I would like to invite Pope Francis as a guest blogger.... For this post, I take just a few quotes from Pope Francis' words to the Union of Superiors General of Men's Religious Institutes. Links to articles below.
Wake up the world! Be witnesses of a different way of doing things, of acting, of living! It is possible to live differently in this world. We are speaking of an eschatological outlook, of the values of the Kingdom incarnated here, on this earth. It is a question of leaving everything to follow the Lord. No, I do not want to say “radical.” Evangelical radicalness is not only for religious: it is demanded of all. But religious follow the Lord in a special way, in a prophetic way. It is this witness that I expect of you. Religious should be men and women who are able to wake the world up.Thank you!!! It is so difficult to talk about religious life and maintain a high theology of Baptism, which call everyone to radical discipleship. Religious men and women have the privilege of living this radical gospel living in a particular way, "in a prophetic way," in a way framed by vowed life in community.
I am convinced of one thing: the great changes in history were realized when reality was seen not from the center but rather from the periphery.This reminds me of the mark of New Monasticism - Relocate to the abandoned places of Empire. This is the deliberate choice to move out of positions and places of power, downward mobility, the choice to live with and for the lowest and the least.
Introduce persons of various cultures into the central governance of the Orders and Congregations, who express divers ways of living the charism.This is an invitation for the central governance to represent not just the dominant culture, even the dominant age cohort. It should also represent all the view points, even the younger cohorts who have distinct perspectives and abilities to meet the culture of today.
Asked about the balance between community and ministry, the Pope pointed to the experience of Taizé. Despite their ecumenical diversity, they live a parable of community. Their community is itself their witness, their ministry:
They all live a real life of community together. They are an impressive apostolic role model for young people. The religious community has an enormous power to call people together.Regarding formation, the Pope said that
Formation is a work of art, not a police action.... To avoid problems, in some houses of formation, young people grit their teeth, try not to make mistakes, follow the rules smiling a lot, just waiting for the day when they are told: ‘Good. You have finished formation.’ This is hypocrisy that is the result of clericalism, which is one of the worst evils.
The whole issue of formation is in need of some serious re-imagination. Too often, we are still forming for the 1990s or earlier. We have to ask what religious life is today, and what do we need to bring new members into religious life in a way that is life-giving. I have seen too many young people come to religious life with joy and enthusiasm, then after 5 or 10 years, the light goes out of their eyes. They still believe in their vocation and in religious life, but too often we are not able to "fan into flame" the gift of God within them. This is what I see as clericalism in women's communities as well as in men's. The Pope's words ring true.
The charism is not a bottle of distilled water. It needs to be lived energetically as well as reinterpreted culturally. But in this way there is the danger of making a mistake, you say, of committing errors. It is risky. Certainly, certainly: we will always make mistakes, no doubt about it. But this should not stop us, because there is the chance of making worse mistakes. In fact we should always ask for forgiveness and look shamefully upon apostolic failures due to a lack of courage.I re-commit to this risky business of living religious life, of daring to live simply, contemplatively, prophetically. And I invite others to wake up! and join the adventure!
PS: Treat yourself: read the whole article:
ITALIANO: «Svegliate il mondo!». Colloquio di Papa Francesco con i Superiori Generali
ENGLISH: «Wake up the World!». Conversation with Pope Francis about the Religious Life
ESPAÑOL: «¡Despierten al mundo!». Diálogo del Papa Francisco con los Superiores Generales