Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Being "beacons of light" that guide and accompany the journey of humanity, "sentinels of the morning" to indicate Christ, "way, truth and life" to the world. Women who devote themselves to contemplative life are an "invaluable and indispensable gift" for the Church, according to the Apostolic Constitution "Dei Vultum quaerere – Seeking the face God", made public today, but signed by Pope Francis on June 29 .
The 18 page document indicates 12 "themes of reflection and discernment" for the women who choose consecrated life in general, inspired by the need to weave a dialogue with contemporary society, while safeguarding "the core values" of the contemplative life whose characteristics - silence, attentive listening, the call to an interior life, stability –can and must challenge the contemporary mindset". A mindset that can present temptations and the document stresses that " Among the most perilous temptations faced by contemplatives is that which the Desert Fathers called “the midday devil”; it is the temptation to listlessness, mere routine, lack of enthusiasm and paralyzing lethargy".
In a world that seeks God, even unknowingly, consecrated persons must "become wise interlocutors" to "discern the questions posed to us by God and the men and women of our time”.
With this objective and to "help the contemplative to understand your particular vocation ", the first theme proposed is formation. A process aimed " at configuration to the Lord Jesus," - specifically nine to twelve years - that "requires a constant conversion to God." Hence, the call to the monasteries to " to pay great attention to vocational and spiritual discernment, without yielding to the temptation to think in terms of numbers and efficiency". The second theme chosen by the Pope is prayer: "the ‘core’ of consecrated life," a living as a " must enlarge your heart to embrace all humanity, especially those who suffer” and not close monastic life in on itself". Pray and intercede for "the future of humanity," the Pope writes to the contemplative. In this way, communities will become "real schools of prayer", fueled by the "scandalous beauty of the Cross".
The centrality of the Word of God is the third theme of reflection. It is the "first source of all spirituality and principle of communion for the communities", it is explicit in the lectio divina which helps to switch "from the biblical text to life", to " bridge the gap between spirituality and daily life, between faith and life," leading "from hearing to knowledge, and from knowledge to love". The entire day, both personal and in community, ought to be organized around the word of God, helping, thanks to "a kind of supernatural intuition", to "discern what is of God and what we can take from him." Finally, Francis recalls that lectio divina must become action, that is become "a gift for others in charity".
The fourth point indicated by the document is the importance of the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation. It is suggested to "extend the celebration with Eucharistic adoration" and live the practice of penance as a "privileged occasion to contemplate the merciful face of the Father." Experiencing God's forgiveness, in fact, contemplative can become "prophets and ministers of mercy and reconciliation, forgiveness and peace" of which the world today is in "special need".
The fifth theme is the one of the fraternal life in community, understood as a "reflection of God's self-giving way" and "the first form of evangelization." For this reason, the Pope stresses the need for "a continuous process of growth of community life" leading to a "genuine fraternal communion". "A community exists as it is born and is built with the contribution of all", young and old.
The sixth issue is the autonomy of the monasteries: if, on the one hand, autonomy favors stability, unity and contemplation of a community, on the other it "must not mean independence or isolation”. The contemplative are urged to not fall prone to being “self-referential”. Closely related to this is the seventh issue, in which the Pope recalls the importance of the Federations as "structures of communion between the monasteries who share the same charism." Aimed at promoting the contemplative life in the monasteries and support in formation and practical needs, the Federations " ought to be encouraged and increase in number ".
The eighth issue, however, is relative to the cloister. " a sign of the exclusive union of the Church as Bride with her Lord, whom she loves above all things", it is divided in various forms, from the "papal" that "excludes apostolic external tasks" to the "common" which is rather "not closed." However, this plurality, within the same Order, must be considered "an asset, not an obstacle to communion".
As the ninth point, the Pope indicates work: keeping in mind the Benedictine motto "ora et labora", the contemplative are encouraged to work " carefully and faithfully, without yielding to the present-day culture and its mindset of efficiency and constant activity”, “finding the right balance between seeking the Absolute and commitment to your daily chores, between the peace of contemplation and the effort expended in work".
Silence is the tenth issue. It should be seen as "listening and rumination of the Word", "emptiness of self to make room to receive", silence "listens to God and to the cry of humanity."
As the eleventh theme Francis speaks of modern forms of communication the result of social changes and the "digital culture" that "has a decisive influence in the formation of thought and way of relating to the world." "Useful tools for training and communication", but which call for "a prudent discernment" so they do not become a means of "wasting time or escaping from the demands of fraternal life in community".
The twelfth and last theme is dedicated to asceticism which consists of "sobriety, detachment from worldly things, delivery of themselves in obedience and transparency in" community relations. As the choice of a life of stability asceticism also becomes an "eloquent sign of faithfulness" in a globalized, rootless world, as an example, for "humanity marked and torn by so many divisions," of how "to be close" to the next even in the face of diversity, tensions, conflicts and fragility. Asceticism is not an escape from the world "out of fear" because the nuns "continue to be in the world without being of the world." Their prophecy, then, will be to "constantly intercede for humanity" with the Lord, listening to "the cry" of those who are "victims of a culture of waste". Thus, in "profound communion with the Church", the contemplative will be the "ladder" through which God comes to meet man and man to God.