On the 25th World Day of Consecrated Life, which falls on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Francis points to "three ‘settings’ in which patience can become concrete”: personal life, community life, and the world. We must wait patiently for "the light in the darkness of history".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St Peter’s Basilica, speaking about “God’s patience” at a difficult time for men and women religious, on 25th World Day of the Consecrated Life, which falls on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.
In his address, the pontiff spoke about the need for “patience and courage in order to keep advancing, exploring new paths, and responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.” His inspiration comes from the passage in the Gospel that relates the story of Simeon waiting to see if the pledge made to him will be fulfilled, namely that he will see the Messiah. For his whole life, he exercised the “patience of the heart”. Indeed, “By patiently persevering, Simeon did not grow weary with the passage of time.”
“He was now an old man, yet the flame still burned brightly in his heart. In his long life, there had surely been times when he had been hurt and disappointed, yet he did not lose hope. He trusted in the promise, and did not let himself be consumed by regret for times past or by the sense of despondency that can come as we approach the twilight of our lives. His hope and expectation found expression in the daily patience of a man who, despite everything, remained watchful, until at last ‘his eyes saw the salvation’ that had been promised (cf. Lk 2:30).”
Jesus “shows us the patience of God, the merciful Father who keeps calling us, even to our final hour. God, who does not demand perfection but heartfelt enthusiasm, who opens up new possibilities when all seems lost, who wants to open a breach in our hardened hearts, who lets the good seed grow without uprooting the weeds. This is the reason for our hope: that God never tires of waiting for us. When we turn away, he comes looking for us; when we fall, he lifts us to our feet; when we return to him after losing our way, he waits for us with open arms. His love is not weighed in the balance of our human calculations, but unstintingly gives us the courage to start anew.”
During the rite began with the blessing of the candles, symbol of consecrated life, Francis urged men and women of the cloth to turn to God’s patience, pointing to “three ‘settings’ in which patience can become concrete.”
“The first is our personal life. There was a time when we responded to the Lord’s call, and with enthusiasm and generosity offered our lives to him. Along the way, together with consolations we have had our share of disappointments and frustrations. At times, our hard work fails to achieve the desired results, the seeds we sow seem not to bear sufficient fruit, the ardour of our prayer cools and we are no longer immune to spiritual aridity. In our lives as consecrated men and women, it can happen that hope slowly fades as a result of unmet expectations. We have to be patient with ourselves and await in hope God’s own times and places, for he remains ever faithful to his promises. Remembering this can help us retrace our steps and revive our dreams, rather than yielding to interior sadness and discouragement.” This is “a worm that eats from the inside and kills.”
“A second setting in which patience can become concrete is community life. Human relationships are not always serene, especially when they involve sharing a project of life or apostolic activity. There are times when conflicts arise and no immediate solution can be expected, nor should hasty judgements be made. Time is required to step back, to preserve peace and to wait for a better time to resolve situations in charity and in truth. Our communities need this kind of reciprocal patience: the ability to support, that is, to bear on our own shoulders, the life of one of our brothers or sisters, including his or her weaknesses and failings. Let us keep in mind that the Lord does not call us to be soloists, but to be part of a choir that can sometimes miss a note or two, but must always try to sing in unison.”
“Finally, a third setting is our relationship with the world. Simeon and Anna cherished the hope proclaimed by the prophets, even though it is slow to be fulfilled and grows silently amid the infidelities and ruins of our world. They did not complain about how wrong things are, but patiently looked for the light shining in the darkness of history. We too need that kind of patience, so as not to fall into the trap of lamenting that ‘the world no longer listens to us’, or ‘we have no more vocations’, ‘these are not easy times’… It can happen that even as God patiently tills the soil of history and our own hearts, we show ourselves impatient and want to judge everything immediately. In this way, we lose hope.”
“In our communities, do we bear with one another and radiate the joy of fraternal life? In the world, do we patiently offer our service, or issue harsh judgements? These are real challenges for our consecrated life: we cannot remain stuck in nostalgia for the past or simply keep repeating the same old things. We need patience and courage in order to keep advancing, exploring new paths, and responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Let us contemplate God’s patience and implore the trusting patience of Simeon. In this way, may our eyes, too, see the light of salvation and bring that light to the whole world.” (FP)