THE CAPUCHIN FRIARS
DOCUMENTS AND TESTIMONIALS OF THE FIRST CENTURY
Edited by COSTANZO CARGNONI
EDIZIONI FRATE INDOVINO
The work was commissioned by:
CAPUCHIN PROVINCIAL SUPERIORS
TO THE VIRGIN CHURCH
HOLY MOTHER OF GOD
IN THE MARIAN YEAR
IN SAN FELICE FROM CANTALICE
OF THE CAPUCHIN FRIARS
ON THE IV CENTENARY OF HIS DEATH
EMPLORING FOR THE ORDER FAITHFULNESS
TO THE CAPUCHIN VOCATION
FLAVIO ROBERTO CARRARO
General Minister ofmcap.
the Lord keep you and bless you!
The Lord, in his goodness, gives us a great gift which I present to you with extraordinary joy: the systematic collection of the first century documents of our Capuchin Fraternity.
You certainly remember that 1978 marked an important and intense moment in our life for us Capuchins: we celebrated the 450th anniversary of our “beautiful and holy reform”.
The atmosphere was extremely favourable for a reflection on our internal life and on our presence in the Church and in the world. We had lived with the large Franciscan family the 750th anniversary of the death of our seraphic father and we were already preparing to celebrate the eighth centenary of his birth; it was a rich Franciscan atmosphere. The publication of the Fonti francescane/Franciscan Sources (1977) had largely contributed to determining this.
The edition had aroused enthusiasm and provoked in all the sons and daughters of our Father St. Francis a new and very serious commitment to review their lives and their own identity. An identity that also led to grasping the characteristics of the Franciscan charism highlighted throughout history in the individual and differentiated presences within the great Franciscan family.
And so, precisely coinciding with our historical moment, in a meeting of the CISP Cap. (of which I was a member) the idea arose of also looking inside our house, with love and historical rigor. The best way to do this seemed to be the publication of what – for easy affinity – were immediately called «Fonti cappuccino/Capuchin sources».
The proposal met with lively approval and clear analysis. We thought about the advisability or otherwise of publication, but, above all, the technical difficulty of collecting and adequately organizing the material.
We wanted to continue the journey, without hiding anything, so that the response to the initiative was critically motivated.
The journey, between slowdowns, stops and restarts, continued. And the project took shape when, on 10 December 1978, the task was entrusted to Fr. Costanzo Cargnoni of the Order’s Historical Institute. The dear confrere never abandoned that job. On the contrary, he involved many other brothers of the Order – from Italy and from other European countries – experts in one or the other sector that were connected to the research. In particular, the Historical Institute itself engaged with the research, of which several confreres have given their specific personal contribution. The Institute as such did not undertake the publication, but in each annual assembly it was able to see, examine, and criticize the progressive journey of the work and offer their own valuable suggestions.
In this way the work has come to fruition.
Fr Costanzo has given it his own ample and reasoned presentation.
For my part, I cannot hide from you that when I saw the pile of typed material on the table of this confrere of ours, I was seized by a animated and profound sense of emotion, as if seeing for the first time all the memories of one’s childhood, indeed of the history of one’s family, in the freshness of our origins and richness of tradition. Because tradition, it seems to me, is like a big mountain lake that feeds a river. Along the way downstream, this is enriched with new waters, but the living, fresh, clean current always comes from up there, from the origin of its course. And the other waters, before making them flow, must be purified with precise ecological sensitivity.
Brothers, it is our daily commitment.
But it is also an act of convinced “obedience and reverence to the Holy Father Pope John Paul II, who, in the audience granted to our General Chapter on July 5, 1982, expressly said:
«In decree Perfectae Caritatis of Ecumenical Vatican Council II it is written that the renewal of religious life involves the continuous return to the pattern of every Christian life and to the primitive inspiration of the institutes and at the same time the adaptation of the institutes themselves to the changed conditions of the times (n. 2). Of these two fundamental needs – return to the sources and adaptation to the times – in the years immediately following the Council, the second aspect was emphasized above all, and for understandable reasons, namely adaptation to those things the conciliar text itself calls ‘the needs of the apostolate, the demands of culture and social and economic circumstances’ (n. 3). In this line, you Capuchins too have, on various occasions, revised your Constitutions and your life, to make them more responsive to the needs of the times and to the directives elaborated by the Church at the Second Vatican Council.
Now, however, having completed this effort of updating in its essential aspects, you too have felt the need – indeed, like many other institutes in the Church – to address yourselves with renewed commitment to that other primary requirement which the conciliar text calls the continuous return to the sources. This is not to deny or set aside the legitimate adaptations and new values discovered and tested in recent years, but rather to revitalize them too, grafting them onto the living trunk of the tradition from which your Order draws its physiognomy and its strength” cf. AO 98  191s).
A commitment that leads us to cofront, but in an existential way, the richness of our origins and the current reality, internal and external to the Order, after a journey of four and a half centuries.
The Holy Father also told us: “The charism of your Order, which arose from the robust tree planted by Francis of Assisi, is characterized by the fervent practice of prayer, together with that ‘perfect joy’ (James 1:2), which does not come from the world, but from a profound contemplative communion with the crucified and risen Jesus. If the journey of recent years has perhaps led you to too intense and scattered apostolic activity, it is time to review your choices in this regard. Give more time and heart and mind to God! Teach your brothers with your life that God has sacrosanct rights in man’s existence, and he cannot be relegated to the last place in the house, at the last moment of the day. The search for intimacy with Him must be the sleepless commitment of your days”. (To the Italian Capuchin provincial ministers, 1 March 1984: cf. AO 100  59).
I now address a word of thanks to our brothers of the Italian Conference who wanted this work, and to all the collaborators. But in a very special way, and also drawing on the sensitivity of all the brothers of the Order, I say Thank You! to the dearest Brother Costanzo Cargnoni.
The work sees the light in this year which is, at the same time, a year dedicated to the Virgin and the year which marks the fourth century since the death of St. Felix of Cantalice, whom we consider the “charismatic founder” of our Reform.
To the protection of the Immaculate Virgin, patroness of our Order, and to the powerful intercession of our Holy Brother, we entrust our desire for fidelity and the daily commitment to live it, “so that inwardly purified, inwardly enlightened and enkindled by the fire of the Holy Spirit, we can follow in the footsteps of the Son” of God, our Lord Jesus Christ and to reach the Father with the help of his grace alone (cf. LCap: FF 223).
To each of you my fullest blessing, with the wish of “the true peace from heaven and sincere charity in the Lord” (Lf: FF 179).
Rome, May 18, 1988
Feast of S. Felice da Cantalice
Br. Flavio Roberto Carraro
General Minister OFM Cap.
- The Proceedings of the CISP Cap. report the fundamental notices that refer to the various meetings, discussions, projects, repeated appointments of commissions, resignations of collaborators, resumptions, uncertainties and insistence, encouragements and method, organization and planning updates. Here are the various references: Atti, cit., n. 18 (1978) 7, n. 4 (= Assemblea CISP Cap., Padova, 29 marzo 1978); IV adunanza del Consiglio Nazionale (Roma, 27 sett. ’78), ibid., 12; XXXI Assemblea (Collevalenza, 10 nov. ’78), ibid., n. 19 (1979) 57, n. 7; I riunione commissione per le «fonti cappuccine» (Roma, 19 gennaio ’79), ibid., 60s; II riunione commissione (Roma, 9 aprile ’79), ibid., 62s; nuova commissione (Roma, 26 dic. ’79), ibid., 81; I riunione della nuova commissione (Roma, 20 febbr. ’80), ibid., n. 20 (1980) 28-31, incontro dei collaboratori per l’edizione (Roma, 13 dic. ’80), ibid., 31s; nuovo segretario e coordinatore (Roma, 25 sett. ’80), ibid., 53s; assemblea del 13.14 gennaio ’81, ibid., n. 21 (1981) 37; dimissioni del presidente delle «fonti cappuccine» (Loreto, 25 sett. ’82), ibid, n. 22 (1982) 36s; piano definitivo, ibid., 44s; a che punto sono le «fonti cappuccine» (17 dic. ’83), ibid., n. 23 (1983) 34; riunione sulle «fonti cappuccine» (sede Istituto Storico, 30 ott. ’84); ibid., n. 24 (1984) 31s; altre notizie, ibid, n. 25 (1985) 24s: and so on in subsequent issues. ↑