The message of Pope Benedict XVI and the Order of Minims pronounced on the throne of Peter and sent to the then Corrector General of the Order of Minims, Father Francesco Marinelli – on the occasion of the fifth centenary of the death of Saint Francis – is authentic testimony of the to the patron saint of Calabria by Joseph Ratzinger. The Pope, being originally from Munich, knew the Minimi friars well.
«On the fifth centenary of the death of Saint Francis of Paola – His Holiness affirmed – I address you and the sons and daughters of the Order of Minims – Friars, Nuns and lay Tertiaries – as well as all the devotees of the Saint to celebrate together with them the love of God, who in Saint Francis of Paola has given the Church a great witness of the Gospel and a promoter of the school of spirituality based on Lenten penance. The rapid spread throughout the Church of devotion to Francesco di Paola is an eloquent sign of the authenticity of his charisma. My Predecessors repeatedly exalted the greatness of his holiness and the providential plan of God, who called him in that difficult and important phase of the Church in the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern age, and they underlined the strength of his penitential spirituality, defining the his program and his proposal of life as a “light that illuminates penitents” (Pope Julius II)».
Pope Benedict explained how “the life of Saint Francis of Paola was marked by a profound love of prayer, by the desire for solitude to enter into conversation with God, by the relativization of all things, even of what is necessary for life, to affirm God and the priority of his Kingdom. Isn’t this how his hermitic experience in the “cave” should be interpreted, an experience that profoundly marked his spirituality, so much so as to induce him to seek, wherever he went, spaces of solitude to nourish his contemplative life? Penance made him a free man to tend to God”.
To the Minims: “by virtue of their vocation, they have the responsibility to bear witness to the need for prayer and interior silence to allow communion with God. Therefore, they should cultivate the “studium orationis” (Rule, chapter VIII), according to the exhortation of St. Francis. In their homes the “search for God” should be cultivated, which has been for many confreres a sure path to holiness. By following the rhythms of convent life with commitment, they should speak the language of silence, recollection and prayer. May they help those who come into contact with them to discover prayer, the strength of the righteous (see Jas 5:16), which “like a faithful messenger, fulfills its mandate and reaches where the flesh cannot go” (Rule, chap. VIII ). May they be teachers of recollection, of meditation on Sacred Scripture and of prayer for all. In this V Centenary the faithful must be helped to venerate Saint Francis of Paola in this way, choosing him as a teacher of life, who calls to mind the needs of the spirit”.
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