By Deborah Castellano Lubov
Place Christ at the center of your life and mission, and witness the love of God in all you do.
This was the recommendation Pope Francis gave to the Primatial Council of the Confederation Canons Regular of Saint Augustine on Friday morning in the Vatican.
The Confederation was established in 1959 by Pope St. John XXIII.
In his address, the Pope recalled that consecrated life is like water, “if it does not flow, it stagnates,” and like salt, “if it loses its flavour, it becomes useless.” He also warned against isolation and self-referentiality, and encouraged religious to always work together and help each other.
While encouraging them to value the past, he called on them “to live the present fully and without fear, in order to open up to the future with renewed hope.”
The Holy Father told the Augustinians they have a great history to build upon, and that the Holy Spirit will empower them to do great things.
Christ lives in me
The fundamental rule of religious life, the Pope said, is the following of Christ proposed by the Gospel.
“Let the Gospel be your vademecum,” the Pope exhorted, “so that, while staying away from the temptation to reduce it to ideology, it always remains spirit and life for you.”
Our first love is Christ
The Gospel, he continued, constantly reminds us to place Christ at the centre of our life and mission.
“It brings us back to the ‘first love’. And loving Christ means loving the Church, His body.”
Therefore, as Canons Regular, the Holy Father urged, their “main occupation” should be “the constant and daily search for the Lord.”
All the ways to seek the Lord
The Pope went on to suggest several ways they can seek the Lord, including in community life, and in the assiduous reading of Sacred Scripture, “in whose pages Christ and the Church resound.”
He also invited the Augustinians to seek Him in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, “the summit of Christian life,” as well as in study, and in ordinary pastoral work.
“Seek the Lord also in the realities of our time, knowing that nothing human can be foreign to us and that, free from all worldliness, we can animate the world with the leaven of the Kingdom of God.”
The Lord illuminates
These are the different paths of a single quest, which presupposes the path of interiority, knowledge and love of the Lord.
The Pope exhorted them to remember St. Augustine’s words in order to enter into themselves and discover the truth lying within.
In this way, the Holy Father said, the light of the inner Master illuminates for us temporal realities.
The Holy Father prayed that this time of encounter among them and with the Successor of Peter might help the Augustinians to revisit their charism and grow closer within their community, and first and foremost, with God.
In conclusion, Pope Francis thanked them for their witness and presence in the Church.
“May Our Lady keep you and intercede for you. I bless you and your communities from my heart.”