“It is a privilege to participate in the work of the Father who forms the heart of the Son in those whom the Spirit has called.”
With these words, Pope Francis encouraged participants in an international congress for formators of consecrated men and women to carry on in their work. The congress was held in Rome last week on the theme “To Live in Christ According to the Way of Life of the Gospel.”
“Seeing you so numerous one wouldn’t say that there is a vocational crisis!” Francis said.
“However, in reality,” the Jesuit Pontiff said, “there is an undoubted quantitative diminution, and this renders the task of formation even more urgent, a formation that truly molds the heart of young people to the heart of Jesus, until we have his same sentiments.”
The Pontiff also stated his ‘conviction’ that there won’t be a vocational crisis where there are consecrated persons capable of transmitting, with their own witness, the beauty of consecration, “and the testimony is fruitful.”
“If there is no witness, if there is no coherence, there will be no vocations.”
The Pope told them that they are called to this witness. “This is your ministry, your mission. You are not just ‘teachers’; you are above all witnesses of the following of Christ in your own charism.”
This can be done if every day one rediscovers with joy that one is a disciple of Jesus, he pointed out.
From here, the Pope noted, also comes the need to always take care of your own personal formation, “beginning with a strong friendship with the only Teacher.”
Back to the beginnings
In these days of the Resurrection, he said that the word that resounded often for him in prayer was “Galilee,” “where everything began.” He said that the formators’ lives also begin in that ‘Galilee’ moment, where one encounters the Lord.
Yet, he lamented that in spite of this, the initial encounter with the Lord “so many times becomes covered with things, with work, anxieties and also sins and worldliness.”
“To give witness it is necessary to go often on pilgrimage to Galilee itself, to take up the memory of that encounter, that astonishment, and to start again from there,” he said.
“However, if one does not follow this path of the memory there is the danger of remaining there where one is, and there is also the danger of not knowing why one finds oneself there.”
The ability to do this, namely to go back to that encounter with the Lord and that astonishment, he said, is “a discipline” of men and women who wish to give witness.
“Consecrated life is beautiful, it is one of the most precious treasures of the Church, rooted in the baptismal vocation,” Francis stressed, inviting them to live with joy in gratitude for this ministry.
The Holy Father concluded, telling them to pray for him, “so that God will give me a bit of that virtue that He has: patience,” and telling them, “Go ahead with joy!”
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