General Audience with Pope Francis Mazur/ Flikr

Calling Secular Franciscans “true penitents,” Pope Francis cited penance as the path to joy and conversion in his address at the General Chapter of the Secular Franciscan order on Nov. 15.

“God leads the penitent to places where he would never have wanted to go,” Pope Francis said.  “The penitent responds by accepting to place himself at the service of others and by using mercy with them.  And the result is happiness.”

Pope Francis praised the Franciscan practice of penance as a way of opening one’s heart to God.

“Please, let us not confuse “doing penance” with “works of penance.”  These–fasting, almsgiving, mortification, are consequences of the decision to open one’s heart to God.  Open your heart to God!  To open one’s heart to Christ, living in the midst of ordinary people, in the style of St. Francis.  Just a Francis was a “mirror of Christ,” so may you too become “mirrors of Christ.”

You can read the full text of Pope Francis’s talk at the following link.

 Full text of Address of Pope Francis at the General Chapter of the Secular Franciscan Order