Pope urges religious to continue their "spiritual, charismatic and institutional" renewal
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Moving ahead in the "spiritual, charismatic and institutional" renewal of religious families, as urged by the Council, giving new life to those habits and structures that, "in the life of the Church and therefore also in Consecrated life, we recognize as no longer responsive to what God asks of us today to advance his Kingdom in the world: the structures that give us false protection and affect the dynamism of charity; habits that take us away from the herd to which we are sent and prevent us from listening the cry of those who await the Good News of Jesus Christ". This is what Pope Francis has asked of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life who are holding their Plenary Meeting on the theme "New wine in new wineskins".
Taking a cue from the chosen theme, the Pope said after Vatican II "in the portion of the Lord's vineyard represented by those who have chosen to imitate Christ more closely through the profession of the evangelical counsels, new grapes have matured and new wine pressed. In these days - he continued - you have set out to discern the quality and maturation of the 'new wine' which has been produced in the long season of renewal, and at the same time to assess whether the wineskins containing it, represented by the institutional forms present in consecrated life today, are adequate to contain this 'new wine' and encourage its full maturity".
"While you do not hide from areas of weakness that can be found today in the consecrated life: for example, the resistance of some sectors to the change, the diminished force of attraction, the significant number of abandonments - and that worries me! It says something about the selection and formation of candidates; then there is the mystery of each person, but we must first evaluate these two things well - the fragility of certain paths of formation, anxiousness over institutional tasks at the expense of ministerial and life spiritual, the difficulties of cultural and generational integration, a difficult balance in the exercise of authority and the use of goods - poverty even worries me! I publicize my family, but St. Ignatius said that poverty is the mother and also the wall of consecrated life. Poverty is a mother, because it gives life, and the wall protects from worldliness. Let us think of these weaknesses. You must keep listening to the signals of the Spirit which opens new horizons and pushes us on new paths, always beginning from the supreme rule of the Gospel and inspired by creative audacity of your founders and foundresses".
"In the demanding task that brings you together - that of assessing the new wine and testing the quality of the skins which must contain it - may you be guided by the criteria of originality in evangelical choices, charismatic faithfulness, the primacy of service, attention to the smallest and most fragile, respect for the dignity of each person".
"Bring forward the process of renewal initiated and largely implemented in the past fifty years, examining everything new in the light of the Word of God and listening to the needs of the Church and the contemporary world, and using all means that the wisdom of the Church makes available to you to advance in your personal and community journey towards holiness. Among these means the most important is prayer, gratuitous prayer, prayers of praise and worship. We are consecrated consecrated to serve the Lord and serve others with the Word of the Lord, no? Tell the new members, please, tell them prayer is not a waste of time, worshiping God is not wasting time, praise of God is not waste time. If we consecrated do not stop every day in prayer to God, the wine will become vinegar".