Franciscans Preparing for 8th-Centenary Celebrations

"The Grace of Our Origins" Is Motto of Jubilee

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ROME, JUNE 14, 2005 (Zenit.org).- In the years leading up to the eighth centenary of the foundation of the Order of Friars Minor, the Franciscans have prepared a program for the celebration.



Under the motto "The Grace of Our Origins," the program marks the 800 years since the approval of their Rule by Pope Innocent III.

The celebrations will begin in 2006, anniversary of the conversion of Francis of Assisi. They will conclude in 2009, eight centuries after the approval of the "Proto-Rule," explained Ivicon, a news agency of religious life.

The celebratory program includes three stages: 2006, centered on listening, conversation and Gospel discernment; 2007, on the plan of life at the personal and community level; and 2008-2009, on the celebration of the gift of vocation.

The program was explained by the Franciscans' minister general, Father José Rodríguez Carballo, in a letter addressed to the Franciscan friars, the Poor Clare Sisters, and the Franciscan Contemplative Sisters.

In the letter he states that "we Franciscans wish to reaffirm our steadfast will to remain faithful to our charism ... re-creating it, however, in the light of the challenges of present-day Franciscan life."

Father Rodríguez Carballo clarifies that the order hopes to celebrate the Great Franciscan Jubilee "with an attitude of discernment in order … to be beacons generating hope in the dark night which our wounded and often crucified world is going through."

Proto-Rule

Some months ago, the minister general recalled that it was in 1209 when Francis obtained the Pope's approval for his "life project," or what would later be called the "Proto-Rule."

Francis recounted in his "Testament": "And after the Lord gave me some brothers, no one showed me what I had to do, but the Most High Himself revealed to me that I should live according to the pattern of the Holy Gospel. And I had this written down simply and in a few words and the Lord Pope confirmed it to me."

This primitive "form of life" broadened according to the Fraternity's needs, being the foundation of the Rule of 1221 and later of the Rule of 1223, confirmed by Pope Honorius III. "The texts of these, after many years, continue to be essential reference points for understanding Francis and ourselves," added the minister general.

Father Rodríguez Carballo says that "the celebration of the eighth centenary of the foundation of our Fraternity gives us an opportunity of grace to remember the past with gratitude, live the present with enthusiasm and to open up with confidence to the future."