Pope Francis Urges Consecrated Men and Women to Cultivate "an intense interior life"
Pope Francis speaks at a Mass on the World Day of Consecrated Life, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, on Feb. 2, 2024, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. | Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA
By Courtney Mares
Vatican City, 02 February, 2024 / 8:00 pm (ACI Africa).
On the 28th World Day of Consecrated Life, Pope Francis spoke about the importance of cultivating “an intense spiritual life” that is nourished by Eucharistic adoration, intercessory prayer, and silence.
Pope Francis presided over Mass on Feb. 2 for the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, a feast that coincides each year with a day of prayer established by John Paul II for men and women with consecrated vocations in the Church.
“Ours is a world that often runs at great speed, that exalts ‘everything and now,’” Francis said.
“In such a context, where silence is banished and lost, waiting is not easy, for it requires … the courage to slow our pace, to not be overwhelmed by activities, to make room within ourselves for God’s action.”
The pope underlined that modern society has “lost the ability to wait,” which he said poses a problem because “waiting for God” is an important part of the journey of faith.
“It is necessary then to recover the lost grace: to return, through an intense interior life, to the spirit of joyful humility, of silent gratitude,” he said.
“This is nourished by adoration, by the work of the knees and the heart, by concrete prayer that struggles and intercedes, capable of reawakening a longing for God, that initial love, that amazement of the first day, that taste of waiting.”
Francis reflected on the importance of cultivating an interior life on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which is also called Candlemas. On this day, many Christians bring candles to church to be blessed. They can then light these candles at home during prayer or difficult times as a symbol of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.
The Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica began in candlelight with priests, bishops, and cardinals carrying lit candles in procession through the darkened church. Men and women present in the congregation also held small candles.
Addressing consecrated men and women, Pope Francis warned against “turning even religious and Christian life into having ‘many things to do’ and neglecting the daily search for the Lord.”
“Let us be careful, then, that the spirit of the world does not enter our religious communities, ecclesial life, and our individual journey, otherwise we will not bear fruit,” Pope Francis said.
Brazilian Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, the prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, was the celebrant of the Mass at the basilica’s main altar.
More than 300 consecrated men and women from over 60 countries met in Rome this week for a conference organized by the dicastery to coordinate their preparations for the Catholic Church’s 2025 Jubilee.
“The Christian life and apostolic mission need the experience of waiting. Matured in prayer and daily fidelity, waiting frees us from the myth of efficiency, from the obsession with performance and, above all, from the pretense of pigeonholing God, because he always comes in unpredictable ways, at times that we do not choose and in ways that we do not expect,” Pope Francis told men and women religious.
“Every day the Lord visits us, speaks to us, reveals himself in unexpected ways and, at the end of life and time, he will come,” he said.
????HIGHLIGHTS | On World Day of Consecrated Life and Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Pope Francis presided over a Holy Mass at St. Peter's Basilica, marking John Paul II's day of prayer for men and women with consecrated vocations in the Church. pic.twitter.com/SpohOMyEmS
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.
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