Address by the Holy Father Pope Francis to the participants in the General Chapter of the Augustinian Recollects.
Given in the Clementine Hall on Thursday, 20th October. The complete text, an audio of the Popeâs intervention, and videos of the reception.
I welcome you and I thank the Father General for the words of friendship that he has addressed to me in the name of the whole Augustinian Recollect family. As he has said, for this 55th General Chapter, you have chosen as your slogan a prayer which wells up from the depths of St Augustine’s heart: “All our hope is in your great love. Give us what you command, and command what you wish”(Confessions, 12, 12, 40).
This invocation leads us to be men of hope, in other words, of ambitions, capable of placing all our trust in the mercy of God, aware of our inability to deal with the challenges the Lord puts in our path if we rely solely on our own powers. We know our smallness and our unworthiness, but in God is our security and our joy; he never lets us down and it is he who leads us along unknown paths with the love of a Father.
In this General Chapter, you have wanted to review the life of the Order and to place it before the Lord, with its longings and its challenges, so that it is he who gives you light and hope. To seek renewal and receive a boost it is necessary to go back to God and to ask him: “Give us what you command”. We need the new commandment that Jesus gave us: “Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13,34); it is what we plead with him to give us: his love, that we may be able to love. God gives us this love in many ways; God is always giving us this love and making himself present in our life. We look to the past and give thanks for so many gifts we have received. And we must review our history hand-in-hand with the Lord, for it is he who gives us the key to interpret it; we are not just dealing simply with history, but rather uncovering the presence of the Lord in everything that happened, in every step of our lives. The past helps us to return once again to the charism, and to appreciate it in all its freshness and completeness. It also offers us the opportunity of underlining the difficulties which have emerged and how they have been overcome, so as to be able to deal with today’s challenges, looking towards the future. The journey made with Jesus will become a thanksgiving prayer and an inner purification.
Calling to mind his love in our past gives us the strength to live the present with passion and in a way that is always more courageous; it is then that we can ask him: “command what you wish”. To ask for this implies freedom of spirit and availability. To allow oneself to be under God’s command shows that it is he and no-one else who is in control of our life; and we know well that, should God not occupy this place, it will be taken by others in his stead. And when the Lord is at the centre of our life everything is possible; neither failure nor any other harm will be of any importance, because he is the one at the centre, and it is he who leads us.
At this time, and in special way, he asks us to be “creators of communion”. Through our presence in the world, we are called to create a society capable of recognising the dignity of every person and of sharing the gift that people are to each other. By our witness of a community alive and open to what the Lord asks of us, through the breath of the Spirit, we will be able to react to the needs of every person with the same love with which God has loved us. So many people are waiting for us to go out to meet them and to regard them with the tenderness that we have experienced and received from our relationship with God. This is the power we bear; not the power of our own dreams and plans, but the force of his mercy, which transforms and gives life.
Dear brothers, I invite you to preserve the dream of St Augustine with a renewed spirit, living as brothers “with one heart and one soul” (Rule, 1,2), which reflects the ideals of the first Christians and which is a living prophecy of communion in this our world, so that there is no division, nor conflicts nor exclusion, but in which harmony reigns and dialogue is promoted. I put the intentions and plans of the Order under the protection of Our Mother, the Virgin Mary, so that she may guide and protect you. And do not forget to pray for me, and to pass on my blessing to the whole Augustinian Recollect family. Thank you very much.
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