Pope Francis with the Diocesan Oblate Brothers Pope Francis with the Diocesan Oblate Brothers 

Pope: Religious brothers bear witness to fraternity in silent self-giving

Pope Francis meets with a group of Diocesan Oblate Brothers from the Italian Archdiocese of Milan, and urges consecrated religious men to give themselves completely to the mission of serving others in humble fidelity.

By Devin Watkins

Pope Francis met Friday with a small delegation of religious brothers from the Italian Archdiocese of Milan.

In his prepared remarks, the Pope reflected on three aspects of the name of the consecrated men’s religious institute: the Diocesan Oblate Brothers.

He praised the “small but important sign” which religious brothers offer to the Church.

Gospel fraternity

Pope Francis said brothers are called to bear witness to “fraternity according to the Gospel”, saying they do so with their identity as brothers, more than with their apostolic activities.

“Fraternity,” he said, “is built with a concrete form of life, one which is stable but naturally lived in a myriad of various ways with each person’s personality, gifts, and limitations.”

He added that fraternity should offer religious brothers “interior joy” since it represents their unique way of being like Jesus.

“Being a brother to everyone,” said the Pope, “is an aspect proper to the mystery of the Incarnation.”

Humble service

The Pope went on to reflect on the brothers’ identity as “Oblates”, which comes from the Latin word oblatio, or “oblation”, meaning “the gift of self” in service.

Jesus, he said, came as a servant for all, but He did so in a way that shunned public praise.

“Ours is a hidden, humble, and at times humiliating service,” said Pope Francis. “This, as we know, is the path for every Christian to follow.”

“Ours is a hidden, humble, and at times humiliating service. This, as we know, is the path for every Christian to follow.”

The Diocesan Oblate Brothers enjoy this form of service as a charism, and will therefore receive a special interior joy from the Holy Spirit, added the Pope.

He also held out the example of Mary, who went to help her cousin Elizabeth in her pregnancy. “There were no photographers or journalists waiting for her,” he said. “And joy lies exactly in this aspect: Only the Lord knows! This is the beatitude of service.”

Faithfulness to a specific place and people

Finally, Pope Francis reflected on the importance of the group’s identity as “diocesan” brothers.

He commended the fidelity and humility that goes with offering service to a specific diocese or territorial area.

“Sometimes we would like to save the world!” said the Pope. “But God tells us: ‘Be faithful to this service, to these people, to this good work.”

Jesus, added the Pope, came to save “the lost sheep of Israel” and thus fulfilled His faithfulness to the Father.

In conclusion, Pope Francis pointed out a “law of love” that can offer inspiration for the Diocesan Oblate Brothers of Milan and every Christian.

“We cannot love humanity in the abstract,” he said. “We love this or that person. Faithfulness is a rare gift!”

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14 April 2023, 12:21