“On fire with love for Christ and sustained by the example of our holy missionaries, let the brothers embark on their mission driven by the desire to serve the local Churches in the work of spreading the Gospel.” (Capuchin Constitutions 177, 2)
The first Capuchin Pan-American Conference of 2022 was a moment to review permanent and always urgent aspects about the apostolic activity of the friars. In the reflections and in the final document, the concern for observing the Constitutions when they affirm that God raises up the missionary vocation in the hearts of the friars was evident.
From the first orientations given to the friars, the missionary zeal has been present. It is a sign that the action of God moves the Capuchin charism since the first friars wanted to give a new impulse to the Order of Friars Minor as per the Ordinances of Albacina state.
“It is also commanded to the prelates that the preachers to whom the Lord grants this grace do not remain idle, but rather make them work in the vineyard of the Lord.” (Ordinances of Albacina, 24).
Another call that the deliberations of the Pan-American Conference proposed to all circumscriptions is that they should have a true missionary conversion, including this as a priority in the Chapters and in the triennial plans. This implies, of course, formation for the mission from the initial stages to the permanent stage.
Having friars prepared for the mission, as well as superiors who understand this call, is also a theme that recurs from the earliest documents of the Order. As early as the Constitutions of St. Euphemia there was a text close to the one that appears in the current documents (cf. Constitutions 178).
“Let the prelates not consider that the friars are few, nor let them consider themselves dismissed from the good ones, but rather placing all their solicitude and eagerness in Him who has continual care for us, let them do in everything that the Spirit of God dictates to them, and dispose everything with charity, which does no harm” (Chapter XII of the Constitutions of St. Euphemia).
“At that very hour”
In his message for the World Mission Day 2023, Pope Francis speaks of the urgency of the Church’s missionary action, specifically the ever-closer missionary cooperation of all its members at all levels. In the synodal context, this is the essential goal of the Church, which proposes communion, participation, and mission.
What inspires this year’s Mission Month is precisely the attitude of the disciples of Emmaus, who felt their hearts burning and set out on their journey. “That very hour they arose and returned to Jerusalem” (Lk 24:33).
From the beginnings of the Franciscan movement, this has been a concern, and today continues to be the need to fulfill the vocation to which every Capuchin is called:
“According to the teaching of Saint Francis, let missionary brothers sent to various parts of the world ‘live among people spiritually: being subject to every human creature for the love of God,’ let them give witness with great confidence to the Gospel life by their love; and, ‘when they see that it pleases God, let them openly proclaim the word of salvation.’” (Capuchin Constitutions 177, 1)