I am truly happy, again this year, to bid a Happy Feast day to all of you who, present throughout the world and always moved by a renewed and unquestionable love for the Church and for our Congregation, are committed to announcing the Good News of the Gospel in light of the message of reconciliation of Mary at La Salette.
“…Make this known to all my people” (Mary at La Salette)
May the weeping Virgin of La Salette protect and bless each of you, as well as our numerous friends and La Salette laity who, with great courage and a commendable spirit of sacrifice and service, share with you the joys, the challenges and the difficulties of the mission.
This annual celebration invites us, once again, to reread and rethink our personal story with the eyes, the mind and the heart of the God of the Bible, who chooses his people, makes a covenant with them and makes them companions on the journey. May we then rediscover in ourselves the beauty of our vocation as religious and missionaries by reawakening, should this be necessary, the spirit of belonging to our great family of La Salette Religious and La Salette Laity.
“Wake up the world!” (Pope Francis)
Pope Francis, in the meeting of November 29, 2013, asked myself and the other Superiors General to have our members dedicate the great part of their human and charismatic energy to reawaken the world in this particularly difficult moment in which the world and the Church exist.
The verb reawaken evokes sleep, tiredness, discouragement, somnolent values, spiritual distraction, superficiality and a lack of interest with regard to faith. These are negative attitudes with which the world and the people of God in particular are very familiar, since they experience this everyday in their own lives. In other words, the great mission which Pope Francis has confided to religious and their lay counterparts is to make the proclaiming of the Gospel dynamic and captivating in the eyes of today’s world.
The Witness of Religious
The history of the Church, with the holiness of life of its many members, clearly witnesses that in moments of crisis and difficulty of all kinds, religious life has always constituted a significant reference point for the resumption and the quality of the Church’s mission and a strong calling back to evangelical faithfulness.
In order for this invitation of the Pope to be able to reveal itself as truly positive and useful, the change has to begin first of all with each one of us. Always used to speaking to others, we too easily forget that we ourselves are the first to be evangelized. It is first of all ourselves that must be converted, restoring to our daily lives the faithfulness to the religious consecration which we have perhaps sometimes undervalued or not cared for enough.
It is we who need to “reawaken” our awareness and our way of life, better conforming them to that of Christ. Only in this way will our witness be able to render generous service, adequate and profitable to evangelization. The great misunderstanding into which we can easily fall is that of believing that all this discourse is for others and not for us. In so doing, we in effect risk losing a providential occasion to make our religious life purposeful and a real alternative to those values proposed and supported by today’s world.
The celebration of the Year for Consecrated Life in 2015 was really born from the strong desire to stimulate those consecrated to make their way of following of Christ “an effective memorial and living out of the Gospel.”
For this reason, the Church hopes that the Year for Consecrated Life truly becomes an occasion for study, research, deepening and verifying of religious life throughout the world, so that the light of holiness may shine ever more brightly – that light which spreads from the face of Christ to all who have chosen to follow him more closely through the choice of evangelical radicality.” (Letter of CICLSAL to the Superiors General, August 2014). I pray that such a hope is transformed into a personal and community commitment by everyone in our Congregation.
To rest on our laurels without projecting our gaze beyond the present and beyond the horizon of our daily activity, is not helpful to the Church or to ourselves. We must always get up again and take up the journey knowing well that, as Romano Guardini said, the Christian, and even more so the religious, is a being continually in search of God and of how to serve him better in today’s world and Church.
Reconciliation Begins Within Ourselves
Mary at La Salette, sending us on mission like Maximin and Melanie, asks us to be proclaimers of the Good News of the Gospel beginning with our personal experience. Before waking up others, then, we have to force ourselves to “wake up” from the possible and terrible torpor – spiritual, communal and apostolic – into which we can sometimes fall without even knowing it…
Asking continued blessings upon the apostolic work of our confreres, and asking for the grace of new vocations, both religious and lay, who will dedicate themselves with joy and enthusiasm to the ministry of reconciliation which the Beautiful Lady called for in her apparition. It is interesting to note how Spain has been one of the first countries, after France, to receive and propagate the message of La Salette and the devotion to the Virgin mostly through the work of the laity. The many shrines and chapels throughout the territory are a testimony to their faith…
I am happy, finally, to present to you the theme, “Let us Hear the Cry of the Poor,” in the context of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace for the year 2015, with a reflection on The La Salette Message and the Cry of the Poor.
I hope… that these topics will be be an object not just for personal prayer and study but also for fraternal exchange in community settings with the purpose of always broadening the horizon of our hearts, our minds and our pastoral ministry, in its socio-ecclesial dimension, in the unquestioned relevancy of our Charism and of the message of La Salette.
With the promise of remembering you to the Virgin Reconciler, on the 168th anniversary of her apparition at La Salette, I bless you, together with the General Council, wishing all of you and each one of you, a happy and holy patronal feast.