Pope Francis' Powerful Message to Monks & Seminarians (Part 2 of 3)
Vatican City, July 10, 2013
Here is a translation of Pope Francis’ address
to the participants of the meeting on Saturday with seminarians, novices and
young people on their vocation path who took part in the Year of Faith
pilgrimage entitled “I Trust in You”.
However, I don’t want to embarrass this holy
nun [he turns to an elderly nun in the front row] who was behind the barrier,
poor thing, she was in fact suffocated, but she had a happy face. It did me
good to look at your face, Sister! Perhaps you have many years of consecrated
life, but you have beautiful eyes, you smiled, you didn’t complain about the
pressure. When you find examples such as this, many, so many nuns, so many
priests who are joyful, it’s because they are fruitful, they give life, life,
life. They give this life because they find it in Jesus! In the joy of Jesus!
Joy, not sadness, pastoral fruitfulness.
To be joyful witnesses of the Gospel we must be
genuine, coherent. And this is another word I wish to say to you: authenticity.
Jesus so castigated hypocrites: hypocrites, those who think low;
Those who have – to say it clearly, a double
face. It doesn’t cost to speak to young people of authenticity, because young
people – all of them – have the desire to be authentic, to be coherent. And it
makes all of you ill, when you see in us priests who aren’t authentic and nuns
who aren’t authentic!
This is, first of all, a responsibility of
adults, of formators. It is up to you, formators here present to give an
example of coherence to the younger ones. Do we want coherent young people?
Let’s us be coherent! Otherwise, the Lord will say to us what he said of the
Pharisees to the people of God: “Do what they say, but not what they do!”
Coherence and authenticity!
However, you also, in turn, must seek to follow
this way. I always say what Saint Francis of Assisi affirmed: Christ has
invited us to proclaim the Gospel also with the word. The phrase goes like
this: “Proclaim the Gospel always, and, if necessary, with words.” What does
this mean? It means to proclaim the Gospel with the authenticity of life, with
the coherence of life. However, in this world in which riches do so much evil,
it’s necessary that we priests, that we nuns, that all of us be coherent with
our poverty! However, when you find that the first concern of an educational,
or parochial or any institution is money, this doesn’t do good. It doesn’t do
good! It’s incoherent! We must be coherent, authentic. On this path, we do what
Saint Francis said: we preach the Gospel with our example, then with words! But
first of all is our life in which others must be able to read the Gospel! Here,
too, without fear, with our defects which we try to correct, with our
limitations which the Lord knows, but also with our generosity in allowing Him
to act in us. With our defects, our limitations and – I add something more – with
our sins … I would like to know something: is there someone here in this
Room who isn’t a sinner, who has no sins? Let him raise his hand! Let him raise
his hand! Nobody. Nobody. From here right down to the end … all! But how do I
carry my sin, my sins? I want give you this counsel: be transparent with your
confessor, always. Tell him everything; don’t be afraid. “Father, I have
sinned!” Think of the Samaritan woman, who to prove, to tell her fellow
citizens that she had found the Messiah, said: “He told me everything I’ve
done,” and everyone knew this woman’s life. Always tell the truth to your
confessor. This transparency will do you good, because it makes one humble, all
of us. “But Father, I have continued in this, I’ve done this, I’ve hated” -- no
matter what it is. Tell the truth, without concealing, without half words,
because you are talking to Jesus in the person of the confessor. And Jesus
knows the truth. He alone always forgives you! However, the Lord only wants you
to tell him what He already knows. Transparency! It’s sad when one finds a
seminarian, a nun who today confesses with this priest to clean the stain;
tomorrow goes to another, to another, to another: a pilgrimage to
confessors to conceal her truth. Transparency! It’s Jesus who is listening to
you. Always have this transparency before Jesus in the confessor! However, this
is a grace. Father, I have sinned,
I’ve done this, this, this … with all the
words. And the Lord embraces you, kisses you! Go, and sin no more! And if you
fall once again? I say this from experience. I have found so many consecrated
persons who fall into this hypocritical trap of lack of transparency. “I’ve
done this,” humbly, as that publican who was at the back of the Temple: “I’ve
done this, I’ve done this…” And the Lord covers your mouth: He it is who covers
it.” But don’t you do so! Have you understood? From sin itself grace abounds!
Open the door to grace, with this transparency!
The saints and the masters of the spiritual
life tell us that the daily practice of the examination of conscience is very
useful, even indispensable, to help us grow in authenticity in our life. What
is happening in my soul? Thus, we must be open with the Lord and then with our
confessor, with our spiritual Father. This is so important!
Until what time, Archbishop Fisichella, have we
[Archbishop Fisichella: If you speak like this,
we will be here until tomorrow, absolutely].
You say until tomorrow. Let’s bring a sandwich
and a Coca Cola for each one if it’s until tomorrow, at least ….
For our witness to be credible, coherence is
essential. But it’s not enough. We also need cultural preparation, I stress
cultural preparation, to give the reason for our faith and our hope. The
context in which we live calls constantly for this “giving reason,” and it’s
something good, because it helps us to take nothing for granted. Today we can
take nothing for granted! This civilization, this culture … we can’t.
However, it’s also certainly timely; it requires good, balanced formation
that unites all the dimensions of life, the human, the spiritual, the
intellectual dimension with the pastoral. There are four fundamental pillars in
your formation: spiritual formation, that is, the spiritual life; the
intellectual life, studying to “give reason”; the apostolic life, to begin to
go out to proclaim the Gospel; and fourth, community life. Four. And for the
latter it’s necessary that the formation be in community in the novitiate, in
the priory, in the seminaries … I always think this: the worst seminary is
better than no seminary! Why? Because community life is necessary. Remember the
four pillars: spiritual life, intellectual life, apostolic life, and communal
life. These four, you should build your vocation on these four.