From Pope John Paul II, Address for the 50th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Little Sisters.1989

Rome, 8th September 1989

1985 Little Sister Magdeleine with John Paul 111985 Little Sister Magdeleine with John Paul 11

I truly have it in my heart to underline and really encourage certain essential aspects of your religious life. In your Constitutions your religious consecration is defined as an existence lived out in ordinary life, following the example of Brother Charles who was himself overwhelmed by the mystery of Bethlehem and Nazareth. He deepened and fervently lived out in his own life the filial dialogue Jesus maintained with his Father all during his hidden years in Nazareth. Dear little sisters, continue to journey along this same spiritual pathway with determination and humility.

Chilian children at playChilian children at play

May the poor lead you to the heart of God

Your evangelical sharing of life with travellers, minorities who are so inaccessible, the men and women who are the most forgotten or the most despised, with people whose lives are marked by materialism or even a certain atheism, this life in their midst is the visible dimension of your journey to the Father. May the poor lead you to the heart of God! The Son of God, poor among the poor, indeed revealed a great mystery the day he said,

"He who welcomes me, welcomes the one who sent me." Luke 9.48.
Your pathway to holiness is made up of your gestures and attitudes of goodness towards poor people. The Lord has given you a precious gift. Do not cease to be grateful for it!

Your constitutions also insist on an attitude that precedes and accompanies charity: having respect for all people. In the footsteps of Christ and of Brother Charles, your vocation is to recognize in each person, especially the most wretched, an object of hope, a human being who is called - above and beyond his limits, his sins and maybe all his crimes - to an entirely new future...

Cuba, working together on a tobacco plantationCuba, working together on a tobacco plantation

The tiniest gestures can speak of Jesus Christ

Like Brother Charles of Jesus, it's by your entire life that you are to announce the Gospel. In order to deeply take root among groups of people marked by poverty, you really need to be on intimate terms with the Universal Saviour. Each day God grants you to cooperate with his creation and to work at its restoration, .in the very place where the perverted use of human liberty has disfigured it. Charles de Foucauld had taken this vocation extremely seriously when he wrote,

"I want to cry the Gospel by all my life."
You burn with the same apostolic zeal, without making any noise. By the ordinary means of your daily life, you allow those among whom you live and with whom you live to read the Good News directly by reading your lives, and to discover through your lives the true countenance of God. These ordinary means are obviously your relationships with your neighbours, your actions that set you in solidarity with the men and women you live among and with whom you share the sad and joyous events of their lives, your availability to listen to them, to give them advice and help them out whenever they find themselves in a difficult situation and turn to you, your times of prayer that they are well familiar with, the simple and friendly celebrations of birthdays and anniversaries and so many other things as well.

Birthday timeBirthday time

The tiniest gestures can speak of Jesus Christ. There is a certain way of being and of acting that is already an answer to the questions implicitly carried in the hearts of those who surround you: "These little sisters, what have they to tell us about their God?"

For all the world

With the whole Church, I wish for each little sister that she be able to draw from the recent celebration of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the foundation a truly youthful spirit, made of a passionate love for the Lord Jesus and of his brothers and sisters who are marked by distress. Your history is only just beginning! May the almighty Lord in the mystery of his littleness at Bethlehem and his hidden life in Nazareth, raise up in years to come generous vocations from all over the world and for all the world, and may He fill you with his blessings.