April 12, 2000
volume 11, no. 73
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Message for Jubilee of 6,000 Followers of Saint of Assisi

    VATICAN CITY, APR 11 ( An intense spiritual atmosphere marked the Jubilee of the great Franciscan family, which was held last Sunday in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, and included a concelebrated Mass presided by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray. The Franciscan Jubilee began on Saturday morning in Assisi with a pilgrimage on foot from St. Mary of the Angels to the Basilica where St. Francis is buried.

    Over 6,000 Franciscans participated, including Capuchins, Conventuals, and Friars Minor, Sisters from various Franciscan Congregations, Third Order young and older lay people, and other associations inspired by the saint of Asissi. The Jubilee celebration reached its climax when the Franciscan family crossed the threshold of the Holy Door of the Lateran Basilica.

    The Pope wrote a message for the occasion, in which he refers to "the innumerable multitude that up until today has followed in Christ's footsteps by imitating Francis and Clare of Assisi." "It is the limpid testimony of the fruitfulness of their charism. They have offered the world the challenging proposal of their original evangelical experience," John Paul II wrote.

    The Holy Father invited all St. Francis' sons and daughters to accept Jesus unconditionally today, as Francis did so many centuries ago. In present-day society, where attraction to the ephemeral is strong, "it is more necessary than ever to remember and give credible testimony that God alone is the real wealth that fills our life with meaning. In him there is hope and profound joy, which the attractions and promises of the world cannot give."

    In order to appreciate what the Jubilee has meant for the Franciscan Order and for the Church, Carla Cotignoli of Vatican Radio interviewed Capuchin Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Papal Household preacher, who said, "Yesterday, there was a very beautiful atmosphere of great spiritual intensity, mingled, also, with the participation of the people. There was not the usual applause one hears at a performance. It was participation; a saying yes to the message proposed to us."

    "What defines the strength and contribution that the Franciscan Order can make to the Church and the world, is the spiritual sap that circulates within it; spiritual sap means that Christ is at the center, as are prayer, and supernatural and spiritual values. I think that all together this Jubilee has helped to make this need the focus of our attention," continued Fr. Cantalamessa.

    During the homily, Cardinal Etchegaray defined the Franciscan spirit as the word "fraternity," which "is truly at this time at the heart of all our effort; also, Francis' poverty was imprinted on this spirit of fraternity. Francis did not want to own anything, because he knew that property divides, it pits some against others, creates conflict. We know of very thought-provoking episodes in this respect. Indeed, this man incarnated the spirit of the Bible, of the Gospel, in a way that only the Holy Spirit can inspire and we are well aware how the whole world today longs for this fraternity." ZE00041107


April 12, 2000
volume 11, no. 73

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