Pope Francis says "The essential thing is not to let the evil one steal our hope!" to Religious Group of Cistercians

Clementina room
Monday, October 17, 2022
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome everyone!

I thank the Abbot General for his introductory words - with best wishes for his renewed office - and I greet all of you who are participating in the General Chapter of the Cistercian Order of the Common Observance.
This adjective "common" makes you think. We know that it intends to distinguish from a "special" observance. But common always has a richer meaning, which indicates the whole, communion. And I like to start from here, from this fundamental reality that constitutes us as a Church, thanks to the gift of the Triune God and to our being in Christ. Community, common.
Common observance, therefore, like walking together after the Lord Jesus, to be with him, listen to him, “observe him” ... Observe Jesus.

Like a child who observes his father, or his best friend. Observing the Lord: the way of making him, his face, full of love and peace, at times indignant in the face of hypocrisy and closure, and also troubled and distressed in the hour of passion. And this observing doing it together, not individually, doing it in community. Do it each with their own pace, certainly, each with their own unique and unrepeatable story, but together. Like the Twelve, who were always with Jesus and walked with Him. They had not chosen themselves, He had chosen them. It wasn't always easy to get along: they were different from each other, each with its own "edges", and his pride. We too are like that, and it is not easy for us to go together in communion. Yet, this gift received never ceases to amaze and give us joy: to be his community, just as we are, not perfect, not uniform, no, not like this, but con-vocated, involved, called to be and walk together behind him, our Master and Lord.
This, brothers and sisters, is the basis of everything. Thank you for having emphasized this and I encourage you to rekindle the desire and availability for this common observance of Christ.
It involves a constant commitment to conversion from a closed self to an open one, from a heart centered on oneself to a heart that comes out of itself and goes towards the other. And this, by analogy, also applies to the community: from a self-referential community to an extroverted community, in the good sense of the word, welcoming and missionary. It is the movement that the Holy Spirit always tries to impress on the Church, working in each of its members and in each of its communities and institutions. A movement that dates back to Pentecost, the "baptism" of the Church. The same Spirit then aroused and arouses a great variety of charisms and forms of life, a great "symphony". The forms are many, very different from each other, but to be part of the ecclesial symphony they must obey this movement of exit. Not a chaotic going, in no particular order: a going together, all tuned to the one heart of the Church which is love, as St Teresa of the Child Jesus so enthusiastically affirms. There is no communion without conversion, and therefore this is necessarily the fruit of the Cross of Christ and the action of the Spirit, both in individuals and in the community.
Returning to the image - or rather the sound - of the symphony, you propose to embrace the great missionary breath of the Church by also enhancing the complementarity between male and female, as well as the cultural diversity between Asian, African, Latin American, North American and European members. I encourage you on this journey, which is not easy, but which can undoubtedly be a treasure for communities and for the Order.
I thank you for the commitment with which you cooperate in the effort that the whole Church is making in this sense in every particular community: today the experience of the encounter with diversity is a sign of the times. Yours is a precious contribution, particularly rich, because, because of your contemplative vocation, you are not content with bringing diversity together on a superficial level, you also experience them on the level of interiority, of prayer, of spiritual dialogue. And this enriches the "symphony" with deeper and more generative resonances.
Another aspect on which I want to encourage you is your resolution of greater poverty, both of spirit and of goods, to be more available to the Lord, with all your strength, with the frailties and with the blossoms that He gives you. Therefore we praise God for everything, for old age and youth, for infirmity and good health, for the communities in "autumn" and those in "spring". The essential thing is not to let the evil one steal our hope! The first thing the evil one seeks is to steal hope, so he takes us by hand, always. Because evangelical poverty is full of hope, founded on the beatitude that the Lord announces to his disciples: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God" (Lk 6:20).
Dear brothers and sisters, thank you for this visit! May the Virgin Mary accompany you and always support your journey. I cordially bless you and all your communities. And you Please don't forget to pray for me. Thank you.
Source: Vatican.va