Twelfth Day of the General Chapter (21st of September)
On the 21st of September Pope Francis met all the members of the General Chapter the Clementine Hall. Afterwards the participants went to eat at CISA. The community and the employees of St Albert College made all welcome and were attentive to all the details.
The cordiality and closeness of Pope Francis was greatly appreciated. In his message, taking into account the theme of the Chapter, “You are my witnesses (Is.43, 10) from one generation to the other, called to remain faithful to our Carmelite charism” (cfr. Const 21), the Pope developed three ideas.
1. Faithfullness and contempaton.Pope Francis noted that the Church is proud of you and when it thinks of Carmel it thinks of a school that teaches contemplation. The Blessed Titus Brandsma, martyr and one of the great mystics of the 20thcentury had said, It is a characteristic of the Carmelite Order is an Order of mendicants of active life and who live in the midst of the people, conserving a great esteem for solidarity of … the world, considering solidarity and contemplation as the best of his spiritual life …” The Carmelite way of living contemplation prepares us to serve the people of God through different ministries and apostolates. Doing whatever you do, remain faithful to your past and open to the future with experiences living in obedience to Jesus Christ, paying special attention to the spiritual journey of people.
2. Accompaniment and prayer. The Holy Father said that Carmel is synonymous with the inner life. Carmelite mystics and writers have understood that “being in God” and “being in His things” do not always coincide. If we become anxious about a thousand things related to God without being rooted in Him, sooner or later he presents us with the bill: we realize that we have lost Him along the way. Saint Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, advised that “lukewarmness” can creep into the consecrated life when the evangelical counsels become only a routine and love of Jesus is no longer the centre of life. The Pope also warned against worldliness. Pope Francis encouraged the Carmelites to accompany people to “make friends” with God. Saint Teresa said: “I hardly ever tired of speaking or hearing about God”. Our world thirsts for God and you Carmelites, teachers of prayer, can help many to leave behind the noise, haste and spiritual aridity. As good artisans of fraternity, place your trust in the Lord by overcoming the inertia of immobility and avoiding the temptation of reducing the religious community to “working groups” that would eventually dilute the fundamental elements of religious life.
3. Tenderness and compassion.At the end Pope Francis underlined the fact that the contemplative has a compassionate heart. When love is weakened, everything loses its flavour. Caring and creative love is a balm for those who are tired and exhausted for those who suffer abandonment. If one day, around us, there are no longer sick and hungry people, abandoned and despised – the minores of which your mendicant tradition speaks – it will not be because they are not there, but simply because we do not see them. The little ones and the discarded will always be there to offer us an opportunity to enable contemplation to be a window open to beauty, truth and goodness. “Pope Francis cited Blessed Angelo Paoli, whose third centenary of death we will soon celebrate “Whoever loves God must seek him in the poor, in the “brothers of Jesus”. The Pope recalled Blessed Angelo’s absolute trust in divine providence he had exclaimed with joy: “I have a pantry in which nothing is missing!” May your pantry overflow with compassion in the face of all forms of human suffering! The Pope continued: “Contemplation would merely be momentary if it were to be reduced to raptures and ecstasies that distance us from the joys and worries of the people. We must be wary of the contemplative who is not compassionate. Tenderness, in the style of Jesus shelters us from “pseudomystics”, “weekend solidarity” and the temptation to keep our distance from the wounds of Christ’s body. Three dangers: “pseudo-mystics”, “weekend solidarity” and the temptation to keep our distance from the wounds of Christ’s body. Jesus’ wounds are still visible today in the bodies of our brothers and sisters who are despoiled, humiliated and enslaved. By touching these wounds, caressing them, it is possible to worship the living God in our midst. Today there is a need for a revolution of tenderness which will make us more sensitive to the dark nights and dramas of humanity.