Here is a translation of Pope Francis’ video message by which he participated in Saturday evening’s prayer vigil to begin the Year of Consecrated Life. The Pope was unable to lead the celebrations since he is today returning from a three-day visit to Turkey.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Even though physically far away because of my service to the universal Church, I feel profoundly united to all consecrated men and women at the beginning of this year, which I wish to have dedicated to consecrated life.
I greet affectionately all the members of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and all those present in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, under the tender gaze of the Blessed Virgin, Salus Populi Romani, for this Vigil of Prayer. With you I also greet all the consecrated men and women who live and work in the world.
My first words, on this occasion, are of gratitude to the Lord for the precious gift of consecrated life to the Church and to the world. May this Year of Consecrated Life be an occasion for all members of the People of God to thank the Lord, from whom every good comes, for the gift of consecrated life, appreciating it appropriately. To you equally, dear brothers and sisters, goes my gratitude for what you are and what you do in the Church and in the world. May this be an “intense time” to celebrate with the whole Church the gift of your vocation and to revive your prophetic mission.
I repeat to you today what I have said at other times: “Awake the world! Awake the world!” How?
Put Christ at the center of your existence. The essential norm of your life being to “follow Christ as taught by the Gospel” (Perfectae Caritatis, 2), consecrated life consists essentially in personal adherence to Him. Seek Christ constantly, dear consecrated, seek his Face, may He occupy the center of your life in order to be transformed in “living memory of Jesus’ way of living and acting, as Incarnate Word before the Father and before brothers” (Vita Consecrata, 22). Like the Apostle Paul, let yourselves be conquered by Him, assume his sentiments and his way of life (cf. Ibid., 18); let yourselves be touched by his hand, led by his voice, sustained by his grace (cf. Ibid., 40).
It is not easy; let yourselves be touched by his hand, led by his voice, sustained by his grace.
And, with Christ, begin always from the Gospel! Assume it as a way of life and translate it into daily gestures marked by simplicity and coherence, thus overcoming the temptation to transform it into an ideology. The Gospel will keep your life and mission “young,” and it will render it timely and attractive. May the Gospel be the solid terrain where you advance with courage. Called to be “living exegesis” of the Gospel, may that be, dear consecrated, the foundation and ultimate reference of your life and mission.
Come out of your nest to the fringes of the man and woman of today! Therefore, let yourselves be encountered by Christ. The encounter with Him will drive you to encounter others and will lead you to the neediest, to the poorest. Reach the fringes that await the light of the Gospel (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 20). Inhabit the frontiers. This will require your vigilance to discover the novelties of the Spirit; lucidity to recognize the complexity of the new frontiers; discernment to identify the limits and the appropriate way to proceed; and immersion in reality, “touching the suffering flesh of Christ in the people” (Ibid., 24).
Dear brothers and sisters: presented before you are many challenges, but these exist to be surmounted. “Let us be realistic, but without losing joy, audacity and dedication full of hope! Let us not be robbed of the missionary force!” (Ibid., 109).
May Mary, woman in contemplation of the mystery of God in the world and in history, diligent woman in helping others with haste (cf. Luke 1:39) and, therefore, model of every missionary-disciple, accompany you in this Year of Consecrated Life, which we put under her maternal gaze.
To all of you, participants in the Vigil of Prayer at Saint Mary Major, and to all consecrated men and women, I impart my heartfelt Blessing, and I ask you, please, to pray for me.
May the Lord bless you and may Our Lady protect you.
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by ZENIT]