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Pope gives 3 tips to have a “heart expanded” by love

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Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Isabella H. de Carvalho - published on 09/18/23

"If you are able to change your lives in such a way that you do not speak ill of others, you will have opened the door for your causes of canonization!"

St. Benedict “invited his followers to have a ‘heart expanded by the unspeakable sweetness of love,’” Pope Francis reminded participants of the 5th World Congress of Benedictine Oblates, who he met at the Vatican on September 15, 2023.

Benedictine Oblates are lay men and women who have decided to follow the Benedictine spirituality without taking vows or living in a monastery. In fact, Pope Francis gave them three useful tips, which can be applied to all who want to be witnesses of Christ in their normal lives. In order to have a “heart expanded” by love, the Pontiff suggests to “search for God, [have] enthusiasm for the Gospel and [practice] hospitality.” 

1Search for God

The search for God that marks Benedictine life is done through the Word of the Lord, with which the members are “nourished each day by lectio divina,” the Pope explained. However, he also highlighted that the Oblates meet God in other places such as by “contemplating creation, by letting [themselves] be challenged by daily events, by experiencing work as prayer” or  “to the point of transforming the very means of [their] work into instruments of blessing.” 

The Pope called his audience to be “seekers of God” especially “in those brothers and sisters whom divine Providence leads you to encounter.”

2Have enthusiasm for the Gospel

Next, Pope Francis highlighted how Oblates can learn how to have “missionary enthusiasm” from their monastic brothers and sisters. “Like the monks, who make the places where they live fruitful and mark their days with industriousness, you also are called in this way to transform your everyday settings, wherever you live, by acting as a leaven in the dough, with skill and responsibility, and at the same time with gentleness and compassion,” the Pope explained. 

He called for the Oblates to be witnesses and compassionate with those around them, not accusers who point fingers. “Nowadays, in a globalized but fragmented and fast-paced world devoted to consumerism, in settings where family and social roots sometimes almost seem to disappear, there is no need for Christians who point fingers, but for enthusiastic witnesses who radiate the Gospel ‘in life through life,’” he explained. 

“This is always a temptation: go from being ‘Christian witnesses’ to ‘Christian accusers.’ There is only one accuser, the devil. We should not assume the role of the devil but of Jesus.”

3Be hospitable

Pope Francis then cited St. Benedict’s writings where he highlighted the need to welcome guests who would come to the monastery “as Christ” and to show them “love in every way,” especially if they were poor or pilgrims. 

“As Oblates, your wider monastery is the world, the city, and the workplace, for it is there that you are called to be models of welcome with regard to whoever knocks at your door, and models in preferential love for the poor,” the Pope stated. “Sometimes it seems that our society is slowly suffocating in the locked vaults of selfishness, individualism, and indifference.” 

… let your tongue be reserved for praising God, and not for gossiping about others. If you are able to change your lives in such a way that you do not speak ill of others, you will have opened the door for your causes of canonization!”

Francis also highlighted the dangers of gossiping in our society. “Gossip ‘dirties’ other people, […] Please, as Benedictines, let your tongue be reserved for praising God, and not for gossiping about others. If you are able to change your lives in such a way that you do not speak ill of others, you will have opened the door for your causes of canonization!”

“I invite you to continue to expand your heart and entrust it every day to God’s love, never ceasing to seek it, to bear witness to it with enthusiasm and to welcome it in the poorest whom life leads you to encounter.”

Tags:
Pope FrancisSpiritual LifeVatican
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