Below is a ZENIT working translation of the Pope’s address to participants of the 55th General Chapter of the Order of Augustinian Recollects in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace this morning:
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Dear Brothers: I welcome you and thank the Father General for the kind words he addressed to me on behalf of the whole Family of Augustinian Recollects. And as he himself said, you have taken as the motto for this 55th General Chapter a prayer that comes from the depth of Saint Augustine’s heart: “All our hope is in your mercy. Give us what you command and command what you will” (Confessions, 10, 29, 40).
This invocation leads us to be men of hope, namely, with horizons, capable of putting all our trust in God’s mercy, conscious that we are incapable of addressing, with our strength alone, the challenges that the Lord presents to us. We know that we are little and unworthy; but our security and joy is in God. He never disappoints and He it is who leads us by mysterious paths with a Father’s love.
In this General Chapter, you have wished to review and place before God the life of the Order, with its yearnings and challenges, so that it is He who gives you light and hope. To seek renewal and impetus it is necessary to turn to God and to ask Him: “Give us what you command. We ask for the new commandment that Jesus gave us: “That you love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34). It is what we implore Him to give us: His love so that we are capable of loving. God gives us this love in many ways; God is always giving us this love and He makes himself present in our life. We look at the past and give thanks for the many gifts received. And we make this historical review by the hand of the Lord, because it is He who gives us the key to interpret it. It is not just about making history, but about discovering the Lord’s presence in each event, in every step of life. The past helps us to return again to the charism, and to relish it in all its freshness and integrity. It also gives us the possibility to underscore the difficulties that have arisen and how they have been surmounted, to be able to address the present challenges, looking to the future. This path beside Jesus will become a prayer of thanksgiving and interior purification.
The memory, grateful for His love in our past, spurs us to live the present with passion and in an ever more courageous way; then we can ask Him: “Command what you will.” To ask for this implies freedom of spirit and availability. To let oneself be commanded by God means that He is the Master of our life and there is no other. And we know well that, if God does not have the place that corresponds to Him, others will do so for Him. And when the Lord is at the center of our life everything is possible; failure or any other evil does not count, because it is He who is at the center, and it is He who directs us.
He asks us at this moment in a special way to be His “creators of communion.” We are called to create, with our presence in the midst of the world, a society capable of recognizing the dignity of every person and of sharing the gift that each one is to the other. With our testimony of a living and open community to what the Lord commands us, through the breath of His Spirit, we will be able to respond to the needs of each person with the same love with which God has loved us. So many people are waiting for us to go out to encounter them and to look at them with that tenderness that we have experienced and received from our relation with God. This is the power we bear; not the one of our own ideals and projects, but the strength of His mercy, which transforms and gives life.
Dear Brothers, I invite you to maintain Saint Augustine’s dream with a renewed spirit, to live as brothers, “with one heart and one soul” (Rule 1,2), which reflects the ideal of the first Christians and is a living prophecy of communion in this world of ours, so that there is no division, no conflicts or exclusion, but concord reigns and dialogue is promoted.
I place under the protection of our Mother, the Virgin Mary, the Order’s intentions and plans; may she guide and protect you. And do not forget to pray for me, and transmit my blessing to all the family of Augustinian Recollects. Thank you very much.[Original text: Spanish] [Translation by ZENIT]