Domingo, 06 de octubre de 2013

El Cardenal Fernando Filoni, Prefecto de la Congregación para la Evangelización de los Pueblos, en la mañana del viernes 4 de octubre de 2013 se ha dirigido a Chojinam, donde se encuentran las tumbas de cinco Siervos de Dios considerados “el primer núcleo de la Iglesia naciente en Corea”. Después de haber bendecido una gran estatua de Nuestra Señora de la Paz, ha presidido la celebración eucarística a la que han asistido religiosos y religiosas y miembros de las Sociedades de Vida Apostólica en Corea. (Fides)

HOMILY of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples to Religious Men and Women and Societies of Apostolic Life. Chojinam (Suwon), Friday, October 4, 2013 – 10:30am


Readings: Job 19:21-27;  Luke 10:1-12 

Dear Brothers and Sisters: our liturgical celebration today could not occur in a place more symbolic and more dear for the Church in Korea, preceded by a visit to the graves of the five Servants of God, the first nucleus of the nascent Church in Korea.  In this place so full of memories, I have also had the joy of blessing the large statue of Our Lady of Peace this morning; and all of us know well the need the entire Korean Peninsula has for divine protection, so that this great people might benefit from a lasting peace.  Peace is the gift of the Risen Jesus for His disciples, whom he asked to bring it to wherever they might go.  For this reason, I wish for peace upon the entire noble nation of Korea! 

In the context of my visit to this Country, I could not go without a moment of prayer and reflection with all of you, Religious Men and Women, who, with your charisms and through a special gift to God, enrich the Church by means of the variety of spiritual and social gifts that are placed in generous service to Christ and to your brothers and sisters.  I am particularly happy that this meeting should occur in this place, and that from here, I can address my greetings and my words to the entire great religious family, both male and female, in Korea.  The Second Vatican Council, that reaffirmed the Church’s esteem for Religious Life, noted that by means of particular “bonds”- those of consecrated chastity, poverty as a choice of life, and obedience as self-immolation to Christ – and the Rule that binds each one to his or her proper Institute, religious men and women unite themselves with a “special title … to the honor and service of God … to the Church and its mystery”, for the purpose “of working … to implant and strengthen the Kingdom of Christ … and to extend that Kingdom to every clime”, which is why, Lumen Gentium adds, “… the Church preserves and fosters the special character of her various religious institutes” (n. 44). 

Religious Life has two indissoluble characteristics for those who have chosen and followed it; the first is that Religious Life cannot be anything but Christological, and the second, consequently, is that it also cannot be anything but ecclesiological.  Outside of these boundaries, Religious Life as intended by the Church does not exist.  These two characteristics, therefore, are based on the fact that it is the Lord Who first chooses us, as the Gospel today reveals: “…the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom He sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place He intended to visit” (Luke 10:1).  Thus, it is not we who decide to follow Christ (cf. John 15:16), but, it is Christ, on the contrary, Who takes the initiative, leaving it to us to respond by embracing or not the invitation that the Master directs toward us: “Come and follow me” (Matthew 10:21).  The vocation remains a mysterious, divine impulse.  As Pope Francis commented when speaking to Religious Superiors last May, this calling on God’s part implies an initial “exodus”, a departure from oneself, in order to focus our lives completely on Christ (cf. L’Osservatore Romano, May 9, 2013). 

The second characteristic is the ecclesiological, that is, the call of Christ that comes through the Church, His beloved Bride whom He united to Himself on the Cross. The life of a Religious must never be either an isolated reality or separated from this context in which the call and our response mature.  The Lord, in fact, calls the seventy-two from among those who followed Him and who had both recognized and heard the Word. He then sent them out, not individually, but in pairs, to underline the importance of creating community among them and thus, communion with those who listened to them.  It is good to have these aspects clearly in mind, because the “missionary nature” of our service, which is derived both from the response that we give to Christ and from being sent by Him, also occurs in the ecclesiological dimension.  Therefore, authentic sense of mission does not occur within a closed circle of a Religious Institute as a place independent from others, and not even within the ambit of any proper Institute pursuing its own interests; on the contrary, it is framed within the greater ecclesial sphere, where everything has its proper sense and purpose. In this context, we must pay close attention that, if an authentic sentire cum Ecclesia - that is, having and being on the same wavelength or frequency as the Church – is lacking, we will surely find ourselves fulfilling the hard words of Jesus: “…whoever does not gather with me, scatters” (Luke 11:23).  In this regard, Pope Paul VI’s  Apostolic Exhortation issued in 1975, Evangelii Nuntiandi, reaffirmed that every one of our efforts must never be an isolated gesture or the expression of just a single group, but always an action that is in tune with the mission of the whole Church. 

In order that our lives do not remain sterile or separated from a true apostolic context, the missio canonica that one receives within the grant of pastoral responsibility is given by the Church and in the name of the Church: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Matthew 16:15).  Pope Francis calls this sending on the part of the Church a second “exodus”, that is, a “pathway of service”.  Note the key word in the ecclesiological context of which we are speaking: service.  This is the reason why the Second Vatican Council expressly said that the active life and apostolic and charitable action go back into the nature of Religious Life itself.  The Church, in truth and from time immemorial, has never desired to indicate only one mode of serving Christ and one’s brothers and sisters, but has allowed for the pathway and variety of charisms, so very useful and necessary to the life of the Church, and has found them, in a prolific way, to give life to the manifold diversity of services that God Himself has inspired - from charity to the needy to the education of youth, from the sense of mission in proclaiming the Gospel in countries for the first time to spiritual knowledge and training. 

For all those men and women who have embraced Religious Life, I would like here warn against the danger of altering the order of things as willed by Christ to suit oneself; and it is this very order of things that St. Benedict, the Father of Monasticism, set down in his golden rule: Ora et Labora - Pray and Work, not vice versa.  In many religious Congregations, the prevailing crisis, we must humbly acknowledge, is caused by having displaced or diminished the role of prayer and of the spiritual life in favor of practical activity, which quickly transforms into activism.  It also comes from a greater diminution in community prayer, from which we often and willingly absent ourselves. 

Religious Life in Korea today is a beautiful reality, not only from the numeric point of view for men and women religious, but also from the organizational point of view, and I refer, for example, to the Union of Men and Women Superiors and the Mixed Commission of Major Superiors with the Bishops.  Such relationships must be inspired by the principles made clear by the Second Vatican Council and by the historic document Mutuae relationes of 1978, where directive criteria are established for the rapport between Bishops and Religious.  Relationships, as the Church teaches, must always shy away from forms of legal claims, independence, undervaluing or superiority, or even the so-called “Confucian submission”; on the contrary, the inspirational principles are those of communion, cooperation, trust, generous commitment, friendship, respectful esteem for the role which God willed for those whom He constituted Pastors and Fathers in the Church, and appreciation for the needs of Religious Life.  In this context, all, including priests and laity, are exhorted to avail themselves in parishes and associations of the spiritual and pastoral charisms of which men and women religious are the bearers, because only from an integrated vision can the best be brought forth for the Church in Korea. 

I would like to conclude my remarks with expressions of gratitude and appreciation for the good you have done for the Church in this Country, as well as in the world.  I am thinking of the participation of the numerous men and women religious in sense of the Church’s mission, especially the support you give in countries where the vocational crisis has created a serious lack of personnel.  It is a beautiful act of charity toward those who, in the past, came to sustain the evangelization of Korea. 

May Jesus, Who left it to Mary of Bethany to choose “the better part”, leaving her to remain beside Him (Luke 10:42), and Who allowed John to lay his head upon His chest (cf. John 13;25) so that he might hear the pulsation of His immense love for mankind, grant that you always live your religious vocation with fullness and total fidelity in the service of God and the Church.  May Mary, the Queen of Peace and Mother of the Church, protect you!

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