Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In our catechesis on medieval Christian culture, we now consider the movement of ecclesial reform promoted by the two great Mendicant Orders. In every age the saints are the true reformers of the Church’s life. In the thirteenth century Saints Francis and Dominic inspired a vast evangelical renewal which met three significant needs of the Church of that time. The Franciscans and the Dominicans adopted a lifestyle of evangelical poverty which, unlike that of the Cathars, was grounded in communion with the visible Church and a sound Christian understanding of the goodness of creation. As zealous preachers, especially in urban environments, the Friars provided religious instruction and spiritual guidance to the lay faithful, many of whom became members of their "Third Orders". Travelling freely from place to place, they also contributed to the overall renewal of Church life and the spiritual transformation of society. By their presence in the universities, the Friars worked for the evangelization of culture, affirming the harmony of faith and reason, and creating the great syntheses of scholastic theology. May their example of holiness and evangelical lifestyle inspire our own witness to the Gospel and our efforts to draw the world to Christ and his Church.
20 January 2010
In his catechesis during last Wednesday's general audience, the Holy Father made mention of the importance of the Mendicant Orders in renewing the life of the Church in the 13th century. The full text of his talk is available only in Italian on the Vatican website, but below is a summary of it in English.