“Awaken the world, illuminate the future! Always with a smile, with joy, with hope.”
Pope Francis gave this encouragement when receiving in audience the participants in the General Chapter of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master at around noon today, May 22, 2017, in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.
In his address, he expressed his hope that the General Chapter bear abundant evangelical fruits in the life of their institute, “fruits, first of all, of communion.”
Bear Abundant Evangelical Fruits
“Open to the Holy Spirit, Master of diversity. Master of unity in difference, you walk in communion together that respects plurality, that leads you to tirelessly weave unity in legitimate differences, taking account also of the fact that you are present in different countries and cultures.”
“Cultivating care and reciprocal acceptance; practicing fraternal correction and respect for the weaker sisters; growing in the spirit of living together; banishing from the community all divisions, envy, gossip; saying this with frankness and charity. Yes, and you can live like this. All the other things I mentioned before destroy, destroy the Congregation.”
He also encouraged them to join “fruits of communion with the brothers and sisters of the Pauline Family” and “fruits of communion” with other charisms.
Francis invited them to cultivate dialogue and communion with other charisms, and to combat any form of self-centeredness.
“It is ugly when a consecrated man or woman is self-centered, always looking at him or herself in the mirror.”
“It is ugly,” he said.
Apostolate of the Ear
Francis also encouraged them to bear fruits of communion with the men and women of our time. “Listen to the sisters. I think one of the most important apostolates of today is the apostolate of the ear: listen.”
“Never tire of exercising continually the art of listening and sharing.”
To this end it is necessary to maintain a climate of discernment , to recognize what belongs to the Spirit and what is contrary to Him. Before us there opens up a world of possibilities. The culture in which we are immersed presents all of them as valid, all of them as good, but if we do not want to fall victim to the culture of zapping and, at times, a culture of death, we must increase our habitus of discernment. Never tire of asking, personally and in the community, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”, “What do you want us to do?”.
The Chapter is also a time to renew obedience to the Spirit that inspires prophecy . This is an indispensible value for consecrated life.
Prophecy of Joy
As consecrated women you live firsthand the prophecy of joy .
“This is in the first place. In the first place there is the prophecy of joy, the joy of the Gospel. It is a prophecy.”
The world today is in need of this: that joy that arises from the encounter with Christ in a life of personal and community prayer, in daily listening to the Word, in the encounter with brothers and sisters, in a happy fraternal life in the community, including fragility, and in the embrace of the flesh of Christ in the poor.”
Prophets of a joy that is born of feeling loved and therefore forgiven.
Joy, Francis noted, is a beautiful reality in the life of many consecrated persons, but it is also a great challenge “for all of us.”
“A sad discipleship is a sad discipleship!”
At the same time, this joy that fills your hearts and manifests itself on your faces will lead you to go out to the peripheries, participating in the joy of the Church, that is evangelization.
“But to do this there must be a true joy, not counterfeit joy. Do not falsify joy. Evangelization, when you are convinced that Jesus is the Good News, is joy and gladness for all. This joy drives away the cancer of resignation, fruit of the lethargy that withers the soul.”
Prophets of Hope
“I encourage you also to be prophets of hope, with eyes turned to the future, where the Spirit pushes you, to continue to do great things with you.”
Like all disciples of Jesus, we know that hope is for us a responsibility, because we have been called to respond in hope to whomsoever asks its reason.
“Only hope enables us to walk the road of life, only hope makes us capable of the future. Jesus Christ and His hope (cf. 1 Timothy 1:1): we have placed our trust in Him (cfr. 2 Timothy 1:12), and with the strength of the Holy Spirit, we can be prophets of hope.”
Illuminate the Future
“With this trust and this strength, I repeat to you: do not join the prophets of misfortune, who do great damage to the Church and to consecrated life; do not give in to the temptation of torpor – like the Apostles in Gethsemane – and desperation.
“Strengthen your vocation as “morning sentinels” (cf. Isaiah 21:11-12) to be able to announce to others the coming of the dawn. Awaken the world, illuminate the future! Always with a smile, with joy, with hope.”
Pope Francis concluded, thanking them for all they do, asking the Lord to bless and Mary to protect them, and reminding them to pray for him.
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