Vatican News Release: Pope to Stigmatines: Bring the fire of God’s love to the Christian community On Saturday, Pope Francis received in audience members of the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata, or the Stigmatine Fathers, on the occasion of their General Chapter.
By Sr. Bernadette Mary Reis
Fire. This is the image Pope Francis used with the Stigmatine Fathers. “I have come to cast fire on the earth. How I wish it were already ignited!” (Luke 12:49). That fire, he said is God’s love for us. He then invited those participating, to “rekindle within yourselves and your communities the fire of the Word of God.” This was Pope Francis' message in prepared remarks which were delivered to the Stigmatines gathered in the Vatican for the audience with the Holy Father. The written remarks were distributed to the Fathers while the Pope spoke with them off the cuff.
The Stigmatine Fathers were founded in Verona, Italy in 1816 by St Gaspar Bertoni. Theirs is a specifically missionary vocation at the service of the Bishops, the proclamation of the Word of God, and the formation of young people and clergy. They are present in 15 countries and number about 400 members.
Evangelize through the joy of your life
In his prepared text, Pope Francis said, “In the Bible God is compared to fire, but he is the fire of love, which conquers peoples’ hearts not with violence, but respecting each one’s freedom.” He highlighted the way in which their Founder announced the Gospel—humbly and joyfully after the example of Jesus’ own style of evangelizing. It is “through the joy of your life,” Pope Francis said, that “you can lead people to conversion, to communion with Christ.” In fact, it is precisely the “fraternal community of missionaries” that confirms their proclamation of the Gospel because it has been “tested by fire,” he said.
Thus, the Pope called them to “bring this fire into the Christian community, where the faith of so many people needs to be reawakened.” Above all, he asked them to go out to announce the Gospel “to the poor, and to those who do not feel loved by anyone”—the sad, the depressed, prisoners, the homeless, immigrants, and those fleeing from war. Lastly, he reminded them to pay “special attention to the family” after the example of St Gaspar, who transmitted to his sons “a love for the Holy Spouses, Mary and Joseph.” After asking them to pray for him, Pope Francis imparted his blessing on those present and on their entire Congregation, and left them with the words: “May the Lord always inflame your mission with the fire of the Holy Spirit!”
Memorial of Saint Scholastica, Virgin Lectionary: 334
Reading 11 KGS 12:26-32; 13:33-34
Jeroboam thought to himself: "The kingdom will return to David's house. If now this people go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem, the hearts of this people will return to their master, Rehoboam, king of Judah, and they will kill me." After taking counsel, the king made two calves of gold and said to the people: "You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough. Here is your God, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt." And he put one in Bethel, the other in Dan. This led to sin, because the people frequented those calves in Bethel and in Dan. He also built temples on the high places and made priests from among the people who were not Levites. Jeroboam established a feast in the eighth month on the fifteenth day of the month to duplicate in Bethel the pilgrimage feast of Judah, with sacrifices to the calves he had made; and he stationed in Bethel priests of the high places he had built.
Jeroboam did not give up his evil ways after this, but again made priests for the high places from among the common people. Whoever desired it was consecrated and became a priest of the high places. This was a sin on the part of the house of Jeroboam for which it was to be cut off and destroyed from the earth.
Responsorial Psalm PS 106:6-7AB, 19-20, 21-22
R. (4a) Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people. We have sinned, we and our fathers; we have committed crimes; we have done wrong. Our fathers in Egypt considered not your wonders. R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people. They made a calf in Horeb and adored a molten image; They exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating bullock. R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people. They forgot the God who had saved them, who had done great deeds in Egypt, Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham, terrible things at the Red Sea. R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel MK 8:1-10
In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat, Jesus summoned the disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance.” His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?” Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven.” He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd. They also had a few fish. He said the blessing over them and ordered them distributed also. They ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets. There were about four thousand people.
He dismissed the crowd and got into the boat with his disciples and came to the region of Dalmanutha.