Friday, October 25, 2019

Greetings for the Servants of Mary

At noon local time today (6:00am EDT), the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience those who are participating in the General Chapter of the Order of Servants of Mary which is taking place from 7 to 27 October 2019 at the House of the Divine Master in Ariccia.

Speech of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
addressed to members of the Servants of Mary

Dear brothers!

You are now at the end of your 214th General Chapter, and you have wished to meet the Successor of Peter in order to be confirmed in faith and encouraged in your commitment to bearing witness and to serving.  I greet all of you with affection and I thank your Prior General for his words.

The Order of the Servants of Mary had its origins and its initial development in thirteenth-century Florence, a lively and warlike city. You was born from a group of men: the Seven Holy Founders, who were dedicated to commerce and volunteering. However, your religious family places the germinal nucleus of your charism in your special consecration to the Virgin Mary, who is recognized as the true foundress. You live your personal consecration to Mary as a daily commitment to assimilate her style, as it is handed down from Sacred Scripture. The theological-pastoral study of the figure of Mary of Nazareth also becomes an integral part of a vocation for you, which you transmit in particular through teaching in the Pontifical Theological Marianum Faculty.

Another area in which you witness the Gospel, inspired by the Holy Virgin, is that of your apostolate and mission. Here you strive to imitate Mary, drawing inspiration from four of her attitudes. When -after the Annunciation - she went to help Elizabeth; when at Cana in Galilee, she obtained from Jesus the sign of water changed into wine for the joy of the newlyweds; when she remained full of faith and pain at the foot of the cross of Jesus; and finally when she prayed in the cenacle with the Apostles as they waited for the Holy Spirit. Starting from these four Marian moments, you are constantly called to deepen your founding charism, to actualize it, so that you can respond with hope to the challenges that the contemporary world launches at the Church and also at your Order. The theme that has guided your General Chapter: Servants of Hope in a changing world expresses precisely this purpose, which becomes a trace of your journey and your mission for the coming years.

From this perspective, I would like to recall an important aspect of your history, which can be paradigmatic. The Seven Holy Founders knew how to live both the mountain and the city. In fact, from Florence they climbed Mount Senario, where they encountered the profound experience of the encounter with Him who is Hope, Jesus Christ. Later they came down from the mountain, establishing their home in Cafaggio, immediately outside the walls of Florence, on the outskirts of the city, to engage in daily life, in witness and in service to society and to the Church.

In the light of the Gospel passage of the Transfiguration (cf Lk 9:28-36), you would do well to read this journey of your Founders again. Strengthened by the experience of God, they descended more deeply into history and were renewed interiorly. And so they could live the Gospel by responding to the needs of the people, their brothers and sisters who asked to be welcomed, supported, accompanied, helped along the path of their lives. Going back to their unique human and vocational experience, you too become more and more men of hope, capable of dispelling the fears that sometimes torment the heart, even in a religious community. I am thinking, for example, of the shortage of vocations in certain areas of the world; as well as the effort to be faithful to Jesus and to the Gospel in some community or social contexts. The Lord, alone, allows you to carry everywhere, through the holiness of your life, a presence of hope and a look of trust, identifying and valuing the many sprouts of positivity that emerge. We think of vocations in the new territories in which you are present. I urge you to enjoy the beauty, cultural and spiritual novelty of so many peoples to whom you have been sent to announce the Gospel.

Being men of hope means cultivating dialogue, communion and fraternity, which are profiles of holiness. In fact, sanctification is a community journey, to be experienced two by two. This is reflected by some holy communities (Gaudete et exsultate, 141).

Being men of hope means finding the courage to face some of today's challenges. I am thinking, for example, of using the means of communication in a responsible way, which convey positive news, but which can also destroy people's dignity, weaken spiritual impetus, hurt fraternal life. It is about educating oneself to an evangelical use of these tools. Another challenge to be taken up and managed is that of multiculturalism, which you in fact faced during this Chapter. There is no doubt that Catholic religious communities have become laboratories in this sense, certainly not without problems and yet offering everyone a clear sign of the Kingdom of God, to which all peoples are invited, through the one Gospel of salvation. It is not easy to live human differences in harmony, but it is possible and it is a cause for joy if we make room for the Holy Spirit, who, as they say, goes there.

May your communities also be a sign of universal brotherhood, schools of acceptance and integration, places of openness and relationships. With this testimony you will help keep away the divisions and foreclosures, the prejudices of superiority or inferiority, the cultural, ethnic and linguistic enclosures, the walls of separation. And your communities will be so to the extent that you are men of communion, fraternity and unity, as your Founders were.

May the Virgin Mary always maintain the joy of the Gospel within you. I cordially bless you and all the brothers of the Order, as well as the communities entrusted to you. And I ask you to please pray for me.
Testo originale nella lingua italiana

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