Pope urges Consecrated men and women to make room for God’s action
Pope Francis celebrates Mass on the World Day for Consecrated Life highlighting the importance of perseverance and asking for the courage to make room for God’s action.
As the Church marks the 28th World Day for Consecrated Life on Friday, Pope Francis has encouraged the world’s religious men and women to always be open to be moved by the Spirit, and in conformity with the Gospel to nourish the reawakening of a longing for God. The annual observance was instituted in 1997 by Pope Saint John Paul II and is celebrated on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, 2 February. The theme chosen this year is: “Pilgrims of Hope on the Path of Peace”.
In his homily during Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life as well as participants in an International Meeting in preparation for the Jubilee 2025, Pope Francis invited those present to “await patiently, vigilant in spirit and persevering in prayer” as by “safeguarding our interior life and in conformity with the Gospel, we will embrace Jesus, the light and hope of life.”
Vigilance and perseverance
Reflecting on the prophetic anticipation of the Lord’s arrival as foretold by the prophet Malachi – “the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple”- the Pope upheld the figures of Simeon and Anna, who are enlightened by the Holy Spit and recognize the Lord as the child whom Mary carries in her arms as he enters the temple. “It is good for us to look at these two elders who were waiting patiently, vigilant in spirit and persevering in prayer. Their hearts have stayed awake, like an eternal flame. They are advanced in age, but young at heart,” he said.
Simeon and Anna’s ability to preserve the flame of hope is an indication to Christians, in a world filled with distractions, to remain with their eyes fixed on God in expectation.
“Along life’s journey, they have experienced hardships and disappointments, but they have not given in to defeat,” and as they contemplate the child, the Pope explained, “they recognize that the time has come, the prophecy has been fulfilled, the One they sought and yearned for, the Messiah of the nations, has arrived.”
“By staying awake in expectation of the Lord, they are able to welcome him in the newness of His coming,” he said. “By staying awake in expectation of the Lord, they are able to welcome him in the newness of His coming.”
Holy Mass on the World Day for Consecrated Life
Expressing concern for today’s Christians who may have become too absorbed in themselves and in the busyness of everyday life to recognize God’s continuous presence, the Holy Father warned against the possibility of letting “our spirit doze off”, of letting “the heart fall to sleep, to anaesthetize the soul, to lock hope away in the dark corners of disappointment and resignation.”
And directly addressing his Consecrated sisters and brothers, he suggested they ask themselves whether the intense rhythm of life may have led them to forget the importance of waiting for God with open hearts for His revelations and presence.
Obstacles to waiting
The Pope then identified two obstacles that hinder the ability to wait. The first, he said, is the neglect of the interior life, where weariness replaces amazement, and bitterness overshadows gratitude. The second obstacle is adapting to a worldly lifestyle, characterized by speed, activism, and the pursuit of immediate gratification. In such a context – in pagan times, he explained, waiting becomes a challenge that demands a willingness to slow down.
“Where silence is banished and lost, waiting is not easy, for it requires an attitude of healthy passivity, the courage to slow our pace, to not be overwhelmed by activities, to make room within ourselves for God’s action,” he said.
To do so, the Holy Father continued it is necessary “to recover the lost grace: to return, through an intense interior life, to the spirit of joyful humility, of silent gratitude,” that is nourished by adoration, by prayer and by the reawakening of a longing for God. The Pope continued with a call to cultivate a spirit of waiting, careful that “the spirit of the world does not enter our religious communities, ecclesial life and our individual journey, otherwise we will not bear fruit.”
“Matured in prayer and daily fidelity, waiting frees us from the myth of efficiency, from the obsession with performance and, above all, from the pretense of pigeonholing God, because he always comes in unpredictable ways, at times that we do not choose and in ways that we do not expect,” he said.
Like Simeon, he added, “Let us also pick up this child, the God of newness and surprises. By welcoming the Lord, the past opens up to the future, the old in us opens up to the new that he awakens.”
“By welcoming the Lord, the past opens up to the future”
Pope Francis concluded his homily reminding those present that “these questions are for us, for our communities and for the Church.” “Let us be restless, let us be moved by the Spirit, like Simeon and Anna. If, like them, we live in expectation, safeguarding our interior life and in conformity with the Gospel, we will embrace Jesus, the light and hope of life.”
By Linda Bordoni
Published on the Vatican News website