“The consecrated life is a pilgrimage of the spirit in quest of a Face that is sometimes revealed and sometimes veiled: Faciem tuam, Domine, requiram.”
The Holy Father’s description of the consecrated life as a search for the Face of Christ spoke directly to my heart. It was in the context of his homily for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, that the Holy Father affirmed this, and also summoned the religious of the Church to three resolutions during this Year of Faith. Here are his words:
Through the Door of Faith
I would like to address three invitations to you, so that you may fully enter through that “door of faith” which is always open to us (Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei, n. 1).
The Memory of the “First Love”
I invite you in the first place to nourish a faith that can illuminate your vocation. For this I urge you to treasure, as on an inner pilgrimage, the memory of the “first love” with which the Lord Jesus Christ warmed your hearts, not out of nostalgia but in order to feed that flame. And for this it is necessary to be with him, in the silence of adoration; and thereby reawaken the wish to share — and the joy of sharing — in his life, his decisions, the obedience of faith, the blessedness of the poor and the radical nature of love. Starting ever anew from this encounter of love, you leave everything to be with him and like him, to put yourselves at the service of God and your brothers and sisters (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata, n. 1).
The Wisdom of Weakness
In the second place I invite you to have a faith that can recognize the wisdom of weakness. In the joys and afflictions of the present time, when the harshness and weight of the cross make themselves felt, do not doubt that the kenosis of Christ is already a paschal victory. Precisely in our limitations and weaknesses as human beings we are called to live conformation with Christ in an all-encompassing commitment which anticipates the eschatological perfection, to the extent that this is possible in time (ibid., n. 16). In a society of efficiency and success, your life, marked by the “humility” and frailty of the lowly, of empathy with those who have no voice, becomes an evangelical sign of contradiction.
In Quest of a Face
Lastly, I invite you to renew the faith that makes you pilgrims bound for the future. By its nature the consecrated life is a pilgrimage of the spirit in quest of a Face that is sometimes revealed and sometimes veiled: Faciem tuam, Domine, requiram (Psalm 26:8). May this be the constant yearning of your heart, the fundamental criterion that guides you on your journey, both in small daily steps and in the most important decisions.
Be Not Prophets of Doom
Do not join the ranks of the prophets of doom who proclaim the end or meaninglessness of the consecrated life in the Church in our day; rather, clothe yourselves in Jesus Christ and put on the armour of light — as St Paul urged (cf. Rom 13:11-14) — keeping awake and watchful. St Chromatius of Aquileia wrote: “Distance this peril from us so that we are never overcome by the heavy slumber of infidelity. Rather may he grant us his grace and his mercy, that we may watch, ever faithful to him. In fact our fidelity can watch in Christ (Sermon 32, 4).
The Pierced Heart of Mary
Dear brothers and sisters, the joy of consecrated life necessarily passes through participation in the cross of Christ. This is how it was for Mary Most Holy. Hers is the suffering of the heart that is one with the Heart of the Son of God, pierced by love. From this wound God’s light flows and also from the suffering, sacrifice and self-giving of consecrated people who live through their love for God and for others, that shines the very light that evangelizes nations. On this feast I express in a special way to you, consecrated people, the hope that your lives may always have the flavour of evangelical parresia, so that in you the Good News may be lived, witnessed to, and proclaimed and may shine out as a word of truth (cf. Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, n. 6). Amen.