In his address to the Order of the Ministers of the Infirm, Pope Francis encourages Camillians in their ministry, and highlights the importance of looking at the reality of suffering, sickness and death with the eyes of Jesus.
By Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Pope Francis, on Monday, addressed the members of the Order of Ministers of the Infirm (Camillians) gathered for the 59th General Chapter of their congregation.
Extending his greetings to the participants at the Chapter, the Holy Father acknowledged, in particular, the new Superior General of the Camillians, Fr. Pedro Tramontin, whom he wished all the best in his ministry.
Camillian prophecy today
Pointing at the theme of the General Chapter: “What is the Camillian Prophecy today?” Pope Francis noted that the religious order proposes to find new ways of evangelization and closeness, in order to realize with fidelity their charism of being at the service of the sick. The Camillians also seek to be animated by the grace proper to a Chapter, and in listening to the Spirit, to our brothers and sisters, and to history.
He said that St. Camillus de Lellis had felt the call to give life to this religious family that would live the commandment of love by proclaiming the Gospel and caring for the sick, in imitation of the compassion and tenderness of Jesus towards those suffering in body and spirit.
Christian response to our time
The Pope noted that our time is “marked by an individualism and indifference that generate loneliness and result in the discarding of many lives.”
In the face of this, “the Christian response does not lie in the resigned observation of the present or in nostalgic regret of the past,” said Pope Francis, but rather “in charity that, animated by trust in Providence, knows how to love its own time and, with humility, bears witness to the Gospel.”
Model of the Good Samaritan
Reflecting on the life of the Congregation’s founder, the Pope said that St. Camillus de Lellis – one of the figures of those who best embodies the style of the Good Samaritan – accomplished the act of “making himself close to his wounded brother [and sister] along the way.
The Pope then charged the Camillians with the “gift and task” of being inspired by the saint to “look at the reality of suffering, sickness and death with the eyes of Jesus,” and thus make the Camillian prophecy and “incarnated prophecy” – one that urges to take on the burdens, wounds and anxieties of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.
This, the Pope underlined, is achieved through “docile openness ot the Holy Spirit” who is the soul of apostolic dynamism, and a certain amount of “boldness” to discover unexplored paths or express the potentials of the Camillian ministry and charims in new forms.
Two dimensions of Christian life
The Holy Father went on to note that the style and apostolate of the Camillians recalls two essential dimensions of Christian life: the desire for an extroverted and concrete witness to others, and the need to understand oneself using the Gospel’s value of littleness as a key to understanding oneself.
In this regard, he invited them to draw from the Beatitudes, to bring the glad tidings to the poor “with meekness and simplicity”, and to refresh one another in the confidence that a good done to a suffering brother or sister is a “gift to Jesus himself.”
“And do not neglect to cherish the memory of the first love with which Jesus conquered your heart, in order to renew always your choice of consecrated life from the roots,” Pope Francis urged.
Following the creating solicitude of St. Camillus, the Holy Father encouraged them to collaborate with the Holy Spirit in seeking every way to live out his charism of mercy, valuing collaboration with the laity, and in particular health care workers. He also enjoined them to cultivate among themselves and with everyone, “the spirituality of communion that will help to better discern what the Lord wants from you.”
Concluding his discourse, the Pope thanked the Camillians for what they are and what they do in the Church, noting that we cannot do without the charism of St. Camillus de Lellis if we want to offer people a good “field hospital” where the wounded can experience and feel the closeness and tenderness of Christ.
“It is up to you to give hands, feet, mind and heart to this gift of God, so that it may continue to inspire the works of God in our time,” Pope Francis said.
Finally, with a request for prayers for himself, the Pope invoked the blessings of Our Lord and the intercession of our Lady on the Chapter.