“Do not be passive in the face of the dramas that many of our contemporaries live, but rather play your part in the struggle for human dignity and respect for the fundamental rights of the person.”
This was the message of Pope Francis when he met with Claretian missionaries in the Vatican on Thursday, September 9.
“Your apostolate must always be that of being close to the people,” added the pontiff. “Be burned by His love, do not be passive, fight for the basic rights of the people,” he said.
“Be moved by the Word of God and don’t lose your sense of humor,” said the pontiff in Spanish.
Addressing participants in the congregation’s general chapter in Rome, the pope also stressed the importance of prayer as the foundation of effective missionary work.
“Do not separate prayer from missionary action: if you want to be true witnesses, do not cease to adore,” he said.
The XXVI General Chapter of the Claretian Missionaries — officially known as the Missionaries, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary — takes place from Aug. 15 to Sept. 12 with the theme “Rooted and audacious.”
On Aug. 30, the chapter re-elected Father Mathew Vattamattam as superior general of the religious community of priests and brothers founded in Spain in 1849 by St. Anthony Mary Claret.
In his written text, the pope challenged the community’s roughly 3,000 members worldwide to imitate their founder, who traveled on foot from mission to mission through his native Catalonia.
“Following the example of Father Claret, you cannot be mere spectators of reality. Take part in it, to transform the realities of sin that you find on the way,” the pope said.
“Let yourselves be touched by the Word of God and the signs of the times, and in the light of the Word and the signs of the times reread your own history, your own charism, remembering that consecrated life is like water, if it does not flow it rots.”
The pope noted that the Claretians’ General Constitution reads “A child of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a person who burns with charity and wherever he passes he burns.”
“Let yourself be burned by the Lord, by his love, so that you can be incendiaries wherever you pass, with the fire of divine love,” said the pontiff.
“Consecrated life requires boldness and needs older people who can withstand the aging of life as well as young people who can withstand the aging of the soul,” he said.
It is this conviction, said the pope, that will “lead you to go forth, to set out and to go where nobody else wants to go,” where the light of the Gospel is needed, “with the people.”
He said the Claretians’ mission must be one of closeness, and that simply observing from afar out of curiosity is not enough.
Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, urged the Claretians to be bold and courageous.
“I hope, dear brothers, that this Chapter that you are about to conclude will help you to focus on the essential: Jesus, to place your security in Him and only in Him who is all good, the supreme good, the true security,” he said.
“I believe that this could be one of the best fruits of this pandemic that has called into question so many of our false securities.”
“May the Word and the signs of the times shake us out of so much torpor and so many fears that, if we are not careful, prevent us from living up to the times and circumstances that demand a bold and courageous consecrated life, a religious life that is free, liberated and liberating from our precariousness,” said the pope.
He urged the Claretians “to focus on the essential elements that define consecrated life today,” including “consecration, which values the relationship with God; fraternal life in community, which gives priority to an authentic relationship with our brothers; and mission, which leads you to go out, to become less self-centered in order to go out to meet others, especially the poor, to bring Jesus to them.” – with a report from the Catholic News Agency