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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Francis greets the members of the Don Guanella family: the worst famine is the lack of charity

Vatican City, 12 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall the Pope greeted five hundred members of the Family of St. Luigi Guanella, known simply as Don Guanella (1842-1915), the Italian priest who founded the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence and the Order of the Servants of Charity. He was beatified in 1964 and canonised in 2011.

The Don Guanella Family's pilgrimage to Rome coincides with the first centenary of the saint's death and, in his address to the pilgrims, the Holy Father imagined what Don Guanella might have said to his followers to confirm them in faith, hope and charity, using three verbs: to trust, to look, and to make haste.

The first verb is to trust. “The life of Don Guanella had as its centre the certainty that God is the merciful and provident Father. This was for him the heart of faith: knowing himself to be an always beloved son, for whom the Father cared, and therefore a brother to all, called upon to inspire trust. … I think that it displeases the heavenly Father greatly to see that His children do not fully trust in Him; they perhaps believe in a distant God, rather than in a merciful Father. In many people there arises the doubt that God, while being Father, may also be a master. … But this is a great deception; the ancient deception of the enemy of God and man, which conceals reality and disguises good as evil. It is the first temptation: to distance oneself from God, intimidated by the suspicion that His paternity is not truly provident and good. God is instead love alone, pure provident love. He loves us more than we love ourselves, and knows what is truly good for us. He therefore hopes that in the course of life we become what we are at the moment of our Baptism: beloved children, able to vanquish fear and not ceding to lamentation, because the Father takes care of us”.

The second verb is to look. “The Father, the Creator, also inspires creativity in those who live like His children. They then learn to look at the world through new eyes, made more luminous by love and hope. They are eyes that enable us to look within with truth, and to see far in charity. … In the world there is never any lack of problems, and in our time there are unfortunately new forms of poverty and many injustices. But the greatest famine of all is that of charity: we need, most of all, people with eyes renewed by love and a gaze that inspires hope”.

“At times, our spiritual point of view is short-sighted, as we are not able to see beyond our own ego. At other times we are long-sighted: we like to help those who are far away but are not able to stoop to those who live next to us. Sometimes, indeed, we prefer to close our eyes, as we are tired and overcome by pessimism. Don Guanella, who recommended that we look at Jesus starting from His heart, invites us to have the same gaze as the Lord: a gaze that inspires hope and joy, able at the same time to feel a 'profound sentiment of compassion' towards those who suffer”.

Finally, to make haste: “The poor are the favoured sons” of the Father, St. Luigi said, and he liked to repeat that 'those who give to the poor, lend to God'. Just as the Father is delicate and concrete with regard to his smallest and weakest children, so we too cannot expect our brothers and sisters in difficulty to wait as, again in the words of Don Guanella, 'misery cannot wait. And we cannot stop as long as there are poor people to tend to'”.

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