"Young people are needed to resist the aging of the soul."

In his audience with the General Chapter of the Claretians, Pope Francis urged them to be bold in their mission and to "put their lives on the line" for the defense of human dignity.

David Fernández Alonso-September 9, 2021-Reading time: 3 minutes
pope with claretians

Photo: ©2021 Catholic News Service / U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Holy Father Francis addressed an audience with the participants in the General Chapter of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, also known as Claretians, this morning in the Apostolic Palace.

"It is a great joy for me to welcome your General Chapter," the Pope began, referring to the renewal of the Superior General, Father Vattamattam: "I congratulate Father Mathew Vattamattam, to whom the capitulars have renewed their confidence by re-electing him as Superior General. With him, I greet the confreres who have been elected to form the new government of the Institute. May the Spirit of the Lord be upon you at all times so that, as missionaries, you may proclaim the Good News to the poor (cf. Lk 4:19) and to all who hunger for the Word that saves (cf. Is 55:10-11).

Taking the theme of the Chapter, "Rooted and bold," as a guiding thread, the Holy Father commented that this means being rooted in Jesus: "This presupposes a life of prayer and contemplation that leads them to be able to say like Job: 'I knew you only by hearsay, but now my eyes have seen you' (Jb 42:5). A life of prayer and contemplation that allows them to speak, as friends, face to face with the Lord (cf. Ex 33:11). A life of prayer and contemplation that allows you to contemplate the Mirror, which is Christ, so that you may become a mirror for others.

Pope Francis listens to Father Mathew Vattamattam, superior general of the Claretian Missionaries, on September 9, 2021.

Moreover, the Pope emphasized the Claretian missionary character: "You are missionaries: if you want your mission to be truly fruitful, you cannot separate mission from contemplation and a life of intimacy with the Lord. If you want to be witnesses, you cannot stop being adorers. Witnesses and adorers are two words that are found in the heart of the Gospel: "He called them to be with him and to send them out to preach" (Mk 3:14). Two dimensions that nourish each other, that cannot exist one without the other".

The Pope also commented on the second part of the Chapter's motto, explaining that this "orientation will make them audacious in the mission, as audacious was the mission of Father Claret and of the first missionaries who joined him. Consecrated life requires audacity and needs older people who resist the aging of life, and young people who resist the aging of the soul".

Francis assures that "this conviction will lead you to go out, to set out and go where no one wants to go, where the light of the Gospel is needed, and to work side by side with the people. Your mission cannot be "from a distance", but from closeness, proximity. In the mission, you cannot be content to stand on the balcony, to observe with curiosity from a distance. We can balcony in front of the reality or commit ourselves to change it. Following the example of Fr. Claret, you cannot be mere spectators of reality. Take part in it, to transform the realities of sin that you find on the way. 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. 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. Making a deuteronomic memory of the past, let yourselves be replenished with the lymph of the charism. This will make of your lives a prophetic life that will also make it possible to awaken and enlighten the world.

Play your part in the struggle for human dignity and respect for fundamental human rights.

Pope FrancisAudience with the General Chapter of the Missionaries Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

The Holy Father again urged them to put the center in Jesus, and to "place your security in Him and in Him alone who is all good, the highest good, the true security. 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. I also hope that the Chapter has led you to focus on the essential elements that define consecrated life today: consecration, which values the relationship with God; fraternal life in community, which gives priority to an authentic relationship with our brothers and sisters; and mission, which leads you to go out, to decentralize yourselves in order to go out to meet others, especially the poor, to bring Jesus to them.

Finally, he thanked them for "all the apostolic work and reflection on consecrated life that you have carried out during these years. May the Spirit guide you in this noble task.

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