Some interesting remarks were made by the Holy Father.
First, 2015 will be a year dedicated to the Consecrated Life. That's nice.
The brief remarks I read at Vatican Information Service were more interesting however.
The first group of questions related to the identity and mission of consecrated life. A radical approach is required of all Christians, the Pope stated, but religious persons are called upon to follow the Lord in a special way: “They are men and woman who can awaken the world. Consecrated life is prophecy. God asks us to fly the nest and to be sent to the frontiers of the world, avoiding the temptation to 'domesticate' them. This is the most concrete way of imitating the Lord”.Don't domesticate them. I love that! Don't box them in, don't limit them. It is so Franciscan.
The Pope insisted upon the importance of formation, which he presented as founded upon four fundamental pillars: spiritual, intellectual, communitarian and apostolic. It is indispensable to avoid every form of hypocrisy and clericalism by means of a frank and open dialogue on all aspects of life: “formation is an artisanal craft, not a form of policing”, he commented; “its aim is to form religious persons with a tender heart, not acid, not like vinegar. We are all sinners, but not corrupt. Sinners are to be accepted, but not the corrupt”. - VISNot the corrupt. Sinners are to be accepted - but not the corrupt. See - one must repent, and 'lay aside every encumbrance of sin which clings to us'. We must, come out from the midst of them, as St. Paul exhorted; leave our country, like Abraham. So a conversion takes place. When the Holy Father speaks of formation as an artist's craft, I think of St. Therese and how she cared for her novices, her sensibility to defective character, and so on. Especially when he notes: “we must never act like managers when faced with a brother's conflict: conflict instead must be caressed”.
I've been thinking of the many people I've known in religious life - those who have persevered through many great changes and unbelievable challenges. They persevered! Most have had troubles, difficulties - some faltered - but they have persevered. They never gave up. That is what is most important, that is what fidelity is.
Even those who went 'out' from their religious orders, their enclosures, their monasteries. Those who began new communities or embarked on a more contemplative, eremitical mission - they too have persevered. Often with little support, under severe criticism. But they persevere. That is holiness.
“They are men and woman who can awaken the world. Consecrated life is prophecy." - Pope Francis