Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rome for meetings

December 19, 2010

Peace and Good,

I have been in Rome for meetings all week. I am part of tthe general counsel of our order (which we call a definitory). Throughout this week (and Monday and Tuesday of this coming week) we were meeting to talk about what is going on in the order and make plans for the future.

This week we met a series of friars who are responsible for various dimensions of what we do.

There was friar Martin who is from Argentina and is the Assistant general who is the spiritual assistant for the Secular Franciscans throughout the world. The seculars are lay people who live in the spirit of St. Francis in their everyday lives. There are actually many more of them than of the friars. When St. Francis founded his movement, it was originally a lay movement and only became a religious order as time went on.

There was friar Edoardo from Padua in Italy who assists the Poor Clare sisters. They are considered the second order of the Franciscans. (The frist order is the male religious belonging to the OFM, the OFM Conv and the OFM Capuchin, the second order is the Poor Clares who are a cloistered order, and the Third Order are lay people, a group of religious men who follow the Third Order Rule knows as the TOR's, and the Franciscan Sisters other than the Poor Clares.) There are 26 convents of the Poor Clares here in Italy and three in other countries (those Clares joined to our order, there are others joined to the OFM's and the Capuchins). Like many communties, those in Italy have become older and are joining communities together. The communities in Poland are doing much better.

There was friar Francisco from Columbia. He is the director of the office that speaks about Peace and Justice and the Safeguarding of the Environment.

There was friar Sebastian from Romania who works in the office that fosters interreligious dialog from Assisi.

There was friar Rafaele from Italy who works in the office of the Militia Immacolata, a movement founded by St. Maximillian Koble in which one consecrates one's life to accepting God's will in the same way that the Blessed Virgin Mary did.

There was friar Alcides from Argentian who works in the office for formation of the friars (those who are just entering and those who have been in for a while and need a time of renewal).

There was friar Fermino from Italy who is working on a rewriting of our constitutions (a very long and complicated process). The constitutions are the basic rules of how we are to live as friars both individually and in community.

There was friar Andreas from Germany who takes care of our archives and is working to catalog many of the important artifacts that we as an order possess.

There was friar Ryszard who is developing a new internet site for us. (By the way, if you are interested, the present site is

There was friar Angelo from Italy who works on preparing the causes for beatification and canonization for our order (and for people who are somehow related to our order).

It was fascinating to listen to the work they are doing.

Last night the definitory went to see a movie together. It is called Men of God, a French film about a community of Trappists who lived in Algeria during the recent civil war. They were caught between the Islamist extremists and the army. It is excellent. It is one of the most honest portrayals of religious life and discerning God's will that I have ever seen.

Finally, I finished two books.

The first is Jeanne D'Arc: her life and death by Margaret Oliphant. Oliphant is English, and it shows in the descritions given, but there are also some good insights into the inner life of this saint. I still struggle with the idea, though, that God would root for the French against the English. In a case like this, why would God care who won the war. They were all miserable rulers who exploited their people horribly. I sometimes don't know what to make of it.

The other work was a collection of Best Russian Short Stories, including stories by Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Checkov and Gorky. It was really a good selection and it was interesting to see the tenor of the story and the forms used change as time went on. I still think that Gorky's descriptions are some of the best I have ever read, even he did some very despicable things toward the end of his life by buying into the Stalinist persecution of many of his fellow writters.

Have a great week preparing for Christmas.

God bless and
fr. Jude


Post a Comment