Pope Francis "through the joy of your life...you can lead people to conversion, to communion with Christ.” to Stigmatines
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!”