September 26, 2015

Paul VI Speaks To The Capuchins

Here in Rome today is the (obligatory) memorial of Pope Blessed Paul VI. Poking around for something to give for a homily, I landed on a talk the Pope gave to the friars at our General Chapter of 1976. Towards the end he sets out three "requirements" for the work of evangelization.
The first could be formulated thus: the priority of being over doing. Evangelization demands witness and witness supposes an experience, one that follows from a deep life of interior union with Christ, that brings the disciple into a progressive conformity with the Teacher, to a becoming like Him, for Him, and in Him, something which little by little shrines through, and then in a convincing way, even in the external forms of living and of working. An external form marked particularly by the poverty of Christ, who, though he was rich made himself poor for love of us, in order to make us rich by his poverty. (cf. 2 Cor 8:9, Matt 8:20, Perfectae caritatis 13). And this is an essential teaching, which shines from the most authentic Franciscan message, a message more current now than ever. 
The second requirement: closeness to the people. The Capuchin Order is an Order of the people, it rose up with this characteristic and will be accepted and effective in its evangelizing action if it keeps itself as people have seen it through the centuries. Hence the duty to live close to the humble classes; hence the commitment to a style of life, which, as far as it is poor, does not distance itself from them, hence the consistent exclusion of compromises against traditional austerity and simplicity of life, even regarding the external figure of a Capuchin. 
Third requirement: fidelity to the Church, to the Vicar of Christ and to the bishops. Evangelization is never a personal thing, but always and only in the name of the Church, because it is to the Church that Christ has entrusted the task of announcing the Gospel to all peoples. (cf. Matt 20:18-20, Mk 16:15-16) To keep oneself in communion of mind, of heart, and of action with the directives and instructions of ecclesial authority in the concrete circumstances in which one has been called to work, both at the level of the universal Church and also in the individual particular churches; it is innate to every apostolic work which wishes to be "for building up and not for destroying" (2 Cor 10:8) the souls that Christ entrusts to you.

The whole thing is here (in Italian).