Pope Francis greets participants in the General Chapter of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance Pope Francis greets participants in the General Chapter of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance 

Pope encourages Trappists to pursue quest inspired by Jesus’ “dreams"

Addressing participants in the General Chapter of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance Pope Francis encourages them to pursue four “dreams” in order to edify and improve oneself and one’s community.

By Linda Bordoni

Pope Francis on Friday had words of encouragement and appreciation for the abbots and abbesses of the Trappist Order who are meeting in Assisi to foster communion of spirit and vision within the Order and to address current issues. The General Chapter is scheduled to last until 23 September.

Turning to the new Abbot General, Dom Bernardus Peeters, who was elected earlier this year, the Pope noted that he had immediately set out to visit the twelve regions in which Trappist monasteries are located.

“The Abbot says that on this journey he ‘collected the dreams of the superiors’, the Pope said, expressing appreciation for “this way of expressing himself” and saying that he too conceives “dreaming” in a positive sense: “not utopian but projectual.”

What’s more, he added, we are not dealing with the dreams of an individual, but sharing a "collection" of dreams that have emerged from the communities, and that will most probably be the subject of discernment in this second part of the Chapter.

Pope Francis receives the Order of Trappists in audience in the Vatican
Pope Francis receives the Order of Trappists in audience in the Vatican

Four dreams

The Pope went on to list the four dreams summarizing them as “a dream of communion, a dream of participation, a dream of mission, and a dream of formation.”

After having invited those present to embark on a path that is edifying both personally and for the communities, he advised them to “interpret” all these "dreams" through Christ, identifying with Him “through the Gospel and imagining - in an objective, contemplative sense - how Jesus dreamt these realities.”

And here then opens up the space for a beautiful and gratifying spiritual quest: the search for the ‘dreams of Jesus’, that is, for his greatest desires, which the Father aroused in his divine-human heart.


Reflecting on the dream of communion, the Pope recalled the prayer in the Gospel of John that says “I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.” (17:22-23).

“This holy Word allows us to dream with Jesus of the communion of his disciples,” the Pope said explaining that it does not imply uniformity but consists in our common relationship to Christ, and in Him to the Father in the Spirit. Jesus, he said, was not afraid of the diversity that existed among the Twelve, and therefore we should not fear diversity either, because the Holy Spirit loves to stir up differences and make harmony out of them.


Another word the Pope took from Matthew's Gospel is participation. Recollecting the controversy of the scribes and Pharisees and Jesus’ reminder to his disciples that they are all brothers and only the Father is the Master,  he said “here we can contemplate Jesus' dream of a fraternal community, where all participate 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 bearing witness to a style of participatory fraternity among real people who, with their limitations, choose each day, trusting in the grace of Christ, to live together.”


Pope Francis went on to draw on the Gospel, which he said, also delivers to us Jesus' dream of an all-missionary Church: "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”(Mt 28:19-20).

This mandate, he said, concerns everyone in the Church highlighting the fact that there are no charisms that are missionary and others that are not.

“A monk praying in his monastery plays his part in bringing the Gospel to that land, in teaching the people who live there that we have a Father who loves us and in this world we are on our way to Heaven,” he added explain that even a Cistercian of Strict Observance and be part of "an outgoing Church" and that  it is important to remember that “in any form of evangelisation the primacy is always God's" and that "in the whole life of the Church it must always be made clear that the initiative is God's, that 'it is He who has loved us'”.


Finally formation: the Gospels, the Pope said, show us Jesus taking care of his disciples, educating them with patience, explaining to them the meaning of certain parables, and illuminating with words the testimony of his way of life and of his gestures.

In the Gospel of John, he said, Jesus makes it clear that the disciples have a journey to make, a formation to receive; and he promises that the Spirit will guide them in truth.

Dream of holiness

“I’d like to summarise them as a dream of holiness, renewing this invitation,” Pope Francis concluded:

“Let the grace of your Baptism bear fruit in a journey of holiness. Let everything be open to God and to this end choose Him, choose God again and again. Do not be discouraged, for you have the power of the Holy Spirit to make it possible, and holiness, after all, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life.”

Pope Francis with the Trappists
Pope Francis with the Trappists
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16 September 2022, 13:31