Fratelli Tutti

A Franciscan Approach to Today’s Times

Secular Franciscans held the first virtual chapter meeting via video conferencing because of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  This is one of a series of reports that appeared in TAU-USA Winter 2021 Issue 102.)

By Sharon Winzeler, OFS

Fr. Christopher Panagoplos, TOR celebrated the masses for the virtual national chapter from his friary.

Fr. Christopher Panagoplos, TOR, helped set the tone for a pandemic-caused virtual chapter by reminding attendees to take a Franciscan approach and see opportunity.

In the opening mass streamed from St. Joseph Friary in Hollidaysburg, PA, Father Christopher noted that many were experiencing anxiety in the midst of a pandemic as well as civil unrest.

“I cannot stop all of the issues from swirling around in my mind — racial discrimination, fear and uncertainty with every breath we take, divisiveness in society, in our institutions, in our church, bigotry, lack of civility in public discourse, injustices against human dignity, preventive health and safety measures misinterpreted as restrictions on personal freedom, disinformation,” he said.

Disruptions Can Be Opportunities

Father Christopher called on chapter participants to “see the disruptions” as “an opportunity to be alone with Jesus and go deeper and deeper.”

Approach these unsettling times with a Franciscan heart, he advised, by maintaining a joyful attitude like St. Francis of Assisi while being penitent and seeking conversion.

“The call to conversion is a change of mentality,” he said. “It predisposes us to believe in the gift of the Kingdom of God proclaimed and inaugurated by Jesus. Being penitent introduces us to the extraordinary and intimate relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

Fr. Christopher, who is past president-in-turn of the Conference of National Spiritual Assistants, urged Franciscans to listen to the Holy Spirit during these trying times. “Act in ways that bear witness to our vocation. This hidden treasure has not lost its value in the current conditions of the world and of the Church. To the contrary, it is even more valuable as a Gospel alternative to the lacerations that oppress and distress today’s men and women.”

Unwavering faith in the face of uncertainty helps us to accept and understand Jesus’ words to be prepared against the unexpected, he said.

Fratelli Tutti

In the chapter’s closing mass on Oct. 24, Father Christopher pointed to the encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, as a way to spread harmony in these trying times.

“Pope Francis is surely right to think that a confused world urgently needs some Catholic common sense.” That is what he provides us in his latest encyclical, “universal fraternity put into dialogue with the Gospel. It points in the direction of the brotherhood and sisterhood of every human being.”

He referred to the Gospel in which Jesus told his disciples, “A new commandment I give you: Love one another as I have loved you.”

“Not just ‘love one another.’ Not simply ‘love one another as you love yourselves.’ No. ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’”

A Good Model

Franciscans have a good model for this type of love, he noted. “St. Francis lived and taught this reciprocal love as Gospel living. He showed us how to love the Father by being in harmony with all creation. How to love the Son by imitating his life. And how to love the Spirit to be Advocate of the Order.”

The encyclical is an expansion of  Catholic Social Teaching, he said, and a reiteration of the essentials of the Gospel, urging us to get back to the basics.

“Pope Francis stresses the importance of meeting others, of creating a culture of encounter, to really get to know one another. Covid-19 should not diminish our desire to connect with one another. Computers and smartphones and video communications are at the ready.”

Pope Francis’s example of ordinary human goodness working for the common good is exemplified in the life of St. Francis of Assisi as noted in Fratelli Tutti: “In the world of that time, bristling with watchtowers and defensive walls, cities were a theater of brutal wars between powerful families, even as poverty was spreading throughout the countryside. Yet there Francis was able to welcome true peace into his heart and free himself of the desire to wield power over others. He became one of the poor and sought to live in harmony with all.” (#34)

2021-03-22T08:18:08-04:00March 22nd, 2021|Categories: Fratelli Tutti, From the Newsletter, National Chapter|0 Comments

Fratelli Tutti Resources – and more – now on OFS-USA Website!

Dear National OFS Family,

Advent Greetings of hope and peace!

Many of us watched on Oct. 3 as Pope Francis signed Fratelli Tutti at the Tomb of St. Francis.  This wonderful encyclical on fraternity and social friendship has great significance for all people, especially in these troubled times where we are experiencing such division. It also has great significance for all Franciscans.  “Fraternity” is such an important part of our charism, and this encyclical will help us live, and share, this Gospel value.

Good News!

We have just posted Fratelli Tutti on our OFS-USA website, along with an overview, summary, two study guides and a video reflection by Sr. Margaret Carney OSF.  These are all posted on our “Ongoing Formation Resources” page.

And more news!

Another document just posted to our “Ongoing Formation Resource” page is the Instrumentum Laboris for the 2021 General Chapter entitled Instrumentum Laboris 2020  This document has great importance for our worldwide Secular Franciscan Order.

Looking forward

Early in 2021 we will be urging local fraternities to study both Fratelli Tutti and Animate and Guide with Servant Leadership.  We are also considering hosting national Zoom gatherings for discussion of these documents.

What do you do now?

Please share this message– and start planning now to include a study of these documents in your local fraternities early in 2021.

Begin planning now.  More details coming this January!

2020-12-18T10:29:39-05:00December 18th, 2020|Categories: Formation, Fratelli Tutti, Minister’s Message|0 Comments
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