By Deborah Castellano Lubov
Pope Francis has called on religious sisters to be powerful prophets of humble listening, so that by listening to God’s voice they might be empowered to go against the current and ‘noise,’ to bring God’s love to all without distinction.
The Pope gave this encouragement as he addressed members of the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of the Holy Family on Monday in the Vatican.
According to their website, the Congregation was founded in 1885, in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montiel, Benaguacil, in Valencia, Spain, and was approved by Pope Leo XIII in 1902.
What was born as a small family of sisters is now present in 34 countries located on four continents, full of young women worldwide “joyful for their call and happy to be consecrated to the service of others.”
Pope Francis told the nuns on Monday morning that it was a joy for him to welcome them, especially as they celebrate their 23rd General Chapter.
Special relationship with the Holy Family
Acknowledging the religious sisters came from different corners of the world, the Pope said this is “beautiful because it indicates that you really live a spirit of welcome and universal fraternity, in accordance with your special relationship with the ‘Holy Family.'”
These, he highlighted, are inspiring words, which have deep roots in religious life.
God’s voice drives us to love endlessly
Listening, he pointed out, requires first of all silence, “deep, inner silence.”
The Pope then offered the nuns guidance on how to do this.
Listen and be inspired by God’s voice
This melody, the Pope said, imposes itself naturally, “because it is the very essence of all things.”
In it, he stressed, even pain, darkness, death, find their meaning, as well as brothers or sisters who may be experiencing difficulties or who may need a second chance.
This silent listening to God and to humanity, the Pope stressed, moves us from hearing ‘noise’ to instead a ‘symphony.’
Power of synodality and embracing littleness
The Holy Father also invited the sisters to embrace the power of synodality.
This entails, he underscored, walking together, and “being a choir with a single heart and a single soul, even if we are in different times and different tessituras.”
“It is not a utopia,” he acknowledged, but recalled that it all comes together properly when everyone acknowledges that Jesus leads their paths.
Following Jesus, the Holy Father stressed, “is the way of the cross, humility, poverty, and service.”
“It is the way chosen by Saint Francis, and by your Venerable Founder, Luis Amigó [Venerable Bishop Luis Amigó y Ferrer], who meditated on the Passion every day, inviting you to embrace the style of littleness and mortification, as the way to heaven.”
Learning from the Holy Family
Before this “thunderous silence” of the Passion, “the world is challenged like Pilate, and placed before the bare Truth,” the Pope observed.
It must pray again for, the Holy Father suggested, the hope of Pope St. Paul VI, namely that “the silence of Nazareth which the Holy Family cultivated, may teach them, in their specific vocation as religious, to learn from the Holy Family.”
The Pope concluded by encouraging the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of the Holy Family joyously before him to enrich the world by their teaching, maintain a strong personal prayer life “that only God can see,” and promote the Gospel to advance Salvation of the world.