The Church needs “men and women, laity and consecrated people who are passionate, set afire by their encounter with God, redeemed in their humanity, and capable of proclaiming in their lives the happiness born of their vocation.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – ” Do not be afraid to take up the challenge of continuing to proclaim the vocation to consecrated life and to ordained ministry, ” in the context of the affirmation that for everyone God has a project that grows and matures in freedom. The “need” of the Church of “men and women, laity and consecrated people who are passionate, set afire by their encounter with God, redeemed in their humanity, and capable of proclaiming in their lives the happiness born of their vocation” was at the center of the discourse that Pope Francis delivered this morning to the participants of the congress of the National Vocations Centers from the Churches of Europe, in progress in Rome.
In the document Francis indicated three “guidelines”: holiness, as a call that gives meaning to the journey of all life; communion, “as a” humus “of vocations in the Church; the vocation itself, as a key word to be preserved, combining it with the others:” happiness “,” freedom “and” together “, and finally declining it as a special consecration”.
“We must not forget that vocation is a life-long journey (cf. Christus Vivit, 281). Certainly it has to do with the years of youth in terms of the overall direction we choose to take in response to God’s invitation, but it also has to do with the years of adulthood in terms of its fruitfulness and our discernment of how best to do good (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 287). Our life is meant to bear fruit in charity (cf. Mt 25:15), and this entails the call to holiness that the Lord addresses to everyone, each in his or her own way”.
Recalling that “pastoral care can only be synodal, that is to say, capable of giving form to a “journeying together”, Francis recalls the Church’s capacity for presence in the areas, from families to the territory.
And “the word” vocation ““vocation” is not outmoded. We used it again at every phase of the most recent Synod. But it has to be seen in the context of the entire people of God, our preaching and catechesis, and above all our personal encounters with others, for these are the first step in our proclamation of the Gospel (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 128). I know of some communities that have decided to stop using the word “vocation” in their work with the young, because they think that young people get scared by it and may be reluctant to join in their activities. But this is a strategy doomed to failure: striking the word “vocation” from the lexicon of faith is to disfigure that word and to run the risk, sooner or later, of our no longer being understood. What we need are men and women, laity and consecrated people who are passionate, set afire by their encounter with God, redeemed in their humanity, and capable of proclaiming in their lives the happiness born of their vocation.”
“It is true that the word” vocation can frighten young people, because it has often been confused with something that takes away our freedom. God, however, fully respects the freedom of each person (cf. ibid., 113). We need to remember this, especially when our personal or communal methods of accompaniment can lead to forms of dependence or, worse, of domineering. This is quite serious because it hinders young people from maturing in freedom; it keeps them in a kind of infantile state.”.
My vocation, the document reaffirms, ” is never just “mine”. “True dreams are dreams about ‘us’” (Vigil with Italian Young People, 11 August 2018). No one can make a life decision alone; vocation is always for, and with, others. I think that we should reflect more on these “dreams about us”, because they have to do with the vocation of our communities of consecrated life, our presbyterates, our parishes and our ecclesial groups. The Lord never calls us simply as individuals, but always within a community, to share his loving plan, which is plural from the outset because he himself is plural, a Trinity of love. I find it very helpful to think of vocation from this point of view.”
Finally, Francis reiterates his “certainty” that “the Spirit continues to arouse vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life” and therefore that “we can” cast the nets again “in the name of the Lord”.
“I think of all those communities of consecrated life that form a great network of charitable works and of mission. I think of the monastic life, in which the roots of Europe are planted; it continues to attract many vocations, particularly among women, and it needs to be preserved, cultivated and helped to express its true identity as a school of prayer and fellowship. I think too of parishes, working on the ground and filled with evangelical potential for our time. And I think of the whole-hearted commitment of countless priests, deacons, consecrated men and women, and bishops “who daily devote themselves with integrity and dedication to the service of the young. Their efforts are like a great forest that quietly grows” (ibid., 99).
Do not be afraid to take up the challenge of continuing to proclaim the vocation to consecrated life and to ordained ministry. The Church needs this! And when young people encounter consecrated men and women who are credible, not because they are perfect but because their lives have been changed by an encounter with the Lord, they will have a taste of a different kind of life, and raise the question of their personal vocation. “The Church draws the attention of young people by being rooted in Jesus Christ. Christ is the truth that makes the Church different from any other world group with which we may identify” (Pre-Synodal Document on Youth, 11).
Today life everywhere is fragmented and at times wounded; the life of the Church is no less so. Being rooted in Christ is the surest way to let him restore our wholeness. The work of accompanying and forming vocations is a way of sharing in the handiwork of Christ, who came to bring good news to the poor, to bind the wounds of broken hearts, to proclaim freedom to those in bondage and sight to the blind (cf. Lk 4:18). Take heart, then! Christ wants us to be alive! “.