Franciscan Anthropology can take us closer to the world of our Brother Francis of Assisi, Sister Clare and many other beautiful people of Franciscan Humanity filled living tradition. Sometimes this human and spiritual struggle filled growth process is not known to the devotional following. As we are remembering the name day of Brother Francis, we are invited once again to go deeper to understand the historical person and that will encourage us to begin again.
He was a brother like us who attempted to follow Christ closely and initiated a fraternal bonding: in his search, sense of wonder, spontaneity, courage, dreams, extravagance, crisis, extreme scruples to be meticulously poor in everything, thirst for true meaning, conflict with his own dad and brothers, love for nature, silent contemplation, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, loving connection with the Virgin Mother Mary, fidelity to the Church leaders, attempts to bring peace in the world with the help of the Sultan, failures, depression, fraternal relationships with Sister Clare and allowing her and other friends to help him, enthusiasm to put down his findings through canticles and writings, mystical experiences of the suffering Christ and humanity, finding joy and surrendering to God’s mystical ways. That was our brother deeply spiritual and very down to earth in some of his ways. If Brother Francis could allow himself to be transformed he will also help us to change our attitudes.
Fraternal affection and wisdom filled tradition to continue
This common fraternal bonding tradition now comes alive again with affective ways. The new encyclical of our Pope Francis Fratelli tutti for all brothers and sisters is a call to recognize a brother or sister in every human person whom we will meet (understanding the blessedness of our common belonging). That way Pope Francis wants to reaffirm the universal brotherhood that our Brother Francis envisioned in his time. Fraternal wisdom and initiatives can bring lasting changes in the hearts of those persons who otherwise are ignorant of their selfishness manifest in exploitation of the poor, abandonment of the needy, homelessness of the migrants, depletion of natural resources, manipulating the health-care and waging war to amass wealth. This encyclical invites us to manifest fraternal affection with our neighbors who may be different in colour and other features. The secret is that by showing fraternal affection we will discover a true joy which was not there before. “In this storm,” Pope Francis said, “the façade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about our image, has fallen away, uncovering once more that (blessed) common belonging, of which we cannot be deprived: our belonging as brothers and sisters.” (Pope Francis on 27th March 2020).
Feasting with all
So with the Feast Day of Brother Francis, there is a new hope that the humanity can try again the common belonging. Let us pray and wish every person, particularly the lonely good, happiness and healing. Let there be fraternal bonding, sharing, loving care during this pandemic and let all be blessed. Let us restart the tradition of calling affectionately every woman as our sister and every man as our brother. And do some good to all. Brothers we have done very little let us begin again. Remember we have common home of our Loving God the Father and let us creatively reach this message to the hearts of every sister and brother. Let us keep repeating (witnessing) the message of common belonging with goodness filled fraternal gestures and care to the needy until it can reach the hearts that need change.
In fraternal bonding and affection
Fra. Charles Alphonse and Jaime Rey Ofm Cap
General Secretariat for Formation, Rome