Pope Francis says "We have forgotten the prayer of adoration...To worship. In silence, before the Lord, before the Blessed Sacrament, adore..." to Religious Sisters

Hall of the Consistory
Friday, August 26, 2022

Dear sisters, good morning and welcome!
I thank the Superior General for the greeting and for the presentation of this Chapter. And I thank the one who leaves, after eight years, and returns to the country. I would like to share with you some reflections suggested by the theme that guides your work.
First of all, women of the Word. Like Mary. Because women always speak, but we must speak like Mary, which is another thing. She is the woman of the Word, she is the disciple. By looking at her, and also by dialoguing with her in prayer, you can always learn anew what it means to be "women of the Word". Which has nothing to do with "chattering women"! please do not confuse this, there is no chatter between you! The elderly can witness to the young an amazement that does not diminish, a gratitude that grows with age, an acceptance of the Word that becomes ever fuller, more concrete, more embodied in life. And young women can witness to the elderly the enthusiasm of discoveries, the impulses of the heart which, in silence, learns to resonate with the Word, to allow itself to be surprised, even questioned, in order to grow in the school of the Master. And the middle-aged ones, what do they do? They are more at risk - beware! -, both because that is an age of transition, with some pitfalls - the crises of 40, 45, you know them -; but above all because it is the phase of greater responsibility and it is easy to slip into activism, even without realizing it. And then we are no longer women of the Word, but women of the computer, women of the telephone, women of the agenda, and so on. So, this motto is welcome for all! To go back to the school of Mary, re-center on the Word and be women "who love without measure". The word, not activism, is at the center.
This is the second element of the theme: to love without measure. There is a saying that says that "the measure of love is to love without measure". It is a capacity that comes from the Holy Spirit; it does not come from us, from our effort; it comes from God, who always loves without measure. It always awaits us. God's patience with us moves me. Look how patient this Father we have is! This quality of being without measure is proper to God's love; and yet this love - says St. Paul - "has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Rom 5: 5). Then it is possible to love without measure by making room for the Spirit and his action in our life. And this is holiness. Women of the Spirit, like Mary. Let the Spirit carry you forward. Hearts open to the Spirit.
In fact, the theme of your Chapter speaks of “reconfiguration to a life of holiness” - reconfiguration: the word is beautiful, I like it - and adds: “in and for the mission, today”. Holiness and mission are constitutive dimensions of the Christian life and are inseparable from each other. We can say it briefly like this: every saint, every saint is a mission (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, 19).
The testimony of Magdalene of Canossa demonstrates this well. She felt called to give herself entirely to God, but at the same time she also felt she had to be close to the poor. In her heart as a young woman there was this double need, this double belonging: to God and to the poor, who in her case were the people of the peripheral areas of Verona. Attention: it is the Spirit who guides her, through concrete situations, and she lets herself be guided; she seeks her way but always remaining docile. Docility: nothing to do with whim, or stubbornness: I want to do this ... No, docility to the Spirit. This is the secret! And so the charity of Christ shapes his heart, shapes his life; on the model of the Virgin Mary, who she said "yes" from the beginning, fully, and then she made the pilgrimage in faith following her Son and became fully a mother under the Cross. Magdalene's life was "configured" to the holiness of Christ, on the model of Mary, in the concrete missionary form dictated by the reality in which she lived. And this "yes" of her, said not in words but in deeds, was generative: the Lord sent her some companions with whom to share the journey of holiness and mission. And so you have come to this moment.
I liked the number of novices you have: this indicates fruitfulness, fruitfulness of the congregation. It is a number of fertility. Too bad there are few people here in Europe, but it is the European demographic winter: instead of children they prefer to have dogs, cats, which is a bit like programmed affection: I program affection, they give me affection without problems. What if there is pain? Well, there is the veterinarian who intervenes, period. And this is a bad thing. Please help families have children. It is a human problem, and also a patriotic problem.
Dear Sisters, you want to "re-configure" yourselves today according to this form of life. And the secret is always the same: to let oneself be guided by the Holy Spirit to love God and the poor. But "today": it is the today of the Church, it is the today of society, or rather, of the various societies in which you are present. With those situations of poverty, with those faces that ask for closeness, compassion and tenderness. “Ah, what a new thing you are saying, Father!”. No, this is God's style. God always acts like this, with closeness, compassion and tenderness. He approaches us, forgives and caresses. All time. God's style is closeness, compassion and tenderness. Don't forget about this. This is very important. I thank you for your courage and your generosity. I thank you for the joy of your hearts and your faces. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit and a clear sign of the Gospel, especially when it transpires in sharing with brothers and sisters in conditions of hardship and marginalization. It is joy. And also in sharing with the community sisters. Yes, because it can happen that one appears full of enthusiasm in the service of the poor and then stays on his own at home and does not live fraternity ... This is not a good sign, because they complain: "This superior ...", that other, that problem ... In the former diocese [Buenos Aires] there was a nun who had this habit of complaining, and everyone called her "Sister Lamentela". None of you are “Sister Complaints”, but the temptation to complain, to criticize… this hurts the body, it hurts. “But, Father, it comes to me!”. And you go, tell the person: "You have this defect"; or if not tell who can remedy it. But what do you gain by going to the sisters and saying: "But look at this, this, this ..."! This is chatter, which hurts so much and kills the Word of God. "It is difficult, Father, to solve the chatter problem, because the comment comes to you ...". Yes, it is like dessert, which comes to you ... But there is a nice remedy, against chatter, and it is very simple: if you are tempted to chat about others, bite your tongue, so it swells up well and you will not be able to speak . Understood? Please, no chatter, this kills community life.
I would like to add two things. The first concerns the community dimension, and I take it from the Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate. «Sanctification is a community journey […]. Living and working with others is undoubtedly a way of spiritual growth. [...] Sharing the Word and celebrating the Eucharist together makes us more brothers [and sisters] and gradually transforms us into a holy and missionary community "(141-142). We don't think about big things, but rather about everyday details. As in the family, it is there that charity is seen: "The community that preserves the small details of love, where the members take care of each other and guard an open and evangelizing space, is the place of the presence of the Risen One who he goes sanctifying according to the Father's plan "(145). Take care of this in the communities: one of the other. And no chatter.
The second emphasis, with which I conclude, is that of the importance of the prayer of adoration. We have forgotten the prayer of adoration: we know what it is, but we don't practice it as much. To worship. To worship. In silence, before the Lord, before the Blessed Sacrament, adore. Prayer of adoration. And here again you can refer to the testimony of your Foundress, who, like other Saints and other Saints of charity, drew apostolic impetus especially from remaining in adoration in the presence of the Lord. Don't be afraid to worship: go there. "But, it's boring ...". Go worship. Let the Lord do. The movement of the spirit that de-centers itself to center itself in Christ - and this is adoration: de-centering - is what makes a service to one's neighbor possible that is not piety or welfare, but openness to others, proximity. , sharing; in a word: charity. Saint Paul would say: "The love of Christ binds us and impels us" (cf. 2 Cor 5:14).
Dear sisters, come on, take courage! I thank you for this visit, and above all for what you are and what you do in the Church. I ask the Holy Spirit to give you light and strength to conclude your Chapter well and for the journey of the Institute. I cordially bless you and all the sisters in every part of the world. And please don't forget to pray for me: pray for, not against!
Source: Vatican.va