In a meeting yesterday with members of religious institutes of consecrated life from all over South Korea, Pope Francis reminded the consecrated religious that they are living witnesses to the Gospel in their ministries of service, as well as in their comings and goings in the communities where they live and serve, and that reflecting a spirit of joy in their work bears witness that a life rooted in the Gospel is a life of joy. “Only if our witness is joyful will we attract men and women to Christ,” Francis said. “And this joy is a gift which is nourished by a life of prayer, meditation on the word of God, the celebration of the sacraments and life in community,” the Pope said. “When these are lacking, weaknesses and difficulties will emerge to dampen the joy we knew so well at the beginning of our journey,” Francis explained in a reflection given to Korean religious at the School of Love Training Center in Kkottongnae.
“The firm conviction of being loved by God is at the center of your vocation: to be for others a tangible sign of the presence of God’s Kingdom, a foretaste of the eternal joys of heaven,” reflected the Pontiff, saying that while joy comes forth in different ways in different situations, a joyful countenance plays a critical role in the witness of consecrated religious to their communities and the world. “From experience I know that community life is not always easy, but it is a providential training ground for the heart. It is unrealistic not to expect conflicts; misunderstandings will arise and they must be faced,” the Bishop of Rome reflected, “it is in community life that we are called to grow in mercy, forbearance and perfect charity.
“The experience of God’s mercy, nourished by prayer and community, must shape all that you are, all that you do,” the Pope declared, saying that the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience are “a joyful witness to God’s love” when they are properly rooted in his mercy.
“Mature and generous obedience requires that you cling in prayer to Christ who, taking the form of a servant, learned obedience through what he suffered,” he said. “There are no shortcuts: God desires our hearts completely and this means we have to ‘let go’ and ‘go out’ of ourselves more and more.”