Vatican City, 22 May 2013 (VIS) – “My presence here this afternoon represents, first of all, a heartfelt 'thank you' to the Missionaries of Charity founded by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who have worked here for 25 years, with many volunteers, for the many people who are in need of assistance. Thank you! All of you make the Church's love for the poor visible … and with your daily service you are—as the Psalm says—'You open wide your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing'. … How many people have you fed in these years; how many wounded, above all wounded spiritually, have you cared for!”
With these words Pope Francis addressed the missionaries, volunteers, and residents in the Gift of Mary Hospitality House located within Vatican City, just outside St. Peter's Square. He visited the community yesterday, Tuesday 21 May, at around 5:30pm in the afternoon, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II's placing the house under the care of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The Pope was welcomed by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, vicar general of His Holiness for Vatican City, and the Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, Sr. Mary Prema Pierick, M.C., and the sisters placed a garland of flowers around the pontiff's neck, in a gesture from Hindu tradition. The house accommodates around 25 women and feeds around 60 people on a daily basis.
In his brief speech to the community, the Pope focused on three words: house, gift, and Mary.
“This structure, built and inaugurated by Blessed John Paul II,” he said, “… is a 'home'. And when we say 'home', we mean a place of welcome … where you can feel good, re-find yourself, feel part of … a community. Even more profoundly, 'home' is a word with a typically familial flavour that recalls the warmth, affection, and love that can be felt in a family. A 'home' thus represents the most precious human wealth, that of encounter, that of the relationships between persons of different ages, cultures, and histories, but who live together and who, together, help one another to grow. … And that is what this house has sought to be for 25 years! At the border between the Vatican and Italy, it is a powerful reminder to all of us—to the Church, to the city of Rome—to always be more of a family, a 'home' in which we are open to welcome, to attention, and to fraternity.”
“Then there is a second very important word, 'gift', which qualifies this house and defines it typical identity. … I mean that this house gives welcome, material and spiritual support to you, dear guests, coming from various parts of the world. But you also are a gift for this house and for the Church. You tell us that loving God and our neighbour is not something abstract but profoundly concrete. It means seeing in every person the face of the Lord to serve and serving him concretely. … Here is lived a an open hospitality, regardless of one's nationality or religion, according to Jesus' teaching: 'Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.' We must recover the entire sense of gift, of gratuity and solidarity. A savage capitalism has taught the logic of profit at any cost, give in order to get, exploitation without looking at persons …. and we see the results in the crisis we are living through! This house is a place that teaches charity, a 'school' of charity, that teaches us to go out to every person, not for profit, but out of love.”
“Finally, there is one more feature of this house: it is qualified as a gift 'of Mary'. … Mary is an example and an inspiration for those who live in this house, and for all of us, to live charity towards our neighbour, not out of a type of social duty, but starting from God's love, from God's charity. … Mary is the one who leads us to Jesus and who teaches us how to go out from Jesus … For us Christians, love for one's neighbour is born from the love of God and is the clearest expression of it. Here you seek to love your neighbour, but also to let yourselves be loved by them. These two attitudes go hand in hand. There cannot be one without the other.”