TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE GENERAL CHAPTER
OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST (PASSIONISTS)
Hall of the Consistory
Monday, 22 October 2018
I am pleased to meet you on the occasion of your General Chapter and I thank the Superior for his words. In these days, your reflections have been guided by the theme "Renewing our mission: Gratitude, Prophecy and Hope". These three words: gratitude, prophecy and hope express the spirit with which you wish to stimulate your Congregation for a renewal in the mission. In fact, in addition to electing the government of the Institute, you propose to undertake a new path of ongoing formation for your communities, rooted in the experience of daily life; and also intend to make a discernment on the pastoral methodology in the approach to the younger generations.
Your Founder, Saint Paul of the Cross, gave to himself and his companions this motto: "May the Passion of Jesus Christ be always in our hearts". His first biographer, St. Vincent Maria Strambi, said of him: "It seemed that God Almighty had chosen Father Paul, in a special way, to teach people how to look for Him in the interiority of his heart". Saint Paul of the Cross wanted your communities to be schools of prayer, where you could experience God. His holiness was lived between darkness and desolation, but also with joy and peace that touched the heart of those who met him.
At the center of your life and your mission is the Passion of Jesus, which the Founder described as "the greatest and most beautiful work of the love of God" (Letters II, 499). The vow that distinguishes you, with which you are committed to keep alive the memory of the passion, places you at the foot of the Cross, from which flows the healing and reconciling love of God. I encourage you to be ministers of spiritual healing and reconciliation, so necessary in today's world, marked by ancient and new wounds. Your Constitutions call you to dedicate your whole self to the "evangelization and re-evangelization of peoples, preferring the poorest to the most abandoned places" (Const. 70). Your closeness to people, traditionally expressed through popular missions, spiritual direction and the sacrament of Penance, is a precious testimony. The Church needs ministers who speak with tenderness, listen without condemning and welcome with mercy.
The Church today feels a strong appeal to come out of itself and go to the peripheries, both geographic and existential. Your commitment to embracing the new frontiers of mission implies not only going to new territories to bring you the Gospel, but also facing the new challenges of our time, such as migration, secularism and the digital world. This means being present in those situations where people perceive the absence of God, and try to be close to those who, in any way or form, are suffering.
In this age of change, which is rather a change of era, you are called to be attentive to the presence and action of the Holy Spirit, reading the signs of the times. New situations require new answers. Saint Paul of the Cross was very creative in responding to the needs of his time, recognizing - as he says in the Rule - that "the love of God is very ingenious and does not show itself so much with words, as with the works and examples of who love "(XVI). A creative fidelity to your charism will allow you to respond to the needs of the people of today, staying close to the suffering Christ in order to bring his presence to a world that suffers.
Your Congregation has given many examples of holiness to the people of God; think of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, a young man whose joyful following of Christ still speaks to today's youth. The testimony of the saints and blessed of your religious family manifests the fruitfulness of your charism and represents models to inspire your apostolic choices. The strength and simplicity of your message, which is the love of God revealed on the Cross, can still speak to today's society, which has learned not to trust the words alone and to be convinced only by facts. For many young people who are looking for God, the Passion of Jesus can be a source of hope and courage, showing them that everyone is loved personally and to the end. May your testimony and your apostolate continue to enrich the Church, and may you always remain close to Christ crucified and his suffering people.
The Apostolic Blessing, which I now warmly impart to you as capitulars and to the whole Passionist family, will accompany you on your journey. Please do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.
FULL TEXT - Image SHARE from Vatican.va - Original Italian - Unofficial translation