Put Jesus in the Center!
Interview with Br. Celestino Cardinal Aos OFMCap
Archbishop of Santiago, Chile
1. How did you come about your vocation as a Capuchin friar?
I became a Capuchin because I was familiar with the Capuchins. There was a priest friar whose family was from my hometown, and he used to come to celebrate Mass. There was also a lay friar who used to come and beg for alms. I knew these friars who were popular and also saintly. It inspired me to want to be a Capuchin, a priest and a saint.
2. What memories do you have of your time in initial formation?
Just recently, when I was quarantined here at Santa Marta (Vatican), one of the exercises I did was to review my formation. All the memories came back to me, one by one, and in particular the formators during my time at Alsasua, at Saragozza, as well as my novice master. I come from one of two novitiates, and I had Br. Lazzaro Iriarte as my Novice Master and later for Theology. I have seen and admired more and more those men I met. But I gave thanks to God because - I can say it aloud - I truly have met priests, religious, Capuchins, brothers who have and continue to amaze me for their virtue and their holiness—they are true brothers. We have had and still have great men, and I must thank God for great formators like Br. Lazzaro, who was an educator not only through his discourses, but through the example of his life.
3. The Order has nearly 2,000 young people in initial formation. What advice would you give them to help them become good lesser brothers?
To these young people who are in formation I would say, first of all, that they fall in love with Jesus Christ, that they put Jesus Christ at the center, because without this everything falls apart! It’s not notions of Franciscanism or environmentalism or ecclesiology. Christ is a person. Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, the poor mother of the poor king. Christ lived and died, Christ rose. Christ loves us and redeems us and this is what is important in the Christian life and in the Franciscan life. And secondly, I would recommend, as I
have seen in my life, those who keep their eyes open to welcome their brothers. The Lord has given me brothers and these brothers, whom we have as formators, have their defects, they have their weaknesses; but despite this, they have so much virtue, they have so many qualities, and it is here that you find the points of reference. And thirdly, I would say something that my novice master repeated to me over and over again and later repeated it to me in theology as well: that the most important thing is availability and the spirit of sacrifice. The intellectual abilities and specializations that you might acquire will be of little use. The most important thing for the friar is his fraternal heart, which is formed from the inside with the help of the Holy Spirit and from the outside with the help of the brothers. These are the brothers, and I repeat my refrain: if you must be holy, your brother must make you become holy: it might seem a bit irksome, but it’s a great reality. We become friars, we become Franciscans, being brothers so that we do not hesitate to fall in love with the Capuchin Order, which is not revealed in books, but in these formators. My best wishes to all, that you be good Capuchins and joyful people. ‘Pax et Bonum’ to each and every one of you!
Transcription and translation of the interview.
The interview with Br. Raniero was conducted by Br. Jaime Rey OFMCap, Secretary General of Formation. December 2020.
Video - https://youtu.be/Zc4eh6MzXh0