TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION PROMOTED BY THE
CONGREGATION FOR THE CONSECRATED LIFE INSTITUTES AND THE APOSTOLIC LIFE SOCIETIES
Paul VI Hall
Friday, 4 May 2018
[Speech that the Pope has addressed to those present at the meeting]
I thought about making a speech, well done, beautiful ... But then it occurred to me to speak on his arm, to say the things that are suitable for this moment.
The key to what I will say is what the Cardinal asked [Prefect of the Congregation]: authentic criteria for discerning what is happening. Because really, today so many things happen that, in order not to get lost in this world, in the fog of worldliness, in the provocations, in the spirit of war, so many things, we need authentic criteria that guide us. May they guide us in discernment.
Then, there is another thing: that this Holy Spirit is a calamity [laughs, laughs], because he never tires of being creative! Now, with the new forms of consecrated life, it is really creative, with charisms ... It is interesting: it is the author of diversity, but at the same time the Creator of unity. This is the Holy Spirit. And with this diversity of charisms and many things, He makes the unity of the Body of Christ, and also the unity of the consecrated life. And this is also a challenge.
I asked myself: what are the things that the Spirit wants to keep strong in the consecrated life? And the thought flew, he went, he turned ..., and I was always [in mind] the day I went to San Giovanni Rotondo: I do not know why, but I saw there many consecrated men and women who work ... and I thought what I said there, to the "three p" that I said there. And I said to myself: these are columns that remain, which are permanent in the consecrated life. Prayer, poverty and patience. And I chose to tell you about this: what I think is prayer in the consecrated life, and then poverty and patience.
Prayer is always to return to the first call. Any prayer, perhaps a prayer in need, but always it is to return to that Person who has called me. The prayer of a consecrated person, of a consecrated person, is to return to the Lord who has invited me to be close to him. Return to Him who looked me in the eye and told me: "Come. Leave everything and come "-" But, I would like to leave the middle ... "(we will talk about poverty) -" No, come. Leave everything. Come". And the joy at that time to leave the time or a little we had. Everyone knows what he has left behind: leaving mom, dad, family, a career ... It is true that someone looks for a career "inside", and this is not good. At that moment find the Lord who has called me to follow Him closely. Every prayer is to come back to this. And prayer is what makes me work for that Lord, not for my interests or for the institution in which I work, no, for the Lord. There is a word that is used a lot, it has been used too much and has lost a bit of strength, but it indicated well this: radicality. I do not like using it because it has been used too much, but it is this: I leave everything for you. It's the smile of the first steps ... Then there are problems, many problems that we all had, but it's always about coming back to the meeting with the Lord. And prayer, in the consecrated life, is the air that makes us breathe that call, renew that call. Without this air we could not be good consecrated. We would perhaps be good people, Christians, Catholics who work in many works of the Church, but consecration you must continually renew it there, in prayer, in an encounter with the Lord. "But I'm busy, I'm busy, I have so many things to do ...". This is more important. Go to pray. And then there is that prayer that keeps us during the day in the presence of the Lord. But anyway the prayer. "But I have a job too risky that takes me all day ...". Think of a consecrated of our days: Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa also went to "look for problems", because it was like a machine to look for problems, because it was put here, there, there ... But the two hours of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, nobody took them away from him. "Ah, the great Mother Teresa!". But do as she did, do the same. Search for your Lord, the one who called you. Prayer. Not just in the morning ... Everyone has to look for how to do it, where to do it, when to do it. But always do it, pray. One can not live the consecrated life, one can not discern what is happening without speaking with the Lord.
I would not want to talk further about this, but you got it right, I think. Prayer. And the Church needs men and women who pray, in this moment of great sorrow in humanity.
The second "p" is poverty. In the Constitutions, St. Ignatius to us Jesuits had written this - but it was not something original to him, I think, he had taken it from the Desert Fathers, perhaps "Poverty is the mother, it is the wall of containment of the consecrated life". It is "mother". Interesting: he does not say chastity, which is perhaps more connected to motherhood, paternity, no: poverty is mother. Without poverty there is no fruitfulness in the consecrated life. And it is "wall", it defends you. It protects you from the spirit of worldliness, of course. We know that the devil enters from his pockets. We all know it. And the small temptations against poverty are wounded by belonging to the body of consecrated life. Poverty according to the rules, the constitutions of each congregation: it is not the same, the poverty of one congregation or the other. The rules say: "Our poverty goes this way", "ours goes from that", but there is always the spirit of poverty. And this can not be negotiated. Without poverty we will never be able to discern well what is happening in the world. Without the spirit of poverty. "Leave everything, give to the poor", said the Lord to that young man. And that young man is all of us. "But I do not, father, I do not have much luck [wealth] ...". Yes, but something, you have some attachment! The Lord asks you that: that will be "the Isaac" that you must sacrifice. Nude in the soul, poor. And with this spirit of poverty the Lord defends us - he defends us! - from many problems and from many things that seek to destroy consecrated life. There are three steps to move from religious consecration to religious mundanity. Yes, even religious; there is a religious worldliness; many religious and consecrated are worldly. Three steps. First: the money, that is, the lack of poverty. Second: vanity, which goes from the extreme of being "peacock" to little things of vanity. And third: pride, pride. And from there, all the vices. But the first step is the attachment to riches, the attachment to money. Watching over that, the others do not come. And I say to riches, not just money. To riches. In order to discern what is happening, this spirit of poverty is needed. A homework is: how is my poverty? Look in the drawers, in the drawers of your souls, look into the personality, look into the Congregation ... Look how poverty goes. It is the first step: if we guard that, the others do not come. It is the wall that defends us from others, it is the mother who makes us more religious and makes us put all our wealth in the Lord. It is the wall that defends us from that worldly development that damages every consecration. Poverty. And third, patience. "But, father, what does patience have to do with it here?" Patience is important. We do not usually talk about it, but it's very important. Looking at Jesus, patience is what Jesus had to get to the end of his life. When Jesus, after the Supper, goes to the Garden of Olives, we can say that at that moment in a special way Jesus "enters into patience". "Enter into patience": it is an attitude of every consecration, which goes from the small things of community life or the life of consecration, which everyone has, in this variety that makes the Holy Spirit ... From small things, from small tolerances, from small gestures of smiles when I want to say bad words ... until the sacrifice of themselves, of life. Patience. That "carry on the shoulders" (hypomoné) of St. Paul: St. Paul spoke of "carrying on his shoulders", as a Christian virtue. Patience. Without patience, that is without the capacity to suffer, without "entering into patience", a consecrated life can not sustain itself, it will be half-done. Without patience, for example, we understand the internal wars of a congregation. Because they have not had the patience to bear each other, and wins the strongest part, not always the best; and even that which is won is not even the best, because it is impatient. Without patience, we understand these careerisms in the general chapters, doing the "chords" first ... to give two examples. You do not know the amount of problems, internal wars, disputes that come from Mons. Carballo! [Secretary of the Congregation]. But he is from Galicia, he is able to endure this! Patience. To bear each other. But not only patience in community life: patience before the sufferings of the world. Bring back the problems, the sufferings of the world. "Enter into patience", as Jesus entered into patience to consume redemption. This is a key point, not only to avoid these internal quarrels that are a scandal, but to be consecrated, to be able to discern. The patience. And also patience before the common problems of consecrated life: we think of the scarcity of vocations. "We do not know what to do, because we do not have vocations ... We have closed three houses ...". This is a daily complaint, you have heard it, heard it in your ears and felt in your heart. Vocations do not come. And when there is not this patience ... What I say now has happened, it happens: I know at least two cases, in an overly secularized country, that concern two congregations ones and two respective provinces. The province has begun that path which is also a worldly journey, of the "ars bene moriendi", the attitude to die well. And what does this mean in that province, in those two provinces of two different congregations? Close the admission to the novitiate, and we who are here grow old until death. And the congregation in that place is over. And these are not fables: I'm talking about two male provinces that have made this choice; provinces of two religious congregations. Patience is lacking and we end up with the "ars bene moriendi". Patience is lacking and vocations do not come? We sell and stick to money for anything that may happen in the future. This is a signal, a signal that is close to death: when a Congregation begins to attach itself to money. He has no patience and falls into the second "p", in the absence of poverty. I can ask myself: what happened in those two provinces that made the option of the "ars bene moriendi", happens in my heart? My patience is over and I go on surviving? Without patience you can not be magnanimous, you can not follow the Lord: we get tired. We follow him to a certain point and to the first or second trial, bye. I choose the "ars bene moriendi"; my consecrated life has arrived here, I close my heart and survive. He is in a state of grace, yes, certainly. "Father, I will not go to hell?" No, maybe you will not go. But your life? You left the possibility of being a father and mother of a family, of having the joy of children, of grandchildren, all this, to end this way? This "ars bene moriendi", is the spiritual euthanasia of a consecrated heart that can not take it anymore, does not have the courage to follow the Lord. And it does not call ... I took as a starting point to talk about this the scarcity of vocations: this bitter the soul. "I have no offspring", was the lament of our father Abraham: "Lord, my riches will be inherited by a foreigner". The Lord told him: "Be patient. You will have a son "-" But at 90? ", And the wife behind the window that was like - sorry - like women: spying out the window - but it is a quality of women, this is fine, not bad -; he smiled, because he thought: "But me, at 90? And my husband, almost 100, will we have a son? ". "Patience", said the Lord. Hope. Forward, forward, forward. Beware of these three "p": prayer, poverty and patience. Be careful. And I think that the Lord will like choices - I allow myself the word that I do not like - radical choices in this sense. They are personal, be they communal. But bet on this. I thank you for the patience you have had to hear this sermon [laughs, applause]. Thank you. And I wish you fruitfulness. You never know what path my fertility passes through, but if you pray, if you are poor, if you are patient, be sure that you will be fruitful. As? The Lord will show you "on the other side"; but it is the recipe to be fruitful. You will be a father, you will be a mother: fruitfulness. It is what I wish religious life, to be fruitful. Thank you! Continue to study, work, make good proposals, but always be with that look that Jesus wants. And when you think of the first "p", think of me and pray for me. Thank you! Now let us pray to Our Lady: "Hail Mary, ..." [Blessing] Good day!
Source: Vatican Va (Unofficial Translation)