We invite you to enter into the reflection by The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life entitled “Rejoice!” which is based on the teachings of our Holy Father Pope Francis. What we offer here is an abridged and paraphrased version for quicker reading.
Please pray for all consecrated men and women so we may allow ourselves to be convicted by the necessity of being joy-filled Christians!
Jesus Christ offers us joy. “Joy is the messianic gift par excellence, as Jesus himself promised: …that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete (Jn 15:11; 16:24; 17:13)” (no. 2). This promise of joy was foreshadowed as God led His people through the Old Covenant. The prophet Isaiah exemplifies the proclamation of this hope of joy. Jerusalem as mother is offered as a consoling image of God’s loving care for us. “It is a gentle but true profile of a God who radiates maternal vibrations and deep, contagious emotions. A heartfelt joy (cf. Is 66:14) that comes from God – with maternal face and supportive arm – and radiates through a people who have been crippled” (no. 2).
2) Joy, the beauty of consecration
There is a joy to be found in giving one’s life to God, in being totally dedicated to the self-giving service of God. Pope Francis warns us that we cannot become holy if we are sad. “In the world there is often a lack of joy. We are not called to accomplish epic feats or to proclaim high-sounding words, but to give witness to the joy that arises from the certainty of knowing we are loved, from the confidence that we are saved.” (no. 3). We are called by God to bearers of joy. However, we must pray to be docile to God’s consolations and first learn to experience this joy.
3) Your calling
We are each by name called by Jesus. This is a great joy that God has such a particular concern for each and every one of us. Jesus chooses us (see Jn 15:16). A calling is something always begins with God’s initiative. We must continually step out of ourselves and into God. The Pope “invites us to remain for a long time, on an interior pilgrimage, before the dawn, when, in a warm environment of friendly relationships, the intellect is led to open itself to mystery, the decision is made that it is good to set out to follow the Master who alone has the words of eternal life (cf. Jn 6:68). He invites us to make our whole ‘life a pilgrimage of loving transformation'” (no. 4). We must turn our restlessness into a longing for the God who calls us out of that restlessness into His rest.
4) Found, touched, transformed
Consecrated life is intended as a way to incarnate the Good News in one’s life. In imitation of Jesus, “it is a call to take up his way of life, to adopt his interior attitude, to allow oneself to be invaded by his Spirit, to absorb his surprising logic and hsi scale of values, to share in his risks and his hopes” (no. 5). We must remain in Christ in order to continue to receive life from Christ. It is thus that we are made to be like Christ, alive in us. Jesus, then, gives the impulse to step outside of ourselves to share this life with others. This is “the resltessness of love” (no. 5).
5) Joy, a faithful ‘yes’
“To persevere all the way to Golgotha, to experience the lacerations of doubts and denial, to rejoice in the marvel and wonder of the Paschal event, up to the manifestation of Pentecost and the evangelization of the peoples, these are milestones of joyful fidelity because they are about self-emptying, experienced throughout life, even in the sign of martyrdom, and also sharing in the life of the risen Christ” (no. 6). We must continue to resound our ‘yes’ by commitment to living the faith in every moment of every day, especially in how we make time for prayer and community. We must continually recommit ourselves to God, so that it is renewed with joy and passion. “Love is never finished and complete; throughout life it changes and matures, and thus remains faithful to itself” (no. 6).
For the full document, visit the Vatican website: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccscrlife/documents/rc_con_ccscrlife_doc_2014020