Brigittines Urged to Be "Specialists of the Spirit"

John Paul II Addresses General-Chapter Participants

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 9, 2004 ( John Paul II called on the Brigittine Sisters to be «specialists of the Spirit» and tireless builders of «the great ecumenism of holiness.»

The Pope made his appeal today during an audience granted to the participants of the general chapter of the Order of the Holy Savior of St. Bridget, founded by the saint in Sweden in 1370. The order has about 600 women religious in various countries.

Elizabeth Hesselblad, beatified in 2000, reconstituted the order in 1911 and recovered its contemplative tradition, among other things.

The theme of the general chapter is «Going Back to Our Roots for a Renewal of Religious Life.» Commenting on the theme, the Holy Father said: «All authentic renewal requires a wise recovery of the spirit of our roots in order to turn the fundamental charism into apostolic choices appropriate for the times.»

«For this reason, faithful to the special monastic vocation that distinguishes the Brigittine family, you are concerned with emphasizing the absolute primacy that God must occupy in the life of every one of you and your communities,» he added.

«Above all, you are called to be specialists of the Spirit, contemplative souls full of the fire of Divine Love, and constantly dedicated to prayer,» John Paul II stressed.

«Only if you are specialists of the Spirit, like St. Bridget, will you be able to faithfully instill in this age the charism of evangelical firmness and unity, inherited from Blessed Elizabeth Hesselblad,» the Pope said.

Saying that the great challenge of the third millennium is «to make the Church the home and school of communion,» the Holy Father encouraged the Brigittines to «promote a spirituality of communion» and to be «tireless builders everywhere of ‘the great ecumenism of holiness.'»

«Your ecumenical activity is especially appreciated because it is carried out in Northern Europe, where there are few Catholics and it is important to promote dialogue with our brothers and sisters of other Christian confessions,» he said.

«Through the hospitality and warm welcome that you offer in your houses, you will be able to bear witness to the merciful love of God toward human beings and the desire for unity that Christ left his disciples,» the Pope added.

John Paul II addressed a special greeting to the general abbess, Mother Tekla Famiglietti, who has held the post for 24 years and was reconfirmed by the general chapter for another six-year term.

Mother Famiglietti said to the Pope: «Our unconditional love for your person, Holy Father, and our unlimited faithfulness to the Church and the magisterium may be the cause of envy and diabolical machinations,» but «nothing and no one will be able to break the profound communion and the solid unity among all the sisters of the order, nor distance us from you, Holy Father, or from the Church.»

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