ROME, DEC. 6, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A century and a half after the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Friars Minor Conventual are being urged to “spread this truth in men’s hearts.”
This is the path indicated by the order’s minister general, Father Joachim Giermek, in a letter to his brother Franciscans, dated Dec. 8, the 150th anniversary of the culmination of a process of close to 550 years of theological reflection and contemplation, in which the Friars Minor Conventual participated.
This is why the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception is part of the order’s “history, tradition and identity,” states the letter.
The “filial love of the Franciscan family for the All Holy is inborn in the hearts of its members,” as, when St. Francis of Assisi renounced his blood ties, he “discovered the maternity of Mary, who was given by Jesus on the Cross to John, his beloved disciple, in the name of all the redeemed,” the letter said.
For him, “Mary is first and foremost Mother because she gave us the Lord of majesty as a Brother.”
“And the sons of the Poverello, in those early times and ever since, have tried to emulate this filial love for Mary both in their personal lives and in the life of the fraternity,” added Father Giermek. “They have likewise striven to spread that same love everywhere among the faithful and in the Church by the example of their lives, through their preaching and in the realm of theological thought.”
Witnesses of this are, among others, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Bonaventure, Alexander of Hales, William of Ware, Petrus Aureolus, John Duns Scotus, “who was the first to elaborate, in a definitive way, the doctrine of preventive redemption,” points out the minister general of the Conventual Franciscans.
In fact, “Scotus was the first to state that the immaculate conception of Mary is not an exception to the universality of Christ’s redemption, but a case of a perfect and more efficacious salvific act of the one and only Mediator,” he continued. The contributions of the order up to the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception were constant.
The feast of the Immaculate Conception, celebrated in the order since 1263, was adopted officially by Rome, with its own Mass and liturgical office, by Pope Sixtus IV, himself a Conventual Franciscan. In 1477 he affirmed “that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was consistent with the tenets of the Catholic faith.”