Pope Francis says "We must see the miseries of our world as the reason for our apostolate and not as an obstacle."
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE GENERAL CHAPTER OF THE CHILDREN OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE
AND DELEGATION OF THE CHARISMATIC FAMILY FOUNDED BY SAN LUIGI ORIONE
Saturday, June 25, 2022
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome!
I greet Don Tarcisio Gregorio Vieira, reconfirmed Superior General of the Sons of Divine Providence, and all of you, dear members of the Orionine charismatic family. It is a "single plant with many branches", made up of men and women religious, secular consecrated women and laity, all nourished by the same charisma of St. Luigi Orione, whose 150th anniversary of his birth occurs this year, which took place in Pontecurone (Alessandria) , June 23, 1872.
I bless the Lord with you, who from that seed - as the Gospel says - made a large plant grow, which gives welcome, shelter and refreshment to many people, especially those most in need and unhappy. And while you are thanking and celebrating, you feel the strength of the charism alive, you feel the commitment that it requires to be followers and family members of a great witness of Christ's charity; the commitment to make present, with your life and your action, the fire of this charity in today's world, marked by individualism and consumerism, efficiency and appearance.
Thus wrote Don Orione at the beginning of the twentieth century: «We live in a century that is full of frost and death in the life of the spirit; all closed in on himself, he sees nothing but pleasures, vanities and passions and the life of this earth, and no more ». And he asked himself: «Who will give life to this dead generation to the life of God, if not the breath of the charity of Jesus Christ? [...] We must therefore ask God not for a spark of charity, [...] but for a furnace of charity to inflame us and to renew the cold and icy world, with the help and grace that the Lord will give us "( Writings 20, 76-77).
You, Sons of Divine Providence, as the theme of your recently concluded General Chapter, have chosen an expression typical of Don Orione's apostolic ardor: "Let us make the sign of the cross and throw ourselves trustfully into the fire of the new times for the good of the people. »(Writings 75, 242). It takes courage! Please, may the fire not remain only in your home and in your communities, and not even only in your works, but may you "throw yourselves into the fire of the new times for the good of the people".
Jesus said of himself: "I have come to cast fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already lit!" (Lk 12:49). The fire of Christ is good fire, it is not to destroy, as James and John would have liked when they asked: "Lord, do you want us to say that a fire comes down from heaven and consumes them?" (Lk 9:54). No, it's not that fire. But Jesus rebuked the two brothers. The of him is a fire of love, a fire that lights up people's hearts, a fire that gives light, warms and vivifies.
To the extent that Christ's charity burns in you, your presence and your action become useful to God and to men, because - wrote St. Louis - "the cause of Christ and of the Church serves only with a great charity of life and works, charity opens the eyes to faith and warms the hearts of love towards God. Works of heart and Christian charity are needed! And everyone will believe you "(Letters I, 181; Writings 4, 280).
Rightly, in the General Chapter, you placed the relationship with God, the heart of your identity, at the center of renewal. The fire is nourished by receiving it from God with the life of prayer, meditation on the Word, the grace of the Sacraments. Don Orione was a man of action and contemplation. For this he exhorted: "Let us throw ourselves at the foot of the Tabernacle", and also: "Let us throw ourselves at the foot of the cross", because "loving God and loving our brothers and sisters are two flames of one sacred fire" (Letters II, 397).
Dear brothers and sisters of the Orionine Family, today being missionary disciples, sent by the Church, is not first of all a doing something, an activity; it is an apostolic identity continuously nourished in the fraternal life of the religious community or of the family. "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them" (Mt 18:20). It is important to take care of the quality of community life, relationships, common prayer: this is already apostolate, because it is witness. If there is coldness among us, or, worse, judgments and gossip, what apostolate do we want to do? Please, no chatter. Chattering is a worm, a worm that corrupts, a worm that kills the life of a community, of a religious order. No chatter. I know it is not easy, this winning the chatter is not easy and someone asks me: "But how can it be done?". There is a very good, very good medicine: biting your tongue. It will do you good!
The witness of love in the religious community and in the family is the confirmation of the evangelical announcement, it is the "trial by fire". "A beautiful, strong community - these are the words of Don Orione - and where full harmony of hearts and peace lives, cannot fail to be dear, desirable and edifying to all" (Letters I, 418). And it also becomes attractive with new vocations.
Finally, I would like to return to that exhortation to "throw yourself into the fire of the new times". This requires looking at today's world as apostles, that is, with discernment but with sympathy, without fear, without prejudice, with courage; looking at the world as God does, feeling our pains, joys, hopes of humanity. The guiding Word remains that of God to Moses: «I have observed the misery of my people […]. I went down to free him "(Ex 3: 7-8). We must see the miseries of our world as the reason for our apostolate and not as an obstacle. Your Founder used to say: «It is not enough to whimper about the sadness of the times and of men, and it is not enough to say: O Lord! O Lord! No regrets of a bygone age. No sad spirit, no closed spirit. Forward with serene and imperturbable industriousness ». (Writings 79, 291). And no chatter, I repeat.
Our time asks us to open ourselves to new frontiers, to discover new forms of mission. Let us look to Mary, the Virgin of initiative and concern, who leaves quickly from home and sets out on the street to go and help her cousin Elizabeth. And there, in her service, Mary had confirmation of the plan of God's providence. I like to pray to her as "Our Lady in haste": she wastes no time, she goes and goes.
Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for coming, and above all for what you are and what you do. I cordially bless all of you and your communities. And please, I ask you to pray for me. Thank you.