On February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, as each year we celebrate the Day of Consecrated Life. This celebration is always an opportunity to marvel and give thanks to the Lord for this beautiful vocation to the consecrated life, and also an ideal moment to renew our commitment. Pope Francis met with seminarians and novices gathered on the occasion of the Year of Faith, July 6, 2013. He addressed them with words full of depth, not without humor ... Here are some excerpts:
«True joy does not come from things or from possessing, no! It is born from the encounter, from the relationship with others, it is born from feeling accepted, understood and loved, and from accepting, from understanding and from loving; and this is not because of a passing fancy but because the other is a person. Joy is born from the gratuitousness of an encounter! (...) When you see a seminarian, a priest, a sister or a novice with a a long face, gloomy, who seems to have thrown a soaking wet blanket over their life, one of those heavy blankets... which pulls one down.... Something has gone wrong! But please: never any sisters, never any priests with faces like “chilis pickled in vinegar” — never! The joy that comes from Jesus. Think about this: when a priest — I say a priest, but also a seminarian — when a priest or a sister lacks joy he or she is sad; you might think: “but this is a psychological problem”. No. It is true: that may be, that may be so, yes, it might. It might happen, some, poor things, fall sick.... It might be so. However in general it is not a psychological problem. Is it a problem of dissatisfaction? Well, yes! But what is at the heart of this lack of joy? It is a matter of celibacy. I will explain to you. You, seminarians, sisters, consecrate your love to Jesus, a great love. Your heart is for Jesus and this leads us to make the vow of chastity, the vow of celibacy. However the vow of chastity and the vow of celibacy do not end at the moment the vow is taken, they endure.... A journey that matures, that develops towards pastoral fatherhood, towards pastoral motherhood, and when a priest is not a father to his community, when a sister is not a mother to all those with whom she works, he or she becomes sad. This is the problem. For this reason I say to you: the root of sadness in pastoral life is precisely in the absence of fatherhood or motherhood that comes from living this consecration unsatisfactorily which on the contrary must lead us to fertility. It is impossible to imagine a priest or a sister who are not fertile: this is not Catholic! This is not Catholic! This is the beauty of consecration: it is joy, joy.
(...)To be joyful witnesses of the Gospel it is necessary to be authentic and consistent. And this is another word that I want to say to you: “authenticity”. (...) Consistence and authenticity! (...) Proclaiming the Gospel with an authentic life, with a consistent life. (...) I want to recommend this to you: be honest with your confessor. Always. Confess everything, do not be afraid. “Father, I have sinned!”. Think of the Samaritan woman who, to test him, in order to tell her fellow citizens that she had found the Messiah, said to him: “you have told me all that I have ever done”, and everyone knew about this woman’s life. Always tell your confessor the truth. This transparency will do us good, because it makes us humble, all of us. “But father, I have got stuck in this, I have done this, I have hated”... whatever it may be. Tell the truth, without hiding anything, without mincing your words, because you are talking to Jesus in the person of the confessor. And Jesus knows the truth He alone always forgives you! But all the Lord wants is for you to tell him what he already knows. Transparency! It is sad when one finds a seminarian or sister who in order to be rid of the stain confesses today with this one; tomorrow he or she goes to another, to another and to yet another: a peregrinatio to confessors in order to hide the truth from them. Transparency!
(...) In your formation there are the four fundamental pillars: spiritual formation, that is, the spiritual life; intellectual life, this means studying “in order to account for”; apostolic life, beginning to go out to proclaim the Gospel; and fourthly, community life. Four. (...) Remember the four pillars: spiritual life, intellectual life, apostolic life and community life. These four. You must build your vocation on these four elements. (...) And here I would like to stress the importance, in this community life, of relations of friendship and brotherhood that are an integral part of this formation. (...) Cultivate friendships, they are a precious good; however they must not teach you to close yourselves in but to go out of yourselves. A priest or a man or woman religious religious can never be an island, but must be a person who is always ready to meet others.
(...) I would like a more missionary Church, one that is not so staid. (...) Do not learn from us, from us who are no longer very young; do not learn from us the sport to which we old men so often have recourse: the sport of complaining! Do not learn from us the cult of the “goddess lamentation”. She is a goddess that.... is always complaining.... But be positive, cultivate your spiritual life and, at the same time, go out, be capable of meeting people, especially those most despised and underprivileged. Do not be afraid of going out and swimming against the tide. Be both contemplatives and missionaries. »