Pope Francis meets the Religious of the Diocese of Rome
Pope Francis met with the male and female religious of the Diocese of Rome in a private audience on Saturday in occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life.
In his meeting, Pope Francis spoke off-the-cuff in response to questions ranging from the tensions of urban monastic life to the practical aspects of priestly ministry.
In response to a question by a nun about the delicate balance between concealment and visibility in the convent, the Holy Father called it a ‘vital tension, a tension lived in your soul; it is the call of God toward both the hidden life and the need to be a sign’. ‘But Father, should the news be heard in the monastery? It must be!’, he said. ‘The news of what happens in the world, for example, of war, of disease, of how much people suffer’.
Explaining, he continued: ‘Your vocation is not a refuge; it is going onto the battlefield, like Moses with his hands raised in prayer as the people fought’.
Responding to another question about the similarity of married love to the love of consecrated life, Pope Francis said that they are the same love. ‘There is a dimension of spousal love in a woman’s consecration … even for male religious, because in the place of Jesus, [the bishop] marries the Church’.
Turning to the topic of obedience, the Holy Father recalled the words of the apostle Paul about Jesus Christ who ‘humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.’ Saying, ‘The mystery of Christ is one of fruitful obedience, as is that of the consecrated life; obedience is the icon of the way of Christ.’
Closing his remarks, Pope Francis addressed the theme of consecrated life as a gift. ‘It is a gift of God, of prophecy! It is a free gift in the heart of a person for a congregation, which is itself a gift for the world’.