The topic of fraternity has not only been the subject of debate or reflection, but its development has had repercussions in our practical life. It has become so significant that fraternity is not limited to something functional to facilitate certain services, but a value in itself as it is above all a reflection of Trinitarian communion and an anticipation of the redeemed world. (Const. 88, 1 - 3) Such a development is especially due to the theology of communion set down in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, but also to familiarity with the Franciscan Sources which has brought about the discovery of how much Francis held fraternity close to his heart. He wrote in his Testament that for him brothers are a gift of God. (Testament of St. Francis, 14; Const. 88, 6 – 8)
The fundamental feature of Capuchin Fraternity: “This Religious Order constitutes a fraternity, made up of clerics and non clerics who share the same religious vocation according to the Capuchin and Franciscan Charism, described in its essential characteristics in its own legislation approved by the Church” ( Letter of Pope John Paul II addressed to Br. John Corriveau in 1966; Const. 88, 6-8) The Pope’s letter of 1996 gives the clearest possible indications of the purpose of this brotherhood we are vowed to live. The essential elements of our charism, described in chapter VI, have been the subject of much reflection over the past decade. Today we describe the essential elements of such a fraternity:
A fraternity of lesser brothers – servants to the world; (Const. 106, 1-4)
A contemplative fraternity; (Const. 54, 1 – 3)
A poor and austere fraternity; (Const. 62, 1 – 5)
A fraternity inserted among the poor; (Const. 106, 2 – 4)
A fraternity dedicated to justice, peace, and respect for nature; (Const. 105, 1 – 2; Const. 107, 3 – 4)
In Summary: an evangelical fraternity. (Const. 89, 2)
Francis wanted minority to be the special evangelical quality of his fraternity. In his Earlier Rule, Francis described how minority must permeate relationships among the brothers themselves: “all the brothers.. should not hold power or dominion, least of all among themselves (Rnb V, 9)
Evangelical Fraternity is incarnated in the Local Fraternity. Strictly speaking the life of a friar as a Capuchin is lived concretely in the local fraternity. It can’t be otherwise: the local fraternity is the immediate, fundamental and irreplaceable context of the life of the friars. It is the cell of the Order, the place where interpersonal relationships develop.
Local Fraternity is a synthesis of three particularly important elements: The spirituality of communion; each as a home and school of communion; Mutual support in the journey towards holiness.
Evangelical Fraternity: The most important purpose of Formation: Our constitution very justly point out that formation is concerned not only with the growth of the individual brother, but with the development of a fraternity of gospel witness: “Formation is the development of the brothers and fraternities in such a way that our lie may daily become more closely conformable to the holy gospel and to the Franciscan spirit”.
This Religious Order constitutes a Fraternity. This very important declaration of Pope John Paul II, gives renewed impetus to the re-appropriation of the fraternal evangelical charism of St. Francis of Assisi which for almost 800 years has brought gospel vitality to the church and to the world.
WISHING YOU ALL
A VERY HAPPY SOLEMNITY OF NATIVITY OF
OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST