On the 1st of November, which is the feast of All Saints, the Holy Father Pope Francis issued a “MOTU PROPRIO” (which simply means a document issued by the Holy Father on his own initiative) addressing canon 579 and the role of Diocesan Bishops on the modality for discerning and founding institutes of consecrated life and new societies of Apostolic life. While encouraging a spirit of thanksgiving to the Holy Spirit himself who inspires and awakens these gifts, he highlighted the importance of these societies be first and foremost prepared and equipped to be useful to the entire community. He pointed out that it is a sure sign of authenticity of any society of consecrated life lies in in its ability to be “integrated harmoniously into the life of God’s holy people for the good of all”. It is clear to me that the Holy Father was pointing to something which sadly occurs sometimes in the life of some societies of consecrated life wherein, its existence becomes suspect of an attempt to destroy the ecclesial nature of the Church and its members for the most part feel isolated and so act in ways that are for the most part marginal.
I thought as I was reading this initiative of the Holy Father, that it can serve as well another purpose: an aid to finding our way back to an authentic proclamation of the gospel given the that it seems we are in a competition as to who possesses a superior knowledge in all matters. I am afraid that more than ever, conversations have become increasingly difficult, if not impossible. We are easily ticked-off, constantly aggrieved, ready for a withdrawal and quick to get combative. I think a desire to work against something is now more ever the case than to work on something. How I wish we can do more of the latter.
As a people of faith, I think we need to keep at the back of our minds those qualities of the early church, (a community that lived in one accord. Acts 2:1) that brought her the admiration of the world around them and added to the number of believers. I think, like I had written previously in other messages, that there are a lot of ways we could allow for the light of our faith to highlight the essential values we need in order to live through every time, good or bad. If we bring into play the teachings of our faith in the way we see and engage with the world around us, we will help in a great measure to minimize this disorderly illness of disaffection, discontent, and disagreement.
Fr. Louis Chijioke