On February 2, 2017, the 21st World Day for Consecrated Life. Pope Francis encouraged consecrated persons “not to be professionals of the sacred” but “fathers and mothers.” During a Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, the Jesuit Pope exhorted to reject the temptation to “survival” and to “rediscover what one day inflamed our heart.”
In his homily, in the presence of thousands of consecrated persons, the Holy Father meditated on Simeon’s canticle in the Gospel for the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple (Luke 2:22-40): “the hymn of the believing man who, at the end of his days, is able to affirm: it’s true, hope in God never disappoints, it does not deceive. (…) Life merits being lived with hope because the Lord keeps His promise,” he said.
“Today, we too want to sing: God does not deceive, hope in Him does not disappoint,” he added. The Holy Father encouraged to “rediscover what one day inflamed our heart.”
The Jesuit Pope explained that this attitude “preserves us from a temptation that can render our consecrated life sterile: the temptation to survival.” A temptation that “makes us become reactionaries, fearful … in shuts us in, slowly and silently in our houses and in our schemes, … it projects us backwards.”
“The psychology of survival takes away the strength of our charisms,” warned Pope Francis: “it makes us want to protect more the spaces, the buildings and the structures than render possible new processes.” This temptation “makes us forget grace, it makes us professionals of the sacred but not fathers, mothers or brothers of hope.”
And the Pontiff continued: “This climate of survival hardens the heart of our elders by depriving them of the capacity to dream and, thus, it sterilizes the prophecy that the younger are called to proclaim and realize. In a few words, the temptation to survival transforms in danger, in menace, in tragedy what the Lord presents to us as an opportunity for the mission.”
In face of the present “multi-cultural transformation,” the Pontiff appealed to consecrated persons to “put Jesus in the midst of His people” and “to put ourselves with Jesus in the midst of His people.” Not “as activists of the faith” but by going out “”of ourselves to be united to others,” not “in lamentation or in anxiety” … but in praise and in serenity; not in agitation but in the patience of one who entrusts himself to the Spirit.”