January 4, 2008

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

The following, in it's entirety, is a copyrighted transcript of the Vatican Information Service.

SUMMARY:


POPE VISITS SHELTER OF MISSIONARY SISTERS OF CHARITY

 VATICAN CITY, 4 JAN 2008 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI visited the "Dono di Maria" shelter for the poor, which is located in the Vatican and which Servant of God John Paul II entrusted to the care of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1988.

   Following a brief greeting from Sister Mark Poustani, superior of the house, the Pope pronounced his address. "I am among you today", he said, "to renew my gratitude to the sisters, the volunteers and others who collaborate here. I am here, especially, to express my spiritual closeness to you, dear friends, who in this house find loving welcome, acceptance and understanding, a form of daily support that is both material and spiritual. I am here to tell you the Pope loves you and is close to you".

   The Holy Father then went on to recall how Mother Teresa chose to name the house "Dono di Maria" (Gift of Mary) because she wanted people "always to be able to experience the love of the Blessed Virgin. In fact, for whoever comes to knock on the door, being welcomed in the loving embrace of the sisters and volunteers is like a gift of Mary", as is "the presence of people who pause to listen to those in difficulty and serve them with the same readiness that caused the mother of the Lord to visit St. Elisabeth.

   "May such evangelical love", he added, "always distinguish your own vocation, enabling you to give the people you meet every day, apart from material assistance, that same passion for Christ and that same luminous 'smile of God' which animated the life of Mother Teresa".

   Christmas, said the Pope , "shows us the infinite goodness of God Who, by becoming a Child, chose to draw near the poverty and the solitude of mankind; He agreed to dwell among us, sharing our daily difficulties; He did not hesitate to bear, along with us, the burden of existence with all its pains and concerns. He was born for us, to stay with us and to offer anyone who opens the door to Him the gift of His joy, His peace and His love. Born in a manger because there was no room for Him elsewhere, Jesus experienced the discomforts that many of you experience".

   He went on: "Christmas helps us to understand that God never abandons us and that He comes out to meet us, protects us and concerns himself with each one of us, because each individual, especially the weak and defenceless, is precious in the tender and merciful eyes of the Father".

   Subsequently, after visiting the women's canteen, the men's canteen and the ward for sick women, the Holy Father moved on to the church of San Salvatore in Ossibus which is next to the "Dono di Maria" shelter.

   There he greeted the Missionary Sisters of Charity, a group of lay volunteer workers and the superiors general of the two male orders of the religious family founded by Mother Teresa: the Missionaries of Charity Fathers and the Missionaries of Charity Contemplative Brothers.

   "This visit", said the Pope in his discourse, "is reminiscent of the numerous visits of my beloved predecessor, Servant of God John Paul II. He ardently wished this shelter for the poorest" to be built "right here at the centre of the Church, next to Peter who served, followed and loved Jesus, the Lord".

   After recalling how John Paul II inaugurated the shelter on 21 May 1988, the Pope said: "How much sharing and how many concrete gestures of charity have been accomplished over the years within these walls! They are a sign and an example for other Christian communities to become ever more welcoming and open".

   The Pope concluded by asking the Virgin Mary, "who offered all of herself to the Almighty and was filled with every grace and blessing with the coming of the Son of God, to show us how to make our lives a daily gift to God the Father, in serving our brothers and sisters and in listening to His word and His will".

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