“Harmony is found, not imposed, be prophets of listening” – Exaudi


This morning, at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received in audience the participants in the General Chapter of the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of the Holy Family.

We reproduce below the speech that the Pope addressed to them during the meeting:

Speech of the Holy Father

Reverend Mother General,

Dear Chapter Sisters,

I am delighted to be able to welcome you here today, on the occasion of the celebration of your twenty-third General Chapter. I thank the Mother General for her warm words which express the benevolence of all the Tertiary Capuchin Sisters.

I see with satisfaction that you come from all corners of the world, and this is a good thing because it indicates that you truly live a spirit of welcome and universal fraternity, in accordance with your special relationship with the “Holy Family”. From thirty-four countries, she says, right? You wanted to express this attitude, specific to the family environment, in the motto of your General Chapter, which revolves around two ideas: humble listening and synodality. It’s nice this thing to send the language on vacation and devote itself to listening [laughter], that you work more on hearing than on speech. These are inspiring words, deeply rooted in religious life. In order to listen, you first need silence, deep silence, inner silence, the kind you find in prayer.

Very often, our lifestyles are “full of noise”. As Saint Paul VI told us in his famous discourse at Nazareth. It seems that the important thing about noise is to find that stimulus capable of attracting the attention of the other, which produces the most immediate response possible. For many, raising your voice, physically or morally, presents itself as the solution to coax the deafened mass into opting for their idea or their opinion, always looking for a way to ensure that their signal is heard more, that whether it is more attractive or surprising. , to assert themselves. Much to his dismay, those who had been called are usually seen to almost immediately turn away to rush at the call of an even more piercing cry. From one cry to another. It brutalizes, brutalizes, fear the word, this passage from one cry to another, it brutalizes humanity, limits our freedom to the point of making us slaves of those who have the capacity to condition these signals, through the media, education, public or political opinion, thus imposing their agendas, in this way, petulantly, complacently.

The prophecy that Jesus asks of us is to go against the tide, to seek silence, to detach ourselves from the world, from the noise. This allows us to be attentive and, with artisanal patience, to identify the different sounds, to weigh them and to distinguish them. In this way, that initial clamor begins to take shape; what seemed dissonant will be understood and situated, it will have a name, it will have a face. No note will be too high or too low, and no sound will be shrill to our ears if we find the harmony that only our silence can give. And I say that only our silence can give, because harmony is found, not imposed. How often do we meet people who seem good, but who are not harmonious people, people who do not have an inner unity that pushes them forward. This harmony which is born, which does not impose itself.

The temptation is to have a beautiful melody in mind, and to reject or try to silence what is not in tune with it. I have my melody, I have my beat here, and everything else is out. Temptation. But it’s judging the other, putting yourself in God’s place, deciding who deserves and who doesn’t deserve to be there. It is a great arrogance that we must fight with the humility of our prophetic silence. If I am able to listen in this way, I will be able to hear all the voices clearly, all of them, understand their order, what they respond to, what they mean, and why they say it so, all at once. way so disjointed and so unusual.

Dear sisters, be listening prophets, listening first to the voice of God, who calls you to love everyone without distinction, to love creation as a gift, to see its greatness in everything, as Saint Francis teaches us this in his Song of the Creatures. It is the melody which imposes itself naturally, because it is the very essence of everything. In this melody, even pain, darkness, death, find their meaning, and they also find the brother in difficulty, those who need forgiveness, need redemption, need a second chance; we can understand the reasoning of those who think differently from us, those who contradict us, and even our own limitations.

It is precisely from this silence, from this silent listening to God, from this silence where man encounters God, that one can pass from cacophony to symphony. To the “sin” (συν-) of synodality or, and it is the same thing, of walking together (συν -ὁδος), of being a choir with one heart and one soul, even if we are in moments and different situations. It is not a utopia, if we really convince ourselves that raising our voices is not the way, that the only way is Jesus. I will not hide from you that it is the way of the cross, of humility, of poverty, of service. This is the path chosen by Saint Francis and by your venerable founder, Luis Amigó, who daily meditated on the Passion, inviting you to adopt the style of littleness and mortification as the path to heaven. It is interesting for you to know that each of you, with your own voice, which must be heard by the others, if there is a good spirit, contributes to this symphony of the heart, to this consonance of a community, this which does not mean that everyone hears the same thing, thinks in the same way, but that they are harmoniously united. And the only one capable of giving harmony is the Holy Spirit. Ask the Holy Spirit for harmony in your communities.

If, before the overwhelming silence of the Passion, the way is questioned like Pilate, and placed before the naked Truth, we ask, according to the words of Saint Paul VI, that the silence of Nazareth, which cultivated the Holy Family, teach you , in your specific vocation as a religious “contemplation and interiority, always attentive to the good inspirations and the doctrine of the true masters, the necessity and the value of an adequate formation, study, meditation, a intense interior life, the personal prayer that only God sees” (cf. Saint Paul VI, Speech in Nazareth, January 5, 1964) – this last part of Saint Paul VI, in its entirety. And this so that you will always be the prophecy of this school of the Gospel which is the way of salvation for the world. Thanks. And I ask you, don’t forget to pray for me.


Bulletin of the Press Office of the Holy SeeSeptember 26, 2022


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