Pope Francis says "Prayer oxygenates life: just as one cannot live without breathing, so one cannot be a Christian and live as a Christian...without prayer." FULL TEXT
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE SECULAR INSTITUTE OF
MISSIONARY OBLATE COOPERATORS OF THE IMMACULATE
Consistory Hall - Saturday, November 20, 2021
Dear sisters and dear brothers!
I am pleased to meet you on the occasion of your two anniversaries: the 70th anniversary of the birth of the Institute and the 20th anniversary of the pontifical approval. I address you Oblates in particular, but my greeting and my reflections also extend to you who share their spirituality and mission: thank you for your presence!
The Institute was founded by Father Gaetano Liuzzo, who passed on the charism of Saint Eugene of Mazenod, founder of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate. Thus you have been called to welcome the evangelizing mission by imitating the audacity of Saint Eugene in the proclamation of Christ the Savior, in his passionate love for him, for the Church and for every brother and sister. You are called to live this charism in secularity, inserted into the world with your heart immersed in God. Being consecrated in a secular Institute does not mean taking refuge in a "middle ground", but sharing fully, like Jesus, the condition of ordinary people, the daily life of work, home, neighborhood relations, and so on, all animated by the light of faith, by the warmth of charity, by the horizon of hope.
Your specificity is precisely that of sanctifying the secular activities in order to recapitulate everything in Christ. Live like others, among others, in the same professions, in the same trades, in the same difficulties; but with such a union with God that sanctifies projects and actions. When Pope Pius XII , in the Motu proprio Primo Feliciter , speaking of the secular institutes, says that "the whole life of the members must be translated into an apostolateHe intends to refer precisely to this. Indeed, Jesus, in his hidden life, is a model for everyone. Even his ordinary actions had a divine value, conferred by his Person, by union with the Father, by the purposes of redemption for which he was incarnated. Similarly it happens for the members of Secular Institutes and for the lay people associated with them. Their common everyday activities acquire a very particular apostolic value for their personal consecration, for union with God, for the purpose given to their life. Secular activities, in themselves, are not a direct apostolate, but they can become one.
If mission is to dedicate oneself to God's plan in history, secularity consists in inhabiting it. And the prophecy of secular consecration is incompatible with the fear of places and situations at risk. On the contrary, it is precisely these situations that are propitious for this consecration, so that in them the members of secular institutes can make their contribution, with humility and courage, to the history of salvation, where people suffer exclusion, marginalization, they are harmed in their dignity. Daily relationships - in the family and in the Christian community, at work and in school, in different psychological and social situations, and above all in the sharing of faith and apostolic commitment - this is the fabric on which to embroider the richness of your charism.
Saint Eugene of Mazenod often repeated to the Oblates: " In the name of God be holy ". I would like to decline this call to holiness according to three attitudes.
1) Be ready . Jesus says: "Be ready with garments tight to your hips and lighted lamps" ( Lk12.35). It means living fully in the present by grasping the promise of eternity. Our whole life is to strive for eternal life and we must be ready. A person is ready when he is completely given to God and to his brothers. Not when applause and success come, no, life is so much more. It is being in the world in fullness, in the truth and freedom of the children of God and in the relationship of brotherhood with others. And this intensity of relationship with the Father and with the brothers and sisters is nourished in prayer: prayer allows God to be close to us, free from loneliness and instills hope. Prayer oxygenates life: just as one cannot live without breathing, so one cannot be a Christian and live as a Christian, much less as a consecrated person, without prayer.
2) Being Oblate : you are "Oblate Cooperators", that is, totally given - oblate - to Christ to identify yourselves spiritually with Him. It is very important to always remember this "totally". It indicates an exclusive, generous, unreserved membership. But be careful! We must not focus our gaze on our commitment, but on him, on the grace of his gift. He is the Oblate, in whom you are Oblate. Jesus, coming among us as a servant, and dying on the cross in the midst of two criminals, explained to us well what life is: it is love that asks for love, grace that asks for gratuitousness. And he shows it to us from the cross, because this path is not comfortable, it is not easy, he asks to pay in person. But it is the path of peace and joy.
3) And third trace: to be trusting in God like Mary : imitating her in listening to and welcoming the will of God, so that his Word may also take flesh in us. Thanks to his faith, to his "yes", to his "here I am", the Father's plan of universal salvation was fulfilled. The safe path, therefore, also for you, who are "of the Immaculate Conception", is the one followed by her. This path is well described by the incandescent words that your historical Founder left you in his will: "Your vocation is love , your law is love , your medicine is love. Christocentric Trinitarian and universal missionary love, at home and throughout the world, reincarnating that of the Mother, as true new Marys of Nazareth, ardent and generous as and with her ».
And this is also my wish for you. May you do everything with joyful dedication like Mary, so as to be truly "Oblate missionary cooperators of the Immaculate Conception". Go ahead with courage and audacity, without worrying about numbers! You - you said it - are like leaven. Small, hidden, but full of faith. The larger the dough to be leavened, the richer in quality the ferment must be!
I bless you consecrated people and all of you friends and collaborators. I pray for you. And you too, please, don't forget to pray for me.