Rome, September 5. On the General Chapter schedule for September 4 and 5 is reflection and discussion of the Ratio formationis, the general formation plan meant to guide the formation of friars. As our Constitutions direct: “To safeguard in formation the characteristics proper to our Order, it is appropriate to define in a ratio formationis or formation plan the principles that are valid everywhere.” (25, 9) The development of this Ratio document has involved the Order at all levels. The point of departure and inspiration is summed up in Thomas of Celano’s description of Francis’s relationship with Jesus: “Jesus in his heart, Jesus in his mouth, Jesus in his ears, Jesus in his eyes, Jesus in his hands.” (The Life of St. Francis, 115. FA:ED I, 283) The fundamental and final criterion of all our formation plans is to have the mind of Jesus according to the pattern of St. Francis.
What is the purpose of the Ratio? It is meant to strengthen, along the whole of the formative journey, the values that are shared and taken up by all, to then be made incarnate in the different cultural contexts.
The text of the Ratio, now under examination by the brother capitulars, consists of three chapters and three appendices. The first chapter weaves the story of Francis together with our own, always keeping as a horizon the life of Jesus, which illuminates and inspires our formation in the charism. The second chapter presents the five constitutive dimensions of the whole Ratio from the point of view of ecclesial life. The third chapter presents the different stages of formation, the objectives to be reached, the dimensions, and the specific times and criteria for discernment. Many topics are treated, such as work, economics, justice, peace and ecology, and the new technologies of information and communication. Finally, the three appendices treat the topics of culture, study, and human maturity.
One hears often the expression ‘a text on a journey’, which indicates the dynamic and participatory methodology. “More than telling people what they have to do,” write the editors of the document, “we are offering a text that orients and helps one to discover a certain sensibility as well as current trends in formation, and which offers paths toward meaning and authenticity in the world of today.”