On Friday, September 16, Pope Francis met with participants in the General Chapter of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, also known as Trappists. He told them that there are basically four “dreams” shared by all Trappists for world evangelization: “dream of communion, dream of participation, dream of mission and dream of formation”. The following is a translation of the words of the Holy Father.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Hello and welcome !
I thank the Abbot General for his words of greeting and introduction. I know that you are holding the second part of your General Chapter, at the Portiuncula of Saint Mary of the Angels; a place so rich in grace that it will surely have helped to inspire your days.
I rejoice with you at the success of the first part of the Chapter, held in the same place, during which the new Abbot General was also elected. You, Father, immediately set off on a journey to visit the twelve regions where your monasteries are located. I like to think that this “visitation” happened with the same holy promptness that the Virgin Mary shows us in the Gospel. “Mary got up and went away in haste”, says Luke (1, 39), and this expression always deserves to be contemplated, so that we can imitate her, with the grace of the Holy Spirit. I like to pray to the Madonna who is “in a hurry”: “Madam, you are in a hurry, aren’t you? “. And she understands this language.
The Abbot says that during this trip he “collected the dreams of the superiors”. I was struck by this expression, and I wholeheartedly share it. At the same time because, as you know, I too mean to “dream” in this positive sense, not utopian but projecting; and because it is not a question here of the dreams of an individual, even a superior general, but of a sharing, of a “collection” of dreams emerging from the communities, and which, I imagine, will the object of discernment in this second part of the Chapter.
They can be summarized as follows: dream of communion, dream of participation, dream of mission and dream of formation. I would like to offer some thoughts on these four “roads”.
First of all, I would like to make a remark, so to speak, about the method. An indication that comes to me from the Ignatian approach, but which basically, I believe I have in common with you, men called to contemplation in the school of Saint Benedict and Saint Bernard. That is to say, it is interpreting all these “dreams” through Christ, identifying with Him through the Gospel and imagining — in an objective and contemplative sense — how Jesus dreamed of these realities: communion, participation, mission and formation. Indeed, these dreams build us as people and as a community insofar as they are not ours, but hisand we assimilate them in the Holy Spirit. His dreams.
And here, then, opens up the space for a beautiful and gratifying spiritual search: the search for the “dreams of Jesus”, that is, for his greatest desires, which the Father has inspired in his heart. divine-human. In this key of evangelical contemplation, I would like to be in “resonance” with your four great dreams.
The Gospel of John gives us this prayer of Jesus to the Father: “I have given them the glory which you have given me, that they may be one as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they have become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and that you loved them as you loved me” (17, 22-23). This Holy Word allows us to dream with jesus of communion of his disciples, our communion as “his own” (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete and Exultate, 146). This communion — it is important to specify — does not consist in our uniformity, homogeneity, compatibility, more or less spontaneous or forced, no; it consists of our common relationship with Christ, and in Him with the Father in the Spirit. Jesus was not afraid of the diversity that existed among the Twelve, and so neither should we fear diversity, for the Holy Spirit loves to stir up differences and bring them into harmony. On the contrary, our particularisms, our exclusivisms, these yeses, we must fear them, because they cause divisions (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 131). Therefore, Jesus’ dream of communion frees us from uniformity and division, both of which are ugly things.
Let’s take another word from the Gospel of Matthew. Arguing with the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said to his disciples: “But you will not be called rabbi, because you have only one master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth your father, for you have only one Father, who is in heaven. Do not be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ” (23:8-10). Here we can contemplate Jesus’ Dream of Fellowshipwhere everyone participates on the basis of a common filial relationship with the Father and as disciples of Jesus. In particular, a community of consecrated life can be a sign of the Kingdom of God by witnessing to a style of participative fraternity between real and actual people who, with their limitations, choose each day to live together, trusting in the grace of Christ. Even today’s communication tools can and must be at the service of real — and not just virtual — participation in the concrete life of the community (cf. Evangelii Gaudium87).
The Gospel also gives us Jesus’ dream of an all-missionary church“Go therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). This mandate concerns everyone in the Church. There are no missionary charisms and others that are not. All the charisms, because they are given to the Church, are for the evangelization of people, that is, missionaries; naturally in different, very different ways, according to the “imagination” of God. A monk who prays in his monastery does his part in bringing the Gospel to this earth, teaching the people who live there that we have a Father who loves us and that in this world we are on the way to Heaven. So the question is how to be Cistercians of the Strict Observance and part of an “going out Church” (Evangelii Gaudium, 20). Traveling but it is a journey that is moving forward. How do you live the “delightful and comforting joy of evangelising” (Saint Paul VI Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80)? It would be good to hear it from you contemplatives. For the moment, it suffices to recall that: “In any activity of evangelization, the primacy always belongs to God” and that “the life of the Church must always reveal clearly that God takes the initiative, that he loved the first”. (1 Jn 4:19)” (Evangelii Gaudium12).
Finally, the Gospels show us Jesus taking care of his disciples, educating them with patience, explaining to them side things, the meaning of certain parables; and illuminate with words the testimony of his way of life, of his gestures. For example, when Jesus, after having washed the feet of his disciples, said to them: “For I have given you an example, so that you too may do as I have done to you” (Jn 13:15). The teacher dream training of his friends, according to the way of God, which is humility and service. And then a little later, when he declares: “I still have many things to tell you, but you cannot bear them now” (Jn 16, 12), Jesus specifies that the disciples have a path to undertake. , training to receive; and he promises that the one who will form them will be the Holy Spirit: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth” (Jn 16:13). And numerous Gospel references attest to the dream of formation in the heart of the Lord. I like to summarize them as a dream of holiness, renewing this invitation: “May the grace of your baptism bear fruit in a journey of holiness. Let everything be open to God; turn to him in all situations. Do not be afraid, for the power of the Holy Spirit allows you to do this, and holiness, in the end, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life (cf. Gal 5, 22-23)” ( Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete and Exultate15).
Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for coming here and I hope that your General Chapter will end in the best possible way. May Our Lady accompany you. I offer you all, and your colleagues around the world, my sincere blessing. And I ask you to please pray for me.