VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says that “courageous choices are needed, at the personal and community level,” to rediscover and to show the beauty of following Christ in a consecrated life.
The Pope posed this challenge when receiving in audience the general superiors of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life.
In his address Monday in Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father analyzed some of the key challenges facing consecrated life, which is losing numbers in some parts of the world.
The meeting also gave the Bishop of Rome the opportunity to express his affection for the consecrated persons, in particular, “all those who are in difficulty, the elderly and the sick, those who are going through moments of crisis and loneliness, those who suffer and feel lost,” and those who knock at the door of religious families to “give themselves to Jesus Christ, in the radicalness of the Gospel.”
Consecrated persons today have the “task to be witnesses of the transfiguring presence of God in an ever more disoriented and confused world, a world in which shades have replaced exceedingly clear and striking colors,” Benedict XVI clarified.
In this connection, the Pope said that “in the last years consecrated life has again been understood with a more evangelical, more ecclesial and more apostolic spirit. But we cannot ignore that some concrete choices have not offered the world the authentic and vivifying face of Christ.”
In fact, “secularized culture has penetrated the mind and heart of not a few consecrated persons, who see in it a form of access to modernity and rapprochement to the contemporary world,” the Holy Father noted.
The consequence, the Pontiff indicated, “is that along with an undoubtedly generous impulse, able to give witness and to commit itself totally, consecrated life is experiencing today the snare of mediocrity, gentrification and the consumeristic mentality.”
“Courageous choices are needed at the personal and community level, which imprint a new discipline on the life of consecrated persons and lead them to rediscover the integral dimension of the following of Christ,” the Holy Father stressed.
Benedict XVI clarified that “to belong to the Lord” is “the mission of the men and women who have opted to follow the chaste, poor and obedient Christ, so that the world will believe and be saved.”
Therefore, the Pontiff counseled them to be nourished daily with prayer — “intimate conversation of the consecrated soul with the divine Bridegroom” — and with “daily participation in the ineffable mystery of the divine Eucharist, in which the risen Christ makes himself constantly present in the reality of his flesh.”
Regarding the vow of chastity made by religious, the Pope explained that “it cannot be framed in the logic of this world.” In a reference to Matthew 19:11-12, he said that “it is the most ‘unreasonable’ Christian paradox and not everyone can understand it and live it.”