On Saturday, Pope Francis stressed the importance of having a solid guide in the spiritual life since no one – neither laity nor consecrated persons themselves – can stay faithful for long without help.
“All of us consecrated, the young and those not so young, need adequate help for the human, spiritual and vocational moment we are living,” the Pope said Jan. 28. “We will never emphasize this need too much.”
Above all, it means choosing “between the good and the better, between what is good and that which leads to identification with Christ.”
The number of people who leave consecrated life is concerning, he said, noting that while some leave after a serious discernment showed that they never had a vocation, others become less faithful as time passes by, “many times only a few years after their perpetual profession.”
The reasons for this, he said, have to do with the fact that we live in a time “which is a change of era and not only an era of change, in which it becomes difficult to assume serious and definitive commitments.”
“We live immersed in the so-called ‘culture of the fragment,’ of the provisionary, which can lead to living ‘a la carte’ and to being a slave of fashions,” he said, noting that this mentality feeds unhealthy trends such as a heightened sense of consumerism that ends up “provoking a great existential emptiness.”
Francis pointed to the many youth who offer solidarity and commit at both a social and religious level, saying “there are marvelous youth and they are not few,” but also cautioned that young people are particularly susceptible to “the logic of worldliness.”
Summarizing the mentality as “the search for success at whatever price, of easy money and easy pleasure,” he noted that the temptation seduces many of today’s youth, and because of this, they need someone to stand beside them and “contaminate them with the joy of the Gospel.”
Difficulties also arise from internal divisions, the search for power, a worldly mentality in governing institutes and “a service of authority which at times becomes authoritarianism and at other times a ‘laissez-faire.’”
“If consecrated life wants to maintain its prophetic mission in the world,” he said, “it must maintain the freshness and the novelty of the centrality of Jesus, the attractiveness of the spirituality and the strength of the mission, showing the beauty of following Christ and radiating joy and hope.”
“All of this accompanies an eloquent and joyful witness of life beside the poor and by a mission that the privileges the existential peripheries,” he said, explaining that to maintain this depends on the quality of vocational pastoral ministry.
“Because when a brother or sister is not supported in their consecrated life inside of the community, they seek it outside, with everything that this brings.”