‘Where there are Religious there is Joy’

10287021_751056248279048_2085812620256406001_o‘Where there are Religious there is Joy’. Reflections on Consecrated Life Taken from Witnesses 5/2015

Men in their conduct look for a reason to be happy. For men and women religious the reason for their happiness should be their faithfulness to love for God which is translated into service to their brothers and sisters. It is in God that they rediscover their real well-being so that their vocation can become joy for other people.

A short time ago some young Belgians interviewed Pope Francis and asked him a very direct question: ‘Are you happy? And why?’

Absolutely, absolutely, I am happy! And I am happy because…I don’t know why…perhaps because I have a job, I am not unemployed, I have a job, a job as a pastor! I am happy because I found my path in life and going down this path makes me happy. It is a calm happiness, because at this age you do not have the same happiness as a young person, there is a difference. A certain interior peace. a great peace, a happiness that also comes with age. And also with a journey that has always had problems; there are problems now as well, but this happiness does not go away with the problems: you see the problems, you suffer and then you go on: you do something to solve them and you go on’.

These observations of the Pope offer many points from which to begin to reflect upon the meaning of a happy life, but it is not easy to achieve such a life. For this reason it is important to rediscover its meaning during the process of growth of a person, in order to live life day after day in one’s own practical choices.

If the ultimate objective of every vocation is deep communion with God, a yearning to fulfil one’s vocation in a happy way leads us to face up to the deepest meaning of our existences which are understood as a gift for other people.

     A human being does not HAVE a vocation, he or she IS essentially a vocation: it is a constituent element of his or her existence. A human being is called to be and to mature the gift of life; he or she is invited to go out of himself or herself in order to achieve encounter with the other and take part in an active way in the creation of a new world.

There is no vocational happiness that does not generate a new solidarity and a new way of being together in order to make the love of God visible in coexistence with other people.

10940492_792046030860414_8773285047378517144_n   This educational journey does not end in a relational wellbeing which one uses as one wishes, perhaps made up of illusory likes or false courtesies. It is, instead, active and industrious co-participation in the creation of God, with whom every creature cooperates through this sense of sharing in, and adherence to, the world of the other.

     This is a process of opening that leads the person to project himself or herself outwards rather than folding in on himself or herself or his or her own self-referring needs. In consecrated life as well it is important to aim for a wellbeing that goes beyond things because centred around the love of God and service to one’s brethren.

In his letter to consecrated people Pope Francis gave answers that can become a pathway for our lives: ‘We are called to experience and show that God is able to fill our hearts and make us happy’.

There is an urgent need to rediscover the prophetic character of our own consecrations. Because only the strength of prophecy can shake us from the risk of false happiness that costs little. Today more than ever before consecrated men and women are called not to be satisfied with easy compromises or lives made up of false spiritual labels.

We need to achieve a spirituality of communion made up of love more than fine intentions. As ‘experts in communion’, we expect coexistence to be lived as an opportunity for growth and not as a burden to be borne. As a consequence, ‘criticisms, gossip, envy, jealousy and antagonisms are attitudes that have no right to dwell in our houses’.

Let us expect to be increasingly the visible faces of a Church that goes outwards, capable, that is to say, of going towards those outskirts of existence that require effective and authentic witness. It is certainly much easier and reassuring to close oneself up in one’s own schemata and spiritual certitudes rather than address the uncertainty of encounter with the other, and in a particular way with the poor and the last.

‘I expect that every form of consecrated life asks itself about what God and today’s humanity demand’. It is important to know how to call things into question, asking oneself about the meaning of being consecrated today.

Our consecrated existences should bear witness to love for Christ and we should be glad to adopt the same lifestyle that Christ chose for himself. Only in this way will we learn to live our daily choices with feelings of true joy, glad to implement a life project that goes beyond the satisfaction of a moment but which has as its ultimate objective happiness that is open to the transcendent.


From Testimoni 5/2015