Here is a translation of the Message that the Holy Father sent to the Sisters of the Institute of the Minim Franciscans of the Sacred Heart, on the occasion of the opening of the Jubilee Year of the Dies Natalis of the Foundress, Blessed Mother Maria Margherita Caiani (August 8, 2021).
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The Holy Father’s Message
August 8, 2021, will mark the centenary of the birth in Heaven of Blessed Maria Margherita Caiani, who in 1902 gave life to the Institute of Minim Franciscans of the Sacred Heart. I rejoice that you, her spiritual daughters, want to prepare yourselves for this anniversary with the Jubilee Year that begins today, in the Blessed’s Liturgical Memorial. My hope is that this Year may be for the whole Congregation the occasion to remember the life and teachings of the Foundress, as well as these almost one hundred twenty years of journeying, looking also to the challenges of the future. It’s a grace to have a grateful and reconciled heart with one’s yesterday and the eyes full hope for the tomorrow. However, there will be trouble if one seeks refuge in a past that is no longer, or in a tomorrow that is not yet, eschewing the today in which we are called to live and operate. This anniversary calls you to embody in our time the specificity of your charism. May the Holy Spirit, who aroused it at the beginning of the last century, give you the strength to rediscover in it the freshness and capacity to continue to perfume the world with the gift of your life.
You are the Minim Franciscans of the Sacred Heart. I would like to pause briefly on this name.
Calling you Minim, Mother Caiani wished to highlight what your lifestyle must be: the style of littleness. This was then confirmed with the grafting of your Institute on the tree of the great Franciscan Family: you put yourselves in Saint Francis’ school to follow the Lord better, who first “made Himself little, chose this way – that of humbling Himself and of humbling Himself to death on the cross” (Homily of the Mass at Casa Santa Marta, June 23, 2017).
It is a path to follow every day. It is a narrow and tiring path but, if followed to the end, life becomes fruitful. As it was for the Virgin Mary, looked at from on High precisely because She was humble, little (cf. Luke 1:47), and thus She became Mother of God.
Franciscans, Minims, and she specified “of the Sacred Heart,” to root you in the source of Charity. Jesus’ love for us does not dazzle with great special effects that soon vanish, but it’s a concrete and faithful love, made of closeness, of gestures that lift us up and give us dignity and trust. We think of the two disciples of Emmaus that, confused and embittered, were returning home on the evening of Easter (cf. Luke 24:13-35). The Lord came close to them, not as a hero but as a traveling companion; walking, He explained to them “in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (v. 27), and their heart burned with joy, and then He broke the bread, ”then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him” (v. 31). May you be able to love with the Heart of Jesus, with gestures rich in tenderness. And your religious Community is the first place in which to live this simple and concrete love.
“Of the Sacred Heart” is not only a complement, but it says much more: it speaks of a belonging. The Lord has given you life; He has generated you to the faith and has called you to Himself in a consecrated life, attracting you to His Heart. This belonging is manifested in a particular way in prayer. Our whole life is called, with the grace of the Spirit, to become prayer. Therefore we must allow the Lord to remain united to us always. And thus He transforms us, day after day, rendering our heart ever more like His.
There are moments in the day that foster this union with God: the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, Adoration, meditation on the Word, the Rosary, spiritual reading. May your going to the Lord be full of joy, the joy of the child that runs to its parents to embrace and kiss them. This joy attracts and is contagious! Sometimes it seems there are a thousand things more necessary to do, or we feel the effort to be with Jesus. However, as the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus invites us to stay there, close to Him (cf. Mark 14:38). Let us allow the Lord to remain united to us! Driven by the Sacred Heart, you will be mothers for brothers and sisters that you meet “from the cradle to the tomb,” as Blessed Maria Margherita said. You will proclaim joyfully that the Lord looks at us always with mercy; He has a merciful heart.
Your charism also has a dimension of reparation. This is a great service for the good of the world. Sin ruins the work that God created beautifully. You, with your prayers and your small gestures, cast into the field of the world the seed of the love of God, who makes all things new. When a seed falls on the earth, it doesn’t make noise: so are the many works you carry out in Italy, Brazil, Egypt, Sri Lanka, and Bethlehem, especially in favor of children and young people. Gestures that are able to make the world more beautiful, of illuminating it with a ray of God’s love.
Dear Sisters, I wish you a holy and fruitful centenary! I assure you of my remembrance to the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary; and you too, please, don’t forget to pray for me. To you and to all those entrusted to your charity, I impart my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.
Rome, Saint John Lateran, August 8, 2020
Francis[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]