Pope to religious: The devil insists on our want. Give it to God

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St. Peter's Basilica goes completely dark on two occasions each year. One is the Easter Vigil. The other is this feast, the Day for Consecrated Life, which the Church celebrates together with the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the purification of Mary.

This suggestive procession began in the atrium of the basilica. The choir sang the words of God's praise spoken by Simeon upon seeing the infant Jesus: “A light for revelation to the gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” It's a way to symbolize that religious men and women are a light for the world.

The pope was very direct in his homily. He said in religious life, personal achievements don't matter, and neither does a lack of them, which he said can lead to discouragement. He says what counts is the amount of space allowed for God in one's soul.

The tempter, the devil, focuses on our “want,” our empty hands: “In all these years you haven’t gotten any better, you haven’t achieved what you could have, they haven’t let you do what you were meant to do, you haven’t always been faithful, you are not capable....” Thus we risk losing our bearings, the gratuitous love of God.

Pope Francis said what counts in religious life is a personal relationship with God's love. It is a relationship which requires one's own weaknesses in order to accept forgiveness and feel loved.

I think it was Saint Jerome who offered much to the Lord, and the Lord asked him for more. He said to the Lord, “But Lord, I have given you everything, everything, what else is lacking?” “Your sins, your want, offer me your want.” When we keep our gaze fixed on Him, we open ourselves to His forgiveness that renews us, and we are reassured by His faithfulness. We can ask ourselves today, “To whom do I turn my gaze: to the Lord, or to myself?”

At the celebration were many different religious congregations. A Dominican and a Franciscan were in charge of the readings. A Benedictine and a Carmelite, among others, could be seen during the offertory. Pope Francis wore Paul VI's vestments. Among those present were the prefect and the secretary of the Congregation for Religious Life, Brazilian João Braz de Aviz and Spaniard José Rodriguez Carballo.

Javier Romero
Translation: Claudia Torres

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