‘In the language of sailors what was done with the help of the wind with open sails was called the first navigation. The second navigation was that engaged in when the wind dropped. The ship was becalmed and to move forward oars had to be used’.
At the present historical time, in which of these two navigations does consecrated life find itself: in the first or the second? I agree with those experts of the sector who have no doubts when giving an answer to this question: in the second navigation. Indeed, there are various factors that have removed or diminished the wind that sustained the fine advance of consecrated life. They have various names: the loss of a compact Christian society; the decrease in vocations; the ageing of religious; and the decline of the scale of values…
To move from the first to the second navigation, the task of moving the ship forward has become more difficult because this is a matter of finding new ways of living eternal ideals. Changing to remain ourselves requires creativity, a capacity for risk, confidence. What should we do?
At a general level, from our Order as well, proposals, documents and numerous projects connected with various sectors of consecrated life continue to bloom…Although I cannot know what results will be produced by these initiatives, it is nonetheless certain that they indicate a wish not to fall into that somnolence to which the gospel refers, and thus I follow them with interest in the hope that they enter men’s hearts and produce that movement of the affections to which St. Ignatius referred and which is needed for change.
And at an individual level? As far as I am concerned, I seek to be and to remain a vir desideriorum, a man of desires, like the prophet Daniel. In the word ‘desire’ there is the term ‘stars’. A desire is a sign of life. Pervaded as it is by waiting for the new, it removes us from immobility and promotes change.
At the summit of my desires I strive to place the authentic and joyous experience of the merciful Christ. How can one ignore that the power of the charism that Camillus left to the Institute that he founded, even before in works and services should shine forth in a newness of life in which the characteristic features of the divine Samaritan, the physician of souls and bodies can be seen? I am convinced that in keeping this desire alive it will be possible for me to understand all those opportunities that life offers me for a journey of human and spiritual growth, making those whom I encounter in the exercise of my ministry benefit from such a journey.
My desire does not rest on nothing but on the fact that I have been wanted and loved, and continue to be wanted by God. Is this not perhaps the message of faith: God loves you, you were not born by accident, you were wanted, you are looked after? In entrusting myself to this resource, my desiring means never stopping loving life, being within it willingly, having projects for myself and for other people, and feeling that I can overcome the obstacles that obstruct this constant conversion to which I am called. It is feeling that the Spirit dwells in me and also allowing him to act in me: the Spirit who blows, who pushes forward, who does new things, who creates and recreates continuously.
I know that this desire dwells – and with an even greater intensity – in the hearts of so many of my religious brothers. This awareness strengthens in me the hope that this time of folding in of itself and lack of breath, which seems to characterise the Church in general, and religious Institutes as well, will be overcome. I am referring here to the hope that leads one to be amidst complexity, to discern good from evil and to rely upon a promise – which was made by Jesus and proposed anew to us by St. Camillus – that will be kept.
In this spirit, I am convinced that this second navigation will draw me and our Order near to that port that bears the sign of a new heaven and a new earth.
Messaggio Papa per Anno Vita Consacrata 2015