В 2003 году по приглашению епископа Клеменса Пиккеля братья капуцины приняли под опеку Воронежский приход Пресвятой Девы Марии Заступницы, относящийся к епархии святого Климента (Саратовской епархии), основывая таким образом новый монастырский дом.

С помощью епископа был приобретен трехэтажный дом, в котором живут братья, а также находится приходская часовня.

В настоящее время монашеская община, которая состоит из трёх братьев.

 

брат Антон

cвященник
настоятель монастыря и прихода

 

брат Виктор

священник,
заместитель настоятеля

 

брат Игорь

 

 

брат Григорий

 

 

брат Марк

 

Capuchins Saints and Blessed

Agatangelo da Vendome, beato
Alessandro da Sobradillo, beato
Alessio da Terradillos, beato
Aloysius da Valencina, beato
Ambrogio da Benaguacil, beato
Ambrogio da Orihuela, beato
Ambrogio da Santibáñez, beato
Andrea da Palazuelo, beato
Andrea Giacinto Longhin, beato
Angela Maria Astorch, beata
Angelo da Cañete la Real, beato
Angelo d’Acri, beato
Aniceto Koplin, beato
Apollinare da Posat, beato
Arcangelo da Valdavida, beato
Aurelio da Ocejo, beato
Aurelio da Vinalesa, beato
Benedetto da Urbino, beato
Berardo da Lugar Nuevo de Fenollet, beato
Bernardo da Corleone, santo
Bernardo da Offida, beato
Bernardo da Visantoña, beato
Bonaventura da Pozul, beato
Carmelo da Colomo, beato
Cassiano da Nantes, beato
Corrado da Parzham, santo
Crispino da Cuevas Altas, beato
Crispino da Viterbo, santo
Diego da Guadilla, beato
Diego Giuseppe da Cadice, beato
Domitillo da Ayoó, beato
Eligio da Orihuela, beato
Enrico da Almazora, beato
Enrico Krzysztofk, beato
Eusebio da Saludes, beato
Eustachio da Villalquite, beato
Fedele Chojnacki, beato
Fedele da Pozul, beato
Fedele da Sigmaringen, santo
Felice da Cantalice, santo
Felice da Nicosia, santo
Fernando da Santiago, beato
Floriano Stępniak, beato
Florida Cevoli, beata
Francesco Maria da Camporosso, santo
Gabriele da Aróstegui, beato
Geremia da Valacchia, beato
Germano da Carcagente, beato
Giacomo (Santiago) da Rafelbuñol, beato
Giacomo da Ghazir, beato
Giancrisostomo da Gara di Gorgos, beato
Gianluigi Loir da Besançon, beato
Gilberto da Puerto da St. Maria, beato
Gioacchino da Albocácer, beato
Giuseppe da Chauchina, beato
Giuseppe da Leonessa, santo
Giuseppe Maria da Manila, beato
Giuseppe Tous y Soler da Igualada, beato
Gregorio de La Mata, beato
Ignazio da Galdácano, beato
Ignazio da Galdácano, beato
Ignazio da Laconi, santo
Ignazio da Santhià, santo
Ildefonso da Armellada, beato
Innocenzo da Berzo, beato
Isabel Calduch Rovira, beata
Leopoldo da Alpandeire, beato
Leopoldo Mandić da Castelnovo, santo
Lorenzo da Brindisi, santo e dottore della Chiesa
Marco d’Aviano, beato
Maria Felicidad Masiá Ferragut, beata
Maria Jesús Masiá Ferragut, beata
Maria Maddalena Martinengo, beata
Maria Teresa Kowlska, beata
Maria Veronica Masiá Ferragut, beata
Michele da Garajal, beato
Milagros Ortells Gimeno, beata
Modesto da Albocácer, beato
Nicola da Gesturi, beato
Norberto Cembrano de Villalquite, beato
Onorato Koźmiński da Biała, beato
Onorio da Orihuela, beato
Pacifico da Ronda, beato
Pacifico da Valencia, beato
Pietro da Benisia, beato
Pio da Pietrelcina, santo
Primitivo da Villamizar, beato
Protasio da Bourbon, beato
Ramiro da Sobradillo, beato
Saturnino da Bilbao, beato
Sebastiano François da Nancy, beato
Serafino da Montegranaro, santo
Sinforiano Ducki, beato
Tommaso da Olera, beato
Veronica Giuliani, santa


Святой Франциск Ассизский (1182-1226)


Антонио Сикари "Портреты Святых"

Да дарует нам Бог благодать созерцать лик святых, не впадая в заблуждение или в грех, отвлекаясь от наших забот, нашего миросозерцания, наших переживаний и даже от наших эмоций.
Пусть их лики сияют нам тем светом, отблеск которого падает на них.

Иисус говорил об Иоанне Крестителе "Он не был свет, но был послан, чтобы свидетельствовать о Свете. Но люди хотели малое время порадоваться при свете его" (*).

Обратимся же к созерцанию лика Франциска Ассизского, святого, который нам кажется хорошо знакомым, потому что он вошел в церковное Предание и в саму нашу культуру. Это образ, который дорог всем, даже неверующим, потому что легенда о нем отмечена трогательной поэзией и человечностью "Цветочки Франциска Ассизского" стали органичной частью европейской культуры, а некоторые аспекты францисканской духовности, такие как любовь к природе, стремление к бедности, призыв к миру, находят много сторонников в современном мире.

Поэтому было бы не трудно нарисовать всем известный традиционный образ святого Франциска. Но именно поэтому мы изберем другой путь.

Постараемся выделить в образе святого Франциска его собственно христианские и церковные черты. Отвлечемся от привычных поэтических образов, чтобы понять суть личности святого Франциска, его духовный опыт, и доныне призывающий нас к обращению. Поэзия полезна и прекрасна, но ею можно восхищаться, ни на йоту не изменяя своего поведения в жизни. Бог посылает нам святых не для того, чтобы давать пищу нашему эстетическому чувству, а для того, чтобы обратить нас.

Начнем с утверждения, которое многим может показаться странным. Быть может, никогда в истории Церкви не было столь опасного, столь потенциально опасного момента, как тот, когда в мир явился Франциск. И эта опасность исходила не извне, но из его собственной личности. Век Франциска называли "железным веком", и Церковь была отягощена, почти раздавлена бременем унижений и грехов. В одном сочинении, написанном около 1305 года, несомненно, сгущавшем краски, но в общем верно отражавшем положение вещей, говорится: "Церковь пребывала в столь униженном состоянии, что если бы Иисус не пришел ей на помощь, послав новое поколение, исполненное духа бедности, уже тогда ей должен был быть вынесен смертный приговор" (Arbor vitae). Это суровые слова, но они достаточно хорошо передают атмосферу той эпохи. Франциск как личность мог бы представлять опасность для Церкви. Потому что справедливо будет сказано о нем: "Франциск был более, чем кто-либо из людей, когда-либо пришедших в мир, подобен Христу". Само по себе суждение об этом должно выноситься Богом, потому что только Ему ведомы сердца, однако такая оценка отражает реальность, если вспомнить о том впечатлении, которое Франциск производил на окружающих, и о той надежде, которую вдохнул в душу своих современников и потомков этот человек, такой простой и бедный. Достаточно перечитать рассказы, которые были написаны непосредственно после его смерти. Франциск был канонизирован Папой в Ассизи всего лишь через два года после его смерти, и уже тогда его жизнь сравнивали с жизнью Христа.

В повествованиях о жизни Франциска можно прочесть, что он родился в хлеву между ослом и волом, что он все более уподоблялся Господу: есть рассказ о том, как Франциск превращает воду в вино; есть рассказ о многочисленных чудесах; есть рассказ о последней вечере Франциска, о которой повествуется почти в тех же выражениях, что и о тайной вечере Иисуса; есть рассказ о смерти Франциска, на теле которого запечатлелись стигматы и следы Страстей, и биографы говорят, что он казался Христом, вновь снятым с креста. Вот несколько таких свидетельств, самых простых, - это народные песнопения, так называемые "лауды", посвященные святому.

В лаудах говорится: "Хвала святому Франциску,/ который, подобно Искупителю,/явился распятым на кресте"; "Когда Бог послал/святого Франциска блаженного,/мир, объятый тьмой,/просиял великим светом"; "В тебе вновь открылись раны,/которые носил на Своем теле Спаситель"; "Святой Франциск, свет народов,/ ты - образ Христа Искупителя".

Биографы Франциска говорят о нем, пользуясь библейскими образами и выражениями: "Явилась благодать Бога, Спасителя нашего, в сии последние дни на рабе Его Франциске", - пишет св. Бонавентура о его рождении. "Мы возвещаем вам великую радость - никогда не слыхано было в мире о подобном чуде, кроме как во дни пребывания на земле Сына Божьего - Христа Господа", - писал Брат Лев в послании, возвещая всем братьям о смерти св. Франциска.

О нем говорится, что его душа была "благодати полной", в его уста вкладываются, например, такие выражения: "преклонятся предо мной все люди в мире" (*).

Таким образом, впечатление, произведенное св. Франциском, было огромным, и это было впечатление "христоподобия" Теперь надлежит задуматься о том риске, которому подверглась тогда Церковь.

Речь идет вот о чем: достаточно было того, чтобы в XVI веке жил человек, который страстно любил Христа, несомненно, любил Христа, но не был святым, не был св. Франциском, и чтобы он пожелал реформировать Церковь,- и западная Церковь распалась, разделилась на два ствола и разделена до сих пор.

Что могло случиться во времена св Франциска? Действительно, в историческом и духовном плане Церковь никогда не стояла п еред лицом столь великой опасности.

Однако, именно говоря о личности ев Франциска, надлежит подчеркнуть следующее с одной стороны, этот человек столь уподобился Христу, что говорилось чуть ли не о "новом Воплощении" и что его чуть ли не называли "новым Христом", а с другой стороны, он не дал ни малейшего повода отрицать Церковь или поставить ее под сомнение Напротив, Франциск всеми силами поддерживал Церковь, именно так, как это было изображено на знаменитой картине Джотто "Сон папы Иннокентия".

Чтобы понять это, обратимся прежде всего к автобиографическому документу, который представляет собой наиболее подлинное свидетельство о духовном опыте святого это "Завещание" Франциска, написанное им незадолго до смерти и как бы подводящее краткий итог его духовного пути.

Первый абзац "Завещания" гласит "Поскольку я пребывал во грехах, мне казалось слишком горьким видеть прокаженных, и Сам Господь привел меня к ним, и я был к ним милосерден, а когда я удалился от них, то, что мне казалось горьким, было мне обращено в сладость душевную и телесную, а потом через некоторое время я оставил мир" Таким образом, Франциск считает моментом своего обращения встречу с прокаженными. Первой встречей была по преданию та, когда он захотел преодолеть свое отвращение. В "Легенде о трех братьях" об этом отвращении говорится так "Он сам признавался, что вид прокаженных был ему столь тягостен, что он не только отказывался смотреть на них, но прямо-таки не выносил их, не переносил близости их жилищ или вида кого-нибудь из них, и хотя милосердие влекло его подавать им милостыню через другого человека, он, однако, отворачивал лицо и затыкал нос" (n. 11).

Чтобы понять всю необычайность первого его поступка, "поцелуя прокаженному", нужно перенестись в ту эпоху. Проказа, принесенная с востока крестоносцами, считалась страшным знамением Божьим. Прокаженных называли "больными Бога благого" или "людьми, запечатленными проказой по воле Божьей". Когда человек заболевал, он поступал в лепрозории, которые были устроены наподобие монастырей: там служились службы, больные молились, из лепрозория нельзя было выйти без разрешения настоятеля и т.д. Когда христианин поступал в лепрозорий, Церковь сперва служила Чин погребения, а потом говорила ему: "Душой ты остаешься в Церкви, но тело твое, запечатленное Господом, умерло, и ты должен ожидать лишь воскресения". Прокаженный был знамением самой трагической участи, которая может постичь человека. Его положение было столь трагичным и в силу ограниченных медицинских знаний того времени, но в любом случае жизнь прокаженного была таинственным символом бренности человеческого существования, символом неизбежной смерти и воскресения.

Франциск преодолел свое отвращение, принял эту смерть заживо не единожды, но разделив с прокаженными их жизнь.

Первыми францисканскими монастырями стали лепрозории Так было и впоследствии, когда в других европейских странах появились первые последователи святого.

Жизнь с прокаженными стала для Франциска духовным опытом, благодаря которому ему было послано видение Распятого. Его биограф пишет: "Когда Франциску предстало видение распятого Христа, он почувствовал, что душа его истаяла Воспоминание о Страстях Христовых столь живо запечатлелось в сокровенных глубинах его сердца, что с того момента, когда ему случалось вспоминать о распятии Христа, он с трудом сдерживал слезы" (Legenda maior, n.5). И Франциск "защищал" свои слезы. Он говорил: "Я оплакиваю Страсти Господа моего. Из любви к Нему я не должен был бы стыдиться идти по всей земле, громко рыдая".

Таким образом, основа духовного опыта Франциска - это острое и страстное сопереживание страдающему телу Христову, уважение к телу Христову, которое может предстать в смиренном обличье больных и отверженных и которое все же ты должен целовать и оплакивать всем сердцем, более того, ты должен "уподобиться" ему. Это единственный источник францисканской бедности.

Далее в "Завещании" сказано: "Господь даровал мне такую веру в церкви, что я просто молился, говоря: "Мы поклоняемся Тебе, Господи Иисусе, во всех церквах Твоих, сущих в мире, и благословляем Тебя, потому что святым Крестом Твоим Ты искупил мир".

Когда Иисус сказал ему "Иди и укрепи Церковь Мою ты видишь, вся она рушится", Франциск понял эти слова буквально: он увидел три обветшавшие церквушки (церковь св. Дамиана, св. Петра и Ла Порциункола), сказал "Я хочу принести Богу в дар свой пот", и начал восстанавливать их. Но он поступил так не потому, что ошибочно истолковал слова Христа, как говорят некоторые из его позднейших биографов, но именно потому, что он физически ощущал, что "исполняется великой верой в церквах", где поклоняются Богу, в простых зданиях церквей, ради которых стоило тратить время и силы. Да, Франциск действительно хотел восстановить Церковь, Церковь Христову, принадлежащую Господу, и опирался он на то, что прямо и извечно связывает Христа с Церковью Евхаристию (а также священство) и Священное Писание. Поэтому далее в "Завещании" говорится "И Господь дал и дает мне такую веру в священников, которые живут по уставу Святой Римской Церкви, ради их священства, что если я подвергнусь преследованиям, то хочу прибегнуть к ним. И если бы я даже обладал премудростью Соломоновой и случилось бы мне не поладить со священниками - бедняками мира сего - в тех приходах, где они живут, я не хочу ни в коем случае проповедовать против их воли И их и всех других я хочу бояться, любить и уважать как господ моих и не хочу взирать в них на их грехи, потому что вижу в них Сына Божьего, и они - мои господа, и я поступаю так потому, что в этом мире ничего не вижу телесно от Всевышнего Сына Божьего, кроме Пресвятого Тела и Крови Его, Которые только они освящают и раздают".

В нескольких источниках рассказывается, как Франциск встречает еретиков, которые отвергают Церковь Пользуясь случаем, они приводят его к местному священнику, живущему в сожительстве и являющемуся соблазном для прихожан, и спрашивают "Как же относиться к такому священнику?", а Франциск идет ему навстречу и говорит ему "Грешен ли ты, я не знаю, но знаю, что твои руки касаются Слова Божьего", и преклоняет колена, целуя руки священнику.

Священство и Евхаристия были для него единой любовью, совершенной и неразрывной. В сочинении Томмазо да Челано Vita secunda говорится: "Все его естество, сверх всякой меры охваченное восторгом, пламенело любовью к Таинству Тела Господня. Он хотел, чтобы целовали с великим благоговением руки священника, потому что ему дана божественная власть совершать таинство Евхаристии. Он говаривал: "Если бы мне довелось встретить святого, сошедшего с неба, и бедного священника, я бы сначала приветствовал священника и хотел бы поцеловать ему руки. Я бы сказал: "О, подожди, святой Лаврентий, ибо руки этого человека касаются Слова жизни и наделены сверхчеловеческой властью!".

Основная богословская идея св. Франциска, высказанная им самим в Послании всем клирикам, была такова: "Ничего от Всевышнего телесно мы в этом мире не имеем и не видим, кроме Тела и Крови, наименований и слов, которыми мы были созданы и искуплены". Именно поэтому далее в его "Завещании" говорится: "Где бы я в недостойных местах ни нашел святейшие имена и слова, я хочу собрать их и прошу их собирать и помещать в подобающих местах. И мы должны почитать и уважать всех богословов и всех, кто возвещает слово Божие, как дарующих нам дух и жизнь".

В сочинении Vita prima говорится: "По-человечески невозможно понять его волнение, когда он произносил имя Божье. Поэтому где бы он ни находил что-нибудь написанное о делах божеских или человеческих, на дороге, в доме или на полу, он собирал все с великим благоговением, слагая в священном или по крайней мере подобающем месте, опасаясь, не написано ли там имя Господне или что-нибудь о Господе. И когда однажды его собрат спросил его, почему он столь заботливо собирает даже сочинения язычников или сочинения, где наверняка нет имени Божьего, он ответил "Сын мой, потому что все буквы могут слагаться в это святое Имя". И еще более удивительно то, что диктуя приветственные послания или увещевания, он никогда не позволял вычеркивать слово или слог, даже если они были лишними или написанными с ошибкой" (п. 82).

Мы часто представляем себе св. Франциска размышляющим о великих вопросах или вынашивающим высокие замыслы или же думающим о вещах простых, добрых и прекрасных, но основная черта его облика, о которой свидетельствует история, - забота и попечение этого человека обо всем, что с наибольшей ясностью и очевидностью напоминало ему о Спасении Тремя вещами Франциск поистине дорожил Это прежде всего Тело Христово. Он очень часто говорил о нем с редким благочестием и жаром.

Когда он послал своих братьев в разные страны Европы, для себя он избрал Францию, объяснив это тем, что он слыхал, будто там особо почитается Евхаристия.

Он написал всем правителям (подеста, консулам, судьям и т. д. ): "Увещеваю вас, господа мои, отложить всякое иное попечение и заботу и достойно принимать Пресвятое Тело и Кровь Иисуса Христа".

И он, беднейший из бедных, отвергающий любую собственность, хотел бы, чтобы его братья путешествовали с драгоценными дароносицами, на случай если им доведется оказаться в приходах, где Таинство хранится в алтаре без должного благоговения.

Затем он дорожил Священным Писанием, "божественными именами", и эта его забота о них распространялась на любой написанный текст, на каждое слово, так что формы, которые принимало это почитание, кажутся нам преувеличенными: "Увещеваю всех моих братьев, если они где бы то ни было найдут написанными божественные слова, пусть чтут их, как только могут, и соберут их и сохранят, почитая в этих словах Господа, их произнесшего".

И, наконец, известна любовь Франциска ко всем одушевленным и неодушевленным творениям. Но источник этой знаменитой "францисканской любви" - не столько тонкая и поэтическая душевная организация Франциска, сколько его духовность.

Глава Legenda maior, посвященная рассказам об этой любви, носит знаменательное заглавие: "Как творения, лишенные разума, выказывали любовь к нему". Это нечто противоположное тому, о чем мы обычно думаем. Сами творения чувствовали, что этот человек любит их, и их тянуло к нему, они узнавали его, "чувствовали его милосердную любовь". А Франциск любил их, потому что видел в них Творца, их создавшего, и образ Искупителя.

В сочинении Vita prima говорится: "Как описать его неизреченную любовь к творениям Божьим и нежность, с которой он созерцал в них премудрость, благость, могущество Творца...? Даже к червякам он чувствовал величайшую любовь.потомучто Священное Писание говорит о Господе:"Червь я, а не человек", и он убирал их с дороги, чтобы их не раздавили" (п.80). Видя ягненка среди коз, Франциск умилялся, думая об Агнце Божьем, идущем среди фарисеев; видя мертвого ягненка, он плакал, думая о закланном Агнце Божьем ("Увы, брат агнец, в чьем образе Христос явился людям!"); видя цветы, он думал о "сияющем цветке, расцветшем в сердце зимы"; если на его глазах рубили дерево, он просил, чтобы сохранили хотя бы одну ветвь, потому что Христос тоже, подобно ветви, произрос из древнего корени Ессеева; а глядя на камень, он с волнением вспоминал о Христе - камне, ставшем главою угла. Можно привести и другие примеры.

Любовь к творениям была любовью к Богу-Отцу и к Христу-брату, любовью, которая все охватывает и в которой все обретает свой смысл.

Здесь наша мысль обращается к знаменитой Хвале творениям. Не все знают, в каких обстоятельствах она была написана.

За два года до смерти Франциск был измучен болезнью. Уже более пятидесяти дней он не мог выносить ни дневного света, ни огня ночью.

Он почти ослеп, и глаза его постоянно резала жестокая боль. На виски ему клали два кружка раскаленного железа, чтобы прижечь больные места. Он жил в крохотной келье, кишащей мышами, которые по ночам грызли его тело, а днем мешали ему молиться и даже есть. И тогда, как говорит его биограф, "Франциска охватила жалость к самому себе" и он взмолился: "Боже, приди на помощь моей немощи". И Бог обещал ему отныне "покой Царства Своего". Франциск сел, погрузился в раздумье, а потом сказал: "Всевышний, всемогущий, благой Боже...", и сочинил также музыку. Он даже пожелал, чтобы с тех пор его братья, ходя по городам и селам, сперва проповедовали, а потом учили людей "Хвале".

Многие ли знают, что Франциск так объяснял прекрасные слова, обращенные им к солнцу и огню: "Мы все слепы, и Господь просвещает наши глаза благодаря творениям Своим"?

Многие ли знают, что прилагательное "драгоценные", ("драгоценные звезды") Франциск всегда употреблял исключительно по отношению к Евхаристии и всему, что с нею связано? И что вода была для него смиренной, драгоценной и чистой (он даже никогда не вступал в нее ногами изопасения ее замутить) потому, что напоминала ему о смиренном и чистом Христе, "воде живой"? Многое еще можно было бы сказать о том, что так хорошо известно и так плохо понято: о мире, о бедности, о которых столь часто вспоминают в отрыве от единой любви, их объясняющей.

Источником всех ценностей и всякой любви для Франциска была его связь с Христом, и вне этой связи все показалось бы ему смешным и ложным.

Поэтому в заключение хотелось бы привести слова его первого биографа: "Братья, жившие с ним, хорошо знают, что ежедневно, ежеминутно на его устах было воспоминание о Христе, знают, с каким блаженством и нежностью он разговаривал с Ним, с какой нежной любовью он с Ним беседовал.

Он действительно был целиком захвачен Иисусом. Иисус был всегда в его сердце, Иисус был на его устах, Иисус был в его ушах, Иисус - в его очах, Иисус - на его руках, Иисус - во всем теле его" (Vita prima).

Legenda maior также говорит, что это был "подлинный христианин, который благодаря совершенному подражанию Христу в жизни стремился уподобиться Христу живущему, в смерти - Христу умирающему, а после смерти - Христу умершему" (14, 4).

Франциск любил Христа как живое историческое лицо: Христа - Творца и творение, Христа в Церкви, в Евхаристии, в Библии, Христа страдающего и Христа во славе. О нем сказаны знаменательные слова: "Он был среди святых святейшим, а среди грешников - одним из них" (Vita prima, n.83).

В этом - тайна христианской жизни: стать святыми без какой-либо гордыни или отделения, но, напротив, чувствуя себя все более сопричастными ко всей слабости мира и Церкви, к благому предназначению всего творения, которое постепенно, в ежедневных трудах и стенаниях движется к своему завершению.

 

Francis of Assisi

He is probably the best known and popular of the saints, who down to today fascinates many people, particularly poets, painters and those committed to the poor and to the protection of the natural environment.

Giovanni Bernardone (his real first and last name) was born in Assisi in 1181 or 1182. He was the son of Pietro Bernardone, a rich merchant in the textile business. He was born while his father was in France on business, and after his return – perhaps to commemorate his trip – his father named his son “Francesco.” Looking forward to his future as a merchant, from his childhood Francis attended the school at the Church of St. George In Assisi. Thanks to the education he received there Francis knew how to read and write and also knew the Bible, especially the Gospel and the Psalms. The years of his youth passed lightheartedly, in the company of his peers, playing, sharing in dances and suppers, but also practicing business in the shop of his father. He sought to obtain the dignity of a knight which for many of this new middle class was the greatest of ambitions. Therefore, in 1198, he participated in the insurrection of the citizens of Assisi against the power of the prince Conrad of Urslingen and in 1202 in the war between Assisi and Perugia. In this latter, in the battle of Collestrada, Francis was captured and spent almost a year in prison. Thinking again to take part in the war of Count Gentile who, at the request of Pope Innocent III, went to Southern Italy and Sicily to put an end to the anarchy that had spread there. Francis withdrew from this campaign, however, it is said under the influence of a mysterious dream in which he heard this question: whom is it better to serve, the servant or the master?

We can look for the beginnings of Francis’s conversion around the year 1202. He speaks of it himself in words that are few but clear: “The Lord gave me, Brother Francis, thus to begin to doing penance in this way: for when I was in sin, it seemed too bitter for me to see lepers. And the Lord Himself led me among them and I showed mercy to them. And when I left them, what had seemed bitter to me was turned into sweetness of soul and body. And afterwards I delayed a little and left the world.” (Testament, 1-3) According to St. Bonaventure, an important moment in the process of Francis’s conversion was a mysterious vision: Christ on the cross commanded him to rebuild the church which was falling into ruin. These two events, the meeting with the lepers and the vision of the Crucified, don’t contradict each other, but constitute the successive stages of the process of conversion. Francis understood the call of the Crucified literally: around 1206 he began to take up a hermit’s life and worked in the rebuilding of small ruined churches that were found near Assisi and in the vicinity. To cover the expenses of the reconstruction, he used money from his father’s shop. The violent resistance of his father against this change of life, especially against the use of money from his business to help the poor and for the reconstruction of the churches, ended with a legal process before the bishop of Assisi, when Francis publicly renounced his right of inheritance, returning to his father even the clothes he had been wearing. Leaving Assisi, at first he worked in the kitchen of the Benedictine Abbey of San Verecondo and then served the lepers in Gubbio. After his return to his own city the date of February 24, 1208 was very important for him, when he heard the words of the Gospel on the sending of the apostles and took them as addressed to him personally. He began thus a life of extreme poverty, dedicated to the itinerant announcement of the Gospel, especially the call to penance. He lived on the offerings of the inhabitants of Assisi which he begged going door to door.

He did not have the intention of founding some new structure in the Church, and did not seek followers or companions. Nevertheless, after some months they began to come to him (1208/1209). They all came from Assisi or from the surrounding area and were witnesses of the transformation of Francis’s life: the citizen of Assisi Bernard of Quintavalle, the jurist Peter Cattani, Giles of Assisi, the priest Sylvester, the peasant Giles, Morico, an impoverished nobleman, Sabatino, Giovanni dalla Cappella, and the others. In the first companions we see all the social classes of the age represented. Francis then sent them two by two on mission to preach more by example than by word. The fraternity, after returning from mission, around 1209, was based in the hovel of Rivotorto, and a few months later moved to the Portiuncula – a little church dedicated Our Lady of the Angels which Francis had received from the Benedictines and that he had rebuilt. The Portiuncula became a sign of the poverty of Francis: he did not wish to receive any property, but only something lent to him.

The new fraternity had need of some kind of rule. This was made of some phrases of the Gospel which spoke of announcing the Good News, the duty of carrying one’s own cross, of following Christ and renouncing property. When the number of friars reached twelve, they went to Rome where Francis himself presented to Pope Innocent III the request to confirm their life. The request raised serious doubts for many Cardinals because of the radical way of living poverty and because of the fear of heresy. In the end Pope Innocent III, in 1209, approved this life orally. By the will of Francis the fraternity took the name “Order of Friars Minor,” even though they had previously used other names, such as, for example, “Penitents of Assisi.” Since the fraternity grew quickly in numbers (around 1220 there were already more than 3,000 friars), and the life raised new questions and problems for which the Rule, very generic in its content, did not give any answer, during the annual meetings of the friars, that is, the Chapters, instructions and norms were added that grew into a bulkier document (24 chapters), codified in 1221. Moreover, among the friars there came to be differences regarding the purpose and tasks of the fraternity (foreign missions? preaching? a life dedicated exclusively to prayer and contemplation?). Francis did not seek to resolve these difficulties on his own, but counted on the Holy Spirit who – as he believed deeply – would grant to the brothers to know what they had to do and how to proceed. In the end, with the help of Cardinal Hugolino of Segni and certain friars who were expert writers (Caesar of Speyer, Bonizio of Bologna) he wrote the definitive version of the Rule which was approved by Pope Honorius III with the bull Solet annuere of November 29, 1223. This is the Rule that down to today constitutes the foundation of the life of all the branches of the Order of Friars Minor. In the night of December 24/25, 1223, at Greccio, Francis made the Nativity crèche for the first time – a tradition that over the years spread all over Europe and from there to all the world.

The last period of life was very painful for Francis: he had an inflammation of the eyes from his time in the Holy Land during 1219-1220. Then we must add the receiving of the stigmata during the prolonged period of prayer in solitude at La Verna, in September 1224, when Francis had a vision of Christ in the form of a seraph of six wings and his hands, feet, and side were pierced. The stigmata were a sign of his particular election by God, but they surely brought physical pain and were an obstacle to walking and to holding anything in hand. Finally, there were the moral sufferings: Francis felt unable to influence the growing number of friars. He believed it was his fault that they were becoming less zealous or less understanding of the Gospel life. The care of the eyes, even though it was very painful (cauterization with hot iron), did not have a satisfactory result. Finding himself at the end, Francis asked to be carried to the Portiuncula. It was there that, surrounded by the friars, he concluded his earthly life on the evening of October 3, 1226. In the last hour before death he asked to be placed naked on the earth – he wanted to die absolutely poor, not having anything of his own. Already two years after his death, in 1228, Francis was proclaimed a saint by Pope Gregory IX (the former Cardinal Hugolino of Segni). At first his body was placed in the church of St. George in Assisi, and then in 1230 it was translated to the basilica dedicated to St. Francis, built for this purpose in Assisi, where it is still found today.

Francis is the author of the following writings: the Rule (in the unapproved version of 1221 and the approved version of 1223, together with other fragments edited at various times), the Testament, some letters (among others, To the Whole Order, To the Faithful, to Brother Leo), prayers, mostly of praise, and a collection of brief teachings called the Admonitions.

Br. Roland Prejs OFMCap

Za: www.ofmcap.org

Decree of promulgation

Given the decree of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, prot. n° C 37 – 1/2013 of 4 October 2013, by which was approved and confirmed the redacted text in the Italian language presented with the letter of 28 September 2013,

The General Minister

having the mandate of the 84th General Chapter

with the present decree

PROMULGATES

the Constitutions of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin

and the Ordinances of the General Chapters

in their typical edition in the Italian language

with the text that follows.

Their entry into effect is set for 8 December 2013

being published on the official site of the Order.

 

Full text

Decree of Promulgation

Executory decree

 

The Constitutions of the Capuchin Friars Minor

 

В первое воскресенье католического Адвента откроется «Год монашества» торжественной мессой в соборе Святого Петра в Риме.

О том что 2015 год будет годом «Посвященной Богу жизни», папа Франциск объявил в декабре 2014. «Священники и монашествующие хотят «разбудить мир» своим пророческим свидетельством»: говорит префект Конгрегации по делам институтов посвященной жизни и Обществ апостольской жизни кардинал Жуан Брас ди Авис.

Цель, которую преследует католическая церковь, в первую очередь дать надежду. По словам папы Франциска в церкви и обществе существует кризис, который может стать «коридором, который ведет к смерти». Год «Посвященный Богу жизни» или монашества поможет возродить в душах людей тягу к Богу и напомнить, что монашеская жизнь церкви была установлена самим Христом.

Другой целью является -«благодарное воспоминание о прошлом», о том огромном вкладе в восстановлении жизни монашеских общин, совершенным II Ватиканским собором. В 2015 г. будет отмечаться 50- летие его окончания.

 

 Д Е К Р Е Т

об индульгенциях Года посвящённой Богу жизни

“Индульгенция – это отпущение перед лицом Бога временного наказания за грехи, уже прощённые в том, что касается вины. Верный Христу, расположенный подобающим образом, получает её на строго установленных условиях посредством действия Церкви, которая, как служительница искупления, правомочно распоряжается сокровищницей заслуг Христа и святых и применяет её” (кан. 992 ККП).

Принимая во внимание Декрет Апостольской Пенитенциарии об установлении особых индульгенций в течение Года посвящённой жизни, устанавливаю места и дни, в которые верные, исполняя предписанные молитвы и действия, могут получить дар полной индульгенции для себя или усопших:

1.    Местами получения индульгенций Года посвящённой жизни являются часовня монастыря св. Франциска Ассизского в Москве, базилика св. Екатерины Александрийской в Санкт-Петербурге, храм Успения Пресвятой Девы Марии в Нижнем Новгороде, храм св. Георгия Великомученика в Калуге, храм св. Бруно в Черняховске.
Условием получения индульгенции является участие в священнопраздновании Евхаристии или Литургии Часов в указанных храмах, дополненное исповеданием веры в любой утвержденной форме, если оно не предусмотрено уже в самом богослужении. Или же благочестивое молитвенное размышление в этом храме в течение достаточного времени, завершаемое молитвой Отче наш и исповеданием веры, призывая также помощь Пресвятой Богородицы.

2.    Днями получения индульгенций Года посвящённой жизни является второе число каждого месяца от дня вступления данного Декрета в силу до 2 февраля 2016 года включительно – даты завершения Года посвящённой жизни. А также 8 августа (память св. Доминика), 4 октября (память св. Франциска), 10 октября (память блаж. Марии Ангелы Трушковской).

3.    Полную индульгенцию могут получить также все те, кто примет участие во встречах и празднованиях в Риме, определённых Конгрегацией институтов посвящённой жизни при выполнении условий п. 4, а также  благочестивого молитвенного размышления в течение достаточного времени, завершаемое молитвой Отче наш и Исповеданием веры, призывая также помощь Пресвятой Богородицы.

4.    Напоминаю, что в соответствии с общими нормами получения индульгенций

а) для получения индульгенции необходимо быть крещённым и не отлучённым от Церкви и находиться в состоянии благодати, по крайней мере на момент окончания исполнения предписанного для индульгенции дела, и иметь намерение получить индульгенцию

б) полная индульгенция может быть получена только один раз в день, при этом должны быть выполнены следующие условия: полное отвержение привязанности к какому-либо греху, даже повседневному, исполнение предписанного для получения индульгенции дела, принятие таинства покаяния, причащение и молитва в намерениях Святого Отца. При этом исповедь может быть совершена за несколько дней до или после исполнения дела индульгенции, одной исповеди достаточно для получения нескольких индульгенций в течение нескольких дней. Причащение требуется для каждой индульгенции. Причащение и молитва в намерениях Святого Отца, состоящая в молитвах «Отче наш» и «Радуйся, Мария» или других, по выбору верующих, должны быть совершены в день исполнения дела индульгенции

в) при отсутствии должного расположения или не исполнении всех условий, а только исполнении дела индульгенции, верный получает только частичную индульгенцию.

Настоящий декрет вступает в силу с момента подписания.


                                                        Архиепископ Павел Пецци
Митрополит Архиепархии

                                                        священник Иван Колесников

вице-канцлер Курии

Москва, 23 января 2015 г.
№ 04/15

 

Presentation of logo

 

CONGREGATION FOR INSTITUTES OF CONSECRATED LIFE
AND SOCIETIES OF APOSTOLIC LIFE  

YEAR OF CONSECRATED LIFE

REJOICE!

A letter to consecrated men and women

A message from the teachings of Pope Francis

I want to say one word
to you and this word is joy.
Wherever consecrated people are,
there is always joy!
”.

Pope FRANCIS

Dear brothers and sisters,

  1. “The joy of the Gospel fills the heart and lives of all who encounter Jesus. With Jesus Christ joy is constantly born anew.”(1)

The beginning of Evangelii Gaudium, within the fabric of the teaching of Pope Francis, rings out with surprising vitality, proclaiming the wonderful mystery of the Good News that transforms the life of the person who takes it to heart. We are told the parable of joy: our meeting with Jesus lights up in us its original beauty, the beauty of the face on which the Father’s glory shines (cf. 2Cor 4:6), radiating happiness.

This Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life invites us to reflect on the graced time we have been given to live, at the special invitation that the Pope addresses to those in consecrated life.

To accept this teaching means to renew our existence in accordance with the Gospel, not in a radical way understood as a model of perfection and often of separation, but by adhering wholeheartedly to the saving encounter that transforms our life. “It is a question of leaving everything to follow the Lord. No, I do not want to say ‘radical’. Evangelical radicalness is not only for religious: it is demanded of all. But religious follow the Lord in a special way, in a prophetic way. It is this witness that I expect of you. Religious should be men and women able to wake the world up.”(2)

In their finite humanity, on the margins, in their everyday struggles, consecrated men and women live out their fidelity, giving a reason for the joy that lives in them. So they become splendid witnesses, effective proclaimers, companions and neighbours for the women and men with whom they share a common history and who want to find their Father’s house in the Church.(3) Francis of Assisi, who took the Gospel as his way of life “made faith grow and he renewed the Church, and at the same time he renewed society, he made it more fraternal, but he always did it with the Gospel and by his witness. Always preach the Gospel and if necessary use words!”(4)

Numerous suggestions come to us from listening to the words of the Pope, but we are particularly challenged by the absolute simplicity with which Pope Francis offers his teaching, in tune with the appealing sincerity of the Gospel. Plain words sown from the open arms of the good sower, who trustingly does not discriminate between one sort of soil and another.

An authoritative invitation is offered to us with gentle trust, an invitation to do away with institutional arguments and personal justifications. It is a provocative word that questions our sometimes apathetic or sleepy way of life, as we often live on the margins of the challenge: if you had faith as big as this mustard seed (Lk 17:5). It is an invitation that encourages us to impel our spirits to acknowledge the Word living among us, the Spirit who creates and continues to renew the Church.

This Letter is motivated by this invitation, in the hope of initiating a shared reflection. It is offered as a simple tool for examining our lives honestly in the light of the Gospel. This Dicastery therefore presents a shared itinerary, a space for personal, communal and institutional reflection as we journey towards 2015, the year the Church has dedicated to consecrated life, with the desire and the intention of making courageous evangelical decisions leading to revitalization, bearing fruits of joy. “The primacy of God gives full meaning and joy to human lives, because men and women are made for God, and their hearts are restless until they rest in him.”(5)

BE GLAD, REJOICE,
RADIATE JOY

Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her all you who mourn over her.

For this is what the Lord says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees.

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.

When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass; the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants.”

Isaiah 66:10-14

Listening

  1. In sacred Scripture the term joy (in Hebrew: s´imh. â/s´amah. , gyl) is used to express a multiplicity of collective and personal experiences connected in a particular way to religious ceremonies and feasts, and to recognise the sense of the presence of God in the history of Israel. There are indeed thirteen different verbs and nouns found in the Bible to describe the joy of God, of people and also of creation itself, in the dialogue of salvation.

In the Old Testament, these recurrences are most numerous in the Psalms and in the prophet Isaiah. With creative and original linguistic variations, there are many invitations to joy. The joy of the nearness of God is proclaimed, the delight in what God has created and made. Hundreds of times in the Psalms there are effective expressions to indicate that joy is both the fruit of the benevolent presence of God and the jubilant echo that it gives rise to, as well as a declaration of the great promise that lies in the future for the people. As for the prophet, it is the second and third parts of the book of Isaiah that pulse with this frequent call to joy, pointing to the future: it will be overflowing (cf. Is 9:2), the heavens, the desert and the earth will leap for joy (Is 35:1; 44:23; 49:13), the liberated prisoners will enter Jerusalem shouting for joy (Is 35:9 f.; 51:11).

In the New Testament the preferred vocabulary is linked to the root kar (kàirein, karà), but other terms are found such as agalliáomai, euphrosy ´ne¯. It usually implies total exultation embracing the past and the future together. Joy is the messianic gift par excellence, as Jesus himself promised: ...that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete (Jn 15:11; 16:24; 17:13). Starting with the events that precede the birth of the Saviour, it is Luke who signals the exultant diffusion of joy (cf. Lk 1:14.44.47; 2:10; cf. Mt 2:10) and then accompanies the spread of the Good News with this effect that expands (cf. Lk 10:17; 24:41.52) and is a typical sign of the presence and the spread of the Kingdom (cf. Lk 15:7.10.32; Acts 8:39; 11:23; 15:3; 16:34; cf. Rom 15:10-13; etc.).

According to Paul, joy is a fruit of the Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22) and a typical, constant feature of the Kingdom (cf. Rm 14:17) that is strengthened by trials and tribulations (cf. 1Titus 1:6). The source of joy must be found in prayer, charity and unceasing thanksgiving (cf. 1Titus 5:16; Phil 3:1; Col 1:11 f.). In his difficulties the apostle to the gentiles felt full of joy and a sharer of the glory that we all await (cf. 2Cor 6:10; 7:4; Col 1:24). The final triumph of God and the marriage of the Lamb will complete every joy and exultation (cf. Rev 19:7), setting off an explosion of a cosmic Alleluia (Rev 19:6).

Let us look at the meaning of the text: Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her (Is 66:10). This is the end of the third part of the prophet Isaiah. It is necessary to be aware that chapters 65-66 are closely united and mutually complementary, as was already evident in the conclusion of the second part of Isaiah (chapters 54-55).

In both these chapters the theme of the past is evoked, sometimes with crude imagery, as if to invite them to forget it because God wants to make a new light shine out, a trust that will immediately heal infidelity and cruelty. The curse, a result of their disregard for the Covenant, will disappear because God is about to make Jerusalem a delight and its people a joy (cf. Is 65:18). This will be demonstrated in the experience that God’s answer comes even before the request is voiced (cf. Is 65:24). This context persists through the first verses of Isaiah 66, resurfacing here and there through signs showing the insensitivity of their hearts and ears in the face of the Lord’s goodness and his Word of hope.

Here the likeness of Jerusalem as mother seems evocative. It is inspired by the promises of Isaiah 49:18-29 and 54:1-3: the land of Judah is unexpectedly filled with those returning from the diaspora, after their humiliation. You might almost say that the rumours of “liberation” had “made Sion pregnant” with new life and hope, and that God, the lord of life, will bring this pregnancy to fulfilment, effortlessly giving birth to new children. Thus mother Sion is surrounded by newborn children and generously nourishes and tends them all. This gentle image fascinated St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who found it a crucial key for the interpretation of her spirituality.(6)

An accumulation of intense words: be glad, rejoice, radiate, as well as consolation, delight, abundance, prosperity, caresses, etc. The relationship of fidelity and love had failed, and they had ended in sadness and sterility. Now the power and holiness of God restores meaning and fulness of life and happiness, expressed in terms that belong to the affective roots of every human being, arousing unique feelings of tenderness and security.

It is a gentle but true profile of a God who radiates maternal vibrations and deep, contagious emotions. A heartfelt joy (cf. Is 66:14) that comes from God – with maternal face and supportive arm – and radiates through a people who have been crippled, whose bones have become brittle through a thousand humiliations. It is a freely-given transformation that spreads out joyfully to the new heavens and the new earth (cf. Is 66:22), so that all the people might come to know the glory of the Lord, the faithful redeemer.

Joy, the beauty of consecration

  1. This is the beauty of consecration: it is joy, joy...”.(7) The joy of bringing God’s consolation to all. These are the words spoken by Pope Francis during his meeting with seminarians and novices. “There is no holiness in sadness”,(8) the Holy Father continued. Do not grieve like others who have no hope, wrote St. Paul (1Thess 4:13).

Joy is not a useless ornament. It is a necessity, the foundation of human life. In their daily struggles, every man and woman tries to attain joy and abide in it with the totality of their being.

In the world there is often a lack of joy. We are not called to accomplish epic feats or to proclaim high-sounding words, but to give witness to the joy that arises from the certainty of knowing we are loved, from the confidence that we are saved.

Our short memories and flimsy experiences often prevent us from searching for the ‘lands of joy’ where we can relish God’s reflection. We have a thousand reasons for remaining in joy. Its roots are nourished by listening with faith and perseverance to the Word of God. In the school of the Master we hear: may my joy be in you and may your joy be complete (Jn 15:11) and we are taught how to practise perfect joy.

“Sadness and fear must give way to joy: Rejoice... be glad... rejoice with her in joy, says the prophet (Is 66:10). It is a great invitation to joy. […] Every Christian, and especially you and I, we are called to be bearers of this message of hope giving serenity and joy, God’s consolation, his tenderness towards all. But if we first experience the joy of being consoled by him, of being loved by him, then we can bring that joy to others. […] I have occasionally met consecrated persons who are afraid of the consolations of God. They were tormented, because they were afraid of this divine tenderness. But be not afraid. Do not be afraid, because the Lord is the Lord of consolation, the Lord of tenderness. The Lord is a Father and he says that he will be for us like a mother with her baby, with a mother’s tenderness. Do not be afraid of the consolations of the Lord.”(9)

Your calling

  1. “In calling you God says to you: ‘You are important to me, I love you, I am counting on you’. Jesus says this to each one of us! Joy is born from that! The joy of the moment in which Jesus looked at me. Understanding and hearing this is the secret of our joy. Feeling loved by God, feeling that for him we are not numbers but people; and we know that it is he who is calling us.”(10)

Pope Francis directs our attention to the spiritual foundations of our humanity, to see what is given to us gratuitously by free divine sovereignty and free human response: Then Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mk 10:21).

The Pope recalls: “Jesus, at the Last Supper, turns to the Apostles with these words: You did not choose me, but I chose you (Jn 15:16). They remind us all, not only those of us who are priests, that vocation is always an initiative of God. It is Christ who called you to follow him in the consecrated life and this means continuously making an ‘exodus‘ from yourselves in order to centre your life on Christ and on his Gospel, on the will of God, laying aside your own plans, in order to say with St Paul: It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Gal 2:20).(11)

The Pope invites us on a pilgrimage in reverse, a pathway of knowledge to discover ourselves on the streets of Palestine or near the boat of the humble fisherman of Galilee. He invites us to contemplate the beginnings of a journey or rather, of an event initiated by Christ, when the nets were left on the lake shore, the taxcollector’s desk by the side of the road, the ambitions of the zealot among discarded plans. All are inappropriate means for staying with him.

He invites us to remain for a long time, on an interior pilgrimage, before the dawn, when, in a warm environment of friendly relationships, the intellect is led to open itself to mystery, the decision is made that it is good to set out to follow this Master who alone has the words of eternal life (cf. Jn 6:68). He invites us to make our whole “life a pilgrimage of loving transformation.” (12)

Pope Francis calls us to pause at that opening scene: “The joy of the moment when Jesus looked at me”(13) and to recall the important and demanding, underlying meaning of our vocation: “It is a response to a call, a call of love”.(14) To stay with Christ requires us to share our lives, our choices, the obedience of faith, the happiness of poverty, the radicality of love.

It is about being reborn through vocation. “I invite all Christians […] at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ today, at least to an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.”(15)

Paul brings us back to this fundamental vision: no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid (1Cor 3:11). The word ‘vocation’ indicates a free gift, like a reservoir of life that never ceases renewing humanity and the Church in the depths of their being.

In the experience of vocation, God is indeed the mysterious subject of an act of calling. We hear a voice that calls us to life and discipleship for the Kingdom. Pope Francis in recalling “You are important to me”, uses direct speech, in the first person, so that awareness might emerge. He calls to consciousness my opinion and my judgement, requiring behaviour consistent with my self-awareness, with the call that I hear addressed to me, my personal call. “I would like to say to those who feel indifferent to God or to faith, and to those who are far from God or who have distanced themselves from him, and to us also, with our ‘distancing’ and our ‘abandonment’ of God, that may seem insignificant but are so numerous in our daily life: look into the depths of your heart, look into your own inner depths and ask yourself: do you have a heart that desires something great, or a heart that has been lulled to sleep by things? Has your heart maintained a restlessness searching or have you let it be suffocated by things that will finally harden it?”(16)

The relationship with Jesus Christ asks to be nourished by this restless searching. This makes us aware of the gratuity of the gift of a vocation and helps us to explain the reasons for our initial choice and for our perseverance. “Letting Christ make us his own always means straining forward to what lies ahead, to the goal of Christ (cf. Phil 3:14)”.(17) To continue listening to God requires that these questions become the coordinates guiding the rhythm of our daily life.

This inexpressible mystery, leading us within, sharing in the indescribable mystery of God, can only be interpreted in faith. “Faith is our response to a word that engages us personally, to a ‘Thou’ who calls us by name”(18) and “as a response to a word which preceded it, would always be an act of remembrance. Yet this remembrance is not fixed on past events but, as the memory of a promise, it becomes capable of opening up the future, shedding light on the path to be taken”.(19) “Faith contains our own memory of God’s history with us, the memory of our encounter with God who always takes the first step, who creates, saves and transforms us. Faith is remembrance of his word that warms our heart, and of his saving work which gives life, purifies us, cares for and nourishes us. […] The one who is mindful of God, who is guided by the memory of God in his or her entire life is able to awaken that memory in the hearts of others.”(20) It is the memory of being called here and now.

Found, touched, transformed

  1. The Pope asks us to re-read our own personal story and to scrutinise it in the light of God’s loving gaze, because if a vocation is always his initiative, it is up to us freely to accept the divine-human economy as a relationship of life in agape, the path of discipleship, the “beacon on the Church’s journey”.(21) Life in the spirit is never completed, but is always open to mystery, as we discern in order to know the Lord and to perceive reality beginning with him. When God calls us he lets us enter into his rest and invites us to repose in him, in a continuous process of loving understanding. We hear the Word you are worried and upset about many things (Lk 10:41). On the path of love we go forward through rebirth: the old creation is born anew. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation (2Cor 5:17).

Pope Francis points out the name of this rebirth. “This path has a name and a face: the face of Jesus Christ. He teaches us to become holy. In the Gospel he shows us the way, the way of the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:1-12). This is the life of the Saints, people who for love of God did not place conditions on him during their life”.(22)

Consecrated life is a call to incarnate the Good News, to follow Christ, the crucified and risen one, to take on “Jesus’s way of living and acting as the Incarnate Word in relation to the Father and in relation to the brothers and sisters”.(23) In practical terms, it is a call to take up his way of life, to adopt his interior attitude, to allow oneself to be invaded by his Spirit, to absorb his surprising logic and his scale of values, to share in his risks and his hopes. “Be guided by the humble yet joyful certainty of those who have been found, touched and transformed by the Truth who is Christ, ever to be proclaimed”.(24)

Remaining in Christ allows us to grasp the presence of the Mystery which lives in us and expands our hearts to the measure of his Son’s heart. Those who remain in his love, like the branch attached to the vine (cf. Jn 15:1-8), enter into intimacy with Christ and bear fruit. “Remain in Jesus! This means remaining attached to him, in him, with him, talking to him”.(25)

“Christ is the seal on our foreheads, he is the seal on our hearts: on the forehead because we always profess him; on the heart because we always love him; he is the seal on our arms because we are always working for him.”(26) Consecrated life is in fact a continuous call to follow Christ, and to be made like him. “Jesus’s whole life, his way of dealing with the poor, his actions, his integrity, his simple daily generosity, and finally his complete self-giving, all this is precious and relates to our personal lives.”(27)

Meeting the Lord gets us moving, urges us to leave aside self-absorption.(28) A relationship with the Lord is not static, nor is it focussed on self. “Because when we put Christ at the centre of our life, we ourselves don’t become the centre! The more that you unite yourself to Christ and he becomes the centre of your life, the more he leads you out of yourself, leads you from making yourself the centre and opens you to others”.(29) “We are not at the centre; we are, so to speak, ‘relocated’. We are at the service of Christ and of the Church”.(30)

Christian life is defined by verbs of movement. Even when it is lived in the context of a monastery or contemplative cloister it is a life of continual searching.

“It is impossible to persevere in a fervent evangelization unless we are convinced from personal experience that it is not the same thing to have known Jesus as not to have known him, not the same thing to walk with him as to walk blindly, not the same thing to hear his word as not to know it, and not the same thing to contemplate him, to worship him, to find our peace in him, as not to do so. It is not the same thing to try to build the world with his Gospel as to try to do so by our own lights. We know well that with Jesus life becomes richer and that with him it is easier to find meaning in everything”.(31)

Pope Francis recommends for us restless searching just like Augustine of Hippo: a “restlessness in his heart which brought him to a personal encounter with Christ, brought him to understand that the remote God he was seeking was the God who is close to every human being, the God close to our heart, who was more inward than our innermost self”. This is an ongoing search. “Augustine did not stop, he did not give up, he did not withdraw into himself like those who have already arrived, but continued his search. The restlessness of seeking the truth, of seeking God, became restlessness to know him ever better and to come out of himself to make others know him. It was precisely the restlessness of love.”(32)

Joy, a faithful ‘yes’

  1. Anyone who has met the Lord and follows him faithfully is a messenger of the joy of the Spirit.

“Thanks solely to this encounter – or renewed encounter – with God’s love, which blossoms into an enriching friendship, we are liberated from our narrowness and self-absorption”.(33)

When we are called, we are called to ourselves, that is, to our capacity for being. Perhaps it is not unwarranted to say that the crisis of consecrated life results from the inability to recognize such a profound call, even in those who are already living this vocation.

We are experiencing a crisis of fidelity, understood as a conscious adherence to a call that is a pathway, a journey from its mysterious beginnings to its mysterious end.

Perhaps we are also in a crisis of humanization. We are experiencing the limitations of complete consistency, wounded by our incapacity to lead our lives as an integrated vocation and as a faithful journey.

This daily journey, both personal and communal, marked by discontent and a bitterness that encloses us in remorse, and almost in a permanent longing for unexplored paths and unfulfilled dreams, becomes a lonely road. Our call to live in relationship, in the fulfilment of love, can be transformed into an uninhabited wilderness. At every age we are invited to revisit the deep centre of our personal life, where the motivation of our life with the Master, as disciples of the Master, finds its meaning and truth.

Faithfulness is the awareness of a love that points us towards the “Thou” of God and towards every other person, in a constant and dynamic way when we experience within ourselves the life of the Risen One. “Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness”.(34)

Faithful discipleship is grace and love in action; it is the practice of sacrificial charity. “When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly. We may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord”.(35)

To persevere all the way to Golgotha, to experience the lacerations of doubts and denial, to rejoice in the marvel and wonder of the Paschal event, up to the manifestation of Pentecost and the evangelization of the peoples, these are milestones of joyful fidelity because they are about self-emptying, experienced throughout life, even in the sign of martyrdom, and also sharing in the life of the risen Christ. “And it is from the Cross, the supreme act of mercy and love, that we are reborn as a new creation” (Gal 6:15).(36)

In the theological locus in which God, in revealing himself, reveals us to ourselves, the Lord asks us to return to the search, fides quaerens. Pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2Tm 2:22).

The interior pilgrimage begins with prayer. “The first thing for a disciple is to be with the Master, to listen to him and to learn from him. This is always true, and it is true at every moment of our lives. […] If the warmth of God, of his love, of his tenderness is not in our own hearts, then how can we, who are poor sinners, warm the heart of others”.(37) This is a life-long journey, as in the humility of prayer the Holy Spirit convinces us of the Lordship of Christ within us. “The Lord calls us to follow him with courage and fidelity; he has made us the great gift of choosing us as his disciples; he invites us to proclaim him with joy as the Risen one, but he asks us to do so by word and by the witness of our lives, in daily life. The Lord is the only God of our lives, and he invites us to strip ourselves of our many idols and to worship him alone”.(38)

The Pope identifies prayer as the source of the fruitfulness of the mission. “Let us cultivate the contemplative dimension, even amid the whirlwind of more urgent and heavy duties. And the more the mission calls you to go out to the margins of existence, let your heart be the more closely united to Christ’s heart, full of mercy and love”.(39)

Being with Jesus shapes a contemplative approach to history which knows how to see and hear the presence of the Spirit everywhere and, in a special way, how to discern the Spirit’s presence in order to live in time as God’s time. When the insight of faith is lacking, “life itself loses meaning, the faces of brothers and sisters are obscured and it becomes impossible to recognize the face of God in them, historical events remain ambiguous and deprived of hope”.(40)

Contemplation expands into prophetic aptitude. The prophet is one “whose eye is opened, and who hears and speaks the words of God; […] a person of three times: the promise of the past, the contemplation of the present, the courage to point out the path toward the future”.(41)

Fidelity in discipleship occurs through and is demonstrated by the experience of community, a theological reality in which we are called to support each other in our joyful ‘yes’ to the Gospel. “It is the Word of God that inspires faith and nourishes and revitalizes it. And it is the Word of God that touches hearts, converting them to God and to his logic which is so different from our own. It is the Word of God that continually renews our communities”.(42)

The Pope invites us to renew our vocation and to fill it with joy and passion, so that the increase in loving activity is a continuous process – “it matures, matures, matures”(43) – in a permanent development in which the ‘yes’ of our will to God’s will unites will, intellect and feeling. “Love is never finished and complete; throughout life it changes and matures, and thus remains faithful to itself”.(44)

 

COMFORT,
COMFORT MY PEOPLE

Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.

Isaiah 40:1-2

Listening   

  1. Using a stylistic peculiarity, also seen later in the text (cf. Is 51:17; 52:1: Awake, awake!), the oracles of the second part of Isaiah (Is 40-55) make a plea to come to the help of Israel in exile, shut up inside an empty memory of failure. The historical context clearly belongs to the prolonged exile of the people in Babylon (587-538 BC), with all the consequent humiliation and the sense of powerlessness to escape. However, the disintegration of the Assyrian empire under the pressure of the new emerging power of the Persians, guided by the rising star of Cyrus, enabled the prophet to foresee that an unexpected liberation might come about. And so it did. The prophet, inspired by God, voiced this possibility publicly, interpreting the political and military developments as actions guided mysteriously by God through Cyrus. He proclaimed that liberation was at hand and that the return to the land of their fathers was about to take place.

The words that Isaiah uses: Comfort... speak tenderly, are found regularly in the Old Testament. These recurrences are of particular value in dialogues of tenderness and affection. Thus Ruth recognises that Boaz has “comforted me and spoken kindly” (cf. Ruth 2:13), or in the famous page of Hosea who announces to the woman, Gomer, that he will “allure her and bring her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her” (cf. Hos 2:16) for a new period of fidelity. There are other similar parallel passages: the dialogue of Shechem, son of Hamor, who was in love with Dinah (cf. Gen 34:1-5) and that of the Levite of Ephraim speaking to the concubine who had abandoned him (cf. Judg 19:3).

This is a language to be interpreted in the context of love. Thus action and speech together, delicate and encouraging, remind us of the intense emotional bonds of God, the ‘spouse’ of Israel. This comfort must be an epiphany of reciprocal belonging, an interplay of intense empathy, ferment and vital connection. These are not superficial, cloying words, therefore, but mercy and deep-seated concern, an embrace giving strength and patient accompaniment in the rediscovery of faithful pathways.

Bringing God’s embrace

  1. “People today certainly need words, but most of all they need us to bear witness to the mercy and tenderness of the Lord which warms the heart, rekindles hope, and attracts people towards the good. What a joy it is to bring God’s consolation to others!”(45)

Pope Francis entrusts this mission to consecrated men and women: to discover the Lord who comforts us like a mother, and to comfort the people of God.

Service in the Church arises out of the joy of meeting the Lord and from his call. This mission is to bring to the men and women of our time the consolation of God, to bear witness to his mercy.(46)

In Jesus’s view, consolation is a gift of the Spirit, the Paraclete, the Consoler who comforts us in our trials and awakes a hope that does not disappoint. Thus Christian consolation becomes comfort, encouragement, hope. It is the active presence of the Spirit (cf. Jn 14:16-17), the fruit of the Spirit. And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22).

In a world of distrust, discouragement and depression, in a culture in which men and women are enveloped by fragility and weakness, individualism and self-interest, we are asked to introduce belief in the possibility of true happiness, in the feasibility of hope that does not depend solely on talent, superiority or knowledge, but on God. All are given the possibility of encountering him, if they only seek him with a sincere heart.

The men and women of our time are waiting for words of consolation, the availability of forgiveness and true joy. We are called to bring to everyone the embrace of God, who bends with a mother’s tenderness over us – consecrated women and men, signs of the fulness of humanity, facilitators and not controllers of grace,(47) stooped down in a gesture of consolation.

Tenderness is good for us

  1. Since we are witnesses of a communion beyond our vision and our limits, we are called to wear God’s smile. Community is the first and most believable gospel that we can preach. We are asked to humanise our community. “Build friendship between yourselves, family life, love among you. May the monastery not be a Purgatory but a family. There are and there will be problems but like in a family, with love, search for a solution with love; do not destroy this to resolve that; do not enter competitions. Build community life, because in the life of a community it is this way, like a family, and it is the very Holy Spirit who is in the middle of the community. […] And community life always with a big heart. Let things go, do not brag, be patient with everything, smile from the heart. And a sign of this is joy”.(48)

Joy is confirmed in the experience of community, that theological space where each one is responsible for their fidelity to the Gospel and for the growth of all. When a community is fed by the same Body and Blood of Jesus, it gathers around the Son of God, to share the journey of faith, guided by the Word. It becomes one with him, together in communion, experiencing the gift of love and festive celebration in freedom and joy, full of courage.

“A joyless community is one that is dying out. […] A community rich in joy is a genuine gift from above to brothers and sisters who know how to ask for it and to accept one another, committing themselves to community life, trusting in the action of the Spirit”.(49)

In these days when fragmentation justifies widespread sterile individualism and when the weakness of relationships breaks up and ruins the care of the human person, we are invited to humanize community relationships, to encourage communion of heart and spirit in the Gospel sense, because “there is a communion of life among all those who belong to Christ. It is a communion that is born of faith” that makes “the Church, in her most profound truth, communion with God, intimacy with God, a communion of love with Christ and with the Father in the Holy Spirit, which extends to brotherly communion”.(50)

For Pope Francis, the sign of fraternity is tenderness, a “Eucharistic tenderness” because “tenderness is good for us”. Fraternity has “an enormous power to call people together. […] Fraternity, with all its possible diversity, is an experience of love which goes beyond conflicts”.(51)

Closeness as companionship

  1. We are called to undertake an exodus out of our own selves, setting out on a path of adoration and service.(52) “We must go out through that door to seek and meet the people! Have the courage to go against the tide of this culture of efficiency, this culture of waste. Encountering and welcoming everyone, solidarity and fraternity: these are what make our society truly human. Be servants of communion and of the culture of encounter! I would like you to be almost obsessed about this. Be so without being presumptuous”.(53)

“The ghost to fight against is the image of religious life understood as an escape and consolation in face of an ‘external’ difficult and complex world”.(54) The Pope urges us to “leave the nest”,(55) to live the life of the men and women of our times, to hand ourselves over to God and to our neighbour.

“Joy is born from the gratuitousness of an encounter! […] And the joy of the encounter with him and with his call does not lead to shutting oneself in but to opening oneself; it leads to service in the Church. St Thomas said: bonum est diffusivum sui. Good spreads. And joy also spreads. Do not be afraid to show the joy of having answered the Lord’s call, of having responded to his choice of love and of bearing witness to his Gospel in service to the Church. And joy, true joy, is contagious; it is infectious... it impels one forward”.(56)

Faced with this contagious witness of joy, serenity, fruitfulness, the testimony of tenderness and love, humble charity, without arrogance, many people feel the need to “come and see”.(57)

Many times Pope Francis has pointed out the path of attraction, of contagion, the path for the growth of the Church, the path of the new evangelization. “The Church must be attractive. Wake up the world! Be witnesses of a different way of acting, of living! It is possible to live differently in this world. […] It is this witness I expect from you”.(58)

Entrusting to us the task of waking up the world, the Pope urges us to approach the stories of the men and women of today in the light of two pastoral categories that have their roots in the newness of the Gospel: closeness and encounter, two ways through which God himself is revealed in history culminating in the Incarnation.

On the road to Emmaus, like Jesus with his disciples, we welcome in daily companionship the joys and sorrows of the people, giving them ‘heart warmth’,(59) while we tenderly care for the tired and the weak, so that our journey together has light and meaning in Christ.

Our journey together “matures towards pastoral fatherhood, towards pastoral motherhood, and when a priest is not a father to his community, when a sister is not a mother to all those with whom she works, he or she becomes sad. This is the problem. For this reason I say to you: the root of sadness in pastoral life is precisely in the absence of fatherhood or motherhood that comes from living this consecration unsatisfactorily, which on the contrary should lead us to fertility”.(60)

The restlessness of love

  1. As living icons of the motherhood and of the closeness of the Church, we go out to those who are waiting for the Word of consolation and we bend down with motherly love and fatherly spirit towards the poor and the weak.

The Pope invites us not to privatise love, but with the restlessness of the seeker: “Tirelessly seeking the good of the other, of the beloved”.(61)

The crisis of meaning of the modern person and the economic and moral crisis of western society and its institutions are not temporary phenomena of the times in which we live but they outline an historical moment of outstanding importance. We are called now, as the Church, to go outside in order to arrive at the margins, geographic, urban and existential – the margins of the mystery of sin, pain, injustice and misery –, to the hidden places of the soul where each person experiences the joys and sufferings of life.(62)

“We live in a culture of conflict, a culture of fragmentation, a culture of waste […]. The discovery of a tramp who has died of cold is not news”. Yet poverty for us is a theological category, “because our God, the Son of God, abased himself, he made himself poor to walk along the road with us. […] A poor Church for the poor begins by reaching out to the flesh of Christ. If we reach out to the flesh of Christ, we begin to understand something, to understand what this poverty, the Lord’s poverty, actually is”.(63) To experience in one’s own life the beatitude of the poor means to be a sign that the anguish of loneliness and limitation has been conquered by the joy of the person who is indeed free in Christ and has learned how to love.

During his pastoral visit to Assisi, Pope Francis was asked what the Church must strip away. And he replied: “[Strip away] every action that is not for God, is not of God; strip away the fear of opening the doors and going out to encounter all, especially the poorest of the poor, the needy, the remote, without waiting. Certainly not to get lost in the shipwreck of the world, but to bear with courage the light of Christ, the light of the Gospel, even in the darkness, where one can’t see, where one might stumble. Strip away the seeming assurance structures give, which, though certainly necessary and important, should never obscure the one true strength it carries within: God. He is our strength!”(64)

This resonates like an invitation for us “not to be afraid of the newness the Holy Spirit works within us, not to be afraid of the renewal of structures. The Church is free. She is sustained by the Holy Spirit. It is this that Jesus teaches us in the Gospel: the freedom we need always to find the newness of the Gospel in our life and in structures, the freedom to choose new wineskins for this newness”.(65) We are invited to be audacious, frontier men and women: “Ours is not a ‘lab faith,’ but a ‘journey faith,’ an historical faith. God has revealed himself as history, not as a compendium of abstract truths. […] You cannot bring home the frontier, but you have to live on the border and be audacious.”(66)

Besides the challenge of the beatitude of the poor, the Pope invites us to visit the frontiers of thought and culture, to promote dialogue, even at the intellectual level, to give reasons for hope on the basis of ethical and spiritual criteria, questioning ourselves about what is good. Faith never restricts the space for reason, but opens it to a holistic vision of the human person and of reality, and defends it against the danger of reducing the human person to “human material”.(67)

Authentic culture, constantly called to serve humanity in all its conditions, opens unexplored paths, opens doors to allow hope to breathe, strengthens the meaning of life and watches over the common good. An authentic cultural process “promotes an integral humanism and the culture of encounter and relationship: this is the Christian way of promoting the common good, the joy of living. Here, faith and reason unite, the religious dimension and the various aspects of human culture – art, science, labour, literature...”.(68) Authentic cultural research encounters history and opens up ways of seeking the face of God.

The places where knowledge is developed and communicated are also the places where a culture of closeness, of encounter and dialogue can be created that lowers defences, opens doors and builds bridges.(69)

FOR REFLECTION

  1. As a global network in which we are all connected, where no local tradition can aspire to a monopoly of the truth, where technologies affect everyone, the world throws down a continuous challenge to the Gospel and to those who shape their lives in accordance with the Gospel.

In this historical process, through choices and ways of living, Pope Francis is building up a living hermeneutic of the dialogue between God and the world. We are introduced to a style of wisdom rooted in the Gospel and in human eschatology, which interprets pluralism, searches for equilibrium, invites us to facilitate the capacity of being responsible for change so that the truth of the Gospel might be better communicated, while we move “within the limits of language and of circumstances”.(70) Aware of these limits each one of us becomes weak with the weak... all things to all people (1Cor 9:22).

We are invited to promote a generative, not simply administrative, dynamic to embrace the spiritual events present in our communities and in the world, movements and grace that the Spirit works in each individual person, viewed as a person. We are invited to commit ourselves to dismantling lifeless models, to describing the human person as marked by Christ, who is never revealed absolutely in speech or actions.

Pope Francis invites us to a wisdom that should be demonstrated by flexible consistency, the ability of consecrated people to respond in accord with the Gospel, to act and to choose in accord with the Gospel, without losing ourselves among the different spheres of life, language or relationships, maintaining an awareness of responsibility, of the networks that bind us together, of the finitude of our limits, of the infinite number of ways in which life is expressed. A missionary heart is a heart that has known the joy of Christ’s salvation and shares it as consolation: “[This heart] realises that it has to grow in its own understanding of the Gospel and in discerning the paths of the Spirit, and so it always does what good it can, even if in the process, its shoes get soiled by the mud of the street.”(71)

Let us welcome the encouragement that the Pope offers us to see ourselves and the world with the eyes of Christ and to remain concerned about it.

Questions from Pope Francis

  • I want to say one word to you and this word is “joy”. Wherever there are consecrated people, seminarians, men and women religious, young people, there is joy, there is always joy! It is the joy of freshness, the joy of following Jesus; the joy that the Holy Spirit gives us, not the joy of the world. There is joy! but – where is joy born?(72)
  • Look into the depths of your heart, look into your own inner depths and ask yourself: do you have a heart that desires something great, or a heart that has been lulled to sleep by things? Has your heart preserved the restlessness of seeking or have you let it be suffocated by things that end by hardening it? God awaits you, he seeks you; how do you respond to him? Are you aware of the situation of your soul? Or have you nodded off? Do you believe God is waiting for you or does this truth consist only of “words”?(73)
  • We are victims of this culture of the temporary. I would like you to think about this: how can I be free, how can I break free from this “culture of the temporary”?(74)
  • This is a primary responsibility of all adults, of formators: to set an example of consistency to the youngest. Do we want consistent young people? Are we consistent? On the contrary, the Lord will say to us what he said to the People of God about the Pharisees: “Do what they say but not what they do!” Consistency and authenticity!(75)
  • We may ask ourselves: am I anxious for God, anxious to proclaim him, to make him known? Or do I allow that spiritual worldliness to attract me which impels people to do everything for love of themselves? We consecrated people think of our personal interests, of the functionality of our works, of our careers. Well, we can think of so many things... Have I, so to speak, made myself ‘comfortable’ in my Christian life, in my priestly life, in my religious life, and also in my community life? Or do I retain the force of restlessness for God, for his Word that makes me “step out” of myself towards others?(76)
  • Do we feel the restlessness of love? Do we believe in love for God and for others? Or are we unconcerned by this? Not in an abstract manner, not only in words, but the real brother we come across, the sister who is beside us! Are we moved by their needs or do we remain closed in on ourselves, in our communities which are often “comfortable communities” for us?(77)
  • This is a beautiful, beautiful way to holiness! Do not speak badly of others. “But father, there are problems...”. Tell the superior, tell the Bishop, who can rectify them. Do not tell a person who cannot help. This is important: brotherhood! But tell me, would you speak badly of your mother, your father, your siblings? Never. So why do you do so in the consecrated life, in the seminary, in your priestly life? Only this: think, think... Brotherhood! This brotherly love.(78)
  • At the foot of the Cross, Mary is at the same time the woman of sorrow and of watchful expectation of a mystery far greater than sorrow, which is about to be fulfilled. It seemed that everything had come to an end; every hope could be said to have been extinguished. She too, at that moment, remembering the promises of the Annunciation could have said: they did not come true, I was deceived. But she did not say this. And so she who was blessed because she believed, sees blossom from her faith a new future and awaits God’s tomorrow with expectation. At times I think: do we know how to wait for God’s tomorrow? Or do we want it today? For her the tomorrow of God is the dawn of Easter morning, the dawn of the first day of the week. It would do us good to think, in contemplation, of the embrace of mother and son. The single lamp lit at the tomb of Jesus is the hope of the mother, which in that moment is the hope of all humanity. I ask myself and I ask you: is this lamp still alight in monasteries? In your monasteries are you waiting for God’s tomorrow?(79)
  • The restlessness of love is always an incentive to go towards the other, without waiting for the other to manifest his need. The restlessness of love gives us the gift of pastoral fruitfulness, and we must ask ourselves, each one of us: is my spiritual effectiveness healthy, is my apostolate fruitful?(80)
  • An authentic faith always involves a profound desire to change the world. Here is the question we must ask ourselves: do we also have great vision and impetus? Are we also daring? Do our dreams fly high? Does zeal consume us (cf. Ps 68:10)? Or are we mediocre and satisfied with our “made in the lab” apostolic programmes?(81)

Hail, Mother of Joy

  1. Rejoice, full of grace (Lk 1:28), “the greeting of the angel to Mary is an invitation to joy, to a deep joy, announcing the end of sadness […]. It is a greeting that marks the beginning of the Gospel, the Good News”.(82)

Alongside Mary joy expands. The Son she carries in her womb is the God of joy, of contagious, engaging delight. Mary throws open the doors of her heart and runs to Elizabeth.

“Joyful in achieving her desires, sensitive in her duty, thoughtful in her joy, she hurries towards the mountain. Where, if not towards the summit, should she set out so kindly, she who was already full of God?”(83)

She went in great haste (Lk 1:39) to bring the happy news to the world, to bring all the uncontainable joy she held in her womb: Jesus, the Lord. In great haste: it is not only the speed with which Mary went. We are told of her diligence, the careful attention with which she undertakes the journey, her enthusiasm.

Behold the servant of the Lord (Lk 1:38). The Lord’s servant ran in great haste, to become the servant of all people.

In Mary the Church is all who journey together: in the love of those who go out to the most fragile; in the hope of those who know that they will be accompanied in their going out and in the faith of those who have a special gift to share. In Mary each one of us, driven by the wind of the Spirit, fulfils our own vocation to move out!

Star of the new evangelisation,
help us to bear radiant
witness to communion,
service, ardent and generous faith,
justice and love of the poor,
that the joy of the Gospel
may reach to the ends of the earth,
illuminating even the fringes of the world.
Mother of the living Gospel,
wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones,
Pray for us.
Amen. Alleluia!
(84)

Rome, 2 February 2014
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

João Braz Card. de Aviz
Prefect

José Rodríguez Carballo, O.F.M.
Archbishop Secretary

 

(1) FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), LEV, Città del Vaticano 2013, n. 1. All the cited texts of Pope Francis, with the exception of the morning meditations, are published in English on the Vatican website(http://w2.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html).

(2) ANTONIO SPADARO, “Wake up the World!”. Conversation with Pope Francis About the Religious Life, in: La Civiltà Cattolica, 165 (2014/I), 5 (English translation by Fr. Donald Maldari, S.J.).

(3) Cf. FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), LEV, Città del Vaticano 2013, n. 47.

(4) FRANCIS, Meeting with the Young People of Umbria, Assisi (Perugia), 4 October 2013.

(5) JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata (25 March 1996), n. 27, in: AAS 88 (1996), 377-486.

(6) With more references: cf. SAINT THÉRÈSE OF THE CHILD JESUS, Opere complete, LEV - Ed. OCD, Città del Vaticano - Roma 1997: Manoscritto A, 76vº; B, 1rº; C, 3rº; Lettera 196.

(7) FRANCIS, Meeting with Seminarians and Novices, Rome, 6 July 2013.

(8) Ibidem

(9) FRANCIS, Homily for Holy Mass with Seminarians and Novices, Rome, 7 July 2013.

(10) FRANCIS, Meeting with Seminarians and Novices, Rome, 6 July 2013.

(11) FRANCIS, Address to the Participants at the Plenary Assembly of the International Union of Superiors General (Rome, 8 May 2013), in: AAS 105 (2013), 460-463.

(12) FRANCIS, Message to the Prior General of the Order of Brothers of the Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel, on the Occasion of the General Chapter, Rome, 22 August 2013.

(13) FRANCIS, Meeting with Seminarians and Novices, Rome, 6 July 2013.

(14) Ibidem.

(15) FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), LEV, Città del Vaticano 2013, n. 3.

(16) FRANCIS, Homily for the Opening of the General Chapter of the Order of St. Augustine, Rome, 28 August 2013.

(17) FRANCIS, Homily at the Holy Mass on the Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, Rome, 31 July 2013.

(18) FRANCIS, Encyclical Letter Lumen fidei (29 June 2013), n. 8, in: AAS 105 (2013), 555-596.

(19) Ivi, n. 9.

(20) FRANCIS, Homily at the Holy Mass for the Day for Catechists, Rome, 29 September 2013.

(21) FRANCIS, Address to the Participants at the Plenary Assembly of the International Union of Superiors General (Rome, 8 May 2013), in: AAS 105 (2013), 460-463.

(22) FRANCIS, Angelus, Rome, 1 November 2013.

(23) JOHN PAUL II, Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata (25 March 1996), n. 22, in: AAS 88 (1996), 377-486.

(24) FRANCIS, Homily at the Holy Mass with Bishops, Priests, Religious and Seminarians on the XXVIII World Youth Day, Rio de Janeiro, 27 July 2013.

(25) FRANCIS, Address to the Participants at the International Congress on Catechesis, Rome, 27 September 2013.

(26) AMBROSE, De Isaac et anima, 75: PL 14, 556-557.

(27) FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium (8 November 2013), LEV, Città del Vaticano 2013, n. 265.

(28) Cf. FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), LEV, Città del Vaticano 2013, n. 265.

(29) FRANCIS, Address to the Participants at the International Congress on Catechesis, Rome, 27 September 2013.

(30) FRANCIS, Homily at the Holy Mass on the Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, Rome, 31 July 2013.

(31) FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), LEV, Città del Vaticano 2013, n. 266.

(32) FRANCIS, Homily for the Opening of the General Chapter of the Order of St. Augustine, Rome, 28 August 2013.

(33) FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), LEV, Città del Vaticano 2013, n. 8.

(34) Ivi, n. 1.

(35) FRANCIS, Homily at the Holy Mass with the Cardinals (Rome, 14 March 2013), in: AAS 105 (2013), 365-366.

(36) FRANCIS, Homily for Holy Mass with Seminarians and Novices, Rome, 7 July 2013.

(37) FRANCIS, Address to the Participants at the International Congress on Catechesis, Rome, 27 September 2013.

(38) FRANCIS, Homily at the Eucharistic Celebration at St. Paul Outside the Walls, Rome, 14 April 2013.

(39) FRANCIS, Homily for Holy Mass with Seminarians and Novices, Rome, 7 July 2013.

(40) CONGREGATION FOR INSTITUTES OF CONSECRATED LIFE AND SOCIETIES OF APOSTOLIC LIFE, Instruction Starting Afresh from Christ: A Renewed Commitment to Consecrated Life in the Third Millennium (19 May 2002), n. 25, in: EnchVat 21, 372-510.

(41) FRANCIS, Daily Meditation in the Chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae, Rome, 16 December 2013.

(42) FRANCIS, Meeting with the Clergy, Consecrated People and Members of Diocesan Councils, Assisi (Perugia), 4 October 2013.

(43) FRANCIS, Meeting with Seminarians and Novices, Rome, 6 July 2013.

(44) BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus caritas est (25 December 2005), n. 11, in: AAS 98 (2006), 217-252.

(45) FRANCIS, Homily for Holy Mass with Seminarians and Novices, Rome, 7 July 2013.

(46) Cf. FRANCIS, Meeting with Seminarians and Novices, Rome, 6 July 2013.

(47) Cf. FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), LEV, Città del Vaticano 2013, n. 47.

(48) FRANCIS, Address to the Cloistered Nuns, Assisi (Perugia), 4 October 2013.

(49) CONGREGATION FOR INSTITUTES OF CONSECRATED LIFE AND SOCIETIES OF APOSTOLIC LIFE, Instruction Fraternal Life in Community. “Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor” (2 February 1994), n. 28: in EnchVat 14, 345-537.

(50) FRANCIS, General Audience, Rome, 30 October 2013.

(51) ANTONIO SPADARO, “Wake up the World!”. Conversation with Pope Francis about the Religious Life, in: La Civiltà Cattolica, 165 (2014/I), 13 (English translation by Fr. Donald Maldari, S.J.).

(52) Cf. FRANCIS, Address to the Participants at the Plenary Assembly of the International Union of Superiors General (Rome, 8 May 2013), in: AAS 105 (2013), 460-463.

(53) FRANCIS, Homily at the Holy Mass with Bishops, Priests, Religious and Seminarians on the XXVIII World Youth Day, Rio de Janeiro, 27 July 2013.

(54) ANTONIO SPADARO, “Wake up the World!”. Conversation with Pope Francis about the Religious Life, in: La Civiltà Cattolica, 165 (2014/I), 10 (English translation by Fr. Donald Maldari, S.J.).

(55) Cf. ivi, 6.

(56) FRANCIS, Meeting with Seminarians and Novices, Rome, 6 July 2013.

(57) Cf. FRANCIS, Morning Meditation in the Chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae, Rome, 1 October 2013.

(58) ANTONIO SPADARO, “Wake up the World!”. Conversation with Pope Francis about the Religious Life, in: La Civiltà Cattolica, 165 (2014/I), 5 (English translation by Fr. Donald Maldari, S.J.).

(59) Cf. FRANCIS, Meeting with the Brazilian Bishops, Rio de Janeiro, 27 July 2013.

(60) FRANCIS, Meeting with Seminarians and Novices, Rome, 6 July 2013.

(61) FRANCIS, Homily for the opening of the General Chapter of the Order of St. Augustine, Rome, 28 August 2013.

(62) Cf. FRANCIS, Vigil of Pentecost with the Movements, New Communities, Associations and Lay Groups (Rome, 18 May 2013), in: AAS 105 (2013), 450-452.

(63) Ibidem.

(64) FRANCIS, Meeting with the Poor Assisted by Caritas, Assisi (Perugia), 4 October 2013.

(65) FRANCIS, Morning Meditation in the Chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae, Rome, 6 July 2013.

(66) ANTONIO SPADARO, Interview with Pope Francis, in: La Civiltà Cattolica, 164 (2013/III), 474.

(67) Cf. FRANCIS, Meeting with the World of Culture, Cagliari, 22 September 2013.

(68) FRANCIS, Meeting with the Brazilian Leaders, Rio de Janeiro, 27 July 2013.

(69) Cf. FRANCIS, Address to the Community of Writers of “La Civiltà Cattolica”, Rome, 14 June 2013.

(70) FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), LEV, Città del Vaticano 2013, n. 45.

(71) Ibidem.

(72) FRANCIS, Meeting with Seminarians and Novices, Rome, 6 July 2013.

(73) FRANCIS, Homily for the opening of the General Chapter of the Order of St. Augustine, Rome, 28 August 2013.

(74) FRANCIS, Meeting with Seminarians and Novices, Rome, 6 July 2013.

(75) Ibidem.

(76) FRANCIS, Homily for the Opening of the General Chapter of the Order of St. Augustine, Rome, 28 August 2013.

(77) Ibidem.

(78) FRANCIS, Meeting with Seminarians and Novices, Rome, 6 July 2013.

(79) FRANCIS, Celebration of Vespers with the Community of Camaldolese Benedictine Nuns, Rome, 21 November 2013.

(80) FRANCIS, Homily for the Opening of the General Chapter of the Order of St. Augustine, Rome, 28 August 2013.

(81) FRANCIS, Homily at the Holy Mass in the Church of the Gesù on the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, Rome, 3 January 2014.

(82) BENEDICT XVI, General Audience, Rome, 19 December 2012.

(83) AMBROSE, Expositio Evangelii secundum Lucam, II, 19: CCL 14, p. 39.

(84) FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), LEV, Città del Vaticano 2013, n. 288. 

 

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