World Day of Consecrated Life
February 2, 2014
In 1997, Pope John Paul II instituted a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life. This celebration is attached to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd. This Feast is also known as Candlemas Day; the day on which candles are blessed symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world. So too, those in consecrated life are called to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to all peoples.
A recent 15-page article (available in English at the La Civiltà Cattolica website) documents the views of Pope Francis on religious life.
“Wake up the world! Be witnesses of a different
way of doing things, of acting, of living!
It is possible to live differently in this world.”
“We are speaking of an eschatological outlook, of the values of the Kingdom incarnated here, on this earth. It is a question of leaving everything to follow the Lord. No, I do not want to say “radical.” Evangelical radicalness is not only for religious: it is demanded of all. But religious follow the Lord in a special was, in a prophetic way. It is this witness that I expect of you. Religious should be men and women who are able to wake the world up.”
While you can access the full 17-page article in English, Spanish or Italian at the journal’s website, here is a sampling of some of our favorite excerpts (CNS translations of the original Italian).
- Today’s religious men and women need to be prophetic, “capable of waking up the world,” of showing they are a special breed who “have something to say” to the world today.
- “The church must be attractive. Wake up the world! Be witnesses of a different way of doing things, acting, living! (Show) it’s possible to live differently in this world.”
- They need to live and behave in a truly different way, recognizing one’s weakness and sins, but acting with “generosity, detachment, sacrifice, forgetting oneself in order to take care of others.”
- “It’s necessary to spend time in real contact with the poor. For me this is really important: it’s necessary to know from experience what’s real, to dedicate time going to the periphery to truly know the situation and the life of the people.”
- Without firsthand experience with people’s lives, “then one runs the risk of being abstract ideologues or fundamentalists, and this is not healthy.” “Inculturating a charism, therefore, is fundamental, and this does not mean relativizing it. We must not make a charism rigid and uniform. When we make our cultures uniform, then we kill the charism.”
- “The specter to combat is the image of religious life as a refuge and comfort away from a world on the ‘outside’ that is difficult and complex.”
- A charism needs to be “lived according to the place, times and people. The charism is not a bottle of distilled water. It needs to be lived with energy, rereading it culturally, too.”
- Preparing new members for religious life is “a craft, not a police operation. We must include the formation of hearts. Otherwise we are creating little monsters. And then these little monsters mold the people of God. This really gives me goose bumps.”
- People working in formation need to think about the people of God these men and women will be in contact with. “I’m reminded of those religious who have a heart as sour as vinegar: they are not made for the people. We must not create administrators and managers, but fathers, brothers and sisters, travel companions.”