VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis asked members of the Order of St. Augustine gathered in Rome for the opening Mass of their worldwide meeting to be restless in continuing to seek the well-being of other people.
“Restlessness is also love, always seeking the good of others, of loved ones, with that intensity that also leads to tears,” Pope Francis said Aug. 28 at the Basilica of St. Augustine.
“The restlessness of love always encourages us to reach out to the other, without waiting for the other to express his needs,” he added.
Pope Francis presided over the Eucharistic celebration to launch the general chapter of the Augustinian order, which takes place every six years. The Augustinian leaders have gathered from all over the world, and they are holding several weeks of meetings to choose a new leader and set out their aims for the next six years until the next general chapter.
The religious order gathered from five continents at the basilica, alongside a number of other religious groups and lay men and women. Pope Francis greeted people who were waiting to see him along the street before entering the church.
Aug. 28 was the feast of St. Augustine, who lived during the time of the Roman Empire in what is now modern-day Algeria until he converted to Christianity in his early 30s. The Order of St. Augustine was founded in 1244 and is aimed at living and promoting the spirit of community as it was lived during the fourth and fifth centuries.
During his homily on Wednesday, the Pope spoke about the saintʼs restlessness, which ultimately led him to an encounter with God.
“Even in the discovery of God and in the encounter with him, Augustine doesn’t stop, doesn’t rest, doesn’t become closed in on himself like those who have already arrived, but continues along the way,” Francis told the congregation.
“The restlessness of the quest for the truth, of the quest for God, becomes the restlessness of always coming to know him better and of going out of oneself in order to make him known to others, and this is the restlessness of love,” he explained.
The Holy Father said “the restless heart of Augustine has something to teach us,” which is “the restlessness of the spiritual quest, the restlessness of the encounter with God, the restlessness of love.”
“I would say to those who feel indifferent to God, towards the faith, to those who are far from God or are abandoned, and even to us, with our distances and our abandonment towards God, little, perhaps, but there are so many in daily life: Look into the depths of your heart,” he said.
“Look deep within yourself and ask yourself: Do you have a heart that desires something great or a heart that is put to sleep by material things?” the Pope remarked.
Pope Francis told the Augustinians that the saint’s restlessness became pastoral.
“Augustine is left with the restlessness from God; he never tires of announcing it, of evangelizing with courage, without fear,” he said.
Francis underscored that the saint did this “seeking to be the image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who knows his sheep, indeed, as I love to repeat, who smells like his flock and goes out to seek those who are lost.”
The Holy Father noted that St. Augustine lived what St. Paul told Timothy and encouraged the congregation to “announce the word, be urgent in season and out of season, announce the Gospel with the magnanimous, large heart of a pastor that is restless for his flock.”
“Always go out towards God; go out towards the flock,” Pope Francis said. “You should always be on the journey, always restless, and this is the peace of restlessness.”