Secular Franciscan Order

Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

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Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis

Consilium Internationale




PART II - Chapter 2 
The Family in the Magisterium of the Church


The Church has received from Jesus, her divine Master, the mission to teach humanity the ways of God. And indeed, Our ways are not God’s ways (cf. Is 55,8). God’s ways can be really embarrassing as when Jesus asked the servants at the wedding feast in Cana to fill the jars with water when they needed wine, (cf. Jn 2, 1-11). The Second chapter of the Synod conclusions summarizes the teachings of the Church on the Family from the Second Vatican Council till date. Given its concision and clarity, we present the text almost entirely.

The Teaching of the Second Vatican Council

The Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, devotes an entire chapter to the dignity of marriage and the family (cf. GS, 47-52) and defines marriage and the family in the following manner: “The intimate partnership of married life and love has been established by the Creator and qualified by His laws, and is rooted in the conjugal covenant of irrevocable personal consent. Hence by that human act whereby spouses mutually bestow and accept each other a relationship arises which by divine will and in the eyes of society too is a lasting one.”(GS, 48). The “true love between husband and wife” (GS, 49) involves a mutual gift of self, which is to include and integrate the sexual dimension and affectivity according to the divine plan (cf. GS, 48-49). This clearly shows that marriage and the conjugal love that gives it life, “are by their nature ordained toward the begetting and educating of children” (GS, 50). Furthermore, the grounding of the couple in Christ is emphasized: Christ the Lord “comes into the lives of married Christians through the Sacrament of Matrimony” (GS, 48) and remains with them (sacramentum permanens). He assumes human love, purifies it, brings it to fulfilment and gives the married couple, with his Spirit, the ability to live it by permeating every aspect of their life of faith, hope and charity. In this way, the couple, like consecrated persons through a grace proper to them, builds up the Body of Christ and is a domestic Church (cf. LG, 11), so that the Church, through fully understanding her mystery, looks to the Christian family, which manifests that mystery in an authentic way. (42)

The teaching of the Council has since been further developed and clarified by the Popes.

Blessed Pope Paul VI greatly developed the doctrine on marriage and the family. In a particular way, with the Encyclical Humanae Vitae, he highlighted the intrinsic link between conjugal love and the generation of life: “Married love, therefore, requires of husband and wife the full awareness of their obligations in the matter of responsible parenthood, which today, rightly enough, is much insisted upon, but which at the same time should be rightly understood. [...] the exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities, recognize their own duties toward God, themselves, their families and human society” (HV, 10). Later, in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, Paul VI highlighted the relationship between the family and the Church: “One cannot fail to stress the evangelizing action of the family in the evangelizing apostolate of the laity. At different moments in the Church's history and also in the Second Vatican Council, the family has well deserved the beautiful name of ‘domestic Church.’ This means that there should be found in every Christian family the various aspects of the entire Church. Furthermore, the family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates” (EN, 71); (43).

Pope Saint John Paul II devoted special attention to the family in his catechesis on human love and the theology of the body. In them, he has given the Church a wealth of reflections on the nuptial meaning of the human body and God’s plan for marriage and the family from the beginning of creation. In particular, by treating conjugal love, he described how spouses, in their mutual love, receive the gift of the Spirit of Christ and live their call to holiness. In the Letter to Families Gratissimam Sane and particularly in the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II pointed to the family as the “way of the Church.” He also offered a general vision of man and woman’s vocation to love and proposed basic guidelines for the pastoral care of the family and the presence of the family in society. “In matrimony and in the family a complex of interpersonal relationships is set up — married life, fatherhood and motherhood, filiation and fraternity — through which each human person is introduced into the ‘human family’ and into the ‘family of God,’ which is the Church” (FC, 15); (44).

Benedict XVI, in his Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, returned to the topic of the truth of the love between man and woman, that is fully illuminated only in light of the love of the Crucified Christ (cf. DCE, 2). He stresses that “marriage based on exclusive and definitive love becomes the icon of the relationship between God and his people and vice versa. God's way of loving becomes the measure of human love” (DCE, 11). In the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, he highlights the importance of family love as a principle of life in society, a place where we learn the experience of the common good. “It is thus becoming a social and even economic necessity once more to hold up to future generations the beauty of marriage and the family, and the fact that these institutions correspond to the deepest needs and dignity of the person. In view of this, States are called to enact policies promoting the centrality and the integrity of the family, founded on marriage between a man and a woman, the primary vital cell of society, and to assume responsibility for its economic and fiscal needs, while respecting its essentially relational character” (CiV, 44); (45).

Pope Francis, in the encyclical Lumen Fidei, treats the connection between the family and faith: “The first setting in which faith enlightens the human city is the family. I think first and foremost of the stable union of man and woman in marriage [...] Promising love for ever is possible when we perceive a plan bigger than our own ideas and undertakings” (LF, 52). In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, the Pope recalls the centrality of the family among the cultural challenges of today: “The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. In the case of the family, the weakening of these bonds is particularly serious because the family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children. Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will. But the indispensable contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple” (EG, 66). Pope Francis, in further treating issues relating to the family, has dedicated an organic cycle of catechesis which thoroughly examines the various persons in the family, their different experiences and the stages of life; (46). To crown it all, the Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetizia on love in the family. The opening words say a lot: “The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church.” (AL 1).

In these few lines, the Conclusions of the Synod of October 2015 offer us the teachings of the highest authority of the Church on marriage and the family since the Second Vatican Council till date.

Questions for discussion
1. In the light of the OFS Rule and General Constitutions, in you Fraternity, comment on the following affirmation taken form LG 11: “the couple, like consecrated persons through a grace proper to them, builds up the Body of Christ and is a domestic Church.”

2. Blessed Pope Paul VI who gave the OFS its new Rule also wrote: “One cannot fail to stress the evangelizing action of the family in the evangelizing apostolate of the laity” (EN,71). Discuss in your fraternity on the possible contributions which the families of OFS members has offered or could offer for the apostolate of evangelization in your own context. Take concrete actions.

We finish our encounter praying together: the prayer of the Holy Family.

January 2017.

The annual course for the Mexican Spiritual Assistants of the OFS and YouFra took place from 8th to 10th February 2017 at the St. John Paul II Pastoral House in San Juan de los Lagos, Jalisco. The course was organised by the OFS National Executive Council and the Conference of Provincial Ministers OFM of Mexico, with the help of the National Assistants of the OFS: Fr. Abelardo Aranda Echeverría, OFM, Fr. Jesús Arrondo Aguerri, OFMCap and Fr. Francisco Vargas Aceves, OFMConv. Fr. Amando Trujillo Cano TOR, Assistant General OFS-YouFra, was invited to be the facilitator of the course. He presented the following topics:

  1. Presentation of the Handbook for assistance to the OFS and YouFra
  2. Origin, history and mission of the OFS
  3. The identity of the OFS - Secular Franciscan Spirituality
  4. Active presence of the OFS in the Church and in the world
  5. Spiritual and pastoral assistance to the OFS and YouFra, and
  6. Franciscan Youth: identity, development and relationship with the OFS.

The Presentations were followed by group work and plenary sessions. Some fifty Spiritual Assistants were present: OFM, OFMConv, OFMCap and a diocesan priest. They also counted with the presence and the support of five members of the National OFS Executive Council for the organisation and planning. The course took place in a spirit of fraternity, of dialogue and reflection, as well as prayer. The opening Mass was presided by Fr. Constantino Alonso Zaldivar, OFMCap, Custodian of Mexico-Texas, while the concluding Mass was presided by Fr. Amando.

 Please click on the image to download the document. 


Ex General Assistant OFS and YOUFRA

03/04/1938 - 01/17/2017



Fr. Ben, delivered his soul to his Creator on the 17th of January. He suffered lung cancer, which was diagnosed a few months ago. He had not communicated his illness to anyone, except his brothers of the province and blood relatives. He lived with it with the same serenity that marked his life.

Fr. Ben served as General Spiritual Assistant to the Secular Franciscan Order and Franciscan Youth from the Elective General Chapter of October 1990, held in Fatima, to the Elective General Chapter of November 2002 in Rome. His appointment was a God given gift for all, for which we thank the Minister General OFMCap., Br. Flavio Roberto Carraro. His predecessor was Fr. Jaime Zudaire, OFMCap.

He began his task at a special and delicate moment of transition for our Order, the passage of the service of Minister General Manuela Mattioli to Emanuela De Nunzio. That is to say, two persons (Manuela and Fr. Jaime) left their positions during which time they had developed a fundamental role for the International Fraternity of the OFS, as you all know well. And a new phase began, which would certainly be different and this created uncertainty for so many brothers and sisters.

But Fr. Ben's manner was essential in order to smooth some of the rough edges during the first stages of the new Presidency Council of CIOFS, and things went smoothly. The Conference of General Assistants also lived their collegial responsibility for spiritual assistance to the whole Order and to the YouFra in the spirit of communion.

Allow me to share with you all that Fr. Ben was for me – an anecdote. Thus we can thank and praise the Lord, the origin and giver of all good, for his "being."

He was an example of a religious who loved and lived his own vocation passionately, both as a Christian and a Franciscan. And he had a special sensitivity and affection for the Secular Franciscan Order; and if I were to tell you that his affection was almost more for YouFra, many young people would confirm what I say.

He showed us continually, by his example and simplicity, how he lived true poverty that might seem shocking, but which was natural to his conviction. We have enjoyed his spirit of brotherhood, and of freedom without preconceived barriers; of his generous availability, even if he was falling from exhaustion; of his wisdom and depth; of his gift of the languages he learned, not without effort, but with love, to be able to communicate with all and serve all ... And so many things that each of us who have known him will keep in our hearts.

If you had seen how much he worked with Emanuela De Nunzio and myself during the revision of the General Constitutions, approved “ad experimentum” by the Holy See in 1990, and the collection of proposals from the National Councils, in order to present a selection of options for consideration and voting at the General Chapter...

I believe that for all it has been a true grace from God and a beautiful (opportunity) to live and work with him during his service to the OFS and Franciscan Youth, to the laity and to the spiritual assistants.

An anecdote: At the beginning of my service and his, he came to Spain to perfect his Spanish and when he arrived, the convent was closed and the friars apparently did not hear him. Even the euro did not exist and he did not have the local currency. He asked for help from a passing gentleman, who offered him some money to call me and waited in case he needed anything more. I told him to come to my home in a taxi. I had to convince him. While he was on his way, I prepared something to eat that he accepted with joy because it was already quite late. It was very cold; it was January, too, and snow was falling. As he always wore sandals, his feet were wet and icy. Then I realized that he had torn socks and I told him so. He answered, “Don’t worry when I get to the convent I will wash them and then I sew them again.” I told him to take them off and give them to me, that one thing was poverty and another misery. I saw how many times he had sewn them already. I offered him Juan's wool socks, my husband, and happily they fit well. Pleased, he put them on and also discovered that we had a source of electric heat under the table, which is called brazier here. It comforted him and from that first day, while he was in Madrid, after his classes and after he did his work as a Spiritual Assistant, he came home to that warm little corner which brought great joy to my family. His excuse was to warm his feet, but the real reason was to offer a little company to my mother because my father had recently died.

Let us unite in prayer for our brother, Fr. Ben, and praise the Lord for all the good that he has offered us and our Order through him. We send our deepest condolences and our immense gratitude to the Minister General of the Capuchin brothers, Br. Mauro Jöhri and his Province of Indonesia.

Encarnación del Pozo, OFS

(L to R: Lilian-Rita Akudolu, Michael E. Edem, Chinyere Ndeche, Genesis Ngwainbi (Delegate), Asiegbu Anna Azoamaka, Br. Anthony Essien, Obibuzor Jude Uche(National Minister)). 

Capitulars in Nigeria, 26/11/1026.

The National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order of Kenya held their national elective Chapter. The elections were as follows: as National Minister our brother Patrick Macharia and as International Councillor and National Secretary our sister Jacinta Kingori. May God bless you and continue to brighten your way.

Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis

Consilium Internationale




PART II - Chapter 1
The Family in God’s Plan, the Family in Salvation History


We continue with the reflections on the conclusions of the Synod of the Family and the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (AL) and we see how the family is and always was part of God's plan.

Jesus, who reconciled all things in himself, restored marriage and the family to their original form (cf. Mt 10:1-12). Marriage and the family have been redeemed by Christ (cf. Eph 5:21-32) and restored in the image of the Holy Trinity, the mystery from which all true love flows. The spousal covenant, originating in creation and revealed in the history of salvation, takes on its full meaning in Christ and his Church. Through his Church, Christ bestows on marriage and the family the grace necessary to bear witness to the love of God and to live the life of communion. "The Gospel of the family spans the history of the world, from the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26-27), to the fulfilment of the mystery of the covenant in Christ at the end of time with the marriage of the Lamb (cf. Rev 19:9)”.(AL 63)

The family is a school of love and a stable family is the building block of society that allows persons to flourish as human beings.
Willed by God in the very act of creation, marriage and the family are interiorly ordained to fulfillment in Christ and have need of His graces in order to be healed from the wounds of sin and restored to their "beginning", that is, to full understanding and the full realization of God's plan. (FC 3)

The Synod Fathers noted that Jesus, “in speaking of God’s original plan for man and woman, reaffirmed the indissoluble union between them, even stating that ‘it was for your hardness of heart that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so’ (Mt 19:8). The indissolubility of marriage – ‘what God has joined together, let no man put asunder’ (Mt 19:6) – should not be viewed as a ‘yoke’ imposed on humanity, but as a ‘gift’ granted to those who are joined in marriage… God’s indulgent love always accompanies our human journey; through grace, it heals and transforms hardened hearts, leading them back to the beginning through the way of the cross. The Gospels clearly present the example of Jesus who… proclaimed the meaning of marriage as the fullness of revelation that restores God’s original plan (cf. Mt 19:3)”.(AL62)

[...]The wedding takes place in the community of life and love and the family participates in the work of evangelization. The bride and groom, thus becoming Christ’s disciples, are accompanied by him on the way to Emmaus; they recognize him in the breaking of bread; and they return to Jerusalem enlightened by his resurrection (cf. Lk 24:13-43) (n 36).

Because of the divine pedagogy, according to which the plan of creation is fulfilled through successive stages in the order of redemption, we need to understand the Sacrament of Matrimony as it was in the beginning, based on the order of creation. From this perspective, we understand the salvific action of God, even in the Christian life. Because everything was done through Christ and for him (cf. Col 1:16). The incorporation of the believer into the Church through Baptism is completed in the other Sacraments of Christian Initiation. In the domestic Church, which is his family, the believer starts that “dynamic process, one which advances gradually with the progressive integration of the gifts of God” (FC, 9), by an ongoing conversion to the love that saves us from sin and gives fullness of life. (n 37)

The Icon of the Trinity in the Family

Scripture and Tradition give us access to a knowledge of the Trinity which is revealed in the features of a family. The family is the image of God who “in his deepest mystery is not all by himself, but a family, since he has in himself fatherhood, sonship and the essence of the family, which is love” (John Paul II, Homily at Parafox Major Seminary, Puebla de Los Angeles (Mexico), 28 January 1979). God is a communion of persons. At Christ’s Baptism, the voice of the Father called Jesus his beloved Son, and, in this love, we come to recognize the Holy Spirit (cf. Mk 1:10-11). Jesus, who has reconciled all things in himself and has redeemed us from sin, not only returned marriage and the family to their original form, but has also raised marriage to the sacramental sign of his love for the Church (cf. Mt 19:1-12; Mk 10:1-12; Eph 5:21-32). In the human family, gathered by Christ, the “image and likeness” of the Holy Trinity (cf. Gen 1:26) is now visible, a mystery from which flows all true love. Through the Church, marriage and the family receive the grace of the Holy Spirit from Christ so as to bear witness to the Gospel of God's love until the fulfilment of the Covenant on the Last Day, at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (cf. Rev 19:9; John Paul II, Catechesis on Human Love). The covenant of love and fidelity, lived by the Holy Family of Nazareth, illuminates the principle which gives form to every household, and enables it better to face the vicissitudes of life and history. On this basis, every family, despite its weaknesses, can become a light in the darkness of the world. “Here each of us understands the meaning of family life, its harmony of love, its simplicity and austere beauty, its sacred and inviolable character; may it teach us how sweet and irreplaceable is its training, how fundamental and incomparable its role in the social order” (Paul VI, Discourse at Nazareth, 5 January 1964). (n 38)

The Family in Sacred Scripture - Through the fruitfulness of their love, man and woman continue the work of creation and collaborate with the Creator in salvation history through successive geneologies (Gen 1:28; 2: 4; 9:1,7; 10; 17:2,16; 25:11; 28:3; 35:9,11; 47:27; 48:3,4). The reality of marriage in its exemplary form is outlined in the book of Genesis, to which Jesus also refers in his idea of married love. Man feels incomplete, because he lacks “a helper fit for him”, who “stands before him” (Gen 2:18-20) in an equal dialogue. The woman participates, therefore, in the same reality of the man, represented symbolically by the rib, or by the same flesh, as proclaimed in the song of the man’s love: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23). They thus become “one flesh” (Gen 2:24). This foundational reality of the marital experience is exalted in the expression of one belonging to the other in the profession of love, pronounced by the woman in the Song of Songs. The formula is similar to that of the covenant between God and his People (cf. Lev 26:12): “My beloved is mine and I am his,... I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine” (Cant 2:16; 6:3). (n 39)
The words of eternal life, given by Jesus to his disciples, include his teaching on marriage and the family. In them, we can recognize three basic stages in God's plan. Firstly, there is the family of origin, when God, the Creator, instituted the primordial marriage between Adam and Eve, as the solid foundation of the family..... Subsequently, in its historical form in the tradition of Israel, this union, wounded by sin, underwent several variations: ..... Lastly, the reconciliation of the world took place with the coming of the Saviour, not only restoring the original divine plan but leading the history of God's People to a new fulfilment. Above all, the indissolubility of marriage (Mk 10:2-9) is not meant to be a burden but a gift to those who are united in marriage. (n 40)

“The example of Jesus is a paradigm for the Church… He began his public ministry with the miracle at the wedding feast of Cana (cf. Jn 2:1-11). He shared in everyday moments of friendship with the family of Lazarus and his sisters (cf. Lk 10:38) and with the family of Peter (cf. Mk 8:14). He sympathized with grieving parents and restored their children to life (cf. Mk 5:41; Lk 7:14-15). In this way he demonstrated the true meaning of mercy, which entails the restoration of the covenant (cf. John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia, 4). This is clear from his conversations with the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 1:4-30) and with the woman found in adultery (cf. Jn 8:1-11), where the consciousness of sin is awakened by an encounter with Jesus’ gratuitous love”. (AL 64)

The incarnation of the Word in a human family, in Nazareth, by its very newness changed the history of the world. We need to enter into the mystery of Jesus’ birth, into that “yes” given by Mary to the message of the angel, when the Word was conceived in her womb, as well as the “yes” of Joseph, who gave a name to Jesus and watched over Mary. We need to contemplate the joy of the shepherds before the manger, the adoration of the Magi and the flight into Egypt, in which Jesus shares his people’s experience of exile, persecution and humiliation. We need to contemplate the religious expectation of Zechariah and his joy at the birth of John the Baptist, the fulfilment of the promise made known to Simeon and Anna in the Temple and the marvel of the teachers of the Law who listened to the wisdom of the child Jesus. We then need to peer into those thirty long years when Jesus earned his keep by the work of his hands, reciting the traditional prayers and expressions of his people’s faith and coming to know that ancestral faith until he made it bear fruit in the mystery of the Kingdom. This is the mystery of Christmas and the secret of Nazareth, exuding the beauty of family life! (AL 65)

Jesus and the Family “The covenant of love and fidelity lived by the Holy Family of Nazareth illuminates the principle which gives shape to every family, and enables it better to face the vicissitudes of life and history. On this basis, every family, despite its weaknesses, can become a light in the darkness of the world. ‘Nazareth teaches us the meaning of family life, its loving communion, its simple and austere beauty, its sacred and inviolable character. May it teach how sweet and irreplaceable is its training, how fundamental and incomparable its role in the social order’ (Paul VI, Address in Nazareth, 5 January 1964)”.(AL 66)

1. How do you understand the role of marriage and the family in salvation history?

2. How do you see families being the icon of the Trinity?

3. Discuss "Motherhood" and "Fatherhood".

4. How can we offer to the world the meaning and values of marriage and the family?


We finish our encounter praying together: THE PRAYER OF THE HOLY FAMILY.

November 2016