Pope to Claretians: Continue offering God's overflowing love
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
Pope Francis met with the Claretian Missionary Sisters in the Vatican on Monday, as the religious order celebrated its 18th General Chapter.
In his address, the Pope urged the missionaries to continue bearing witness to God's overflowing love for us and transmitting the joy of the Gospel.
He also invited them to embrace their Marian identity and imitate the Blessed Mother's example of always inviting others to follow her Son, and never herself.
Claretian Missionary Sisters
The Claretians Sisters are a Congregation of Missionaries founded by St. Anthony Mary Claret and María Antonia París in Santiago de Cuba in 1855.
The mission of the religious of Mary Immaculate Claretian Missionary Sisters is to "live and announce with joy the Good News of Jesus seeking the Kingdom of God and its justice and to contribute to the renewal of the Church in fraternity and evangelical poverty." They actively work to help others and spread the Gospel around the world.
Hearts burning in Jesus' presence
The Pope said that their Chapter's itinerary, and their gathering together, reminded him of the journey to Emmaus, recalling the Gospel story where two disciples are walking together, and at a certain moment, they meet and speak with a stranger, inviting Him to dinner, and later realize that the stranger is the Lord.
They discover that this pilgrim is the Risen Christ, the Pope highlighted, because "they feel their hearts burn in His presence." He noted that they are then empowered to "proclaim the episode filled with joy."
In the story of Emmaus, the Pope observed, we see "the main elements of the synodal process that we are experiencing in the Church: encounter, participation, dialogue, communion, mission."
The Holy Father thanked them for building spaces to foster listening and for proclaiming the Gospel throughout the world.
Marian, Missionary, Claretian
The Pope highlighted three characteristics that characterize their vocation: their Marian, missionary and Claretian identities.
Reflecting on the "Marian" aspect, he recognized the Immaculate Heart of Mary accompanies them, pointing them to the Christ's Sacred Heart.
Turning to the second "missionary" aspect, the Holy Father commended their desire to carry Christ's message wherever they are sent, "with the trust and tenderness of Mary, embodying words and gestures of the Lord to make His Kingdom of love present in the world."
Arriving at "Claretian," the Pope recalled their identity as daughters of Saint Anthony Maria Claret, who he called "a holy shepherd, missionary and founder who intercedes for you and is the model you can always look to."
He told them to learn from how the Saint cultivated "a filial relationship with Mary" and his daring passion for evangelization and missionary work.
Transmitting the joy of the Gospel
The Holy Father urged the sisters to deepen these three precious elements, in order to fill all those around them "with the joy of the Gospel."
"Do not be afraid," the Pope said, "to cross geographical borders and even existential borders, as Father Claret did, so that everyone knows the overflowing love of the Heart of God."
The Holy Father concluded by praying for their ongoing General Chapter, and urged them to be creative in their response to challenges.