Pope Francis encourages the Little Missionary Sisters (also known as Don Orione Sisters) to be loving mothers and to serve others tenderly.
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
May your homes and places of service be full of motherly warmth, and may you continue to serve like good mothers, with rolled-up sleeves, Pope Francis told the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity on Thursday. The sisters – also known as Don Orione Sisters for their founder, St Luigi Orione – are in Rome this month for their General Chapter.
The order is dedicated to performing acts of charity among the poor, handicapped, orphans, elderly, and other often discarded members of society.
The Pope recalled the words of St Luigi: “May everyone be warmed and enlightened by the flame that burns in your heart and the light of your inner fire”; and how he taught them to ‘work hard’, to spare no effort in serving those most in need.
“Serve ‘the poor, the little ones, those afflicted by every evil and pain’, with ‘sleeves rolled-up’, like good mothers, with compassion, creativity, and imagination, in charity.”
Loving mothers, ‘elbow grease’
A mother, the Pope said, never gives up in the face of her children’s needs. “She never lets them lack attention, surprises, tenderness, and even the necessary reproaches; she manages to invent solutions and unexpected remedies, even in the face of difficult situations or the incomprehension of others. It is because a mother loves, and love makes one free and creative!”
Above all, he said, this makes children feel ‘at home’, safe, and accepted beyond their abilities, achievements, social conditions, origin, and religious affiliation. Because a mother loves everyone, she sees no differences.
“This is how Christ loves, this is how Mother Church loves, and this is how I wish you, too, to know how to love, with this domestic motherhood, with a generous heart and with ‘elbow grease’!”
Conquered by Christ
In this way, the Pope said, they will give joy and hope to many, and a concrete example of healthy living, precious especially for young people who are often “disoriented by fragile and empty existential models.”
The Pope called on them to live the Lord’s closeness and love, letting Christ guide their paths.
“Let yourselves always first be conquered by the Lord, by His living presence in the Eucharist, in His Word, and in yourselves through the Holy Spirit. Remember that, as mothers, the greatest gift you can give to the children, God entrusts to you, is to transmit to them your tender and passionate love for Jesus, to teach them to love Him and know Him as you know and love Him, and to make them sharers in your faith in Him.”
Motherly tenderness, never coldness
Always have, among yourselves and towards others, a sense of motherly tenderness, never coldness, he said.
“If sometimes this sickness of heart makes itself felt, drive it out immediately, with thoughts, words, and gestures of welcome and kindness!” the Pope continued, adding, “We know that a piece of bread shared with a smile is better than a dish that may be refined, but seasoned with coldness and insipid with love.”
Pope Francis concluded by urging them to love in this way, as St Louis Orione did, as mothers in charity.
Finally, the Holy Father gave them his blessing: “I bless you from my heart. And I urge you, do not forget to pray for me.”