The Order of the Servants of Mary (Servites) has its origins in 13th Century Florence and was establish by a group of men known as the Seven Holy Founders. At its core is a special charism to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Order also bears witness to the Gospel, inspired by Our Lady, in its apostolate and mission.
Servants of Hope
Greeting the members of the Order on Friday at the end of their 214th General Chapter, Pope Francis, in off the cuff remarks, said that the words "servants of Mary" made him think of how Our Lady brought us Jesus in the crib in Bethlehem. “Your founders understood this; they understood and became servants”, he commented. The Pope then told those present, to never move from that founding grace to be a servant. Continuing to focus on Our Lady, Pope Francis underlined how, despite everything that happened in her life, Mary looked forward; she was a woman of Hope.
Even today, in a world where there are wars, forms of slavery and cruelty, the Pope noted that Our Lady teaches us to sow hope.
In the Pope’s prepared remarks which were distributed to those present, he recalled the theme of their meeting, which is "Servants of Hope in a Changing World". Dwelling on the Servites’ Holy Founders, the Pope noted that they had a profound encounter with the One who is Hope, Jesus Christ.
Pope Francis explained that by going back to their unique human and vocational experience, today’s Servites become more and more “men of hope, capable of dispelling the fears that sometimes torment the heart, even in a religious community.”
The Pope mentioned in particular the scarcity of vocations in certain parts of the world; as well as the difficulty of being faithful to Jesus and to the Gospel in certain community or social contexts.
Courage to face challenges
Pope Francis told those gathered that “being men of hope means finding the courage to face some of today's challenges.” One of those, he pointed out, is responsible use of the media, which, he said, “conveys positive news, but also can destroy the dignity of persons, weaken the spiritual momentum, wound fraternal life.”
Another challenge, the Pope highlighted, is that of multiculturalism, which was addressed in the Chapter.
Catholic religious’ communities as ‘laboratories’
There is no doubt, commented Pope Francis, “that Catholic religious’ communities have become ‘laboratories’ in this sense, certainly not without problems and yet offering to all a clear sign of the Kingdom of God, to which all peoples are invited, through the one Gospel of salvation.”
In conclusion, the Pontiff expressed the hope that their communities would be a sign of universal brotherhood, schools of welcome and integration, and places of openness.