Pope Francis: ‘The Holy People of God Living On the Peripheries of History’

Woman portraying figure in Nativity scene puts lamb around neck of Pope Francis during visit to Rome churchThis morning Pope Francis met with the participants in the national assembly of the Italian Confederation of Major Superiors (CISM).

“Charisms [spiritual gifts],” he said, “are not to be conserved like bottles of distilled water, but to be put to the service of history.”

Below is an excerpt from his presentation:

“Faced with the witness of a brother or a sister who truly lives a religious life, people ask themselves, What is there here? What is it that leads this person beyond a worldly horizon? This is the first issue: helping the body of Christ grow by attraction. Without proselytizing: attraction.

The second point is that radicality, in different forms, is required of every Christian, but in the case of religious persons it assumes the form of prophetic witness. The testimony of an evangelical life is what distinguishes the missionary disciple and in particular those who follow the Lord in consecrated life. And prophetic witness coincides with sanctity. True prophecy is never ideological, it does not oppose the institution: it is institution. Prophecy is institutional, it does not follow fashion, but is always a sign of contradiction according to the Gospel, like Jesus was. Jesus, for example, was a sign of contradiction to the religious authorities of His time: to the heads of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the doctors of the Law, but also to the others, such as the Essenes, Zealots, etc.

“We do not want to fight rearguard battles in defense, but rather to spend ourselves among the people,” to quote the [president of the Italian Major Superiors of Men’s Orders], “certain of the faith that God has always made germinate and grow in His Kingdom.” This is not easy, it is not to be taken for granted; it requires conversion; it requires, first and foremost, prayer and worship; and it means sharing with the holy people of God who live in the peripheries of history. Removing oneself from the center. Every charism, to live and to be fruitful, is required to decentralize, because at the center there is only Jesus Christ. The charism is not to be conserved like a bottle of distilled water, but must instead be made to bear fruit, with courage, placed at the service of current reality, of cultures, of history, as the great missionaries of our institutes teach us.”–Pope Francis, 7 November 2014

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