Pope Francis: The Saints Show Us How to Live in Communion With the Church

The Pope spoke at a March 12 Mass marking the 400th anniversary of the canonization of Sts. Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, Philip Neri and Isidore the Farmer from Madrid.

L to R: Statues depict Jesuit Sts. Francis Xavier and Ignatius of Loyola, who were canonized 400 years ago. The statue of St. Francis Xavier is located at the Valdocco Complex in Turin, Italy, which includes the Basilica di Maria Ausiliatrice (Basilica of Mary the Helper). The statue of St. Ignatius is located in St. Peter's Basilica.
L to R: Statues depict Jesuit Sts. Francis Xavier and Ignatius of Loyola, who were canonized 400 years ago. The statue of St. Francis Xavier is located at the Valdocco Complex in Turin, Italy, which includes the Basilica di Maria Ausiliatrice (Basilica of Mary the Helper). The statue of St. Ignatius is located in St. Peter's Basilica. (photo: Bohumil Petrik / 2015, CNA)

Pope Francis reminded Jesuits and other religious orders on Saturday that their vocation is grounded in communion with the Catholic Church.

The Pope spoke at a March 12 Mass marking the 400th anniversary of the canonization of Sts. Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, Philip Neri and Isidore the Farmer from Madrid.

“The saints we commemorate today were pillars of communion,” he said. “They remind us that, for all our differences of character and viewpoint, we have been called to be together. If we will be forever united in heaven, why not begin here?”

Sts. Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila and Philip Neri were canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622. Isidore the Farmer was declared a saint 10 days later on March 22, 1622.

Saturday’s Mass was celebrated by Jesuit Superior General Father Arturo Sosa at the Church of the Gesù, the mother church of the Society of Jesus, which was founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola.

In his homily at Mass, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel reading for the Second Sunday of Lent, the Transfiguration of Jesus.

“Jesus took with him Peter, James and John. The Lord takes the disciples together; he takes them as a community,” he noted.

“We belong to Jesus, and we belong to him as a Society [of Jesus]. Let us never tire of asking for the strength to form and foster communion, to be a leaven of fraternity for the Church and for the world.”

“We are not soloists in search of an audience, but brothers arranged as a choir. Let us think with the Church and reject the temptation to be concerned about our own personal success or attainments,” he added.

To members of religious orders, he said: “Our vocation is grounded in communion. To start anew each day, we need to experience once more the mystery of our election and the grace of living in the Church, our hierarchical Mother, and for the Church, our spouse.”

Pope Francis warned about the risk of falling into a “static faith,” when we consider ourselves respectable disciples, but “are not in fact following Jesus; instead, we passively stay put and, without realizing it, doze off like the disciples in the Gospel” in the Garden of Gethsemane.

“For the followers of Jesus, now is not a time for sleeping,” Francis underlined, “for letting our souls be sedated, anesthetized by today’s consumerist and individualistic culture, by the attitude of ‘life is good as long as it’s good for me.’”

“In that way, we can continue to speak and theorize, while losing sight of the flesh of our brothers and sisters and the concreteness of the Gospel,” he continued.

“One of the great tragedies of our time is the refusal to open our eyes to reality and instead to look the other way. St. Teresa helps us to move beyond ourselves, to go up the mountain with the Lord, to realize that Jesus also reveals himself through the wounds of our brothers and sisters, the struggles of humanity, and the signs of the times.”

Pope Francis said that, for Jesuits, “the enemy of human nature would persuade us to keep to the path of empty but comfortable routines and familiar landscapes, whereas the Spirit impels us to openness and to a peace that never leaves us in peace. He sends disciples to the utmost limits. We need think only of Francis Xavier.”

Recalling the importance of prayer, he pointed to the example of St. Philip Neri, whose prayer “expanded his heart and made him open his doors to the street children of the Rome of his time. Or of St. Isidore, who prayed in the fields and brought his farm work to his prayer.”

Ivan Aivazovsky, “Walking on Water,” ca. 1890

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