Viernes, 04 de noviembre de 2016

El Card. Fernando Filoni, Prefecto de la Congregación para la Evangelización de los Pueblos, al clero, a los religiosos y a las religiosas con los que se ha reunido el 3 de noviembre por la tarde, después de la celebración de la Misa en la Catedral de Lilongwe (Fides 03/11/2016).

Visit of His Eminence Card. Filoni to Malawi 

3-7 November 2016

Meeting with Priests and Religious at Maula Cathedral Hall,

Lilongwe, Malawi 

Address to Priests and Religious 

Thursday, 3 November 2016 


Dear brother Priests and dedicated Religious, 

1. Greeting: It is a great joy to be with you today, and I am privileged to have been chosen by Pope Francis as His Special Envoy to Malawi on the occasion of the Consecration of the Cathedral in Karonga, but also as an expression of the Holy Father’s closeness and attentiveness to each of you. I have the unique honor of conveying to you Pope Francis’s personal greeting as well as his Apostolic Blessing. To His Excellency, the Most Rev. Julio Murat, Apostolic Nuncio to Malawi, I would like to express my appreciation for all the hard work in organizing this visit. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, I would like to thank all the priests and Religious serving in this local Church for the dedication to the work of evangelization. You are called to be “the salt of the earth and the light of the world” (Mt 5:13-14), therefore it is my sincere hope that this occasion will serve to encourage you in your faith, so that your hearts may be ever more open to God, more radiant with love of Him and ever more zealous in spreading the Gospel.


2. Evangelii Gaudium: Dear brothers and sisters, the theme of evangelization is still relevant today, and always will be, because the Church is missionary by her very nature (AG, n. 2). This theme has been repeated and underlined by Pope Francis, especially in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. This precious document should be a point of reference for the Church in Malawi, which is called to remain on the path of conversion and to embrace the obligation of evangelization. As such, we remember that the call to evangelize comes to us from the Gospel and is continually renewed in our personal encounter with Jesus. This encounter brings about a change in our life and, at the same time, gives a true and profound joy that always wants and needs to be shared. “For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?” (EG, n. 8). To evangelize is to encounter Christ, to announce him, and be renewed by him. Pope Francis reminds us in his Encyclical Lumen Fidei, referred to also in Evangelii Gaudium, that “The Church does not grow by proselytism but by attraction” (n. 14). We have become the children of God and the priests and Religious of the Lord, and as evangelizers we are able to experience the joy of the Gospel in serving the faithful we encounter in our ministry and those who have been entrusted to our care. It is our joy in serving others that helps draw people to the Lord and brings about growth in the Church. In order to keep the fire of charity alive in our hearts we must be attentive to three things: our spiritual life, our moral life and our ministerial life.


3. Spiritual Life: First, I would like to talk about the spiritual life of priests and Religious, because, in the words of St. Paul, “if we live in the Spirit, we walk also according to the Spirit” (Gal 5:25). With these words, the Apostle reminds us that the spiritual life of priests and Religious must be nourished and guided by the Spirit of God who leads us to holiness and perfects us charity. We priests and Religious have a particular call to holiness, which comes by way of our very consecration to the Lord, either through the Sacrament of Holy Orders or by the profession of religious vows.


To you brother priests, our sanctification consists above all in the intimate bond we have with Jesus, as Head and Shepherd of the Church. Priests are called to live the Gospel radically in following Jesus: chaste, poor and obedient. The priesthood is, above all, a call to be configured to Christ, the Eternal High Priest. In other words, we must love as Jesus loved, think as Jesus thought, act as Jesus acted, and serve as Jesus served, every moment of our lives. The priesthood is not a profession or bureaucratic office that is carried out only for a time and then ends. The priesthood is a “way of life” and not a job. The priest lives his priesthood, but does not possess it. In order to fully live the priestly identity the spiritual life of the priest must be linked to prayer and openness to the Word of God. Pray and listen, as Mary did. This is the attitude of one who trusts in the power of God: to allow oneself to be transfigured by Jesus, the Good Shepherd, to allow oneself to be guided by God and to let God act in one’s life.


To you dear Religious brothers and sisters, your sanctification also consists in an intimate bond with Jesus, in the particular way you have been called and set apart to follow Him closely through the profession of the evangelical counsels, guided by the Holy Spirit, in total dedication “to God who is loved most of all” and as a sign of future heavenly glory (can. 573 §1). He has sought you out and invited you into a deeply personal relationship. As Pope Francis recently pointed out, by virtue of your consecration you are called to “follow the Lord in a special way, in a prophetic way. [You] are called to recognize the signs of God’s presence in daily life and wisely to discern the questions posed to us by God and the men and women of our time. [Your] great challenge,” he continues, “is to persevere in seeking God ‘with the eyes of faith in a world which ignores his presence’, and to continue to offer that world Christ’s life of chastity, poverty and obedience as a credible and trustworthy sign, thus becoming ‘a living ‘exegesis’ of God’s word’.”[1] You are called to nourish the longing to “find and contemplate God in the heart of the world.”[2] This longing, even if it at times appears weak, will never go away so long as you are dedicated to your life of prayer.


4. Moral Life: With regard to the moral life, I would like to speak about celibacy. This choice in life must be considered in the context of the bond that is forged at either Ordination or religious profession.


For us priests, “Ordination configures [us] to Jesus Christ Head and Spouse of the Church. The Church, as the Spouse of Jesus Christ, needs to be loved by the priest in the total and exclusive way that Jesus Christ, Head and Spouse, loved her.”[3] Thus, the priest must welcome celibacy “with a free and loving decision that needs to be continually renewed,” being fully aware of the weakness of the human condition.[4] We know that in order “to live with all the moral, pastoral and spiritual demands of priestly celibacy it is absolutely necessary to have a humble and faithful prayer life.”[5] Another way to persevere in the priestly vocation is to cultivate bonds of friendship with brother priests. The support of fellow priests is a gift of grace and a precious aid for living our priesthood and ministry. Where fraternal support is lacking among priests, a crisis is not far away. It is necessary to maintain a good relationship also with your Bishop, in esteem and confidence, the father and head of the local Church.


And you, dear Religious men and women, are united to Christ in a spousal bond brought about through your consecration (cf. can. 607 §1). The vow of chastity brings with it the invitation and obligation to live exclusively for him in a life of freely embraced celibacy, for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (cf. can. 599). This particular call, “which is a sign of the world to come and a source of more abundant fruitfulness in an undivided heart” must also be regularly nourished and renewed (can. 599). Throughout the history of the Church, holy men and women have come to understand the mutual relationship between celibacy and simplicity of life. As such, the way you live your daily life will have a direct relationship to how you live your consecrated life in the Lord. Pope Francis encourages you to lovingly embrace a life of asceticism. “The practice of asceticism,” he says, “by drawing upon all those means that the Church proposes for self-control and the purification of the heart, is also a path to liberation from ‘worldliness’. Asceticism fosters a life in accordance with the interior logic of the Gospel, which is that of gift, especially the gift of self as the natural response to the first and only love of your life. In this way, you will be able to respond not only to the expectations of your brothers and sisters, but also to the moral and spiritual demands inherent in the three evangelical counsels that you professed with a solemn vow. Your life of complete self-giving thus takes on a powerful prophetic meaning. Your moderation, your detachment from material things, your self-surrender in obedience, your transparent relationships – these become all the more radical and demanding as a result of your free renunciation ‘of space, of contacts, of so many benefits of creation…[as a] particular way of offering up [your] body’.”[6]


5. Ministerial Life: Turning now to your ministerial work, whether carried out in parishes, hospitals, schools or in any other work of evangelization, it is important to recall the words of Pope Francis who, in Evangelii Gaudium, alerted us to the following danger:


At a time when we most need a missionary dynamism which will bring salt and light to the world, many lay people fear that they may be asked to undertake some apostolic work and they seek to avoid any responsibility that may take away from their free time. For example, it has become very difficult today to find trained parish catechists willing to persevere in this work for some years. Something similar is also happening with priests who are obsessed with protecting their free time. This is frequently due to the fact that people feel an overbearing need to guard their personal freedom, as though the task of evangelization was a dangerous poison rather than a joyful response to God’s love which summons us to mission and makes us fulfilled and productive. Some resist giving themselves over completely to mission and thus end up in a state of paralysis and acedia. (n. 81)


In order to dedicate all of our time and energy in service to the Church, we need the pastoral and ministerial charity of Jesus who gave his life for his sheep. We must imitate Jesus in his gift of self and in his service to others. In fact, it is this same charity, once we allow it to pervade our very being, that will enrich our ministry and determine “our way of thinking and acting, our way of relating to people.”[7] Pastoral and ministerial charity calls us to conversion and demands that we “go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the ‘peripheries’ in need of the light of the Gospel” (EG, n. 20). The privileged beneficiaries of our pastoral and ministerial charity are the poor, the marginalized, the little ones of society, the sick, sinners and unbelievers.


        Together with our brothers and sisters throughout the world, we cannot forget to pay attention to immigrants and the “slaves” of today. In his message for the World Day of Peace 2015, the Holy Father spoke of the many modern forms of slavery: when workers are reduced to mere servitude, when migrants are not afforded their rights and freedom, when men and women are subject to human trafficking, and so on. In his Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2015, the Pope wrote that “Jesus is ‘the evangelizer par excellence and the Gospel in person’ (EG, n. 209). His solicitude, particularly for the most vulnerable and marginalized, invites all of us to care for the frailest and to recognize his suffering countenance, especially in the victims of new forms of poverty and slavery.” Pastoral and ministerial charity renders us always available to take on any type of work for the good of the Church and of souls.


        6. Conclusion: As I conclude, dear brother priests and dedicated Religious, I thank you, on behalf of Pope Francis and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, for your hard work and dedicated service in our shared mission of evangelization. Your zeal and untiring efforts are a great gift to the Church. “Thank you for your courage in following Jesus.”[8] Let us go forth, united and strengthened in our common love of our Lord and our Mother, the Church.  May Our Lady and the great African Saints protect you and accompany you always. We remain united in prayer. God bless you!

[1] Pope Francis, Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei Quaerere, On Women’s Contemplative Life, n. 2.

[2] Ibid.

[3] John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis, n. 29.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Pope Francis, Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei Quaerere, On Women’s Contemplative Life, n. 35.

[7] John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis, n. 23.

[8] Pope Francis, Address to Clergy, Men and Women Religious and Seminarians, Nairobi (Kenya), 26 November 2015.

Publicado por verdenaranja @ 23:12  | Hablan los obispos
 | Enviar