Pope to Missionaries of the Sacred Heart: Yours is a journey of faith
By Francesca Merlo
In his address to the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of knowing Christ through the Gospel, deepening understanding through fraternal sharing, and proclaiming His love joyfully in their mission. He encouraged them to embrace compassion and tenderness in their interactions, and above all, to sustain their mission with prayer. Pope Francis's words serve as a source of inspiration for the Missionaries as they continue their important work in the world.
Pope Francis addressed the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart during their 26th General Chapter meeting, on 2 October.
The Holy Father began by acknowledging the congregation's history, founded by Father Chevalier in 1854, and envisioning them as missionaries of God's love. "He thought of you from the very beginning as missionaries, committed to making God's love known in the world in order to obtain from men a response of love."
Knowing the Heart of Jesus
The Holy Father emphasized the importance of knowing the Heart of Jesus through the Gospel, referring to it as "the book 'of the Sacred Heart.'" He urged the Missionaries to meditate on Jesus's life, where they would discover His immense mercy, love, and compassion. Pope Francis pointed out that Jesus's actions and teachings in the Gospel provide a profound understanding of His divine and human Heart. "The Risen One, who makes Himself known in the breaking of the Bread, is the One who conquered death by giving life, who showed mankind the Father's love by loving them without measure with His divine and human Heart, and who therefore knows how to speak words that make the breast burn!"
"For this powerful experience to become light for the journey, it must also pass through the enrichment of sharing. Here is the second element: deepening and understanding the Word in fraternal sharing", said the Pope.
Pope Francis then shifted his focus to the importance of deepening understanding through fraternal sharing. He drew parallels with the disciples on the road to Emmaus who, after recognizing Jesus, shared their amazement and experiences with one another. This act of sharing joy and wonder when encountering the Lord is a practice that Pope Francis encouraged the Missionaries to adopt. "Before meeting him, the two companions discussed failures and disappointments, afterwards they rejoice at having seen the Risen One!"
He also highlighted the role of sharing in Father Chevalier's life, mentioning how he shared his fervor and dreams with fellow companions, whom he referred to as "knights of the Sacred Heart." Sharing experiences of encountering Christ in the Word, Sacraments, and daily life is essential for fostering unity and constructive engagement within the congregation. "And we come to the last aspect: the joyful proclamation in the mission. The disciples of Emmaus leave without delay, return to Jerusalem and tell what has happened."
Pope Francis emphasized the significance of joyful proclamation in their mission. He commended the Missionaries for adopting the motto "'from ego to echo,' that is, from self to common home, to family, to community, to creation." This shift, he explained, encompasses a commitment to serve as a common home for family, community, and creation. "Faced with them, do not be afraid to allow yourselves to be caught up in the compassion of the Heart of Christ; as your Founder said, allow him to love through you and to manifest his mercy through your goodness."
"Please do not be afraid of tenderness! God's style can be said in three words: closeness, compassion, and tenderness."
Embracing the compassion of Jesus' heart
The Holy Father acknowledged the numerous challenges faced by the Missionaries, such as serving the poor and migrants, and addressing injustices worldwide. He encouraged them to embrace the compassion of the Heart of Christ and allow His tenderness to shape their plans and projects. "Please do not be afraid of tenderness! God's style can be said in three words: closeness, compassion, and tenderness. God is like that: close, compassionate, tender. Be like this with others."
"But this closeness, this compassion, this tenderness you will receive in dialogue with Jesus. Prayer is so important to bring this about. Without prayer, things do not work, do not go."
The indispensable role of prayer
In closing, Pope Francis highlighted the indispensable role of prayer in cultivating the qualities of closeness, compassion, and tenderness. He emphasized that prayer is essential for maintaining their mission and spiritual vitality.
"Thank you, dear brothers, for what you are and what you do! Continue your work with enthusiasm. Flee from sadness, which is the cankerworm that ruins personal and consecrated life! That sadness that brings you down, not the good sadness of repentance, that is another thing, but that daily sadness is a woodworm that ruins. I bless you from my heart. And I recommend that you pray for me, because I need it, this work is not so easy! Thank you."