Holiness Is a Pastoral Urgency, Pope Tells Friars Minor

Audience on Occasion of Franciscans' General Chapter

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 16, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Holiness is an authentic pastoral urgency, John Paul II told a group of Franciscans he met in audience.



Participants in the general chapter of the Order of Friars Minor, together with their new minister general, Father José Rodríguez Carballo, met with the Pope at the Vatican. The Franciscan order is holding its 185th general chapter in the Portiuncula in Assisi, through Saturday.

"Hold to sanctity! Here is a real pastoral urgency for our time," the Pope exhorted his visitors.

"It is time to propose again to everyone with conviction this lofty standard of Christian life," he added, referring to his apostolic letter "Novo Millennio Ineunte."

To help others to seek God above all, the Holy Father emphasized the need for religious themselves to be committed first of all to this "arduous but exalting personal and communitarian ascesis."

John Paul II urged them to follow the path marked by their order's rule and constitutions, and encouraged them to conserve the stamp of "poverty and fraternal life, docility and obedience," with their gaze fixed on Christ, as well as on "the 'poverello' of Assisi, your father and teacher."

"He teaches that the preacher must first obtain in the secret of prayer that which he will later translate in his preaching. He must first be warmed interiorly so as not to externalize cold words," the Holy Father said, quoting Thomas of Celano, St. Francis' first biographer.

Recalling the essential role of the Holy Spirit, whom St. Francis described as the "minister general" of the order, the Pope prayed that this same Spirit may grant the Friars Minor an understanding of the priorities of "the mission that God entrusts to them for the good of the Church and of the world."

Regarding the demands of the new evangelization, John Paul II pointed out that the missionary commitment "will be fruitful to the degree that harmony is fostered with the legitimate pastors, to whom the Lord has entrusted the responsibility of his flock."

He expressed the hope that the general chapter's work will contribute "to the growth of that spirit of humble listening to God and of filial adherence to the directives of the pastors of the Church which should characterize the Friars Minor."