GUIDELINES - DOCUMENTS
CONGRESS ON THE CONSUMERED LIFE, PASSION
FOR CHRIST, PASSION FOR HUMANITY
"What the Spirit says today to the Consecrated Life"
I At the beginning of the 21st century
1. Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord, the Mediator of the new Covenant and of the Kingdom is our contemporary. It does not belong to the past, just as Consecrated Life - our form of Christian life - is not a thing of the past. In many countries consecrated life is currently going through an aging phase; in others it has a very low average age. In recent years, new forms have come together in ancient forms of monastic and religious life. Some charisms, born centuries ago, today acquire original traits and appear full of vitality. After the Second Vatican Council, the consecrated life received a great impulse and experienced important changes. However, the socio-cultural and religious context in which we find ourselves requires many other decisive transformations. In the midst of so many changes, we feel, however, the validity and actuality of the great values that constitute our form of life and the urgency to live them intensely and in a meaningful way for us and for others. We consecrated men and women live days of grace and trial.
2. Christ's passion for Humanity, manifested throughout his life and especially on the Cross, is not even a thing of the past. It continues throughout history and in this story we find evident signs of its fruitfulness. Today, at the beginning of the 21st century, Christ shares the crosses of millions of people in many parts of the world. He again turns to us his demanding and stimulating call to follow him passionately and to share - moved by his compassion - his passion for every human being.
II The Congress
3. We want to be docile to the voice of God, to the teachings of our Master and to the impulses of the Spirit that constantly opens new horizons and launches us towards new stages of evangelization. We want to be docile to the appeals of the Church, attentive to the needs of today's society and certainly to those of consecrated life. This is why we gather in Congress, representatives of world consecrated life. We want to listen to these voices and look from an intercultural perspective, with the masculine and feminine sensibility, with the experience acquired in the different services of consecrated life: the service of Superiors and Superiors General, Presidents of national or continental Conferences, theologians or theologians, rectors of Centers of theological reflection, editors of journals on consecrated life. The young religious present will make their contribution, thanks to their faithful enthusiasm and their greater harmony with the values of the current cultural moment. We all wish to continue the reflection and discernment developed on the occasion of the Synod of Consecrated Life (VC 13) and also to discover "the new things" that the Holy Spirit is giving birth to among us (Is 43,18-19) at the beginning of the third Millennium. Starting from this we would like to give us guidelines and guidelines that rekindle hope in us and stimulate us to go where the Spirit leads us. We all wish to continue the reflection and discernment developed on the occasion of the Synod of Consecrated Life (VC 13) and also to discover "the new things" that the Holy Spirit is giving birth to among us (Is 43,18-19) at the beginning of the third Millennium. Starting from this we would like to give us guidelines and guidelines that rekindle hope in us and stimulate us to go where the Spirit leads us. We all wish to continue the reflection and discernment developed on the occasion of the Synod of Consecrated Life (VC 13) and also to discover "the new things" that the Holy Spirit is giving birth to among us (Is 43,18-19) at the beginning of the third Millennium. Starting from this we would like to give us guidelines and guidelines that rekindle hope in us and stimulate us to go where the Spirit leads us.
a) Objective of the Congress
4. The central objective of this Congress is to discern together, with a global awareness, what is causing the Spirit of God to be born among us, towards where it leads us and, consequently, how to respond to the challenges of our time and thus to build the Kingdom of God "for common utility" (1 Cor 12: 7).
5. This central objective can be divided into the following partial objectives:
- to discover and discern the validity of the new things that are arising among us;
- welcome and promote this newness as a gift of God and commitment;
- strengthen the spirituality and mission shared with the people of God, communion and solidarity between female and male consecrated life;
- commit ourselves to share the passion for Christ and for humanity in new contexts; the consecrated life must urgently cultivate and privilege "the passion" for God and for every human being (VC 84).
- being the voice of consecrated life for consecrated life.
b) The method and spirit of the Congress
6. The objective of the Congress is translated into this basic document (Instrumentum Laboris), expression of a serious joint and progressive work. For its elaboration, in a first phase, four questions were answered together with the communication of the Congress itself, to allow us to discover how we are, what we feel and what our projects are, the signs of vitality, the challenges , difficulties and dreams. The "Visioning Group" has analyzed the responses received and has worked to achieve a good focus on the theme of the Congress, its inspiration, its objectives and its program. The "Theological Commission" now presents this Instrumentum Laboris which - faithful to the texts received - seeks to offer a creative synthesis in which the guidelines that are expected to be useful for the future are presented. In this second phase, the Instrumentum Laboris is sent to all participants in the Congress, to express their opinion and contribute to its re-elaboration. The third phase will be the Congress itself, during which the Instrumentum Laboris will be examined in depth starting from the various reports, debates and proposals.
7. In the second phase, the basic document - which we are now presenting - only wants to guide the elaboration of the proposals that must emerge from the global discernment and shared during the Congress. In this Instrumentum Laboris we therefore present the elements, the areas or aspects that can help to focus or guide the work.
8. We hope that the "spirit" of the Congress, which will inspire all the "works", can be expressed in the following verbs or dynamic attitudes, which have also inspired us in the elaboration of this document: welcoming, letting ourselves be transformed, starting a new practice and celebrate.
- Accepting: implies seeing, discovering, listening to what the Spirit offers us and being moved - as a reaction motivated by evangelical reasons.
- Letting yourself be transformed: something that is possible if we are open to learning and to discerning the spirit that moves us.
- Start a new practice: this happens if we are willing to act decisively and make proposals that help transform, re-structure, innovate and re-launch our concrete practice. These proposals lead to a double need: personal and community conversion on the one hand, and the transformation of the environment and structures on the other.
- Celebrate: the congress cannot fail to have an authentically celebratory character. This requires the ability to attribute symbolic meanings, contemplate, rejoice, ask forgiveness, intercede, give thanks and praise.
c) The icon: the Samaritan woman and the Samaritan
9. The Congress, which has as its theme "Passion for Christ, Passion for humanity", finds inspiration for its discernment and its proposals in two evangelical icons: the Samaritan woman and the Samaritan. Both icons have not traditionally been applied to the consecrated life, but they can provide the inspiration it needs right now.
10. A Samaritan woman met Jesus on her way. She felt in her heart the charm of her person, her mystery and her message. For him he abandoned his pitcher, that is to say his old life, and he became a witness and sower of the Gospel (Jn 4,5-42). A Samaritan man met another human being on his way, half dead, a victim of theft and violence. His heart moved emotionally; for him he interrupted the journey. He approached him and took care of him in a careful and generous way (Lk 10, 29-37). The Samaritan woman and the Samaritan are two icons of the journey along which the Spirit leads today - at the beginning of the 21st century - the consecrated life, and of the love and compassion that arouses in our hearts. These two images have shown, during the history of spirituality, a strong power of inspiration, and even today they pour their transforming energy on consecrated life. The Samaritan woman and the Samaritan belong to the category of sinners, but in them grace and willingness to do good are not lacking. We consecrated people place ourselves next to them and we feel challenged by their thirst, by their desire for living water and by their compassion for the wounded they met on the way.
11. We are experiencing a crucial moment in our history. We are world, church and consecrated life and we experience, together with the exuberance of life, terrible signs of death. The Spirit leads us to the sources of life and, at the same time, to those sisters and brothers who lie prostrate and dying along the road.
d) Perspective: to discern to refound
12. Setting of this document: Consecrated Life is for us a gift of the Spirit, received in the Church for the world. The Church is mother and teacher, it is a field of action and mission for consecrated persons (EN 8 and 24). In the People of God consecrated life becomes a service for the Kingdom that comes in a concrete world. We must continue to care that the world and, in it, the new culture, have a human face and the Church is a "sacrament of humanization". In order for this to become a reality consecrated life needs a radical revitalization that gives it a new appearance. In this document, everything guides us to undertake a discernment of this new process, which some religious men and women, some communities and institutes have already begun; to continue it in the days of preparation of the Congress, deepen it during its development and, certainly, share it with all the consecrated life. It does not disregard the contributions of the theology of consecrated life, ecclesiology or anthropology, but they are not explored in a specific way here.
e) The logo
13. The message of this document is expressed with strength and beauty by the logo: it acts as a porch for the whole document. The drawing is done with a series of points. We are the points, the many that make up the world, humanity, the Kingdom of God. Consecrated men and women constitute about one million of those points. In the drawing we can see a movement of waves that come and go. They go towards the left, towards the essential, towards the love that envelops everything. They also go outwards, towards the world that represents the body of Christ, the people of God. This dual movement flows from the cross, a sign of life and hope. The whole design evokes the heart of the consecrated and consecrated in which the passion for Christ and the passion for humanity come together in a single dynamism. The intense red and blue colors recall the strength of Christ's grace that pervades everything with tenderness and vigor. The consecrated life wants to participate in this force. In this significant symbol today the call to zeal, intensity and the call to mission and conversion could not be missing. The glorious Cross of Christ attracts us, transforms us and sends us.
FIRST PART: THE REALITY THAT INTERPELS US
"Here was Jacob's well. Jesus, tired of the journey, sat by the well "(Jn 4: 6).
"When he saw it he went over to the other side ... he saw it and felt sorry for it" (Lk 10, 31 and 33)
14. We discover the will of God, the innovative action of the Spirit, the direction that our journey must take, the presence of God and his design on us, in the signs of the times and places, as Jesus taught us (Mt 16:13). The contribution of those who responded to the questionnaire for the Congress helped us to find the answers to the following questions and to outline the profile of consecrated life in our time.
15. When we look at the reality that surrounds us, there are various questions we ask ourselves at this particular moment in history, in this world and in this church that we represent:
What consecrated life is the Holy Spirit arousing today?
How to identify it, describe it, propose it?
How to start with it, how to train for it?
How to describe the kind of leadership it needs?
How to identify what blocks its existence?
Towards which "wells", to which paths does this consecrated life that is being born lead?
What name should be given to this process in which we are involved?
16. We present, below, the challenges and opportunities for grace that we have identified, but also the blocks that make our dreams impossible and difficult, and more concretely our passion for Christ and for humanity. The important criterion for us will be the four great fidelity that the document reminds us of Religious and human promotion: "Faithfulness to man and to our time, fidelity to Christ and to the Gospel, fidelity to the Church and to its mission in the world, fidelity to the religious life and to the charism proper of the institute "(RPU, 1980, nn. 13-31). We will be faithful to today's reality; our fidelity will also be to the great spiritual and ecclesial realities. The two perspectives, horizontal and vertical, will intertwine and mutually fertilize. Each reality or situation will be correlated with the consecrated life, to see the influences and challenges that come with us. Our goal is nothing other than "being ready to respond with evangelical wisdom to the questions raised today by the anxiety of the human heart and its urgent needs" (VC 81).
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
17. Consecrated life, today more global than ever, feels challenged by several new phenomena, among which we highlight the following: 1) globalization with its ambiguities and its myths; 2) human mobility with its migratory phenomena and its accelerated processes; 3) the unjust and destabilizing neoliberal economic system; 4) the culture of death and the struggle for life with all the challenges of biotechnology and eugenics; 5) pluralism and growing differentiation; 6) aspects of the postmodern mentality; 7) the thirst for love and the "amorous disorder" and affection; 8) thirst for the sacred and secular materialism.
18. These challenges place us in a field of opposing tensions and forces that we cannot forget or neglect. It is necessary to discover where the Spirit leads us in this "novo millenio ineunte": what opportunities it offers us to grow, innovate and re-establish; what practical decisions inspire us to grow and strengthen ourselves; towards which training processes it launches us; what difficulties or obstacles we must face.
I Globalization and globalization, with their ambiguity
19. We also live in a global and planetary world. Information - thanks to new technologies - circulates around the planet without difficulty and creates economic, political and strategic dynamisms, hitherto unknown and unsuspected. We feel closer to each other and we can better understand our differences. However, if these dynamisms are placed at the service of strong powers, of particular interests, of the neoliberal ideology, there are very negative and discriminating effects. They generate poverty, humiliate the dignity of peoples who have few resources, impose a single neoliberal economic model and marginalize cultures, peoples and groups that do not serve their interests.
20. Consecrated life is also affected by this process of globalization. Our charisms are rooted in new cultural and religious places and contexts. The differences transform our institutions into transnational communities that enjoy the same global identity. However, there is the danger that the predominant culture in the Institute imposes itself on others, preventing the process of inculturation and the expression of the charism in the new contexts (VC 73 and 79). This universalist model could fall into the same temptation to share the neoliberal project, which pays attention to the lives of the poor and the excluded.
21. This challenge is transformed into an opportunity to recognize the unity in the diversity of this world so loved by God. The prophetic commitment to justice, peace and the safeguarding of creation are a dimension of the Christian mission. The Church and the consecrated life oppose a neoliberal model of globalization and support a model of globalization without being excluded or impoverished. This global sensitivity opens us to the real possibility of inculturation and contextualization of our charisms and closer inter-congregational collaboration and with other forms of Christian life and human promotion.
II Human mobility and its migration phenomena
22. The different political and social conflicts, poverty, wars, political instability, religious intolerance are the cause of very different migratory flows that are changing the face of our nations. Large portions of humanity feel displaced, uprooted, dispersed throughout the world. The struggle for survival in such circumstances prevents the transmission of traditions, a balanced education, a healthy and worthy development. This situation represents a challenge for us so much that in welcoming the other we play our Christian and religious identity. From here arise wonderful attitudes of hospitality and welcome, but also xenophobic, ethnocentric and racist attitudes that we must not accept.
23. We also experience the mobility of our time in consecrated life. We see ourselves called to be communities and people of exodus, who ask for a constant attitude of dialogue of life and inculturation, of openness of mind and capacity for transformation. In an unjust and divided world it is necessary to be a sign and witnesses of dialogue and trust, of communion and fraternal welcome. (VC 51)
24. Consecrated life today has the opportunity to meet with the human person in his mobility, to share with many men and women the uprooting of their cultural identity and the process of adapting and creating new syntheses. She must be a Samaritan, knowing how to welcome, accompany and care for these wounded and marginalized people. His mission acquires essential traits of hospitality, compassion and interreligious and intercultural dialogue (VC 79). All of this involves a profound restructuring of his lifestyle, mentality and programs for the consecrated life.
III The unjust economic system and the new forms of solidarity
25. Another major challenge is the exclusion to which large sectors of humanity are subjected due to the current globalization process. A non-solidarity economy generates shortages and new types of poverty (Cf NMI 50), which ultimately lead to a progressive disregard for life. The liberalization of the world economy has not found a way to avoid the perverse effects that crush the weakest and least developed peoples.
26. We too, consecrated persons, can see ourselves involved in this non-solidarity economy. This challenge tests the truth of our solidarity with the poor, the excluded and those who see their right to life and commitment to their liberation threatened. We recognize that this solidarity is an essential part of our faith in Jesus, of the prophetic dimension of our consecrated life and of the following. The evangelical counsel of poverty must increasingly be transformed into an individual and community practice of solidarity with the poor, of generosity, of gratuitousness, of trust in Providence and of witnessing a simple life (VC 82).
27. This awareness also gives us the opportunity to compare our lifestyle with the Gospel and the urgent needs of the poor; to establish a solidarity economy towards them and criticize the current economic system; to put our resources and institutions at the service of the poor and the protection of nature, actively participating in the defense and promotion of life, justice and peace, collaborating with other religious or civil organizations.
IV Life threatened and defended
28. La vita è esuberante, feconda, nella natura e nell’umanità. In molti modi si manifesta oggi la considerazione, la difesa e la passione per la vita; vi sono persone e organizzazioni che lavorano per i poveri, per i diritti umani e la pace. I grandi progressi della scienza, della biotecnologia e della medicina moderna costituiscono al tempo stesso un segno di speranza e di timore per tutta l’umanità e, in special modo, per le persone consacrate che sono impegnate nella promozione e nella difesa della vita umana.
29. In our world we also observe numerous signs of violence and death: life on the planet is threatened (pollution and lack of water, deforestation, toxic waste). We despise human life, from conception to death: abortion, violence against women and children, sexual violence, totalitarianism, terrorism, war, death penalty, euthanasia. The sources of life and fertility are manipulated without scruples or ethical criteria; sometimes we get the impression that we are only looking for scientific protagonism. Religious fundamentalisms provoke a violence that we could call sacred, from which not even we are exempt.
30. The challenges are numerous, above all, for the consecrated persons who provide their services in the health sector:
- Ethical challenges: abortion, euthanasia for terminally ill patients, recourse to therapeutic cloning and embryos for the treatment of some degenerative diseases .
- Challenges of major endemic and epidemic diseases, such as Aids, Malaria, Ebola, Sars.
- Challenges in the area of justice: it is not morally acceptable for pharmaceutical companies to accumulate drugs in their warehouses, when the poor die for lack of medicines. We consecrated persons could be close to the poor sick and defenders of their human rights.
31. This dramatic situation opens us up to new opportunities. We cannot live without feeling deeply involved in this situation, which affects our mother earth and our human community. We must remain vigilant, in order not to be co-responsible for a "culture of death". Our apostolic programs will have no meaning if they do not stimulate us to serve those who live a weakened life and do not push us to establish a true "culture of life" with greater dedication.
V Pluralism and growing differentiation
32. We live in a plural world. We are more sensitive than ever to ethnic, cultural, religious, generational and gender differences. The acceptance of plurality makes our way of thinking and acting difficult and complex. There are cultures that remain excluded. Respect for differences and pluralism conflicts with networks of private interests. Many times majorities prevail over minorities, strength over reason, economy over solidarity, the law on freedom, gender exclusion over insertion, dictatorship over democracy. The tendency towards a single thought and leveling of everything is the cause of much malaise and great tension.
33. Today, more than in any other time, consecrated life welcomes plurality, diversity. It is itself called to be plural and different in its members and in the charisms that the Spirit grants. Therefore, he does not feel at ease in uniform ecclesiastical or social systems, monocultural and non-participatory or open. The challenge of dialogue, at all levels, seeks to shape the new style of consecrated life; nevertheless it must be recognized that even in our life some cultural forms, some ways of acting, some ethnic and caste fanaticisms are often imposed. Mature religious obedience, the exercise of attentive listening to the will of God and of others, of free submission, of integrated personal and community commitment, help to respond adequately to this challenge.
34. This task becomes an opportunity when we are able to enter into communion with the different. Then individual charisms are recognized, liberated and placed at the service of all. A consecrated life in which differences of gender, age, culture, rituals and sensitivity are respected and promoted, acquires a considerable quality of sign in our world. In this way it manages to better understand the pluralism of society, to defend it and illuminate it with evangelical wisdom.
VI Aspects of the postmodern mentality
35. The so-called "postmodern mentality" is a globalized phenomenon, which concerns above all the new generations. The latter are more sensitive to the reality that comes to us, more welcoming towards pluralism and complexity and, therefore, they are more vulnerable. This increases the feeling of uncertainty, insecurity and instability. Hence the narcissistic tendency to enjoy the present without responsibility or future expectations. No wonder fundamentalist, reactionary movements are born as a reaction, seeking security in the return to the past.
36. Even in consecrated life, the complexity of our world and the postmodern mentality generate a more complex and less defined type of personality - especially in the new generations -. This phenomenon particularly affects the life and mission of consecrated persons. It manifests itself in more tolerant attitudes towards diversity, more focused on the subjective, more reluctant to accept long-term or definitive commitments. Everything is relativized in favor of emotion and temporariness. Hence the need to find channels to live the Gospel in an authentic and creative way in this new postmodern culture.
37. This post-modern attitude gives us the opportunity to recognize our limitations, avoid the triumphalisms of other times, make us more vulnerable and supportive towards our communities and all human beings. In it we see the opportunity to recover the compassion for the suffering of our world. The sense of provisionality and the cultural difficulty of stability could also lead us to study the possibility of forms of consecrated life "ad tempus" (VC 56 and Propositio 33), without this implying desertion or abandonment.
VII The thirst for love and the love disorder
38. We feel a profound thirst for love and intimacy in our world, which is expressed in such different ways that we are sometimes baffled. He yearns for a type of marriage and a family that is a hearth and communion, security in an inhospitable, alien, swirling and violent world. However, we note that the dialogue of love is very difficult and more and more often it is interrupted or even fails and results in egocentrism. Several factors affect this: the cultural predominance of one gender over the other (machismo or sexism), the working model that imposes itself and that does not favor the stability necessary for the family and the couple, the desire for autonomy and self- a realization that sometimes feels suffocated in family life, etc. The number of divorces is very high, while people's life expectancy increases. The crisis of the institution of marriage and the family - as we had inherited it - is evident: other possibilities of relationships between people of different and same sex have gradually appeared. All this creates a difficult "love disorder" to manage.
39. The Church regrets that her message and doctrine - interpreted in a more integrating and educational key - are not sufficiently accepted and followed, not only by society but by the faithful themselves. Even the consecrated life was affected by this situation, whether in living celibacy or consecrated chastity, or in interpersonal and community relationships. The frequent abandonment of our form of life, sexual scandals and emotional immaturity indicate that it proves to be quite unsatisfactory and does not find the means to overcome obstacles and impediments. Celibacy professed in the consecrated life requires a mature, generous, fruitful and healthy way of living affectivity and sexuality. This testimony is transformed into a prophetic gesture in a society as strongly eroticized as ours (VC 88).
40. Anthropological and theological reflection cannot be limited only to the theme and problems relating to celibacy or community life. However it is true that, speaking of celibacy and community, we must take into account the contribution of the new anthropology; only in this way can we respond to new situations and orient our formation towards love and celibacy, emphasizing the relational dimension of spirit and body. The influence of anthropology must reach other areas of consecrated life. Until now we have not always succeeded in formulating well its implications which extend in a particular way to the field of formation and vocations, of the multiple interpersonal relationships, of the forms of government and organization, of language.
VIII Thirst for the sacred and secular materialism
41. Last but not least point. If we deal with this theme in the end it is because here is the key that gives meaning to all that has been said so far. From a healthy and vigorous spirituality the best prospects are born for an authentic renewal of consecrated life today and for a revitalization of its mission. In our world we feel a strong thirst for the sacred, a desire for spirituality, a search for meaning and transcendence. On the other hand, excessive confidence in ourselves, in power, in technology and in wealth, takes us away from the ultimate reality. In our world, new idols are worshiped that prevent the worship of the one and true God. It is globalized - above all in opulent societies - a secularized vision of reality and we find ourselves in a world without transcendence, syncretism, agnostic and functionalist, in a word ,
42. Even in the Church and in the consecrated life the secularism of the surrounding environment favors an idolatrous deviation that is expressed in the cult of the means, the powerful, the institutions, the dress, the rites, the laws, which make conversion ever more difficult to the absolute absolute and necessary and to the passion for the God of the Kingdom and for the Kingdom of God. The challenge of a serious experience of God and of a missionary, innovative and prophetic passion are manifested today as conversion to the living God, since hunger of God nourishes our exodus and mission gives meaning and identity to our Christian vocation of consecrated life. Therefore, we must accept that new experiences and forms of spirituality are not only the result of human research,
43. The thirst for God and spirituality typical of our time, together with the idolatrous and secularist tendency, offers us the opportunity to purify our vision of religion, find new ways to express it, thus living our passion for the God of Alliance. Consecrated life will recover its identity if it appears and acts as a witness to God, the announcer of his Kingdom; if he engages in serious spirituality processes, in order to intelligently and empathically listen to the emotions and feelings of the human heart. Thus it will offer the service of motherhood and spiritual paternity which our contemporaries miss. The testimony of the true God also demands to be willing to risk - in extreme cases - one's own life and reach martyrdom (VC 86).
44. A spirituality that is equal to the challenges and expectations of the women and men of our time must be nourished by a prayerful and daily listening to the Word, organized according to the demands of the Paschal mystery that we celebrate every day, enter into the journey that is not always easy nor clear of the people of God in this world, to exercise a welcoming dialogue capable of discerning the utopias and wounds of today's humanity. Only starting from this experience of life in the Spirit can we encourage and animate a new stage in the history of the coming of the Kingdom of God and of the history of consecrated life. According to the different cultural and religious contexts, spirituality can give greater emphasis to elements of interiority or historical commitment, but there can never be a continuous search for a dynamic balance between the two perspectives: experiencing God, we experience a great love for the human being, in particular the smallest and the weakest; meeting the poor and the wounded, our heart is moved and our eyes see in these the image of God, even if disfigured and despised.
45. Sometimes it is difficult or impossible to walk in the direction that the Spirit indicates to us. Consecrated life is late, held back and blocked by various obstacles and impediments. Some come from ourselves and others from the Church and the world in which we live.
I For our part
a) Personal and community limits
46. Our Institutes are blocked, first of all, from the limits of the people who compose them. The progressive aging of people and institutions in some countries, the origin of new vocations, sometimes victims of family or social traumas, and inadequately accepted and accompanied in our training processes, the work overload of some, superficiality in discernment or lack of initial training and serious ongoing training, they greatly limit our ability to respond to the challenges of our times. All this reduces or can lead to the disappearance of the passion for Christ and for humanity. Therefore, many times the programmatic vision expressed in our documents goes beyond our real possibilities and is at the origin of an unreal utopia. This generates in us a sense of anxiety and frustration.
b) Infidelity or lack of vocational response
47. Another obstacle comes from our infidelity or from a lack of response to the vocational gift. The bourgeoisie, - generated by an excessive interest in comfort and instrumental goods - as well as the lack of evangelical simplicity - born of our excessive attachment to material goods - stifle our availability and our missionary spirit; they obscure our contemplative gaze, they make us insensitive to the poor and the excluded and prevent an authentic life in communion.
48. The direct or indirect involvement in sexual and economic scandals or abuses of power takes away our credibility, moral and evangelical authority and paralyzes the realization of our projects. It is a fact that we cannot turn a blind eye to these serious facts. Their consequences are difficult to calculate, but there is no doubt that all this calls into question the sense of the evangelical radicality of consecrated life where it should shine with particular intensity.
c) The fears and the closure in oneself
49. The action of the Spirit in us is blocked when we allow ourselves to be carried away by the fear of risk, the opportune decisions, by the fear of feeling sorry for the system that is imposed. Fear paralyzes, reduces our ability to take risks and leads us to seek safe positions; we become traditionalists, conservatives, closed to renewal and innovation.
50. When superiors let themselves be overcome by fear, weak leadership is born, complacent with everything and everyone, and therefore undecided, or too submissive to their respective higher authorities. In a word, a leadership more willing to please than to act. In this way both the evangelical exercise of authority and that of obedience become difficult. There are currently no men and women with sufficient moral authority to guide communities in creative fidelity to the charism.
51. Conservative groups, which still seek to prevent conciliar renewal, impose their laws on certain aspects of life and on certain places; they make the collective charisma become habitual and decadent. In these cases creative and innovative people are looked upon with suspicion and control; the maximum that they are allowed are certain superficial adaptations that do not influence the status quo. In this way the "new wine" is poured into "old wineskins" (Mt 9:17).
52. Fear makes us look for certainties that lead us to shut ourselves up in our world - religious or ecclesiastical, provincial or national -, to attach ourselves immeasurably to our language or our culture and to isolate ourselves in our charismatic or religious tradition. Then we become blind and unable to discover the signs of the Spirit and kill every initiative and creativity to respond to the great urgencies of our time. There is an urgent need for a new breath of the Second Vatican Council that will give us audacity and lucidity to be faithful to the Gospel.
II From the Church and from society
53. The Church is the Body of Christ in constant growth (MR11). In it the consecrated life finds a space of life, of expansion and growth. However, it feels stuck where a closed ecclesiastical system is in force, which warns and suspects evangelical freedom that so often animates consecrated life - both at the level of the universal church and of particular churches -. In such circumstances it feels sidelined with respect to other more docile and in fact little appreciated groups; in some places his initiatives and his works are hindered and discriminated against. If he chooses to conform to this situation, he loses his most prophetic part; if he chooses to exercise his prophecy, he is excluded. The prophetic dimension, so essential for the consecrated life, must be cured and promoted (VC 84-85).
54. The societies in which we live strongly influence us, so that their obstacles are our obstacles, as well as their virtues are our virtues. Suffice it to mention the obstacles coming from dictatorial regimes, from those societies so closed in "their world" that they do not open up to the global reality, or from very materialistic and secularized societies. Furthermore, there are numerous groups, currents or cultural tendencies that block us: the lack of credibility of the big agencies (parties, trade unions, social projects, religious bodies), the collapse of the great utopias which makes the struggle for a better future more difficult , terror and violence. All this makes us every day more insecure and fearful everywhere.
III Obstacles do not extinguish our hope
55. This reality which even puts us in question does not extinguish our hope. Our time is the time of the God of the Covenant, of the "ever greater God", who with his gifts surpasses our desires.
56. As consecrated persons we live in crucial moments, in humanity and in the Church. We must make decisions of great importance for the immediate future. We are faced with decisive choices: we can encourage life or hinder it, grow in communion or create further distances between us, let ourselves be overcome by difficulties or fight them. We have no time to waste. New realities require new answers. God speaks to us through these new situations and challenges. The answers must be well rooted in real life, but they must also be born and nourished by the contact with the wisdom of God, with the Word that comes from him and that illuminates, provokes, educates, purifies, guides and offers new inspirations. It's time to listen to his voice. The moment that consecrated life is experiencing is not the best moment in its history, but not the worst either. It is our moment: what is given us to live and to face with a faith that acts thanks to charity and makes hope possible.
57. We cannot move according to an ideal of consecrated life that is too distant from reality, nor can we forget it to talk about the future, regardless of the real context; nor can we organize the future even before it becomes present, following an outdated paradigm. It will be good to recover the capacity for real revitalization of the models proposed, accepting to proceed with fragile and temporary solutions, without wanting to establish everything.
SECOND PART: LIGHTING: THE ICON
"When he comes, he will announce all things to us." (Jn 4:25)
"What is written ... What do you read?" (Lk 10,26)
58. Before the reality that challenges us and the obstacles that paralyze us, we seek the light and strength in the Word of God. This is what our Founders and our Foundresses have done. "From the attendance of the Word of God they have drawn the necessary light for that individual and community discernment that helped them to seek in the signs of the times the ways of the Lord" (VC 94). The Word helps us to discern the will of God - what is pleasing and perfect to him (Rom 12: 2) - and his ways in the signs of the times and to act with fidelity and wisdom.
59. We wish to allow ourselves to be enlightened in our discernment, as we have already said, from two biblical icons: the story of the Samaritan woman's encounter with Jesus at Jacob's well (Jn 4: 1-42) and the parable of the Samaritan (Lk 10.29 -37). The first icon was already used by consecrated women in their contribution to the 1994 Synod. Here it is used to affirm the passionate spiritual search for living water, "the contemplative passion" that we all - religious and men - feel in our hearts and that only Jesus can satisfy. The second icon is proposed as an example of active and diligent compassion towards every person, wounded in body or spirit. Both icons can inspire our discernment even today, at the beginning of this new century and give us new perspectives and wisdom orientations.
SAMARITANA E SAMARITANO
60. Against prejudice - widespread in those days - according to which one would not have expected a Samaritan or a Samaritan woman to behave in accordance with the will of God, the two protagonists are involved in a process of transformation, which is expressed in gestures and particular reactions, which can inspire our lives. In both icons the consecrated life, the feminine one and the masculine one, reflect their spiritual adventure of passion for God and compassion for the human being.
I The icon of the Samaritan woman: thirst and liberation dialogue
61. The episode of the dialogue with the Samaritan woman in John is in the context of the first reactions to Jesus: that of the Jew Nicodemus who wants to know clearly but makes resistance, partly because of his skepticism (Jn 3: 1- 21); that of the Samaritan woman who lets herself be fascinated and guided by novelty (Jn 4: 1-42) and that of the pagan official who converts together with his whole family (Jn 4: 46-54). In the tradition, the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John is considered a great baptismal catechesis. Along the path of his life the Samaritan woman meets Jesus (Jn 4: 1-42). Jesus, tired of the journey, is seated at Jacob's well; moved by the mendicant love of God the Father, challenging the prejudices and taboos of his time (Jn 4,27), he starts the conversation with the woman and asks her to drink. Faced with the initial resistance of this, Jesus does not alter; the conversation develops through seven answers that the woman gives and seven sentences of Jesus. The dialogue touches the hearts of both. Jesus himself is deeply involved, he asks her to believe him and speaks of true worship in spirit and truth (Jn 4: 23-24). He arrives to confide to her the most intimate secret of his person and announces that he is "the Messiah who must come" (Jn 4:26). The woman immediately feels the strength of her words and the profound attraction of her person. He gradually discovers the mystery of that man who offers her the living water and the possibility of a new relationship with God, far beyond institutionalized worship and practiced on the mountain or in the temple. the conversation develops through seven answers that the woman gives and seven sentences of Jesus. The dialogue touches the hearts of both. Jesus himself is deeply involved, he asks her to believe him and speaks of true worship in spirit and truth (Jn 4: 23-24). He arrives to confide to her the most intimate secret of his person and announces that he is "the Messiah who must come" (Jn 4:26). The woman immediately feels the strength of her words and the profound attraction of her person. He gradually discovers the mystery of that man who offers her the living water and the possibility of a new relationship with God, far beyond institutionalized worship and practiced on the mountain or in the temple. the conversation develops through seven answers that the woman gives and seven sentences of Jesus. The dialogue touches the hearts of both. Jesus himself is deeply involved, he asks her to believe him and speaks of true worship in spirit and truth (Jn 4: 23-24). He arrives to confide to her the most intimate secret of his person and announces that he is "the Messiah who must come" (Jn 4:26). The woman immediately feels the strength of her words and the profound attraction of her person. He gradually discovers the mystery of that man who offers her the living water and the possibility of a new relationship with God, far beyond institutionalized worship and practiced on the mountain or in the temple. he asks her to believe him and speaks of true worship in spirit and truth (Jn 4: 23-24). He arrives to confide to her the most intimate secret of his person and announces that he is "the Messiah who must come" (Jn 4:26). The woman immediately feels the strength of her words and the profound attraction of her person. He gradually discovers the mystery of that man who offers her the living water and the possibility of a new relationship with God, far beyond institutionalized worship and practiced on the mountain or in the temple. he asks her to believe him and speaks of true worship in spirit and truth (Jn 4: 23-24). He arrives to confide to her the most intimate secret of his person and announces that he is "the Messiah who must come" (Jn 4:26). The woman immediately feels the strength of her words and the profound attraction of her person. He gradually discovers the mystery of that man who offers her the living water and the possibility of a new relationship with God, far beyond institutionalized worship and practiced on the mountain or in the temple.
62. This woman carries in her heart a story of wounded relationships. Perhaps he goes to the well in an unusual hour to avoid being seen. He certainly knows some elements of religious practices, but he needs something new and more profound. When he finds it, he becomes another person. The emptiness of his life is well symbolized by the jug. Jesus feels the inner malaise that causes his adventurous past. Jesus reveals himself as he unveils the woman's anxieties. This is transformed, passing from irony to seduction that disarms it, from the void to the fullness that excites it. Become meditative and confident, because the mysterious teacher does not condemn her, but speaks to her with new words that go to his heart thirsty for intense relationships. The encounter with Jesus turns her into a messenger: he runs into the city and calls his fellow citizens announcing to them a "Messiah" whom he knows without condemning and who directs his thirst towards that water welling up to eternal life (Jn 4,39). The jug, a symbol of human thirst and affections that had never satiated it, now becomes useless. He leaves her (Jn 4.28). In the meantime, Jesus announces to his disciples that the harvest is already ready and it is the time of harvest (Jn 4: 35-38). The woman raises faith in Jesus in the city and leads her fellow citizens to him (Jn 4:39). In the meantime, Jesus announces to his disciples that the harvest is already ready and it is the time of harvest (Jn 4: 35-38). The woman raises faith in Jesus in the city and leads her fellow citizens to him (Jn 4:39). In the meantime, Jesus announces to his disciples that the harvest is already ready and it is the time of harvest (Jn 4: 35-38). The woman raises faith in Jesus in the city and leads her fellow citizens to him (Jn 4:39).
63. In this biblical story we discover the icon of our vocation, as an experience of encounter with Jesus and commitment in proclaiming the Gospel. In the place of the meeting - totally devoid of sacred signs -, dialogue opens the heart to the truth; reveals and cares. God shows himself fragile and thirsty in Jesus. The thirst for God meets with the thirst of the woman, with our thirst. Whoever asks for a drink is ready to offer a new and eternal water that regenerates and transforms life. The relationship becomes game and look, trust and rebirth. Jesus does not fear restless humanity. Its tranquility and inner freedom allow the latter, represented by the woman, to feel the protagonist, who dances to the rhythm of her own anxiety until she finds the living water that wells up for eternal life. The thirst of Jesus and the thirst of the woman are the guiding thread of a liberating dialogue that heals inner wounds, incurable up to that moment and that the racial and religious prejudices have made more painful. The "indigent" love of God in Jesus asks us - restless humanity - to drink and give us the water of life for free.
64. We see ourselves reflected in the woman, many times, in fact, we too are wounded in our mutual relationships, thirsting for truth and authenticity. We discover that we are incapable of understanding our affections, behind which our lost heart is hiding. Meditating on this text we can illuminate our life with the word. Jesus likes the simple and ordinary circumstances of life, those that turn into special moments of grace and revelation. The ability to call this woman who has a sordid history surprises us; at the same time it teaches us to trust small things and limited resources. The prejudices with which the disciples observed the scene (Jn 4: 26-27) reveal a masculinist mentality that is still present in our day. The same serenity of Jesus, born from the clear awareness of its mission, it allows him to wait patiently for the right question and the moment of total confidence. In the city the disciples return to buy food; the woman returns to the city alone, but will ensure that many Samaritans follow the path of faith in the "savior of the world" (Jn 4: 39-42).
II The icon of the Samaritan
65. Along the path of his life a Samaritan - as the parable says - meets every man or woman who has fallen into the brigands who left them half dead; he has compassion on them and takes care of them (Lk 10, 25-37). Questioned with malice by a doctor of the law on what to do to enter eternal life and on who is next, Jesus refers first of all to the reading of the Law - to the main commandment - and, on the other hand, to clarify the concept of next , uses an exemplary story, through which it turns the question: it is not important to know who my neighbor is to love him, but to have that disposition of the heart that makes me move and allows me to be close to those who need me. Here is the passage from the next, understood as an object of attention, which involves some and excludes others,
66. We can distinguish between the Samaritan of the tragic moment - the one who helps the brigand's victim, where he is, immediately and effectively to prevent him from dying - and the Samaritan the next day, who organizes the convalescence of the wounded according to the needs of time and economy, asking for the collaboration of others.
67. The theological and pastoral tradition has read in this text a reflection of humanity wounded and abandoned to itself, and of the compassion of God who, through the Son, bends to cure it. This interpretation is based on a verb - "he had compassion" kai esplanchnisthè - which appears here, as well as in the story of the widow of Nain (Lk 7,13) and it is the reason why the father of the prodigal son runs towards him (Lc 15,20). This interpretation, so beautiful and so suggestive, continues to be valid and teaches us to live the same sentiments of Christ and to kneel, like him, before wounded and raped humanity and to help the wounded and abandoned who lie "half dead "In the suburbs of our society.
68. In this parable we see that Jesus, in his evaluation, marginalizes those who are a sign of religious power, when they do not allow themselves to be moved by compassion, giving instead a role of protagonism to a man who is moved who performs humble, simple gestures with the oil, the wine, the bandages, the jumper and the inn. Immediate help is offered in the best way, but the Samaritan also asks the hotelier to "take care of him" and - for this - to guarantee him attention, help, respect and trust and do it over time. For the Samaritan, that needy man continues to be present in his thoughts and worries so much that he plans to go over again to check that he has received the right treatment and to settle the bill. He does not download his concern over others, but stimulates active solidarity.
69. The road of the Samaritan is today an immense space, where men and women, children and the elderly crowd, which, "half dead", carry the wounds that every kind of violence has inflicted on them, in body and spirit. There are countless faces disfigured by violence and injustice: faces of immigrants and refugees in search of a homeland, of exploited women and young people, the elderly and the sick left to their own devices; faces humiliated by racial or religious prejudices, faces of children traumatized in body and spirit, faces disfigured by hunger and torture. These are the scourges of the earth, which lie on the edge of our history and demand a creative compassion that transforms traditional charitable institutions in response to new urgencies and in new testimony of what it means to become one's neighbor. To be near means, in fact, to look at situations from the perspective of the poor who is the last (éschaton) of society and, on the basis of the determining criterion in the final judgment (Mt 25: 31-45), starting from his needs and from the his healing and liberation process. The main challenge today is to change priorities to promote dynamics of compassionate closeness.
70. The most important challenge is to take action, giving priority to the needy, to people and not to business, to therapeutic paths and not to the sacred rules that strip us of compassion, as happened to the priest and the Levite. The men of the institutions have not been able to free the imagination of charity. They continued their journey to remain pure in the legal and cultural sense. However, he who lived religion and worship in an incorrect way and even scorned by official religious leaders, proved to be the only one capable of exercising charity. Free from external sacred patterns, he had a merciful heart and soul. When we are deeply moved, even scarce resources like a little oil, wine, bandages turn into signs of great and profound values. It is necessary, however, get off the mount that makes us privileged beings and separates us from so many travelers who have no dignity, neither home nor destination. It is necessary to pour on their wounds the oil of our contemplation, so that it is not a mere selfish and solitary search, and the wine of tenderness and gratitude so that hope and the will to live return.
71. The Samaritan community is built around Jesus. It is the community of those who are with him and share his compassion for humanity and are sent, like him, to preach, with the power to cast out demons (Mk 3, 15) and heal the sick by oiling them (Mk 6:13). Thus the true brotherhood of Jesus is formed in a violent and unjust world.
A VITA CONSACRATA "SAMARITANA"
Keys to read
72. These icons - contemplated together - show us that consecrated life is born of a vocational experience that takes place in the encounter and dialogue of life with Jesus who calls us and with the most needy human beings. The Samaritan woman and the Samaritan urge us to put out the wounded relationships of our consecrated life so that they may be received with compassion, cared for free and diligently, pouring over the oil of contemplation and the wine of tenderness and gratuitousness. Both images lead us to sit next to so many "wells" where restless hearts in need of a new liberating hope will satisfy their thirst, or go to the streets where the poor need our help; to dialogue calmly and without prejudice, without calculating time or prestige; to share the passion for water that truly quenches thirst, vivifies and transforms; to descend from our "troubles" (Lk 10,14) - privileges, rigid structures, sacred prejudices - to unite ourselves to the fate of the crucified of the earth and fight against all violence and injustice, thus beginning a new stage of healing and solidarity.
II The "new model"
73. Under the impulse of the Spirit who guides us on the path to all truth (Jn 16:13), a consecrated life with new characteristics is emerging. We are increasingly aware of the need for an intense contemplative experience, lived among the anguish and hopes of the people, especially the weakest and smallest. A new model of consecrated life is being defined - born of compassion for the wounded and flagellated of the earth - around new priorities, new models of organization and open and flexible collaboration with all men and women of good will. The elements that have characterized this Christian vocation in history and that express its great and rich tradition are recovered in a new synthesis. This allows us to take up the Gospel as the first rule, the main commandment of the Covenant, the central element, and fraternity as a proposal and prophecy in a divided and unjust society, living the passion for humanity with a great charge of imagination and creativity. The experience of being among the poorest and the excluded has given a new configuration to the consecrated life as a Samaritan life that announces the Gospel with new expressions: "How many [consecrated persons] have bent down, and continue to bend down, like good Samaritans on innumerable wounds of the brothers and sisters they meet on their way! "(VC 108).
74. Thus it is born - although in the midst of so much fragility - a new face of the Paschal Church, servant, enriched by the testimony of martyrs. Examples and experiences of fraternal and sympathetic communities are spreading, praying and daring, constant in goodness and vigilant in compassion, courageous in initiatives and joyful in hope. "Does not this world of ours also need men and women who, with their lives and their actions, know how to throw seeds of peace and fraternity?" (VC 108).
THIRD PART: TOWARDS ACTION
"Give me a drink!" (Jn 4: 7)
"Do this and you will live. (...) Go and do the same "(Lk 10, 28.37)
75. Jesus' insistent words to the lawyer today are addressed to us:" Do this and you will live! " The two icons are a stimulus and a program of life and commitment for the consecrated life. To us the hermeneutical task of interpreting in every place and time the way to transform them into reality. In consecrated life we have given many things and, at times, only for the simple fact of knowing them and saying them. However, we must not give for certain more than we live. It's about doing this for a living.
76. We recognize, first of all, that a voluntary effort is not sought. God is already acting in us and with us. There are signs of novelty, precursors of the gift that is offered to us and that we must already know. There are, however, also areas or fields in which we must demonstrate our willingness to collaborate with grace and to demonstrate the creative and imaginative power of our freedom and the "fantasy of charity" (NMI 50).
NEW SIGNS: WHERE DO THE SPIRIT BRING US?
77. The Holy Spirit continues to act in the world, in the Church and in us. Signs of life and hope appear everywhere. Those who are sensitive to the spirit and to the truth "know the gift of God" (Jn 4:10) and know what must be done to live and give life. There are signs of all this in the consecrated life that one must know how to read and sometimes interpret. Above all, it is necessary to know how to enter the processes that allow us to bring to fruition what we are beginning.
I The strength of the springs: from there the living water gushes
78. From the Second Vatican Council to today, consecrated life has made great efforts to return to the sources, to meet with the gift of God. It has sought to re-meet with the Word, with inspiration first and with its identity.
79. The Word of God has been placed at the left of life and animates all aspects of it. We listen to it with all the people of God, in the context of our time. The consecrated life "has met the Word" (VC 81 and 94). In it we find the strength to live, the orientation to walk and the stimulus for our projects. An incarnated and inculturated spirituality is founded on it. It nourishes all aspects of our life: prayer, community and mission. This has been achieved, in particular, through the discovery and dissemination of the ancient tradition of "lectio divina"; thus the Word becomes wisdom "alive that challenges, orients and shapes existence" (NMI 39). Thus, nourished with the Word, we all become "servants of the Word in the task of evangelization" (NMI 40).
80. In some religious institutes, there was also a return to the original inspiration of the Founders and Foundresses, according to the spirit of the Second Vatican Council (PC 2). When this happened, it was possible to:
a) feel the permanent freshness of the charism and its unifying, transforming and prophetic force (VC 84-85). The return to the origins of the Institute makes us "feel at home";
b) to understand that the inherited charism is a gift for the whole Church and that, therefore, it can and must be shared with other people (VC 54-56);
c) to discover a new reality expressed in a new language: "shared charism", "shared spirituality", "shared mission", "shared community" (RdC 30-31);
d) to change our understanding of the Institute to the point of feeling "family", to revive our sense of Church and shared consecrated life;
e) to be reborn to enthusiasm and recover the creative imagination of the origins in new contexts and responding to new needs (VC 37);
f) to redefine our identity, not only from "essential elements", but from the correlation with all forms of Christian life, from humble service towards all and from an attitude of sharing (CfL 55);
g) to respond to the request of lay and ordained ministers who ask to share our spiritual inspiration.
II The meetings they transform: we went to drink at the same well
81. The Spirit of God continues to create newness, continues to speak to us through the prophets, calling us to a fidelity rich in love and apostolic daring (VC 82). Today, in the consecrated life there are traces of his renewing presence. In this consecrated life, new "encounters" are carried out that transform and vivify it and pose new questions and new challenges (VC 73). Meeting is creation, incarnation and redemption. The meetings to be fruitful must take place "in the tent of the meeting", as for Moses (Ex 33.7). In the process of re-foundation, initiated by the consecrated life, we have slowly shifted from isolation and distance to dialogue, sharing, communication, presence and interaction. Thus the new ways of relating have multiplied.
82. Among the most significant meetings with major consequences for religious, the following must be mentioned: Meetings between men and women and between religious and secular. In both cases, one is learning, little by little, to drink from the same well and to go through the streets of the Church and of society by walking with both feet, listening with both ears and looking with both eyes. Meetings between different cultures and different generational groups are multiplying; we are learning to live united in the diversity of culture and age and to conceive them as a great wealth. Meeting between religious and the poor: the experiences of integration, solidarity and shared life with the poor, when there were, were very fruitful (VC 82). Meeting between believers and non-believers, between members of some religions and others, between members of some Churches and others. We are working to break many kinds of barriers and divisions, to build bridges and grow in communion. We are also discovering the richness of the forms of religious life existing in other religious traditions, through dialogue and mutual exchange. A great wealth is the encounter with mother earth. The ecological dimension can have important consequences for our mission and our spirituality (VC 103; NMI 56). The encounter with other congregations, which goes from simple collaboration to confederation, federation and fusion (52 and 53), allows us to emphasize the essential, the things in common of the consecrated life, without losing sight of the specific of each group. This help will help to realize the new paradigm that, in one way or another,
83. These encounters experienced as an event, as a process and as grace outline the indispensable elements of the new ways of consecrated life that are already reality and that need the creativity and lucidity of many to take shape in the current path of the Church and society . All these meetings are demanding and often begin, but then they do not continue. However, in them and with them simple, radical, ecumenical forms of evangelical life are being born, in the midst of the people, with flexible, welcoming structures, attentive to symbolic language, to the current rites of life and to the demands of deep communion with God and with people (VC 12 and 62)
III The language of water: it spurts and flows
84. These signs of vitality which the Spirit is giving rise to in the consecrated life have provoked in us the need to express the new in a new way, with a new language and the creation of original symbolic schemes. This is why we are talking about "new paradigm", "new model", "new forms", "re-foundation" and "creative fidelity". The form of life modifies and configures language and language modifies and configures the form of life. It is not surprising that the new ways of living the consecrated life modify our forms of expression and organization and that these new words also modify our way of life. Religious life has always been a laboratory of new cultural and organizational models, thus expressing authentic evangelical values in different contexts and cultural and religious conditions.
85. First, we discover the need for new expressions and new methods for announcing Jesus Christ and the Gospel of the Kingdom in our time. Consecrated life that knows it is called to share the great project of the "new evangelization", is aware that this requires a "new ardor" or a new spiritual language, which unites mission and spirituality, community and individuality, body and spirit. Finally, he knows that the option for the poor and the excluded is the indispensable expression of this new evangelization (NMI 49).
86. Some symbols and symbolic languages of the past lose strength and are replaced by other forms of communication more suited to contemporary culture. The contact with the socio-cultural and ecclesial reality humanizes us, renews and adapts. A different sensibility is being born between us and the Holy Spirit is leading us towards new forms of mission and life. All this requires a serious commitment to cultivate this gift that God gives us.
IV New relationships in a Church of communion: fruitful fruit of well-irrigated land
87. The progressive development of the ecclesiology of communion, from which the Second Vatican Council started, has gradually invited all the members of the People of God to walk together along paths of holiness, evangelization and solidarity. The confession of the Trinitarian Mystery and the recognition of the leading role of the Holy Spirit in the Church, as an expression of fruitfulness, of communion and of missionary dynamism, while it revealed the richness of the different vocations and life forms in the Church, emphasized the correlation and reciprocity among them (CfL 55). All this is extending relationships and, at the same time, it is qualifying them, so that it is possible to live in depth the affiliation, fraternity and mission inherent in all Christian vocations.
88. In recent years, the relationships of consecrated persons have expanded, multiplied and qualified. Relations with the Bishops are not the only object of attention, but also those with the laity and, in a particular way, with those who share the charism and the mission; with the secular presbyters who act as mediators in many other relationships within the presiding Christian communities; also with those who, driven by their good will, collaborate in the transformation of the world. We consecrated try to enter the network of solidarity, an alternative to impersonal globalization; we are aware that this leads to problems and involves conflicts.
THE ANSWER TO THE GIFT: IMAGINATIVE AND CREATIVE STRENGTH
89. The Master exhorts: "do this and you will live" (Lk 10:28). We need to take action. The Congress invites the consecrated life to begin and continue a new practice, to take decisive and serious steps. By doing this, we give ourselves a double objective and respond to a double necessity of consecrated life. It needs intensity, zeal, in a word, passion for the Lord and for humanity. He also needs to focus his action, to have clear objectives. In this chapter we wish to look at and make ours the future that the Lord wants for us, describing in the best possible way the answer we must give to the proposal that God makes us.
90. It is not easy to be able to indicate what is appropriate for religious life to be meaningful in society and in the Church. From a pedagogical point of view it is very important to indicate, as the Church did before the Second Vatican Council, what is wrong, what is ending, what is not present or future. This helps focus our strength on what is most needed.
91. We propose below some reflections and some questions to guide discernment in this Congress of ours. The questions are the result of the consultation carried out.
Witnesses of transcendence
92. In times when the experience of the mystery of God is more nuanced and in many cases totally extinguished, or, in still others, interfered by a very different religious pluralism, we feel the call to underline and reveal the intrinsic religious value of all aspects of life.
93. The religious experience that has been granted to us and that we cultivate is that of God the Creator, who acted as a redeemer of history and became Emmanuel, incarnating himself in Jesus of Nazareth. Thanks to the Spirit that has been given to us, we who belong to the consecrated life, we try to be a memory of the lifestyle and liminal capacity of Jesus of Nazareth. We want to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth and manifestation of the passion for Christ and compassion for human beings, promoting in all its forms the religiosity of life, a fundamental richness to which we all serve and of which we all participate.
94. For us, announcing Jesus with our life, our gestures, our actions, is the quintessence of our evangelical vocation. Therefore, we ask ourselves: what are the changes that are necessary in our religious, institutional and community system, to make our life more evangelical?
95. If the consecrated life is not inculturated in the different places and contexts in which it finds itself, it cannot survive or fulfill its mission. Carrying on the process of inculturation "made of discernment and boldness, of dialogue and of evangelical provocation" (VC 80) is a matter of vital importance for the consecrated life and a proof of its authenticity looking to the future.
96. The Spirit urges her to diversify, incarnate herself and revitalize herself. These inculturation processes are challenging; however, if carried out well, they highlight the original elements of the foundational charism. What proposals would we make for this to be a reality? What obstacles derive from traditional organizational, formative, spiritual or anthropological models?
97. The face of consecrated life is changing. A multicentric and intercultural communion becomes ever more necessary in it. We must learn the new art of the ecclesiology of communion. Now we ask ourselves: what consequences does this perspective have in our new structures of government, of formation, of pastoral experience, of cultural and spiritual language?
III Community life, affectivity and sexuality
98. Fraternal life in community is a very original reality of consecrated life (VC 42,45 and 51). Living it well costs. The "new consecrated life" requires "new communities". What lines must we follow to re-establish our communities psychologically and evangelically in this new time?
99. In the "loving disorder" of our age, our community life can become an element of emotional stability and coexistence, inspired by faith and open to full realization. Relationships are less rigid and impersonal than in the past. Appropriate manifestations of affection and tenderness are admitted and greater attention and care is given to physical and emotional conditions. However, the excessively erotic mentality and context can be a risk for us. We recognize that with the help of grace we can speak of our life as a living reminder of God's primordial project on humanity: "from the beginning it was not so" (Mt 19: 8). From this perspective a new way of understanding celibacy is born, as a clear consequence of the relationship between genders and a more integral vision of sexuality.
100. We are part of a humanity thirsting for spirituality. The clamor for life in the Spirit is expressed in multiple forms, which it is necessary to identify. Even our brothers and sisters expect from us, consecrated persons, a particular spiritual contribution, which has effects on our language and our experience of life and mission (VC 103). The Spirit calls us to exercise the ministry of motherhood and spiritual paternity in a new way, open to the future, to enter into inter-spiritual dialogue not only to give and teach, but also to listen, welcome and receive (NMI 56 and GS 92 ). This is our challenge.
101. The new things that are being born appear and are affirmed where good spirituality is cultivated. It is basically a matter of caring for the faith and the prayerful experience of our life. How to do it? What to do to ensure that consecrated life - by vocation and charisma - is a laboratory of spirituality, a space to cultivate the spirit and the spiritual part that is hidden in everything? (VC 6)
V Share with the members of God's people and with our Pastors
102. The awareness of reciprocity, proper to the ecclesiology of communion, leads us to feel interdependent of all forms of Christian life. In a particular way the laity are becoming, for this consecrated life that the Spirit is giving rise to, inspiration, support and companionship to move forward in a renewed and fruitful way (VC 54-56; RdC 30-31).
103. Consecrated life shares its charisms with other forms of Christian life, especially with the laity, and participates with its charisms in the services and ministries that others carry out. Placed in the vital network of the body of Christ, which is the Church, the consecrated life - above all the feminine and lay life - can contribute to generating new models of ecclesial identity, which ask to be recognized, stimulated and integrated. We ask ourselves, starting from the experience we are already accumulating, what guidelines should we follow in this line of correlation and mutual identification in the form of life and in the mission?
104. The mutual communion between pastors, lay and religious, is always felt with greater force, as an intrinsic need for docility to the Spirit, which guarantees the relations between the ecclesial organs. The institutional interests and the claims of pragmatism are gradually postponed or postponed. The dynamics of information, dialogue and participation take place within the ecclesial organicity, in which the ministries and charisms occupy precise positions and functions. We increasingly share spirituality and concern for the proclamation of the Kingdom, which is ultimately at stake. How to think, feel and act together according to the Gospel?
VI Symbolic capacity starting from the authenticity of our life
105. With the passage of time we have lost our symbolic capacity. The world of symbols in which we live, asks us for a serious adaptation in the context of significance. Lack of imagination or fear transform us into mere conservatives of now insignificant signs or of a mere museum and folkloric value. Lack of appropriate expressions of authentic values embodied and lived in the consecrated life. As the Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod on consecrated life reminded us, "our life carries out a critical, symbolic and transforming function within society" (IL 9). This function requires many changes if you want to make it eloquent and effective. We ask ourselves about our significance and we ask ourselves: what language to use? how to introduce yourself? what to transmit? how to live to be significant?
VII Poverty and human suffering
106. A consecrated life that wants to have guarantees of fruitfulness must be read in terms of service, companionship and solidarity with people who are in pain or in poverty; must find ways to be like the Samaritan woman who seeks, together with all the thirsty, the living water, around the sources, at the wells of memory and happiness; to heal wounded faces without forgetting to fight against the violent and unjust systems that underlie them. How to do? What to say about this challenge?
107. The return to poor, supportive and compassionate life has always been a key element of the processes of re-foundation in the history of consecrated life (VC 75 and 82). There are many people who live in superfluous things in today's society, with which our mother earth irresponsibly deteriorates. The Lord, through our vow of poverty, calls us religious to live by what is necessary and, if possible, with the indispensable. This choice allows us to be generous in sharing and giving, free to receive and demand. How can consecrated life help pass from living as a function of the superfluous to living according to what is necessary?
VIII Field of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue
108. We can understand mission as a movement of peoples - moved by the Spirit - towards the Kingdom of God, to which the consecrated life offers a special contribution. It wants to witness to the humanity the salvific plan of the God of the Covenant and to become for others a symbol of a faithful response to this pact. The main commandment of love, of solidarity, generates the relations of the Covenant between all human beings and is expressed through a real commitment to justice, peace and care for creation. In this particular historical moment, the dialogue of life, community, intercultural, religious, ecumenical, is the name of the mission; it is a question of life or death for all the evangelizing and missionary activity of the Church. In our institutes we have sensed this for some time,
109. The presence and action of religious in the context of dialogue help consecrated life to enlarge "the space of its tent" (Is 54: 2), to revitalize itself and establish vital networks. To strengthen these presences is to reaffirm the consecrated life that the Spirit arouses in our time. What initiatives must we take to give our mission the character of authentic dialogue?
A PROCESS TO FOLLOW
110. The Congress is a milestone in the history of consecrated life; will it succeed in being a significant moment within it? On the occasion of this event we want to take note of what the Holy Spirit gives birth to in the consecrated life today, at the beginning of a new millennium, and to thank our God. There is no doubt that a process begins that joins the many lived in the 16 centuries of its journey.
111. Fidelity to what the Spirit is stirring up among us leads us to give consistency, continuity and guarantee to the process that has begun. Therefore, we want to discern, describe and propose what the formation that guarantees continuity to this new consecrated life should be like and how the government that should animate this new stage of the journey of consecrated life should be.
I A government for a structural transformation
112. Consecrated life has structures, organization and the exercise of government that respond to its glorious history. It is the future, however, that we must build. This requires a change of profound institutional mentality, which makes possible the urgency of new institutions and forms of government, in which unborn life does not appear suffocated. Consecrated life in all its forms appears in the Church as a series of energies not always exploited, sometimes wasted, and at other times used repetitively. The internal reorganization, not only of individual institutes, but of all institutes, intercongregational dialogue and bridges of collaboration and integration, are the clear initiatives towards which the Spirit leads us. One thing we have clear: the structures must be light and be guided by dialogue, from co-responsibility and the Gospel. What would we propose on this refounding line of institutions? What must religious governments do to put their institutions and works at the service of the mission?
113. Consecrated life depends largely on its economic structures. His missionary works, his formative processes, his globalization, but also his counter-testimony depend largely on money. Although the backbone of the consecrated life is not the economy, however its influence has always been great; all reforms or new forms of consecrated life have always given particular importance to the theme of poverty and the economy. The complexity of the world economy, the unbalanced and unjust economic system, greatly affects the economies of the Institutes. What can we say about it? How to think about a solidarity economy? How to organize an economy at the service of the mission?
II A formation for a new form of consecrated life
114. We want to set up an authentically "Samaritan" consecrated life, that is, with thirst for God and constantly moved by compassion. Our responsibility in front of what the Spirit is giving birth to us requires discernment in operative communion (VC 74) and a serious commitment in the elaboration and realization of formative-spiritual paths that make development and consolidation sustainable. In this formation the criterion of the post-synod exhortation Vita Consecrata must be followed faithfully: “Formation is a vital process through which the person converts to the Word of God into the depths of his being and, at the same time, learns the art of seeking the signs of God in the realities of the world "(VC 68).
115. The ecclesiology of communion affects formation processes from different perspectives. A model of joint formation emerges in the People of God, before which we cannot remain indifferent. On the other hand, in fundamental moments, formation tries to "go to the essential", to the heart, to the source of life. We live in a time when the ecclesiology of communion asks us to learn all together - all life forms - what it means to be "christifideles". Only from this can we understand each other in charismatic correlation. What repercussions do these perspectives have on the development of training processes?
116. We feel that our forms of consecrated life are going through a moment of transition, but our hearts burn, continue to be thirsty and we continue to look for living water. This happens when we are able to listen to Him who speaks to us along the way. Then we experience a passionate love for Jesus and a loving compassion towards our brothers and sisters. Then we are able to meet him and to recognize him publicly as the "savior of the world" (Jn 4:42). We know well that this fire can intensify or weaken, extend or shrink, infect or isolate itself. It can also be turned off.
117. We do not want to remain in a "glorious past". We want to "look to the future, in which the Spirit projects us to do great things with us" (VC 110). Therefore, we are not interested in defending alleged acquired rights, but in serving more and better, faithful to our vocation. In this way we purify ourselves and acquire new fruitfulness. Thus we become credible in a Church that is reborn in this "novo millenio ineunte". It is a serious and urgent commitment.
118. We can count on the promise of the Spirit, which makes all things new and "intercedes for believers according to the plans of God" (Rom 8:27). We are certain of the compassionate and life-giving presence of Mary, symbol of fruitfulness, mother of every life that is born. Consecrated life, when it wanted to undertake a new stage in its journey throughout history, invoked and looked at Mary. Through her and with her he lived his new Pentecost days. Under his protection, all consecrated persons ask the Spirit "for the courage to face the challenges of our time and the grace to bring to humanity the kindness and humanity of our Savior Jesus Christ" (cf Tt 3,4) "(VC 111 ).