DISCOURSE OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE GENERAL CHAPTER
OF THE ORDER OF THE HOLY TRINITY AND OF THE SLAVES
Saturday, June 15, 2019
Dear brothers and sisters!
With joy I welcome you on the occasion of your General Chapter. I thank the newly elected Superior, Father Luigi Buccarello, and wish him all the best for his service. With you I greet all the members of the Order and the Trinitarian Family, and your collaborators.
I wish first of all to thank you for your work in the various works of mercy, in schools, in parishes, in prisons and in rehabilitation institutes, and especially for the various initiatives with which you seek to support the Churches that suffer because of faith in Christ. I urge you to always walk with "the poor and the slaves" (St. John the Baptist of the Conception, Works, III, 60); and that in every "House of the Holy Trinity" you may be witnesses of Jesus, who came "to bring the good news to the poor" (Lk 4:18).
The theme of your Chapter revolves around youth and vocation ministry. A vital theme for the Church, as highlighted by the recent Synod of Bishops dedicated to young people, and certainly also of great importance for your Order.
It is not easy to reach the goal in this pastoral ministry. Vocational work, any vocational work, is not proselytism. This is the starting point: it is not proselytism. You yourself recognize, in the Chapter's Instrumentum Laboris, that you have difficulty with language and method to communicate with the world of youth. You rightly feel the need for specific formation for the pastoral care of accompaniment and discernment. On the other hand, the culture of the great void provoked by weak thought and relativism that invite us to live "a la carte", the fragment culture where great themes have lost meaning, and the immanentism in which they live so many young people could make to think that there is no room for a vocational proposal in faith to the new generations. But to draw this conclusion would be a serious mistake.
In fact, even today there are young people who ardently seek the full meaning of their lives; young people who are capable of unconditional dedication to the great causes; young people who passionately love Jesus and show great compassion for humanity. There are young people who perhaps do not speak of meaning and meaning in life, but what do they mean when they look forward to happiness, love, success, personal fulfillment? All this is part of the world of the aspirations of our young people, who need to be ordained, as the Creator did at the beginning of time, passing from chaos to the order of the cosmos (see Gen 1.1 to 31).
It is here that you can and must also enter, to help the young to harmonize their aspirations, to put them in order. Without forgetting that they rightly ask that they be given a certain protagonism in all this. Young people cannot stand environments where they do not find their space and do not receive stimulation. They must be protagonists, this is the key, and protagonists on the move, not quiet.
One obvious thing is that "there exists a plurality of youthful worlds" (Exh. Ap. Postsin. Christus vivit, 68). It takes creativity, which starts from the pastoral conversion to which we are called, in order to reach them and make an evangelical proposal that helps them to discern the vocation to which they are called in the Church. Both the Final Document of the Synod and the Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit will help you in your commitment to reach out to the young people where you are present as a Trinitarian Order. At this moment I would like to point out some challenges presented by youth and vocation ministry.
First of all, closeness and accompaniment. Young people want us close. Youth and vocation ministry requires accompaniment and this involves closeness, making oneself present in the life of the young, like Jesus with the disciples of Emmaus (see Lk 24.15). Young people want to have you as fellow travelers, to search together for the "wells of living water" where they can satisfy the thirst for fullness that so many of them feel (see Jn 4,6-15).
Closeness is the only thing that can guarantee a fruitful relationship - evangelically speaking - with young people. Open your homes and communities to young people, so that they can share your prayer and fraternity, but above all open your hearts to them. That they feel loved for what they are, as they are. Be for the young of the big brothers with whom they can talk, whom they can trust. Listen to them, talk to them, make discernment together. This one is tired! And this is the price: your tiredness. Let them feel that you really love them and for this you can offer them the high measure of love. What is the high measure of love? Holiness, a journey of Christian life that goes against the current like that of the Beatitudes (see Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, 63-94).
Second, outgoing. There is a need to meet young people, not only those close to them, but also those far away (see Ephesians 2:17). Don't limit yourself to accepting those who come to you, but also going to meet those who have moved away. Welcome them as they are. Never despise their limits. Support them and help them as far as possible. And, after meeting them, there is a need to listen to them, to call them, to arouse the desire to move to go beyond the comforts in which they rest (see Preparatory document of the Synod on young people, III, 1); and we also need "the courage, affection and delicacy necessary to help the other to recognize the truth and the deceptions or pretexts" (Christus vivit, 293).
I encourage you to walk with them, coming out of prefabricated patterns - please, prefabricated pastorals do not go! -, without forgetting that, especially with the young, one must be persevering, sow and wait patiently for the seed to grow and one day, when the Lord wishes, bear fruit. Your job is to sow, God will make you grow and maybe others will reap the fruits. Your youth ministry is dynamic, participatory, cheerful, full of hope, capable of taking risks, trusting. And always full of God, which is what young people need most to fill their yearning for fullness. A pastoral care full of Jesus, which is the only Way that leads them to the Father, the only Truth that satisfies their thirst, the only Life for which it is worth leaving everything (see Jn 14: 6; 1, 35-51).
And all this why? Because they are saints. This is the motivation, the strength of our entire religious life, and also of our action with young people: bringing them to God. Faced with the temptation of resignation, evangelical boldness is asked in the pastoral care of youth and vocation to throw networks ( see Lk 5: 5), although it may not seem the most appropriate time or time. Faced with a sleepy, sleepy and tired life, you are asked to stay awake to be able to wake up; you are asked to be prophets of hope and novelty, prophets of joy with your own life, knowing that the best youth and vocation ministry is to live the joy of your own vocation. And nobody should be excluded from this. A few weeks ago I read a letter - I believe it was made public - of a prisoner. The letter thus begins: "Dear Fra Cristoforo". In prison he found the betrothed and began to read them, and saw that this Fra Cristoforo had done the same things he had done. From there began the restlessness, the anxiety ..., and this prisoner is waiting for the moment to leave prison to enter a seminary. God calls everywhere, God does not make people's preferences, he calls everyone. Be brave!
Dear brothers, let no one steal your ability to dream and to prophesy! Let's break our fears! Let us stand up! Young people, near and far, await us. May you be accompanied by my Apostolic Blessing for you and for all the brothers of the Order, for the members of the Trinitarian Family and all the collaborators. And you, please, pray for me, I need it. Thank you!