SPEECH OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCISCO
TO THE CHAPTERS OF THE CONGREGATION OF JESUS-MARY
Hall of the Consistory
Saturday, October 5, 2019
I greet you with joy in the celebration of your 37th General Chapter, and with you I want to extend this greeting to the sisters who work for the world and to all the members of the Jesus-Mary Family. I also want to remind the little ones, the children of your schools and colleges. The theme you have chosen for this Chapter is: “On the road, with hope, as an apostolic family”, having the Visitation of Mary as a biblical icon (cf. Lk 1,39-56).
Saint Claudina Thévenet began this apostolic work on the small, on poverty. In these 200 years it has spread fruitfully throughout the world, until being present today in 28 countries, 4 continents. This story tells us about a walk without rest. Always on the way, like Mary in the Visitation, attentive to the needs. Walking in a hurry, but not anxious. Always on the way, with joy and hope, to be able to communicate to all the goodness and love of God. In this sense I would like to suggest three paths to continue walking; and I take you from the prayer that served you for the Congregation of the General Chapter.
The first path is to witness the merciful goodness of God. The name of God is mercy. This has been the founding experience of Saint Claudina, the knowledge of the goodness of God, merciful who forgives. From that day in which she herself witnessed the execution of her own brothers and the message that they entrusted to her: "Claudina, forgive as we forgive", your Founder, knew how to look at reality from God that is good and loves people with A love without conditions. Once when I talked about this, then came a person who had heard this message of mercy and said: God is always a loser, always loses. And yes, it seems that yes, he is not interested in winning, he is interested in winning. That is his mercy. God looks at us and we experience his mercy; with his goodness he changes reality by loving her. It would be good in these moments of the Chapter to review and remember your life, your vocation, mission in light of this gaze, to continue being touched by God, present in the miseries of our time. Only with this look are all things new; Only by letting us look for the Lord, like the Virgin Mary (cf. Lc 1,48), can we look at reality with the eyes of God and be his witnesses, because the gaze of God changes, changes us, educates, educates our gaze .
We need to look at our world with sympathy, without fear, without prejudice, with courage, as God sees it, feeling our pains, joys, hopes of our brothers; from there announce with life and the word, and make "know and love Jesus and Mary", with the creativity of diakonia and works of apostolate. "How good is God!" Were Claudina's last words. Let these words also be yours on your paths, every day.
The second path to walk is the life of fraternity and solidarity. You are an apostolic body that lives in fraternal community. In this way they encourage each other to follow Jesus and raise new vocations. It is necessary to delve into the community with increasingly evangelical relationships, so that they become increasingly apostolic fraternities, sisters on mission, capable of “infecting” other young women so that they can follow this form of consecration. For this it is necessary to open up to the encounter with young people, do not be afraid of them, do not be afraid of them: through your testimony of life you will be able to see in you something different that the world cannot offer you: the joy of following Christ. But joy as one of the notes of one's life, right? It makes me sad, I confess, when I see sad or sad religious, with a wake face, funeral face. And I want to say: Tell me, what did you have for breakfast today, coffee with milk or oil? Or vinegar?
The joy, please, that look with peace, with smile, comes from within, and escape from spirituality: "yes, but". The "yes, but." The "but", that is a path to sadness always.
Fraternal life in community is prophecy for the world. Your Founder told you "may charity be like the girl of your eyes" (Positio, p. 231) so that this great desire opens fraternal relationships of communion that may be a sign of the Gospel. This same path opens to solidarity with the rest of our brothers, sharing how much they are and how much they have. In collaboration with the Family of Jesus-Mary and their collaborators in the mission, continue to build networks of communion and solidarity. It is treated as they said in prayer for the chapter "love and serve without conditions."
The last path I would like to point out is to discern and have the courage to go beyond. Always more there. There is a very nice song that young people usually sing that is: "Beyond borders." Do you know him And young people sing that, right? Always more there. The Church is a missionary, because God is the first missionary. God opens in exit, enters the world and assumes the human. You participate in this mission with your life and your apostolate, for testimony is paramount in evangelization (cf. Paul VI, Exhort. Ap. Evangelii nuntiandi, 69). But as love is demonstrated in works, do not get tired of making known the goodness of God through the apostolic works that you do. It must be remembered that it started when Saint Claudina welcomed two abandoned orphans on the porch of the parish of Saint Nizier, but the new scenarios are also asking creatively for new ways to evangelize and mission, and to make Jesus known and Maria. Do not be afraid, if you go in community, if you have the support of fraternity, and know how to discern, there is no need to fear. Because a beautiful thing in us is that when we are wrong, we have the possibility of going back. When we go with the community, with the Lord and with good discernment.
It is necessary to go out "outside the door" (Acts 16:13), as your Founder did, but not to make a moving memory, but to find the charism in statu nascenti again. That is, the charism just born. Discernment is required to know how to go further and ask whether our apostolates and our works, our presences, ministries respond or not to what the Holy Spirit asked of Saint Claudina and the Congregation throughout these 200 years of history. I encourage you to discern, evaluate and choose to be able to respond better and better to what God wants from you today. Our time also asks us to discover new means of evangelization and mission, but always as an apostolic body; because the lonely commitments and tiredness have no future. It may be that some of you have a special vocation to open a gap in a certain way. And she alone has it. Let him go there, physically alone, but with the whole community behind. Do not leave any alone.
Dear Sisters, I thank you for all the good you do in the Church and in the world, and also this fraternal encounter. May the Virgin Mother accompany you on this path so that you can continue to find our brothers and sisters, as did Saint Claudina. And please, don't forget to pray for me. Thank you.