Religious Life Is Not an Escape, Pope Francis Says

"You should be real witnesses of a way of doing and acting differently."
"You should be real witnesses of a way of doing and acting differently."
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CLEVELAND - March 5, 2014 - PRLog -- As Spiritual shepherd of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis often meets and speaks with members of the Church. In November, he spoke to the Union of Superiors General about vocations and the role of the religious. What can we learn from what the Holy Father says? Pope Francis had many powerful quotes from this talk, which stood out to us!

Obviously, religious life is a calling, a vocation, which involves the whole person. Too often, people falsely attribute religious life as an escape, which our Holy Father warns against:

"There are four pillars of formation: spiritual, intellectual, communitarian and apostolic. The ghost to fight against is the image of religious life understood as an escape or hiding place in face of an 'external,' difficult and complex world."

While the United States may be experiencing somewhat of a lull in religious vocations, there is still much hope for the Church. Countries such as Asia and Africa have experienced a multitude of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life:

"All cultures are able to be called by the Lord, that he is free to stir up more vocations in one part of the world than in another. What does the Lord wish to say by sending us vocations from the youngest Churches?... There are Churches who are bearing new fruit. At one time they perhaps were not so fertile, but they are now. This necessitates, of course, rethinking the inculturation of the charism. The charism is one but, as Saint Ignatius used to say, it needs to be lived according to the places, times and persons. The charism is not a bottle of distilled water. It needs to be lived energetically as well as reinterpreted culturally."

Religious brotherhood - in our case sisterhood - is essential! It is the community that keeps us accountable and challenges us to grow in holiness. This community becomes our family which we are members of. According to Pope Francis, living in this "family" is not always easy!

"Sometimes living fraternally is difficult, but if it is not lived it is not productive. Work, even that which is 'apostolic' can become an escape from fraternal life. If a person cannot live brotherhood he cannot live religious life. Religious brotherhood, with all its possible diversity, is an experience of love that goes beyond conflicts. Community conflicts are inevitable: in a certain sense they need to happen, if the community is truly living sincere and honest relationships. That's life... Reality dictates that there are conflicts in all families and all groups of people."

You can read more of Pope Francis' talk in this PDF, translated by Fr. Donald Maldari S.J.

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Sr. Jeanette Marie, Vocations Director
Source:Mercedarian Sisters
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