(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday greeted the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master (PDDM) and encouraged them to go forward in their mission to bring the Gospel to the men and women of today with joy in unity, giving voice to plurality and respecting each other’s differences.
The Pope words came as he addressed the Sisters who are holding their 9th General Chapter in Rome (10 April-28 May) on the theme “New wine in new wineskins.”
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:
First of all, Pope Francis said to the Sisters, always be open the Holy Spirit, Master of diversity, Master of unity within differences.
“Walk together in communion, he said, respecting plurality and tirelessly weaving your legitimate differences into unity, taking into account you are present in different Countries and cultures”.
Basing his discourse on the many fruits yielded by communion, the Pope encouraged the Sisters to allow each other to express themselves freely, to be accepted with their own special gifts, and to become fully co-responsible.
He urged them to cultivate mutual attention and practice sisterly correction and respect the weakest members.
“Grow in the spirit of living together, banish divisions, envy, and gossip from your communities, speak frankly and with charity” he said.
The Pope noted that the Disciples of the Divine Master share Fr. Giacomo Alberione as father and founder with the Pauline family, as well as the mission to bring the Gospel to the men and women of our time.
He spoke of the fruits of communion born from collaboration with other charisms saying it is the time for synergy between all consecrated persons who are called to welcome the riches of other charisms and put them all in the service of evangelization, remaining faithful to their identity.
“No one, he said, builds the future by isolating themselves or on their own strength alone” and he invited them to cultivate dialogue and communion with other charisms, and to combat self-referentialism in every way.
The Pope also mentioned the importance of the fruits produced by communion with the men and women of our time: “Our God is the God of history and our faith is a faith that works in history. In the questions and expectations of today's men and women, there are important indications for our pursuit of Christ”.
Pope Francis said the Chapter is a time to listen to the Lord who speaks to us through the signs of the times.
He said it is also a time for peaceful and unbiased confrontation which requires the opening of mind and heart, and he urged those present never to tire of the practice of listening and sharing with the men and women of today.
“In this time of great challenges, which require devoted creative fidelity and passionate research, listening and sharing are more than ever necessary if we want our lives to be fully meaningful to ourselves and to the people we meet” he said.
Pope Francis then told the Sisters that to this end it is necessary to maintain a climate of discernment, to recognize what belongs to the Spirit and what is contrary to it.
He said that a world of possibilities is open before us and that “the culture in which we are immersed presents them all as valid and good, but if we do not want to fall victim to the culture of zapping and sometimes to a culture of death”, we must always be discerning and never tire of asking the Lord “What do you want me to do?”
The Chapter, the Pope said, is also a time in which to renew our docility towards the Spirit that animates prophecy. This, he said, is an indispensable value for consecrated life which itself is a special form of participation in the prophetic mission of Christ.
“As consecrated women, you live the prophecy of joy, that joy that comes from your encounter with Christ through a life of personal and communal prayer” he said, as well as in a joyful life of fraternity within the community and in your embrace of Christ’s flesh when you minister to the poor.
Joy, the Pope said, is a beautiful reality in the lives of many consecrated persons, but it is also a great challenge for all of us because joy must be of the authentic kind, never self-referential or self-satisfied.
“This joy, Francis continued, which fills your hearts and shows on your faces will lead you to go out to the peripheries and participate in the joy of the Church that is evangelization, convinced that Jesus is the Good News and is joy for all. This joy distances you from the cancer of resignation, the fruit of sloth that withers the soul”.
Pope Francis concluded his address encouraging the Sisters to be prophets of hope with eyes turned to the future, and to let themselves be guided by the Spirit in order to continue to do great things.
Trusting in Christian hope and in the strength it gives you, he said: “fortify your vocation of morning sentinels in order to announce the coming of the dawn: Wake up the world, light up the future”.