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Pope Francis addresses members of the Claretian order Pope Francis addresses members of the Claretian order  (Vatican Media)

Pope to Claretians: Go forth to be close to the people

Pope Francis addresses members of the Claretian order and urges them to go out to the people, to be close to them in their mission, and to never forget that their only real security is in Christ.

By Francesca Merlo

Addressing Claretians, who are in Rome for their General Chapter, Pope Francis noted that the theme of their meeting - "Rooted and Bold" - "presupposes a life of prayer and contemplation that allows you to contemplate the Mirror, which is Christ, so that you yourselves may become mirrors for others".

A fruitful mission

"You are missionaries", said the Pope, "and if you want your mission to be truly fruitful, you cannot separate it from contemplation and from a life of intimacy with the Lord". He added, "If you want to be witnesses, you can't cease being adorers".  

The Pope noted that the Claretians' General Constitution reads "A child of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a person who burns with charity and wherever he passes he burns", quoting the order's founder, St Anthony Mary Claret (no. 9). "Let yourself be burned by the Lord, by his love, so that you can be incendiaries wherever you pass, with the fire of divine love". This orientation, the Pope explained, will make them bold in mission, as bold as the mission of Father Claret and the first missionaries who joined him. "Consecrated life requires boldness and needs older people who can withstand the aging of life as well as young people who can withstand the aging of the soul", he added. 

From close and not from far

It is this conviction, continued the Pope, that will "lead you to go forth, to set out and to go where nobody else wants to go", where the light of the Gospel is needed, "with the people". He explained that their mission must be one of closeness, and that simply observing from afar out of curiosity is not enough. "Following the example of Father Claret, you cannot be mere spectators of reality. Participate in it", said the Pope. In that way, he adds, the Claretians will be able to "transform the realities of sin" that they encounter along the way.

"May the Word and the signs of the times shake us out of so much torpor and so many fears that, if we are not careful, prevent us from living up to the times and circumstances that demand a bold and courageous consecrated life, a religious life that is free, liberated and liberating from our precariousness", said the Pope.

Focus on the essential

Bringing his discourse to a close, Pope Francis expressed his hope that this Chapter "will help you to focus on the essential: Jesus, to place your security in Him"; and that it may lead the Claretians "to focus on the essential elements that define consecrated life today: consecration, which enhances the relationship with God; fraternal life in community, which gives priority to the authentic relationship with the brothers; and the mission, which leads you to go out, to deconcentrate yourselves in order to go out to meet others, especially the poor, in order to lead them to Jesus".

09 September 2021, 12:30