"In societies concerned with efficiency and success," religious life, "marked by the 'minor' things, the weakness of the small, empathy with those who have no voice, becomes an evangelical sign of contradiction. "
The long procession of the
Superiors General of the Institutes of Consecrated Life, running the full length
of the great nave of the basilica of St. Peter, each cradling a lighted candle,
along with thousands of others held by friars, monks and nuns, recalled the
traditional name for Feb. 2, "Candlemas", and the World Day for
Consecrated Life, now in its 17th edition.
In fact, the procession with candles also inspired Benedict XVI, in his comment
on the Gospel passage of Jesus' presentation at the temple, evoking "the
entry of Mary into the Temple: the Virgin Mary, consecrated par excellence, carrying
in her arms Light Itself, the Word incarnate, Who came to dispel the darkness
of the world with the love of God".
But this is the Year of Faith and
to the religious who flocked to the basilica and those of the whole world, whom
already late this morning he had greeted with a tweet: "Today I have a special thought for
every religious: may they always follow Christ faithfully in poverty, chastity
and obedience. " Tonight
he spoke of "three invitations, to help us fully cross the threshold of
the "door of faith "that is always open to us."
"I urge you in the first place to foster a faith that can illuminate your
vocation. I urge you to do this in memory, as in an inner pilgrimage, to look
back on the" first love "with which the Lord Jesus Christ warmed your
heart, not to be nostalgic, but to revive the flame. And for this we need to be
with Him, in the silence of adoration, and thus reawaken the desire and joy to
share His life and choices, the obedience of faith, the beatitudes of the poor,
and the radical nature of love".
"Secondly, I invite you to a
faith that recognizes the wisdom of weakness. In the joys and sorrows of the
present time, when you feel the harshness and weight of the cross, do not doubt
that the kenosi of Christ is already a paschal victory. It
is within the limits of our human weakness that we are called to live conformed
to Christ in an all-encompassing tension that anticipates, to the extent that
it is possible in time, eschatological perfection "
"Finally, I invite you to renew your faith that makes you pilgrims of the
future. By its nature, consecrated life is a pilgrimage of the spirit, looking
for a Face that sometimes shows itself and sometimes remains veiled," Faciem tuam, Domine, requiram "(Ps. 26.8). Let this be the constant yearning of your heart, the
fundamental criterion that guides your path, both in the small daily steps and
in the most important decisions. Do not join the prophets of doom who proclaim who proclaim consecrated life has no
future, no meaning in the Church of our day, but rather vest
yourselves with Jesus Christ and you will be wearing the armor of light - as
exhorted by St. Paul (cf. Rom 13.11-14) - remain alert and vigilant. "
"The joy of consecrated life
- concluded the Pope - necessarily passes through participation in the Cross of
Christ. It was so for Mary. Hers is the suffering of the heart that forms one
with the Heart of the Son of God, pierced for love. From that wound gushes the
light of God, and also by suffering, by sacrifice, the gift of oneself that
consecrated live for the love of God and others, radiates the same light that
evangelizes peoples. On this Feast I wish especially to you consecrated, that your
life always have the flavor of evangelical parresia, so that in you the Good News is lived,
witnessed, announced and shines forth as the Word of truth. "