means to be less than the brothers entrusted to him. Without mercy there is neither fraternity nor minority.

The need to express your fraternity in Christ causes your interpersonal relationships to follow the dynamism of charity, so that while justice will bring you to the rights of each one, charity transcends these rights and calls you to fraternal communion; because they are not the rights you love, but the brothers, whom you have to accept with respect, understanding and mercy. Brothers are important, not structures.

Minority also has to be lived in relation to all the men and women with whom you meet in your going to the world , avoiding with utmost every attitude of superiority that can divert you from others. Saint Francis clearly expresses this instance in the two chapters of the Unbound Rule where he links the choice of not taking anything ( sincere living ) with the benevolent welcome of each person until the sharing of life with the most despised, with those who are really considered by minors from society: "Let the brothers watch, wherever they will be [...], to take no place and not to contend with anyone. And whoever comes from them, friend or opponent, thief or brigand, be received with goodness. "[12] And also: "And they must be happy when they live among the vain and despised people, between the poor and the weak, the sick and lepers, and the beggars along the way." [13]

Francesco's words push us to ask ourselves how to fraternity: Where are we? Who are we with? Who are we dealing with? Who are our favorites? And since minorities interrogate not only the fraternity but each of its members, it is appropriate for everyone to examine their own lifestyle; on expenses, on clothing, on what he considers necessary; on their own dedication to others, to flee from the spirit of self-care, even their own fraternity.

And, when you do some activity for the "little ones", the excluded and the last ones, never do it from a pedestal of superiority. Think rather than all that you do for them is a way of returning what you have received for free. As Francis warns in the Letter to the whole Order : "None of you hold back for you." [14]Make a friendly and helpful space for all your children to enter your life: marginalized, men and women who live in our streets, parks, or stations; the thousands of unemployed, young and adult; many sick people who do not have access to adequate care; many abandoned elders; mistreated women; migrants seeking a life worthy; all those who live in the existential suburbs, deprived of dignity and even the light of the Gospel.

Open your hearts and embrace the lepers of our time, and, having realized the mercy that the Lord has used you, [15] use with them mercy as your father St. Francis used it; [16] and, like him, you learn to be "sick with the sick, afflicted with the afflicted." [17]All this, far from being a vague feeling, indicates a relationship between such profound people that, transforming your heart, will bring you share their own fate.

The minority is a meeting place with creation

For the Saint of Assisi, creation was " as a splendid book in which God speaks to us and transmits us something of his beauty ." [18]Creation is "like a sister, with whom we share the existence, and like a beautiful mother who welcomes us in her arms." [19]

Today - we know - this sister and mother rebel because she feels ill-treated. In the face of the global deterioration of the environment, I ask you as children of the Poverello enter into dialogue with all creation, giving you your voice to praise the Creator, and, as St. Francis did, have special care for it, overcoming any economic calculation or irrational romance. Collaborate with various initiatives to care for the common home, always recalling the close relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, between economy, development, care of creation and option for the poor. [20]

Dear brothers, I renew the request of St. Francis: And they are lesser . God keep and keep your minority growing.

All of you invoke the blessing of the Lord. And, please do not forget to pray for me. Thank you!