Pope Francis met participants of the 26th General Chapter

0
780

This morning, Saturday 1 October 2022, in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received the participants in the XXVI General Chapter in the audience.

After the words of the newly elected Superior General, Father Rogério Gomes presented to the Holy Father some of the conclusions of the reflections and the commitment of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer for the next 6 years, the Holy Father addressed the St. Alphonsus’ spiritual sons with a message for the occasion.

Improvised words in Spanish by the Holy Father during the Audience:

I would like to say a few more words spontaneously.

To go on mission, to go out on mission is the missionary dimension, which you mentioned in your speech. I was impressed by your phrase: Lasciare le zone di confort and go on mission. I wonder what are the comfort zones that a Congregation has, that a province has, a community has, and that each one of us has? Ask yourselves that question because it was said that each one accommodates the vows as he wants. And then, he can practice poverty with a bank account, chastity with a companion, and obedience by dialoguing and deciding what he wants. These are very contorted forms. However, the one that always produces deformation in the three vows is comfort. That is where the evil comes in, by trying to be comfortable, to be comfortable, to live a bourgeois life, without going out and going out on mission, and going out on mission, and going out on mission. So each one of us should analyze our temptation of comfort. We all have that temptation. We all have that temptation.

Just now, for example, when they told me: “You have many priests you have to go and talk to”, I thought: “Ufa, I want to go to lunch…”. Comfort, right? (laughs) We all have the temptation of comfort, but each has its own first and last name. Look for the root of comfort in each one of you, which will help you detach yourselves and look at the horizon of the mission. A Redemptorist without this horizon of mission is not understood, even if he has to sit at a desk all his life. The horizon of the mission. Moreover, the ability to go out of one’s comfort zone. So I suggest that, as a fruit of this Chapter, in your prayer during these days, each one of you should ask yourselves: “What is my comfort zone, that which does not allow me to be free, does not allow me to fly? Try to answer that question.

The second thing that characterizes the Redemptorists is that they are moral teachers, and I thank them for that. Above all, I want to thank the Alfonsianum here in Rome. I think the rector is here… He is not here. Give him my regards, because I wanted to tell him that he is doing very well, very well. You are rendering a service to a mature, serious, Catholic moral theology. And with an impressive height, a very great academic height. So I thank you, as Father General, that this Institute continues to help the Church. Teachers of morals, but also teachers of morals in the children’s catechism, in the confessionals….

That people understand what is right and what is wrong, that they know that mercy covers everything, but that this is right and wrong, because one thing is the mercy of God and another is “manganchism”. To have a wide sleeve, that is to say, “everything is fine”… not to distinguish, not to have a moral culture, and that is so important, without reductionism. Today, with great sadness, we have to say that there are commandments that are not fulfilled, are not fulfilled, in the face of these social injustices that exist. An example: is people who squander their money on trips, tourism, parties, luxury restaurants, and people who do not have enough to eat a loaf of bread. So, there is the immorality of thought. The eighth commandment, who fulfills it today? Nowadays, if one can cheat others, take away what is fair, underpay them, pay them fair wages – there are less and less of them – how much work is needed! People accept whatever they can get. In other words, they go against justice, against the truth. Please, teach strong morals there; go on. Charge your conscience. Well, all the commandments. Idolatry, for example, what is it? “No, I do not worship any idol”. You are full of idols yourself, but teach them: “This is idolatry”.

I tell them to continue with this because they are doing it very well, but do not forget that they are formers of conscience. This is what I want to get to, formers of moral conscience. And this is a charisma that you have, that you inherited from the founder, who dedicated himself to these things, among others.

Well, I thank you for what you do in the Church, I really do. I thank you from my soul. I thank you for your thirteen years here… Surviving in Rome is not easy! Thank you. And to you, when it costs you a little, a little cachaça to lift your spirits (laughs).

Now I want to give you my blessing.

[Blessing]

After the blessing the Pope added:

And do not forget to reflect, what is my comfort zone?

_____________________________________________________________________

Address of the Holy Father (original: Italian)

ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE GENERAL CHAPTER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE MOST HOLY REDEEMER (REDEMPTORISTS) – Saturday, 1st October 2022 

The text was prepared and delivered to be read later, the Pope spoke to those present in Spanish

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome! 

I greet with joy all the Redemptorist missionaries present in the 85 countries in which the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer operates. I also greet all those on the path of formation, the Redemptorist religious, the whole charismatic family and the laity associated with the mission. I greet you with affection and I thank the new Superior General, Father Rogério Gomes, for the words he addressed to me. 

Celebrating a General Chapter is not a canonical formality. It is living a Pentecost, which has the capacity to make all things new (cf. Rev 21,5). In the Upper Room the disciples of Jesus had doubts, insecurities, fears, they wanted to remain firm and protected; but the Spirit who blows where he wants (cf. Jn 3: 8) causes them to move, to go out, to go towards the peripheries to bring the kerygma, the beautiful News. 

In these days you are addressing five important themes for your Congregation: identity, mission, consecrated life, formation and governance. These are fundamental themes, connected to each other, to rethink your charism in the light of the signs of the times. This community discernment is rooted in the capacity of each of you to seek the mystery of Christ the Redeemer, which is the reason for your consecration and your service to the men and women who live on the existential peripheries of our history today. It is rooted in the fruitfulness of the Alphonsian charism, as the lymph that nourishes the spiritual life and mission of each one and makes it flourish again. I encourage you to dare, having the Gospel and the Magisterium of the Church as the only boundary. Do not be afraid to take new paths, to dialogue with the world (cf. Const. 19), in the light of your rich tradition of moral theology. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty in the service of the most needy and people who don’t count. 

In your Constitutions, there is a very beautiful expression, where it is said that Redemptorists are willing to face every trial to bring Christ’s redemption to everyone (cf. n. 20). Availability. We do not take this word for granted! It means giving oneself entirely to the mission, with all one’s heart; dies impendere pro redemptis, right up to the last consequences, with the gaze fixed on Jesus who, “despite being in the condition of God […], emptied himself by assuming the condition of a servant, becoming similar to men “(Phil 2: 6-7); and he became a good Samaritan, a servant (cf Lk 10,25-37; Jn 13,1-15). 

Brothers and sisters, the Church and consecrated life are experiencing a unique historical moment in which they have the possibility of renewing themselves in order to respond with creative fidelity to the mission of Christ. This renewal goes through a process of conversion of the heart and mind, of intense metanoia, and also through a change of structures. Sometimes we need to break the old amphorae (cf. Jn 4:28), inherited from our traditions, which have brought a lot of water but have now fulfilled their function. And breaking our jars, full of affection, cultural customs, stories, is not an easy task, it is painful, but it is necessary if we want to drink the new water that comes from the source of the Holy Spirit, the source of all renewal. Those who remain attached to their own certainties risk falling into sclerocardia, which prevents the action of the Spirit in the human heart. Instead, we must not put obstacles to the renewing action of the Spirit, first of all in our hearts and in our lifestyles. Only in this way can we become missionaries of hope! 

Your Constitutions affirm: “The Congregation, always preserving its own charism, must adapt its structures and institutions to the requirements of the apostolic ministry and to those peculiar to each mission” (n. 96). “New wine in new wineskins” (Mk 2:22). «A renewal unable to touch and change the structures and the heart does not lead to a real and lasting change. […] It requires an openness to imagine forms of prophetic and charismatic following, lived in adequate and perhaps unprecedented patterns “. [1] 

In this process of re-imagining and renewing the Congregation, three fundamental pillars must not be forgotten: the centrality of the mystery of Christ, community life and prayer. The testimony and teachings of St. Alphonsus continually remind you to “remain in the love” of the Lord. Without him we can do nothing; remaining in him we bear fruit (cf. Jn 15: 1-9). The abandonment of community life and prayer is the door to sterility in consecrated life, the death of the charism and closure towards the brothers. Instead, docility to the Spirit of Christ pushes us to evangelize the poor, according to the announcement of the Redeemer in the synagogue of Nazareth (cf. Lk 4: 14-19), concretized in the congregation by St. Alphonsus Maria de ‘Liguori. This mission, carried out by your saints, martyrs, blessed and venerable, leads Redemptorists from all over the world to give their lives for the Gospel and to write stories of redemption on the pages of our time. 

I wish the new General Government, the first body for the animation of the apostolic life of the Congregation, humility, unity, wisdom and discernment to guide your Institute in this beautiful and challenging moment in our history. The work is of the Lord, we are only servants who have done what we had to do (cf. Lk 17:10). Those who appropriate the leadership function for a personal interest do not serve the Lord who washed the disciples’ feet, but the idols of worldliness and selfishness. 

Dear brothers, I entrust your Congregation to the protection of the Mother of Perpetual Help, so that you always accompany you as she accompanied her Son at the foot of the cross (cf. Jn 19:25). You are not alone, be loved and guarded children. I pray to the Lord that you may be faithful and persevering in your mission, never forgetting the poorest and most abandoned you serve, and to whom you announce the Good News of the Redemption. I cordially bless you, the sisters and the lay faithful who share your charism. And I ask you to please pray for me. Thank you! 

_______________________________________________________

[1] Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. For new wine, new wineskins. Since Vatican Council II, Consecrated Life and the Challenges Still Open (6 January 2017), n. 3. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email