A huge buzz preceded Pope Francis' entrance at Paul VI Hall.
The Pope met with about five-thousand consecrated and religious persons, who are in Rome for the end of the Year of Consecrated Life. As he does on many occasions, Pope Francis decided to improvise at the last moment.
"I gave the Cardinal Prefect the text because it is a bit boring to read.”
Pope Francis explained that the act of devoting your life to God does not mean excluding yourself from the world to live a comfortable life. They have to be close to both believers and nonbelievers.
"Be consecrated men and women, not for living away from people or having all of the comforts. No. Consecrate your life in order to reach out and understand the lives of both Christians and non-Christians, the sufferings, problems and many other things you can only understand if a man or woman becomes consecrated to a "neighbor.”
He warned against the damage that gossip can cause. He asked them not to give into the temptation of badmouthing one another and gave them a tip for when that happens.
"If you want to say something against a brother or sister, or launch 'gossip bomb'... Bite your tongue! Strong.”
The Pope warned of a practice that occurs when members of a congregation start to age; in an attempt to stay relevant they receive new members by applying the wrong criteria.
"Some congregations do experiment with 'artificial insemination.' 'What do they do? They receive. They say, 'Yes, come, come.' And then there are problems from within. It must be received seriously.”
After analyzing these challenges, Pope Francis thanked them for their commitment and dedication with some tender words.
"I want to emphasize to the consecrated religious ...What would the Church be like without nuns?"
Before ending the meeting, the Pope asked God to send more vocations to religious orders. As usual, he asked them not to forget to pray for him.