On October 2, 2023, Pope Francis met with the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, who were in Rome for their General Chapter. He encouraged them to continue “making God’s love known” through 3 “fundamental attitudes.” He also urged them to “flee from sadness, that is a worm that ruins personal life and consecrated life.”
Flee from “that sadness that brings you down, not the good sadness of repentance — that is another thing — but that daily sadness which is like a woodworm that ruins,” the Pope said. He encouraged the religious to “know the Heart of Jesus through the Gospel; to deepen its message in fraternal sharing; and to proclaim it to all in the joy of mission.”
1Know the Heart of Jesus through the Gospel
The first “fundamental” attitude to spread the love of God is to get to know the Heart of Jesus by meditating on his life through the Gospel, the Pope emphasized. “The Risen One, who makes Himself known in the breaking of the Bread, is the One who conquered death by giving life, who showed men the Father’s love by loving them without measure with His divine and human Heart, and who, because of this, knows how to speak words that make the chest burn!” he said.
“This is how to know the Heart of Jesus: by contemplating in the Gospel his immense mercy, like Mary, whom you venerate with the title ‘Our Lady of the Sacred Heart’ and who knows how to show us the Heart of her Son precisely because “she kept these things pondering them in her heart” (Lk. 2:19). This then is the first invitation: to know the Heart of Jesus by meditating on the Gospel. And on this, do not be afraid of silence, do not be afraid!”
2Deepen the message through fraternal sharing
For this message to then become concrete and be “light” for others it needs to be shared, the Pope continued. “In the work of this Chapter, as in the ordinary discernment of your communities, I invite you too to always put at the basis of everything and first of all the fraternal sharing of your encounter with Christ, in Word, Sacraments and life,” the Pope said.
“You will then be able to address even the most pressing problems constructively. Sharing among yourselves,” he encouraged, citing also Christ’s appearance on the road to Emmaus. This episode is “an invitation for us to give each other the gift of wonder that is born in our hearts when we meet the Lord. Before meeting him, the two companions [on the road to Emmaus] were discussing failures and disappointments; afterwards, they rejoice at seeing the Risen One!”
3Announce the Good News joyously in your mission
Pope Francis encouraged these Missionaries to keep going out into the world to announce the Good News, especially to the poor, migrants, and those who suffer injustices. “Do not be afraid to allow the compassion of the Heart of Christ to engage you; as your Founder said, allow him to love through you and to manifest his mercy through your goodness. And do this with courage, […] allow the irresistible tenderness of the Sacred Heart to shape, modify, and even upset, if necessary, your plans and projects,” the Pope encouraged.
“Please do not be afraid of tenderness! God’s style can be said in three words: closeness, compassion, and tenderness. God is like this: close, compassionate, tender. Be like this with others as well. But this closeness, this compassion, this tenderness — you will receive it in dialogue with Jesus. Prayer is so important to bring this forward. Without prayer things don’t work, they don’t go.”