«We are faced with a new call of the Holy Spirit»

Let us prepare for prayer for consecrated life
by meditating on the message sent on January 18 by the Congregation
for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

From the Vatican, January 18, 2021

Prot. n. Sp.R. 2559/21

To all consecrated men and women

We reach you on the eve of a day dear to all of us, consecrated men and women, because it is dedicated to our wonderful vocation that in different ways makes God’s love for man, woman and the entire universe shine forth. Next February 2, we will celebrate the XXV Day of Consecrated Life. In St. Peter’s Basilica, at 5:30 p.m., Pope Francis will preside over a Eucharistic Celebration, stripped of the joyful signs and faces that illuminated it in previous years, yet always an expression of the fruitful gratitude that characterizes our lives.

To all consecrated men and women

With this letter we wish to lighten the physical distance that the pandemic has imposed on us for so many months and to express to each and every one of you and to every single community our closeness and that of those who work in this Dicastery. For months we have been following the news coming from the communities of the various nations: they speak of bewilderment, of contagions, of deaths, of human and economic difficulties, of diminishing institutes, of fears… but they also speak of fidelity tested by suffering, of courage, of serene witness even in pain or uncertainty, of sharing every affliction and every wound, of care and closeness to the least, of charity and service at the cost of one’s life (cf. Fratelli Tutti, ch. II).

We cannot pronounce all your names, but on each and every one of you we ask the Lord’s blessing that you may be able to move from “I” to “we,” aware “that we are in the same boat, all fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and necessary, all called to row together” (Pope Francis, Extraordinary Moment of Prayer, Friday, March 27, 2020). Be the Samaritans of these days, overcoming the temptation to retreat and cry on oneself, or to close one’s eyes before the pain, the suffering, the poverty of so many men and women, of so many peoples.

In the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis invites us to act together, to revive in everyone “a worldwide aspiration for fraternity” (no. 8), to dream together (no. 9) so that “in the face of various current ways of eliminating or ignoring others, we are able to react with a new dream of fraternity and social friendship…” (n. 6).

Consecrated men and women in religious, monastic, contemplative, secular and new institutes, members of the ordo virginum, hermits, members of societies of apostolic life, we ask all of you to place this Encyclical at the center of your life, formation and mission. From now on we cannot ignore this truth: we are all brothers and sisters, as we pray, perhaps not so consciously, in the Our Father, because “without an openness to the Father of all, there can be no solid and stable reasons for the call to fraternity” (n. 272).

This Encyclical, written in a historical moment that Pope Francis himself has called “the hour of truth,” is a precious gift for every form of consecrated life that, without hiding the many wounds to fraternity, can find in it the roots of prophecy.

We are faced with a new call of the Holy Spirit. Just as St. John Paul II, in light of the doctrine on the Church-communion, had urged consecrated persons to “be truly experts in communion and to practice its spirituality” (Vita consecrata, no. 46), Pope Francis, drawing inspiration from St. Francis, founder and inspirer of so many institutes of consecrated life, broadens the horizon and invites us to be architects of universal brotherhood, custodians of the common home: of the earth and of every creature (cf. Encyclical Laudato si’). Brothers and sisters of all, regardless of the faith, cultures and traditions of each, because the future is not “monochromatic” (FT n. 100) and the world is like a polyhedron that lets its beauty shine through its different faces.

It is a question, then, of creating ways of accompagnying, transforming and creating; it is about elaborating projects to promote the culture of encounter and dialogue between different peoples and generations; starting from one’s own vocational community and then reaching every corner of the earth and every creature, because, never as in this time of pandemic, have we experienced that everything is connected, everything is related, everything is connected (cf. Encyclical Laudato si’).

“Let us dream as one humanity, as wayfarers made of the same human flesh, as children of this same earth that houses us all, each with the richness of his faith or convictions, each with his own voice, all brothers!” (FT n. 8). So, in the horizon of this dream that is delivered to our hands, to our passion, to our perseverance, next February 2 will be also this year a beautiful feast in which to praise and thank the Lord for the gift of our vocation and mission!

To Mary, our Mother, Mother of the Church, faithful woman, and to Saint Joseph, her spouse, we entrust each and every one of you in this year dedicated to Him. May a living and loving faith, a certain and joyful hope, a humble and active charity be strengthened in you.

From the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, our merciful God, we implore a blessing on each and every one of you.

João Braz Cardinal de Aviz Prefect

José Rodríguez Carballo, O.F.M. Archbishop Secretary