Pope Francis today received in audience participants in the General Chapter of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy (Mercedarians), on the eighth centenary of the Order.
Here is a ZENIT translation of the Pope’s address.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I welcome you and I thank Father Pablo Bernardo Ordone for his words. I entrust to the Lord the works of this chapter assembly and the good projects planned for this six-year period, entrusting to the maternal protection of Our Lady of Mercy the new government team that will result from your deliberation.
You are addressing this General Chapter, which is opening to the forthcoming celebration of the eighth centenary of the Order, with the motto ”Mercy: Memory and Prophecy in the Peripheries of Freedom.” A memory that evokes the great achievements accomplished in these eight centuries: the work of the redemption of captives, the daring mission in the New World, as well as the many members distinguished for their sanctity and learning that adorn your history. There is much, certainly, to remember, and it does us good to remember.
However, this memory must not be limited to an exposition of the past, but it must be a serene and conscious act that enables us to evaluate our achievements without forgetting our limitations and, above all, to address the challenges that humanity poses to us. This Chapter can be a privileged occasion for a sincere and profitable dialogue, which does not stay in a glorious past, but which examines the difficulties met in that journey, the vacillations and also the errors. The true life of the Order must be sought in the constant effort to adapt and renew itself, in order to be able to give a generous answer to the real needs of the world and of the Church, being faithful to the enduring patrimony of which you are the depositories.
With this spirit, we can really speak of prophecy, we cannot do so otherwise, because to be a prophet is to lend our voice to the eternal Word, forgetting ourselves so that it is God who manifests His omnipotence in our weakness. The prophet is someone sent, an anointed one; he has received a gift of the Spirit for the service of the Holy People faithful of God. You have also received a gift, and you have been consecrated for a mission, which is a work of mercy: to follow Christ taking the Good News of the Gospel to the poor and the liberation of captives (cf. Luke 4:18). Dear brothers, our religious profession is a gift and a great responsibility, as we hold it in earthen vessels. Let us not trust in our own strength, but entrust ourselves always to divine mercy. Vigilance, perseverance in prayer, in the cultivation of the interior life are the pillars that sustain us. If God is present in your lives, the joy of taking His Gospel will be your strength and your joy. God has also called us to serve Him in the Church and in the Community. Support one another in this common endeavor; may fraternal communion and concord in good action, rather than words, witness Jesus’ message and His love of the Church.
The prophet is able to go to the peripheries, which must be approached with little baggage. The Spirit is a swift wind that pushes us forward. To evoke what moved your Fathers and where they directed you, commits you to follow in their steps. They were able to remain as hostages with the poor, the marginalized, the discarded of society, to bring them consolation, suffering with them, completing in their own flesh what is lacking in Christ’s Passion (Colossians 1:24) And this, day after day, in perseverance, in the silence of a life dedicated freely and generously. To follow them is to assume that, to liberate, we must become little, unite ourselves to the captives, in the certainty that in this way not only will we fulfil our purpose to redeem but we also will find true freedom, as in the poor and the captives, we recognize our Redeemer present.
On the eighth centenary of the Order, do not fail to “proclaim the Lord’s Year of Grace” to all those to whom you are sent: to the persecuted because of their faith and to those deprived of freedom; to the victims of trafficking and to the young people of your schools; to those employed in your works of mercy and to the faithful of the parishes and the missions that have been entrusted to you by the Church. To each one of them and to the entire Mercedarian Family goes my blessing and also my request that they not forget to pray for me.
[Original text: Spanish]
[Translation by ZENIT]