Pope Francis expresses these sentiments in a message sent on Saturday to the Franciscan Minims of the Sacred Heart, a congregation of nuns founded in Italy in 1902 by Blessed Maria Margherita Caiani. Born on 2 November 1863, she died on 8 August 1921. The Pope’s message on Saturday kicks off the year-long centenary celebration of her death, which will culminate on August 8,2021.
In his message, Pope Francis encourages the nuns in the charism of their foundress, without taking refuge in a past or a future that is not there and fleeing from today, where we are called to live and work.
In this regard, the Holy Father encourages them in their foundress’s charism reflected in their very name: Franciscan Minims of the Sacred Heart. In calling them ‘Minims’, he said, Mother Caiani wanted to emphasize the “style of smallness” of St. Francis of Assisi, who “became small” in the footsteps of Jesus who humiliated Himself to the point of death on the cross.
“It is a narrow and arduous path, but if one follows it to the end,” the Pope says, “life becomes fruitful.”
Their foundress wanted them to be rooted in the Sacred Heart, the source of charity. “The love that Jesus has for us,” the Pope says, “does not dazzle us with great special effects that soon fade away, but it is a concrete and faithful love, made up of closeness, of gestures that lift us up and give us dignity and trust.”
In this regard, the Pope points to Jesus who made Himself a neighbour to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus not as a hero but a companion, setting their hearts ablaze with joy and opening their eyes when He broke the bread. The Holy Father urges them to “love with the Heart of Jesus, with gestures rich in tenderness”, above all in their religious community.
This belonging to the Sacred Heart, the Pope continues, is “manifested in a particular way in prayer”, such as at Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, adoration, meditation on the Word, the Rosary and spiritual reading. “Our whole life is called, with the grace of the Spirit, to become prayer,” the Pope says, adding, the Lord “transforms us, day after day, making our hearts more and more similar to His”.
The Holy Father wishes that driven by the merciful Sacred Heart, they be mothers to those they meet “from the cradle to the grave”, as Blessed Maria Margherita said.
Commenting on the dimension of reparation of the Franciscan Minims of the Sacred Heart, the Holy Father says it is a great service to the beautiful world of God ruined by sin. “With your prayers and your little gestures, you sow in the field of the world the seed of God’s love which makes all things new”. Pope Francis commends the numerous nuns working in Italy, Brazil, Egypt, Sri Lanka and Bethlehem, especially in favour of children and young people.