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The consecrated life which I believe is the future for Europe

09/12/2010: General House

The Minister General of the Franciscan Order, Fra José Rodríguez Carballo, in his talk: “Consecrated Life in Europe: commitment to evangelical prophecy”, given during the 76th Six-monthly Assembly of the Union of Superiors General (USG), held in Rome from 24 to 26 November 2010 (read about it), concludes his presentation with a credo and a dreamy, which we report as follows. Below, in the form of a Decalogue, are my convictions about the future of consecrated life in Europe. 1. I believe in a European consecrated life that, living its own fragility with boldness, beginning from an initial situation of shortage, chaos, and emptiness, from a situation of not-knowing and not-being-able, allows itself to be modeled by the Lord who, with the patience of a craftsman, transforms it in his image and likeness and infuses into it his breath of life. A consecrated life willing to be born again (cf. Jn 3,3). A consecrated life that reviews its life-plan from its foundations of clay and total poverty. 2. I believe in a European consecrated life possessed by the Absoluteness of God and passionate for justice; a consecrated life that frequents and creates spiritual oases, sacred spaces of the infinite, capable of forming masters of the spirit and conveying the beauty of following Jesus Christ, obedient, poor, and chaste, without ceasing to be an expert in humanity, actively engaged, lovingly and profoundly compassionate and merciful towards those who lie half-dead along the way. A consecrated life that is lived out unconditionally for Him, that allows itself to be transformed into a visible and radiant sign for a frail and weak humanity that stumbles along, lacerated by bandits who leave her gravely wounded on the side of the road (cf. Lk 10, 30ss). A consecrated life animated by the passion of the Samaritan woman and the compassion of the Samaritan man. 3. I believe in a European consecrated life that allows itself to be drawn out of the desert of superficiality and sterile intellectualism, from the deceitful waters of banality and the desire to justify oneself. A consecrated life that lets itself be led towards depth and authenticity, placing itself existentially in an attitude of conversion and in the logic of what is essential, original, gratuitous, of the charismatic and prophetic life. A consecrated life that has the courage to place itself in the flow of the Spirit, to taste life in abundance. 4. I believe in a European consecrated life that is credible by what it lives, meaningful by the Gospel quality of its life and mission, a visible memory of the way Jesus lived and acted. A consecrated life which recaptures the Gospel as its life and rule – the supreme norm, according to the Council - and which starts afresh from it without domesticating its most radical demands in order to accommodate them to a comfortable style of life. A consecrated life which seeks in the Gospel its youthful vitality, its wisdom ever new, its freshness and deepest newness, of which it has need. A consecrated life capable of acknowledging the thirst it has and of getting on the path towards the well from which flows the living water (cf. Jn 3, 37- 39). 5. I believe in a European consecrated life which, by letting itself be seduced by inhuman cloisters, takes the side of fragility and vulnerability as the essence of its identity and a consequence of its faith in the Incarnation of the Word. A consecrated life that lives by the hope that comes from the Lord, the only One able to renew its vigor (cf. Is 40, 3031), and therefore that sows hope in the hearts of all those who had reasons for losing it, seeing itself as a humble and simple sign of a star that still shines in the middle of the night of peoples’ lives. 6. I believe in a multi-cultural and inculturated European consecrated life which, through the logic of gift, is able to cross all kinds of anthropological and geographical frontiers, and which, through faith in God, Three and One, is capable of creating bridges on which to meet with what is other and what is different, and to be the architect of dialogue through an option and style of life. A consecrated life that sees diversity as a richness and not a threat and that takes it up joyfully as an epiphany of God who makes all things new. A consecrated life that, through a profound spirituality of communion, is a place of communion, forgiveness, and reconciliation. A consecrated life that asks and gives recognition far beyond any fundamentalism. 7. I believe in a European consecrated life that, out of faithfulness to its deepest identity and its rich history, is open with hope to the future toward which the Holy Spirit is leading us (cf. Vita Consecrata 110), making itself present in the world today, living it with passion and in a stance of adventus, experiencing in this way the presence and coming of the Lord (cf. NMI 1). 8. I believe in a European consecrated life with a vision of the future, an imagination and creativity based on the Gospel, that is capable of opening hitherto unheard of presences of witness, putting itself in the vanguard of evangelization as salt of the earth, light of the world, and yeast in the dough, proclaiming Christ those who are near and those who are far away, out of what it has heard and seen (cf. 1Jn 1, 3), introducing men and women into the mystery of the love of God. A religious life that, after quenching its thirst like the Samaritan woman in the spring that forever quenches thirst, becomes a message in itself. 9. I believe in a European consecrated life that is on its way towards a better understanding of the demands of its vocation and mission, in search of wells and paths, and in constant discernment. A consecrated life that is a mendicant of meaning, in profound communion with the men and women of our time, aware that its mission is allowing itself to be burned, so as to diffuse light, and passion for holiness and humanity. A consecrated life that is committed to transparency and credibility, that adopts attitudes of sincere humility, listening, docility, poverty, and a sense urgency to rekindle the fire of the heart and diffuse the charity of Christ. 10. I believe in a European consecrated life that does not allow itself to be shut within borders created by the prevailing ideologies but which remains capable of presenting a counter-cultural project founded on a deep and solid experience of God in the radicalness of the discipleship of Christ, centered on Him who is All, concentrated on the essential elements of the charism of the Founders/Foundresses, de-centered in such a way that it is on the road to meet with the men and women of our times. A counter-cultural project that snatches consecrated life from the terrible nihilism which, even though it smiles, never ceases to be tremendously dangerous, and from a psychic economy that focuses solely on wellbeing and fosters a culture of relativism. If to dream about life is to give it a future, then allow me to dream:- I dream of a European consecrated life that takes up the call to minority, as much from the personal viewpoint as the institutional. - I dream of a European consecrated life that takes its stand on quality rather than quantity.- I dream of a European consecrated life that opts for a mission to be yeast, ferment, prophecy, and sign, watchmen on the wall, trumpets at dawn, sentry at night, and a lighthouse in the distance.- I dream of a consecrated life in Europe that favors symbol over efficacy. - I dream of a consecrated life in Europe which gives more importance to deep renewal than to survival; to re-founding people than to re-founding structures. - I dream of a consecrated life in Europe that is closer to Jesus and closer to humankind, especially those who are the least; a consecrated life that is passionate for Christ and passionate for humanity.

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