Monday, November 29, 2010

Pope: mission is the Churches’ way of being

Mission "is the Churches way of being, and in her, that of consecrated life”, it is part of the "identity" of religious, urging them to "bring the Gospel to all, without boundaries. Mission, sustained by a strong experience of God, a robust formation and life in community, is key to understanding and revitalizing consecrated life". 

Mission, together with "seeking God" and "fraternity" is part of the "essentials" of consecrated life which Benedict XVI referred to as a way to "revive" religious orders.

Speaking to the participants attending the biannual general assembly of the Union of Superiors General (USG), he said "you are by vocation seekers of God.  You consecrate the best energies of your vocation to this search. You pass from secondary concerns to the essential, to that which is truly important; you seek the definitive, you seek God, always keep you gaze turned towards Him”. "Seek God in the brothers and sisters that he gave you, with whom you share the same life and mission. You seek Him particularly in the men and women of our time, to whom you are sent to offer with your life and words, the gift of the Gospel. You seek him especially in the poor, the first recipients of the Good News (cf. Lk 4:18). You seek him in the Church where the Lord is present, especially in the Eucharist and other Sacraments, and in His Word, which is the highway in our search for God, it leads us into conversation with Him and reveals His true face. Always be passionate seekers and witnesses of God”.

"The fundamental renewal of consecrated life - he continued – begins with the centrality of the Word of God, and more specifically the Gospel, the supreme rule for all of you, as the Second Vatican Council Decree Perfectae caritatis (cf. n. 2) affirms and as your Founders well understood: consecrated life is a plant rich in branches rooted in the Gospel. This is demonstrated by the history of your institutions, in which the firm will to live the message of Christ and to configure you r life to it, was and remains the fundamental criterion of vocational discernment and your personal and community discernment. The Gospel lived daily is the element that gives appeal and beauty to consecrated life and introduces you to the world as a viable alternative. Modern society needs this from you, the Church expects this from you: to be living the Gospel. "

Another "key aspect" of consecrated life stressed by the Pope is fraternity: "Through it, in fact, passes the witness of your consecration. Fraternal life is one of the things that most young people seek when they approach your life, it is important a prophetic element that you offer in a highly individualistic society. I know the efforts you are making in this area, I also know the difficulties that community life entails. We need a serious and constant discernment to hear what the Spirit says to the community (see! P 2.7), to recognize what is from the Lord and what is not (see Consecrated Life, 73). 

Without discernment, accompanied by prayer and reflection, the consecrated life is in danger of giving in to the criteria of this world: individualism, consumerism, materialism, criteria that lessen fraternity and cause consecrated life to loose its appeal and drive. Be masters of discernment, so that your brothers and your sisters take on this habitus and your communities may be a powerful sign to the world today. You who are in the service of authority, and that have the task of guiding and planning the future of your religious institutions, remember that an important part of spiritual animation and government is to seek common ways to foster fellowship, mutual communication, warmth, and truth in relation with one another. "

"One last item I want to highlight is mission. Mission "is the Churches way of being, and in her, that of consecrated life, a part of your identity, it urges you to bring the Gospel to all, without boundaries. Mission, supported by a strong experience of God, a robust formation and life in community, is key to understanding and revitalizing consecrated life. Go therefore and in creative fidelity take on the challenge of the new evangelization. Renew your presence in the Areopagus of today to announce, as did St. Paul in Athens, the "unknown" God (cf. Homily at the Collège des Bernardins). 

Dear Superiors General - concluded Benedict XVI - the current moment denotes for many institutions a numerical reduction, especially in Europe. This difficulty, however, should not make us forget that consecrated life has its origin in the Lord: wanted by Him for the building and the sanctity of his Church, and therefore the Church will never be without".