The Priority Is Intimacy with Christ

On Monday, the Pope received participants in the plenary assembly of the International Union of Superiors General, a body that represents 794 families of female religious on five continents. The plenary is being held over these days and has as its theme: "Challenged to weave a new spirituality which generates hope and life for all."

The Holy Father indicated how all superiors general must "animate and promote a mystical and prophetic form of consecrated life, one strongly committed to realizing the Kingdom of God. These are the 'strings' with which the Lord moves you to 'weave' today the living fabric of a productive service to the Church and an eloquent evangelical testimony that is 'ever old and ever new' because it remains faithful to the radical nature of the Gospel and is courageously incarnated in contemporary life, especially where the greatest human and spiritual poverty exists."

"Only from this union with God," the Holy Father said, "does the 'prophetic' role of your mission arise and find nourishment," a mission "that consists in announcing the kingdom of heaven, so indispensable for all times and all societies."

Benedict XVI encouraged the religious not to give in "to the temptation to abandon your intimacy with your celestial Spouse, letting yourselves be excessively drawn by the interests and problems of daily life. The Founders of your institutes managed to become 'prophetic pioneers' in the Church because, following Jesus' example, they strove to communicate with concrete words and gestures the love of God through total giving of self, always maintaining their gaze and hearts fixed upon Him."

"May your primary concern be to help your consoeurs to seek Christ and to put themselves generously at the service of the Gospel. Do not lose heart and dedicate every possible effort to the human, cultural and spiritual formation of the people entrusted to your care, that they may be capable of responding to modern cultural and social challenges. Be the first to set the example in shunning comforts, luxuries and convenience to accomplish your mission."

The Holy Father also called upon the religious "to share the wealth of your charisms with those who are committed to the one mission of the Church, which is to build the Kingdom. To this end, establish serene and cordial collaboration with priests, the lay faithful and especially families, in order to meet the suffering, needs, material poverty, and above all the spiritual poverty of so many of our contemporaries. Cultivate, moreover, sincere communion and close collaboration with bishops, who are primarily responsible for evangelization in the particular Churches."

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