In a first-of-its-kind effort, more than 50 communities of Franciscan priests, brothers, sisters and seculars in the United States has issued a joint message for the Jubilee Year of Mercy from the U.S. Franciscan Family. The publication of the message coincides with the Feast of the Portiuncula which marks the 800th anniversary of the Pardon of Assisi, the great Franciscan feast day of mercy.
The Portiuncula & The Pardon of Assisi*
Today's feast of the Portiuncula (or "Little Portion") commemorates the dedication of the chapel of St. Mary of the Angels in the valley below the city of Assisi. This beloved chapel was restored by St. Francis and the place where he and the early brothers made their home base. It is also where St. Francis received St. Clare into their movement in 1212 and where St. Francis died in 1226. It is still today considered to be the Motherhouse of the Order of Friars Minor.
Francis prayed that all people might experience the overwhelming love and mercy of God in this place just as he did, and so obtained the Portiuncula Indulgence from Pope Honorius III. Today thousands of pilgrims converge on the Portiuncula for the "Pardon of Assisi," granted to all those who visit this chapel prayerful and repentant. This year marks the 800th anniversary of the granting of this Indulgence. On Thursday (August 4), Pope Francis will make a private pilgrimage here to mark this occasion as a highlight of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. St. John Paul II once said the message of the Portiuncula Indulgence is one of “pardon and reconciliation, that is, of grace, which divine goodness pours out on us if we are well disposed because God is truly rich in mercy.”
Let us pray with St. Francis: "Hail, O Lady, holy Queen, Mary, holy Mother of God, you are the virgin made Church, and the one chosen by the most Holy Father in heaven in whom there was and is all the fullness of grace and every good."
Below is the message of the U.S. Franciscan Family:
FOR THE JUBILEE YEAR OF MERCY
“This is our vocation: to heal wounds, to bind what is broken, to bring home those who are lost.”
- St. Francis of Assisi, Legend of the Three Companions
August 2, 2016 | Feast of the Portiuncula
Last May, Pope Francis held a special audience with OFM friars participating in their General Chapter. During that meeting, the Holy Father offered words to the friars, but they were truly words for all members of the Franciscan family. He said, “You have inherited authority with the people of God with your minority, fraternity, meekness, humility, and poverty. Please preserve this! Do not lose it. The people love you."
At the heart of his words was a message of mercy. He said, "Minority calls us to be and to feel small before God, relying totally on his infinite mercy. The perspective of mercy is incomprehensible to those who do not see themselves as ‘minor’, that is, small, needy and sinners before God…It is important to recover a consciousness of being carriers of mercy, carriers of reconciliation and carriers of peace. Fruitfully realize this vocation and mission and you will be more and more a congregation that goes out."
This vocation of mercy is in the very DNA of all those who follow the Lord in the way set forth by St. Francis and St. Clare. We commemorate this in a special way this year as we mark the 800th Anniversary of the Pardon of Assisi. The inspiration of this Pardon came from the generosity, tenacity and persistence of St. Francis to plead with the Pope on behalf of the people of God to grant this indulgence so that the mercy and forgiveness would be superabundant. This was the vocation of Franciscans then, and it remains the vocation of Franciscans today. We are to be, in words of Pope Francis and spirit of St. Francis, carriers of mercy, reconciliation and peace.
In the more than eight centuries of our Franciscan tradition, the daughters and sons of Francis and Clare have grown into a diverse family of men and women, of lay, cleric and secular. But, especially in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we hope to speak with one unified voice. And so, we joyfully heed the call of our Holy Father Pope Francis and pledge to renew that vocation to be carriers of mercy, reconciliation and peace as a united Franciscan family today.
We pledge with the same fervor and generosity of our founder to be the men and women who echo the words of the famous prayer often attributed to St. Francis. Where there is hatred, we pledge to be agents of love. Where there is injury, we pledge to be agents of pardon and mercy. Where there is doubt, we pledge to be agents of faith. Where there is despair, we pledge to be agents of hope. Where there is darkness, we pledge to be agents of light. Where there is sadness, we pledge to be agents of joy.
St. Francis and St. Clare both lived lives defined by mercy. They were conscious both of the mercy they were recipients of and strong agents carrying that mercy to others – in their communities and in the world; especially among those on the margins. Francis and Clare handed that legacy of mercy on to all of us, their spiritual daughters and sons.
Let us paraphrase the words of St. Francis in his Letter to a Minister and make them new for our time: In this way you will show if you love the Lord: that there is no one in the world who, after looking into your eyes, would ever depart without your mercy. And if they were not looking for mercy, you would ask if they want mercy. Always be merciful with one another.
May the Lord give you peace and mercy.
Members of the Franciscan Family in the United States of America
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province, Franklin, WI
Immaculate Conception Province, New York, NY
Holy Name of Jesus Province, New York, NY
Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, Albuquerque, NM
Sacred Heart Province, St. Louis, MO
St. John the Baptist Province, Cincinnati, OH
St. Barbara Province, Oakland, CA
OFM CONVENTUAL PROVINCES
St. Bonaventure Province, Chicago, IL
St. Joseph Cupertino Province, Castro Valley, CA
Our Lady of Consolation Province, Mount St. Francis, IN
David Couturier, OFM Cap.
FRANCISCAN FEDERATION MEMBER CONGREGATIONS
Little Franciscans of Mary, Worcester, MA
Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, Woodland Park,, NJ – Generalate
Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, Brooklyn, NY
Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, Hamburg, NY
Franciscan Sisters of Peace, Haverstraw, NY
Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, NY
Sisters of St. Francis of Penance & Christian Charity, Stella Niagara, NY
Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, Syracuse, NY – Generalate
Third Order Regular, Immaculate Conception Province, Holidaysburg, PA
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, Aston, PA
Felician Sisters of North America, Beaver Falls, PA
Bernardine Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, Reading, PA
Third Order Regular, Immaculate Conception Province, Holidaysburg, PA
Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Frankfort, IL
Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate, Joliet, IL
Franciscan Sisters of Chicago, Lemont, IL
School Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King, Lemont, IL
Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, Springfield, IL
Wheaton Franciscans, Wheaton, IL
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, IN
Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, OH
Sisters of St. Francis, Tiffin, OH
Sisters of St. Francis of Clinton, IA
Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, IA
Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, MN
Sisters of St. Francis of Rochester, MN
Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, Manitowoc, WI
Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Francis, WI
Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis, Stevens Point, WI
Sisters of St. Francis of Savannah, MO
Franciscan Sisters of Mary, St. Louis, MO
Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. Louis, MO
St. Francis Mission Community, Wolfforth, TX
Sisters of St. Francis of Penance & Christian Charity, Redwood City, CA
Sisters of St. Francis of Penance & Christian Charity, Denver, CO
Holy Name Federation
Mother Bentivoglio Federation
Monastery of St. Clare, Chesterfield, NJ
Monastery of St. Clare, Andover, MA
Monastery of St. Clare, Travelers Rest, SC
Monastery of St. Clare, Langhorne, PA
SECULAR FRANCISCAN ORDER
National Minister, Jan Parker, OFS
COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities (AFCU)
Hilbert College, Hamburg, NY
St. Francis University, Loretto, PA
University of St. Francis, Joliet, IL
Siena College, Loudonville, NY
MANY FRANCISCAN-HEARTED PEOPLE