Saturday, April 7, 2018

Pope Francis "May the Holy Spirit enlighten you on the paths you have to travel..." to Prado Priests

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am very happy to receive you on the occasion of your pilgrimage to Rome, members of the Prado family who give your life daily following the example of Father Antoine Chevrier at the service of the poorest. This meeting is for me the occasion to give thanks to you to the Lord for the road traveled since the time when your blessed founder, seized by the distress of the most deprived of his time, decided to go near them in order to make them to know and love Jesus Christ. The plant has since grown admirably: you are now a beautiful family of priests, sisters and consecrated secular women, distributed in many countries, inhabited by the same love of Jesus who became poor among the poor, and the same evangelizing ardor.

Our age, too, knows its poverty, old and new, material and spiritual, and there are many around us who experience suffering, wounds, distress and anxieties of all kinds. They are very often far from the Church, ignorant of all the joy and consolation that the Gospel procures. The mission to be accomplished with them is immense and the Church is happy to be able to count on the support of Father Chevrier's disciples. I can only approve and encourage the pastoral action you develop according to the charism of your institutes, a charism that touches me personally and is at the heart of the missionary renewal to which the whole Church is called; for there exists "an intimate connection between evangelization and human promotion, which must necessarily be expressed and developed in every evangelizing action" (Evangelii Gaudium, 178).

Pope John Paul II, on the occasion of the beatification of Father Chevrier, in 1986 at Lion, had proposed various orientations, which you know well, to strengthen your dynamism, and that I can only renew. To repeat only one of them, he asked you to "speak of Jesus Christ with the same intensity of faith as Father Chevrier [...] The Poor have the right to be told about Jesus Christ. They have the right to the Gospel and the totality of the Gospel "(Speech to the Prado Institute, October 7, 1986). I like to recall, in fact, that the vast majority of the poor have a particular openness to the faith; they need God, and the lack of spiritual attention to them constitutes the worst discrimination: "The preferential option for the poor must be translated mainly by privileged and priority religious attention" (Evangelii Gaudium, 200).

Dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to come back to the magnificent figure of your founder, to meditate on his life, to ask for his intercession. The authentic spiritual experience he has lived intensely - immense compassion for the poor, understanding and sharing of their suffering, and at the same time a contemplation of the stripping of Christ who became one of them - was the source of his apostolic zeal. It will be that of your missionary dynamism.

May the Holy Spirit enlighten you on the paths you have to travel, reassure you in the face of challenges and difficulties. Confiding your Institutes and all their members to the intercession of Blessed Antoine Chevrier, I pray to the Virgin Mary to keep them under her maternal protection, and I give you with all my heart the Apostolic Blessing.
Source: Vatican.va (Unofficial Translation)

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