To the Friars of the Order
To the Poor Clare and Conceptionist
Sisters To the Franciscan Sisters affiliated to the Order
To the lay Franciscans


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

May the Lord give you peace!

I would like to send you this wish for Easter 2024 on the V Sunday of Lent, when the Gospel of John announces: " If the grain of wheat, which falls to the ground, does not die, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life ” (John 12:24-25). 

Let us look together at this intertwining of death and life, in memory of the 800 years of Francis' stigmata, mysterious signs of his loving communion with Christ.

Centered around the cross

“ All the zeal of the man of God, both towards others and in the secret of his interior life, was centered around the cross of the Lord ” (3Cel 2,2). 

The cross is the key to enter Francis' heart. It is decisive for those who want to embrace this form of life (Rnb 1,3); it is the heart of thanksgiving to the Father (Rnb 23,3); it is the reason for the prayer of the friars in the churches (Test 5); it is our only reason for glory (Am 5); it is the «Perfect joy». This is why Francis forcefully asks us: 

Bring your bodies as an offering and take his holy cross on your shoulders and follow his most holy commandments to the end ” (UffPass Ps 7,8). 

Chiara is on the same wavelength: 

See that he has made himself despicable to you and follow him, having made himself despicable to him in this world. Look at your husband, the most beautiful among the sons of men, who for your salvation has become the vilest of men, despised, beaten and scourged throughout his body several times, dying in the very anguish of the cross: look at him, consider him, contemplate him , desiring to imitate him ” (2LAg 19-20). 

Following Christ in his "humiliated lowliness" is the center of the call of Chiara and her sisters, which allows us to recognize that of Francis in its radicality.

Celebrating the Easter of death and resurrection in this year dedicated to the stigmata then leads us to re-center ourselves, individuals and fraternities, around the glorious cross of the Lord.  

We urgently need it today to respond to the gift of a Franciscan life that is beautiful and capable of fascinating, not dragged and dull. “ The Spirit of the Lord and his holy operation ” (Rb 10,8) relentlessly pushes us to cross and overcome the fears and sins that block us and push us to preserve ourselves. Let us ask ourselves how to rediscover today the enchantment necessary to lose our life on the path of the cross and resurrection of Jesus and spend it in the generous gift of ourselves.

May the Creator Spirit instill in us the audacity and passion to find today even new ways and ways to live as brothers, sisters and minors, contemplatives, in obedience, with nothing of our own and in chastity, pilgrims in the mission among and with the poor . 

Joy and compassion

On the mountain of La Verna, as Saint Bonaventure writes, " he felt joy at the gentle attitude with which he saw himself looked at by Christ, under the figure of the seraph, but seeing him nailed to the cross pierced his soul with the painful sword of compassion ” (LegM  XIII,3).

Francis experiences joy and compassion in his encounter with the Lord, serene while he is stuck on the tree. He reminds us that the Resurrection is not the happy ending after the cross, because Christ voluntarily accepts to enter the abyss of death, hands over his life to the Father and is resurrected in the very act of dying! 

It is in the Spirit that the power of resurrection passes through people and creation in different ways. Here are the infinite Easters of the world, those signs of life and death in which the Spirit of the Living Christ is present and acts incessantly, often against all evidence. 

Francis experienced a form of death in his repugnance towards lepers, together with the resurrection in "showing mercy". Chiara experiences this Easter joy in her relationship with her sisters (see TestsC 67-70). Both have demonstrated that what is annoying and bitter can be converted into sweetness, the first fruits of new life. Death does not have the last word!

In this Easter, how can we forget the many signs of death and life in places of war, violence, abuse, inequality, hunger and the cry of our common home, creation? How many Easters in the world! We learn to recognize them as attracted by Him who is " the First and the Last, who was dead and has come back to life " (Rev 2,8b). It is a contemplative gaze that helps us not to remain paralyzed in the face of evil, but to become, with many, creators of resurrected life!

It is with these sentiments, dear brothers and sisters, that I wish you to "do Easter" " founded and firm in the faith, unshakable in the hope of the Gospel " (Col 1:23), our profession of life. Let us remain close to those who are marked by the wounds of this time, even among us. Let us remain close to the peoples of the Holy Land in this painful hour, as well as to Ukraine and many others.

We believe that in them the Spirit of the Lord allows unthinkable shoots of new life to mature.

With the Blessing of Saint Francis, I greet you fraternally.
Your brother and servant, 

Br. Massimo Fusarelli, ofm
Minister General 

Rome, 17 March 2024
V Sunday of Lent