Pope Francis says "In the Church, the Institutes of consecrated life are the custodians of a great patrimony and a rich tradition..." to Religious Sisters



Consistory Hall
Friday, March 18, 2022

 Dear sisters, good morning!

I am happy to welcome you on the occasion of your General Chapter and I address my cordial greeting to each one, starting with the new Superior General, whom I thank for her words. Is she the new one? And the other, where is she? [They answer: she is confirmed!] Ah, confirmed! ... Didn't they chase her away? [laughs, laughs] Ah, good. To you, Mother, and to the Councilors I wish you all the best for the service entrusted to you, and with you I thank the sisters who have completed their office.

In these days you have lived and are concluding the experience of the Chapter, which in the Institutes of consecrated life is a concrete way of implementing synodality: a strong time of fraternity, listening, dialogue, discernment; all in the light and with the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

The guiding Word of your works was that annotation that the evangelist Matthew places at the conclusion of the episode of the Magi: "And they returned by another way ..." (2:12). For another wayIn the case of the Magi it was an alternative path, to escape the plots of King Herod. But "another way" can also mean a different, new way of walking. And in fact you have also referred to the disciples of Emmaus, who, after having met the Lord, returned to Jerusalem completely changed. The road was the same, but it was "another": it was no longer the way of sunset, but that of a new dawn; it was no longer the path of sadness, without hope, without a future, but another, new one, full of amazement, gratitude, even repentance for one's heart that was slow to believe, but light and sweet for the grace given by the Risen Lord .

Like those two disciples, you too, after these days of special encounter with the Master, with all the trust you place in him, can now take the path that he himself indicates to you in the today of the life of the Institute. How beautiful it is, dear sisters, to take another, different path when it is the Lord himself who points it out to us! How beautiful it is to take another path when one discovers it in fraternal dialogue!

In the Church, the Institutes of consecrated life are the custodians of a great patrimony and a rich tradition of synodality: walking together, with Christ and in the Spirit, constitutes the essence of Christian religious life. It is always necessary to draw again from these sources of fraternal participation; do not close in close circles; do not be guided by personal or selfish interests. But always let yourself be guided by the Spirit of love, with docility, repeating the invocation with confidence: "Show us the path to follow all together" (Prayer Adsumus). And this is very different from the temptation of when we are in community: gossip. It's not true? Please, flee from the chatter, flee, I am the plague! The Spirit accompanies us. Thanks to him we can walk together and experience a Church that receives and lives the gift of unity; walking together to do "passionate and embodied work, which imprints a style of communion and participation marked by mission" ( Address at the beginning of the synodal journey , 9 October 2021).

I would like to reflect briefly with you on this style of communion , participation and mission .

From Saint Paola Frassinetti, your Foundress, we can learn communion . She passionately loved Jesus Christ, a love that led her to witness to others the life of communion that she was the first to experience. Even Saint Paola, like other saints and founders and foundresses, was fascinated "by the unity of the Twelve around Jesus, by the communion that distinguished the first community of Jerusalem". And "by giving life to his own community [...] he intended to reproduce those evangelical models, to be with one heart and one soul, enjoy the presence of the Lord (cf.  Perfectae caritatis , 15)" ( Letter for the Year of Consecrated Life , November 21, 2014, 2).

Saint Paola Frassinetti also shows us the way to participate . In fact, she traveled the path from communion to participation, letting herself be disturbed by the "cries", by the shortcomings, by the urgencies of her time, so much so that she felt pushed to overcome herself, to come out of herself. And she, who had not attended school, had the audacity to give life in the Church to a Congregation devoted to education, involving many people and creating spaces for participation. We see this project of her, made fruitful by the Holy Spirit, well inserted today in four continents, where you are present; and you yourselves have enriched yourselves with the intercultural experience, even in community dynamics (cf. CIVCSVA, Instruction Starting afresh from Christ , 7).

Saint Paola has also shown you the way of the mission . You received the charism of “ evangelizing by educating and educating by evangelizing". This is the mission that God has entrusted to you and which has become your mission. And to the extent that you are faithful to this mission you are a generative presence in the Church. It is like this, we all know it from experience, because we have all had the experience of being educated, in the family, in the school, in the parish ... In a certain sense, there is no more generative work than the educational one. And this ever new richness you too carry it in the different realities where you are present. Therefore your charism and your mission are always current, but I would say particularly today, in a cultural and social context that requires a new "educational pact". In fact, “never before is there a need to unite efforts in a broad  educational allianceto form mature people, capable of overcoming fragmentation and contrasts and rebuilding the fabric of relationships for a more fraternal humanity "( Global Educational Pact , 12 September 2019). Therefore, I encourage you to always give the best of yourself again to "revive the commitment for and with the new generations, renewing the passion for a more open and inclusive education, capable of patient listening, constructive dialogue and mutual understanding" ( ibid .).

Dear Sisters, in this moment of history marked by a heavy crisis, first with the Covid-19 pandemic and in these days with a war that wounds everyone, I urge you to continue your journey with enthusiasm, carrying on the educational method of Santa Paola: by the way of the heart and of love , "so that every human being can become the architect of his own destiny" (Enc. Fratelli tutti , 187 ). I cordially bless you and entrust each of you and all your sisters to the Lord and to Mary Most Holy. And I ask you a favor: don't forget to pray for me. Thank you!

I will give you a piece of writing that an Apostolic Nuncio made on chatter: perhaps you do not know what it is ... Please, study it, and no chatter in your communities, because chatter is the plague of a community.

Source: https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2022/03/18/0184/00395.html - Image Screenshot