An international congress for instructors for Consecrated Life began Wednesday in Rome following a prayer vigil Tuesday for the success of the initiative, Vatican Radio reported.
The April 7-11 Congress has as its theme “To live in Christ according to the Form of Life of the Gospel – Formed to consecrated life in the heart of the Church and of the world.”
In remarks at the opening of the congress, the Prefect for the Congregation for Consecrated Life, Cardinal João Braz de Aviz recalled that over the next few days, religious – including hermits, monks, brothers and sisters – of institutes of consecrated life would be reflecting on the basic identity of their calling in the Church and the world, and on formational needs to meet today’s challenges.
He recalled Pope Francis’ invitation “to look to the past with gratitude” and to “look at the signs of the times through the eyes of faith and to respond creatively to the needs of the Church.”
He noted new geographical and cultural challenges which can disorient one today but invited those present to “live the present with passion,” putting the Gospel message into action in their daily lives.
Living the present with passion means becoming “experts in communion, witnesses and artisans” of communion, he said.
In a conflict-torn society where different cultures struggle to find balance amidst inequalities and injustices, Cardinal de Aviz said we are called to offer “a concrete model” of fraternal community where the dignity and gifts inherent in each person are recognized and appreciated.
Calling for the consecrated to “embrace the future with hope,” Cardinal de Aviz acknowledged the difficulties surrounding various forms of consecrated life, including aging and fewer vocations, economic problems, the challenges of globalization, the “insidiousness of relativism, marginalization and social irrelevance.”
Despite these, the Cardinal encouraged those present to look with hope to the Lord for whom “nothing is impossible” so that they can continue to contribute in great ways to the Church’s mission.