ROME - “Here is an immense task for the whole Church, but in a special way for the sons of Francis: to proclaim to the world Jesus Christ, and Him crucified! Not, however, an abstract, ideological Christ or a Christ of the past; no, Christ risen and alive!” With these words, Br Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher of the Pontifical Household, recalled the mandate that Christ entrusted to his disciples, a mandate that has never been more relevant than today. He was speaking to a group of 400 people, mostly Franciscan men and women of various Orders and congregations, during the traditional Day of Study held on 8 May 2012 by the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality at the Pontifical University “Antonianum”. The theme of this year’s Day of Study was New Evangelisation and the Franciscan Charism.
The President of the Institute, Br Paolo Martinelli, explained that, as in past years, the event was meant to bring the resources of our Franciscan charism to bear on current movements in the life of the Church. The theme was clearly chosen with reference to the XIII General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that is being held next October, entitled, New evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith. In the morning, Mgr Nikola Eteroviċ, General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, explained the significance of the upcoming gathering, beginning with a history of the concept of the “new evangelization”, often used by Blessed John Paul II to describe an evangelisation that was “new in its zeal, in its methods and in its expressions”. He also described the topics that the bishops will be asked to tackle. Then Br Raniero passionately outlined the contributions that Franciscan spirituality could make to this new evangelisation.
Examples of some initiatives that are currently underway within the Franciscan family were offered during the afternoon session: Br Jacopo Pozzerle, OFM, on the missionary fraternity of Palestrina; Br Daniel-Marie Thévénet, OFM Conv, on the renewed presence of the Conventuals in France; Br Giansandro Cornolti, OFMCap, and Sr Gemma Dispenza, SFV, on the experience of missions to the people. Their words were visible signs of that “new zeal” desired by John Paul II. For the participants, these testimonials reinforced the conviction, expressed by Benedict XVI, that even today “there is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him” – as Francis of Assisi testified by his words and his life. .