The Holy Father received the Canons Regular of St. Augustine in audience at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.
The leaders of the 770 religious of this order are reflecting on the question of lay participation in their charism, which goes back to St. Augustine himself.
The Holy Father referred to the formula used by the bishop of Hippo: "to transmit to others what has been contemplated."
Addressing the Canons Regular directly, the Pontiff said: "You are the continuation of a spirituality that can speak to the mind and heart of the men of today, who search for spiritual models in which they can be validly inspired."
John Paul II added that the Augustinian rule "continues to be timely, as it presents the communal charism linked to evangelical principles, such as charity, unity and liberty, unfailingly," above all because it is centered on Christ, "sublime interior Master."
The Holy Father said to the religious that "everything invites to the rediscovery of an asceticism that is characterized by obedience and fidelity to the Spirit."
In communicating this to the laity, the latter become "missionaries in the complex modern world," the Pope explained.
"You represent a community experience, in which the laity assumes its specific ecclesial role with responsible participation, reinforced by grace, derived from a profound liturgical spirituality," the Holy Father concluded.
The order began to be organized in canonical congregations in the 11th century. The confederation of the congregations took place in 1959.