VATICAN CITY — Today’s article in the Italian Jesuit journal, La Civilta’ Cattolica, offers more fresh insight from Pope Francis into how men and women can live out religious and consecrate life more fully. As a member of the world’s largest order of religious men and as someone who served as head of the Jesuit province in Argentina, the pope’s insight is particularly valuable.
The article gives an in-depth account of the three-hour, closed-door informal meeting the pope had with 120 superiors general of men’s religious orders Nov. 29.
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.”
- “Those who work with young people cannot limit themselves to saying things that are too ordered and structured like a treaty because these things fly over their heads. A new language is needed, a new way of saying things. Today God calls us to leave the nest that’s holding us and to be emissaries.”
- 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.”
- “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.”
- Thinking formation is completed after seminary studies “is hypocrisy, fruit of clericalism.”
- 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.”