On 23rd November the Holy Father Francis received in audience over 400 friars, the members of the three First Orders (Franciscans, Capuchins, and Conventuals) and of the Third Order Regular.
The Pope spoke beautifully of the Franciscan quality of ‘minority’ – a gentle, lowly spirit before God and all people.
“The “Lord Pope”, as Saint Francis called him, welcomes you with joy and in you welcomes the Franciscan brothers who live and work in all the world. Thank you for what you are and for what you do, especially for the poorest and most disadvantaged.
“Let all be called in general ‘Friars Minor’”, we read in the Regula Non Bullata. With this expression, Saint Francis does not speak about something optional for his brothers, but manifests a constitutive element of your life and mission.
In effect, in your form of life, the adjective “minor” qualifies the noun “Friar”, giving to the bond of fraternity its proper and characteristic quality: it is not the same thing to say “friar” and to say “friar minor”. Therefore, when referring to fraternity, it is necessary to keep in mind this typical Franciscan characteristic of fraternal relationship, which demands of you a relationship of “Friars minor”.
From whence came the inspiration to Francis to place minority as an essential element of your fraternity?
Since Christ and the Gospel were the fundamental option of his life, in all certainty we can say that minority, while not lacking its ascetic and social motivations, was born from contemplation of the incarnation of the Son of God, and is summarized in the image of making oneself small, like a seed. It is the same logic of “becoming poor, though he was rich” (cf. 2 Cor 8:9). The logic of “renunciation”, which Francis implemented to the letter when he “divested himself of all earthly goods, to the point of nakedness, in order to give himself entirely to God and to his brothers and sisters”.
The life of Francis was marked by the encounter with the poor God, present in our midst in Jesus of Nazareth: a humble and hidden presence that the Poverello adores and contemplates in the incarnation, in the Cross and in the Eucharist. On the other hand, we know that one of the evangelical images that most impressed Francis is that of the washing of the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper.
Franciscan minority is presented for you as a place of encounter and of communion with God; as a place of encounter and of communion with your brethren, and with all men and women; and finally, as a place of encounter and communion with creation.”