“The Church doesn’t tolerate you, it needs you!”
Francis said to the cloister nuns in Peru, in unprepared remarks. Given the present situation of our society, the life of consecrated persons, while it is in the frontline of service to the poor and the needy, the same is not true for the public opinion. Not to mention the anachronism of cloistered life. Is it something pertaining to dark epochs? Time ago, esteemed theologian H. U. von Balthasar put into writing a set of reflections that were to become prophetic:
[…] the life of the Counsels will be the guardian of the fullness of the Gospel until the end of days and in every epoch the Church will thrive as will thrive active and contemplative orders.
The guardian is one who oversees. How can we oversee today, in our present circumstances, gaze into the horizon, cherish the Word, be open to every need of the sisters and brothers with whom we peregrinate in history? Let us return to Francis and we shall discover some indications that are not optional … but truly inescapable and essential. Just a few years that may be carved inside us:
Be beacons through your life of fidelity, and keep pointing to the One who is the way, and the truth and the life, to the one Lord who brings us fulfilment and grants us life in abundance. Pray for the Church, for priests and bishops, for consecrated men and women, for families, for those who suffer, for those who harm others, for those who exploit their brothers and sisters.
Beacons illuminate darkness, enlightening the path to be followed, knowing no rest; in a position that challenges winds, adverse weather conditions and loneliness. It may appear repetitive as it constantly sends one-directional signs. For to Him we belong and with Him we keep vigil.
Be “not ashamed” to bring before the power of God, through your prayers, the miseries of mankind. That is your prayer. “Through your prayer, night and day, you bring before God the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters who for various reasons cannot come to him to experience his healing mercy, even as he patiently waits for them. By your prayers, you can heal the wounds of many”.
If we truly managed to be so transparent before the irruption of God to be not ashamed as Francis wants us to be! Ingenious in intercession, unswerving and imperturbable, daring in the request until the point of fulfilment achieved through weariness, not ours, but of the Lord’s patience. Strong in reason of the loving communion that obtains everything because it received everything and is capable of donating to everyone.
Laugh. Laugh in community, and not at the community or at others! Let us be on guard against people so important that they have forgotten to smile in their lives. “Yes father, but you are not offering me a solution, something to…”. Let me tell you, I have two pills that help a lot: one, speak to Jesus, the Blessed Virgin, prayer, pray and ask for the grace of joy, the joy in the midst of a situation; the second pill you can take various times a day only if you need it, yet once is enough, look at yourself in the mirror: “Is that me? That’s me? Ha ha ha”. This makes you laugh. This is not narcissism, quite the contrary, the mirror here serves as a cure.
If we don’t laugh, we, the ones who know the Truth, and experienced every day the help of the providential Father, that who else should? Who can contaminate with the smile that brings happiness to each one of our days, eliminating all difficulties taken on in his Name? It doesn’t come from us. The first pill is gift, freely bestowed for whoever is open to seize it. Catching it requires rapidity, accuracy. The second pill is our answer, the measure of our being and existing before the Beauty of the incarnated Son, before the Word that only waits to transform us, the Breath that wishes to embrace us with its redeeming power. Is this not the sign of contemporary presence and topical relevance in the Church and in society? Is it not a gift to be cherished and thanked so our present days may be proud and aware of it? Thus hope emerges and can blossom to guide us and sustain us. As Charles Péguy wrote:
As the star has guided the three kings from the furthest corners of the Orient. Towards the cradle of my son. Thus a trembling flame. She alone will lead the Virtues and the Worlds. A flame will pierce eternal darkness …