Jesus’ healing presence in the Eucharist can “fill with tenderness” the voids and wounds produced by sin in individual lives and in society, Pope Francis said Friday.
In a meeting at the Vatican with a pilgrimage group led by the Sister Disciples of Jesus in the Eucharist on Aug. 25, the pope noted that in the eyes of the world, it might appear “absurd” to begin confronting societal problems by prayers on one’s knees in “adoration and reparation” but that it is always effective.
Pope Francis pointed out that the story behind the founding of the sisters’ religious order and the revival it sparked gives witness to this reality. The Sister Disciples of Jesus in the Eucharist were founded in one of the poorest dioceses in southern Italy by Servant of God Bishop Raffaello Delle Nocche in the wake of World War I and the devastating Spanish flu pandemic.
The sisters were to be “poor servants of a poor people.” Pope Francis explained: “At the center of their lives was the Eucharist, ‘a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity,’ as the Second Vatican Council teaches us (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 47).”
“Love, unity, and charity. What does this mean? To adore, to serve, and to repair, that is, to fill with tenderness … to fill with tenderness the wounds and voids produced by sin in man and society, beginning by kneeling before Jesus in the Consecrated Host and remaining there for a long time,” he said.
Nocche recommended that the sisters remain in prayer before the Eucharist “even when we seem to feel nothing, in quiet and trusting abandonment, because ‘Magister adest,’ (‘the Master is here’) (Jn 11:28).”
“By the world’s standards this strategy of action seemed absurd: In the face of immense needs and with almost no resources available, what sense could there be in telling the sisters to get down on their knees for ‘adoration and reparation’? Yet, as always, the way of faith and self-offering worked in this case too,” Pope Francis said.
“The prayers of those courageous women indeed generated a contagious force, which soon led them to undertake and promote works of material, cultural, and spiritual redemption far exceeding all expectations.”
“They awakened the faith and commitment of parish communities and families, founded schools of various levels and grades, and rekindled devotion and a sense of their own dignity in so many people, men and women, young people, adults and the elderly, who were too often and for too long oppressed by inhumane living conditions and the contempt and indifference of the surrounding world, which saw in them nothing but rejects of society. … They unleashed a different ‘war’ — that against poverty and injustice, and they spread a different ‘epidemic’ — that of love.”
Today, the Sister Disciples of Jesus in the Eucharist have about 400 professed sisters as well as postulants in houses of formation in Brazil, the Philippines, Rwanda, and Italy. The congregation continues to have a strong presence in southern Italy with 38 communities.
“Dear sisters, you are the witnesses and heirs of all this … with your presence in the five continents, with the eucharistic centers, schools, missions, and all the services you carry out,” Pope Francis said.
“Therefore, starting from pausing before Jesus in the Eucharist, the Bread broken and the Master who washes the disciples’ feet (cf. Jn 13:3–15), may you also learn to look at your brothers and sisters through the magnifying glass of the consecrated Host.”
–by Courtney Mares
Image Source: Vatican Media/CNA