· The Pope receives the General Chapter of Dominicans and in the afternoon visits the Portiuncula ·
This day would be spent as a “Jesuit among the Friars”, Pope Francis said, as he began a very full schedule on Thursday, 4 August. At the Vatican in the morning, he received the participants in the General Chapter of Dominicans and in the afternoon he went to Assisi to pray with Franciscans at the Portiuncula. This year both religious families are celebrating the eighth centenary of two moments that were fundamental to their origins: the approval by Honorius III of the Order of St Dominic and the decision by the same Pontiff to concede the indulgence of the Portiuncula, also known as the “Pardon of Assisi”.
During the audience with the Dominican Friars held in the Clementine Hall, the Pontiff was greeted by Bruno Cadoré, Master of the Order, on behalf of the chapters gathered in Bologna at the Sepulchre of their Founder. Pope Francis marked the occasion as an opportune time “to remember men and women of faith and of literature, contemplatives and missionaries, martyrs and apostles of charity, who brought to all places the caress and the tenderness of God, enriching the Church and showing new opportunities to embody the Gospel through preaching, testimony and charity”. He defined these as the “three pillars that guarantee the future of the Order, maintaining the freshness of the founding charism”.
Outlining the profile of a “good preacher”, Francis emphasized that he must first of all be “contemplative of the Word” and “of the people”. Indeed, Dominic de Guzman said: “First contemplate, then teach”. Because “without a strong union” with God, “preaching can be completely perfect, well reasoned and even admirable, yet not touch the heart, which is what has to change”. Equally essential, according to Francis, is “the serious and assiduous study of theological subjects” and of “all that allows one to approach reality and listen to the People of God”. In addition, “passing on the Word of God more effectively” requires testimony, the Holy Father said. Dominicans must be “faithful teachers of the truth and courageous witnesses to the Gospel”.
Meanwhile at the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels in Assisi, everything was ready for the Pontiff’s visit, where after personal prayer at the Portiuncula, he was to hold a catechesis on a passage of the Gospel and then perform a gesture of tenderness: a visit to the infirm Friars of Assisi.
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