OF HIS HOLINESS PAUL VI
FOR THE RELIGIOUS
Tuesday, September 8, 1964
Beloved Daughters in Christ!
It is a great spiritual comfort for our hearts to celebrate the feast of the nativity of Mary with you, good and dear religious.We often celebrate our sacred solemnities.
We are troubled by the thought of understanding, about the participation of the faithful who attend the rite, having reason to doubt whether they understand, whether they are united to the prayer of the Church.
Whether they fully enjoy the meaning of the mysteries mentioned, of the prayers uttered, of the spiritual and moral value of what the culture should present to our souls.
This thought, this doubt does not exist here! We are sure that all of you are with us to give fullness of meaning and fervor to this Holy Mass in honor of the nascent Mary; and this for three obvious reasons, which together contribute to making the present ceremony solemn and memorable.
The first reason is that it forces us to remember the appearance of Our Lady in the world as the arrival of the dawn that precedes the light of salvation.
Christ Jesus, as the opening on earth, all covered by the mud of sin, of the most beautiful flower that has ever blossomed in the devastated garden of humanity; that is the birth of the purest.
Most innocent, most perfect human creature, more worthy of the definition that God himself, creating it, had given of man: image of God, that is, supreme beauty, profound, so ideal in his being and his form, and so real in his living expression to allow us to understand how this primordial creature was destined.
On the one hand, for dialogue, for the love of its Creator in an ineffable effusion of the most blissful and beatifying Divinity and in an abandoned response of poetry and joy (as is the “Magnificat” of the Virgin) and on the other hand, destined to the real domain of the earth.
What had to appear and vanish miserably in Eve, for a design of infinite mercy (we could almost say for a purpose of revenge, like that of the artist who.
Seeing his work broken, wants to do it again and make it even more beautiful and more in keeping with his creative idea).
God revived in Mary: “ut dignum Filii tui habitaculum effici mereretur, Spiritu Sancta cooperante. Praeparasti,” as the prayer says to you all well known. And today, the day dedicated to the worship of this gift, of this masterpiece of God, we remember, we admire, we rejoice:
Mary was born, Mary is ours, Mary returns to us the figure of perfect humanity, in her immaculate human conception, wonderfully corresponding to the mysterious conception of the divine mind of the queen creature of the world. And Mary.
For new and supreme joy, enchanting joy of our souls, does not stop our gaze at herself except to push him to look ahead, to the miracle of light and holiness and life.
Which she announces when she is born and will go with Self, Christ the Lord, his Son, Son of God, from whom she herself receives everything. This is the famous game of grace, which is called Incarnation, and which today foreshadows us in advance, in Mary.
You know, all very beloved daughters, you meditate on them, you honor them, you imitate them. Mary gives you the sublime picture, in which she triumphs in humility and unparalleled glory.
Is this not a reason that makes us glad to know all of you intimately associated with this joy of the Church, this glorification of the Madonna?
The second reason: you celebrate with us this feast, sweet and intimate, like a family day, like a domestic event, which holds hearts in sweet and common sentiments. It is the feast of the common and heavenly Mother; and we understand how your devotion is increased by the fact that you celebrate it today together with this humble common and terrestrial Father, with the Pope to ours, your trust to ours.
It seems to us, dear and good Religious, that this morning you are our bouquet of flowers, with which we present ourselves to Mary to express our wishes to her - oh, let us say better:
Our tributes! - on the day of his birthday. A kind of childish discourse comes to our lips: See, Mary, what we offer you, these flowers. They are the most beautiful flowers of the Holy Church; they are the souls of the only love, of the love to your divine Child Jesus.
They are the souls that have really believed in His words, and that has left everything to follow Him alone. They listen to Him, they imitate Him, they serve Him, they follow Him, with you, yes, to the Cross; and do not complain, they are not afraid. They do not cry, they are always happy, they are good, Mary, these children of the Church of Christ are holy!.
We hope that the Blessed Virgin hears these simple words, that you feel honored by the offer that we make you today, Religious. Let us say more of all the Religious of the Holy Church; and we hope that you will look at them all, you blessed her among all, with those merciful eyes of yours (illos tuos misericordes oculos . . .) Who wants to cheer her up, wants to protect and bless her; because they are His, and they are His because they belong to the Church!.
It seems to us that this meeting highlights in particular that aspect of your religious life. Why are you so happy today to attend the Holy Mass of the Pope and to venerate the Most Holy Madonna with him? And why is the Pope himself happy to have you with him?.
Because you are, we were saying, of the Church; you belong, and with ties of particular adherence, to the mystical body of Christ, and in the ecclesiastical community you have a special place:
You are the joy of the Church, your honor, your beauty, your consolation, your example!. We can also add: you force it! For your piety, for your humility, for your docility, for your spirit of sacrifice.
You are the beloved daughters of the holy Church. This meeting must revive in you the “sense of the Church.” It sometimes happens that this “sense of the Church”.
Is less perceived and less cultivated in certain religious families because they live apart. And that they find in their communities all objects of immediate interest, and know little about what happens outside the enclosure of their occupations, to which they are totally dedicated.
Sometimes it happens that their religious life has limited horizons, not only for what concerns the affair of the things of this world, but also for what concerns the life of the Church.
Its events, its thoughts and its teachings, its ardors spiritual, its pains and its fortunes. And that they find within their communities all objects of immediate interest, and little they know of what happens outside the enclosure of their occupations, to which they are totally dedicated. This is not an ideal position for the religious; it loses the great and complete vision of the divine plan for our salvation and for our sanctification.
It is not a privilege to remain on the margins of the life of the Church and build for ourselves a spirituality that is free from the circulation of word, grace and charity of the Catholic community of brothers in Christ.
Without taking away from the Religious the silence, the recollection, the relative autonomy, the style she needs, the form of life that is proper to her.
We hope that she will be given back a more direct and fuller participation in the life of the Church, in the liturgy especially, to social charity, to the modern apostolate, to the service of the brothers.
Much is done in this sense and we profitably believe in the sanctification of the Religious, and the building of the faithful. We remember that in Milan, on the occasion of this feast. We invited the dear Sisters of Maria Bambina to attend Our Pontifical Mass, in that Cathedral,.
Which is certainly one of the most beautiful and largest cathedrals in the world, and which is, in fact, dedicated to the Nativity of Mary.
None of those Sisters felt from her devotion the invitation to participate in the solemn and splendid rite in honor of Maria nascent in the Cathedral of the City where they have their mother-house and a magnificent network of charitable activities. The Archbishop invited her and then came to the Duomo every year on the eighth of September.
In good numbers; and they were happy to be the beloved daughters of the Church on that day, as we were in greeting them during the homily and blessing them, as exemplary and worthy of our benevolence. Well, this meeting, we repeat, will serve to rekindle in you, as we hope in all the immense ranks of female religious souls, love for the Church and to place you more and more in communion with her. Great thought.
Remember this, that can open the window to the spiritual reality to which you have dedicated your life.
The Church is, in fact, the work of salvation established by Christ; great thought, which can comfort and support the modesty and concealment of your occupations. The Church is the kingdom of the Lord, who belongs to it and who serves it participates in the dignity, the fortune of this kingdom; great thought, yes.
Is the Church, which opens to your oblation the ways by which it can be even more fruitful of apostolic results, of wise charity, of immense merits. We believe that the day has come when women’s religious life must be put in higher honor and in greater efficiency.
And that this can happen by perfecting the bonds that unite it to that of the whole Church. We will give you a confidence in this regard.
We have given instructions so that also some qualified and devoted women assist, as Auditors, to several solemn rites and to several General Congregations of the next third Session of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council; to those congregations, let us say. Whose questions under discussion can particularly interest the life of the woman; so we will have for the first time, perhaps.
Present in an Ecumenical Council some, few, - it is obvious - but significant and almost symbolic female representations; of you, Religious, first. While we enjoy making this announcement to you. We are saddened by the thought of the many manifestations of modern life in which the woman appears to have fallen from spiritual and ethical height, which the best civil customs and elevation to the Christian vocation attribute to them.
To the level of insensitivity moral and often pagan license; the woman is deprived, while the ways of the most dangerous and morbid experiences. Of true happiness and true love, which can never be separated from the sacred sense of life, are opened to her.
And it also pains us to see how so many female souls, made for high and generous things, no longer know how to give their lives a full and superior meaning today, because they lack two coefficients of inner fullness:
Prayer, in its complete expression, personal and sacramental; and the spirit of dedication, of love that is that which gives and which gives life. Poor and tormented souls remain, to whom external distractions bring a false remedy.
Here, then, is the third reason of our spiritual joy originating from this encounter comes to console us.
And it is to observe in your number and in your fervor that there are still today pure and strong souls who are thirsty for perfection and who have neither fear nor shame in wearing the religious habit, the habit of total consecration of their own life to the Lord.
In this respect, too, we really should make a two-fold unhappy observation; and that is that religious vocation.
Even women, are in decline; and that the Church and even profane society have a growing need for such vocations. This is one of the problems of our time, for whose solution it will be necessary to operate and pray.
But let us stop now at the test of the religious vitality that your presence offers us. We thank Our Lady of this consolation, which allows us to glimpse her providential and maternal assistance to the Church.
That gives us the example of an ever-flourishing Christian generosity, which makes us think of all the treasure of good works to which your life is consecrated.
We pray to Our Lady for you: to give us the certainty for the goodness of the choice you made. It is the best. It is the most difficult and the easiest together, it is the closest to that of Mary Most Holy, because, like hers.
It is all governed by a simple and total abandonment to the divine will: “Fiat mihi secundum Verbum tuum!” We will ask her to make you strong: Today religious life requires strength. Yesterday, perhaps, it was the refuge of so many weak and timid souls.
Today it is the workshop of strong, constant and heroic souls. We will pray to her at last for the Madonna to make you happy; religious life. However poor and austere it may be, can only be authentic in inner joy!.
It is the one that we wish you in memory of this meeting with all, asking for prayers for the Council and for the whole Church, giving everyone our blessing.