On Friday, February 2, when the Church celebrated the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the sanctuary and celebrated the 28th day of consecrated life, the Pope led the celebration of the Eucharist in St. Peter’s Basilica. About 5,500 believers took part in them. Among them were also several consecrated persons from Latvia. Francis called on those present to cultivate their inner life more and not to adapt to the world’s style.
Jānis Evertovskis – Vatican
Since 1996, the Church has celebrated the consecrated or people’s day dedicated to God every year on February 2. It is the 40th day after the Nativity of Christ. In this way, the ancient Jewish tradition is recalled, according to which a mother who gave birth to a son had to perform a purification ritual on the 40th day after birth. This ritual performed by Joseph and Mary is described in the Gospel of Luke. It talks about two pious old men – Simeon and Anna, who were waiting for the coming of the Messiah. It is said about Anna that she did not leave the sanctuary, where she “served the Lord day and night in fasting and prayer.” On the other hand, the author of the Gospel says about Simeon that he was “a just and pious man who looked forward to pleasing Israel”.
In his homily, the Pope called attention to their hopeful expectations, as their hearts remained awake like an ever-burning torch. Disappointed at times, however, they never gave in to discouragement and “retired hope”. Simeon and Anna’s wait was rewarded.
The Holy Father pointed out that waiting for God is important because the Lord visits us every day. He exhorts us not to fall into the “quietness of the spirit,” which leads to many dangers: to the sleep of the heart, to the anesthesia of the soul, to the sinking of hope into the dark corners of disappointment and resignation.
Addressing especially the consecrated people, the Pope asked if they are able to live in accordance with God’s expectations, and admitted that this ability can also be lost. For example, focusing on charity. Are we not too engrossed in our good works, risking turning the religious and Christian life into “I have a lot to do” and neglecting our daily encounter with the Lord? – asked Francis. He pointed out the two biggest obstacles in the path of waiting for the Lord: negligence in one’s spiritual life and conforming to the style of the world.
Negligence regarding one’s inner life can be introduced due to habit, fatigue or various negative experiences, as a result of which a person can become bitter and annoyed – the Holy Father explained. The risk of living with disappointment also exists in religious communities, and bitter people with darkened faces make the general atmosphere heavy. Instead, he called for the rediscovery of lost grace through adoration and prayer, reawakening within us a longing for God.
The second obstacle in the path of waiting for God is adapting to the world’s style at the expense of the Gospel, the Pope pointed out. He expressed his concern that in a world that celebrates “everything and at once,” that is obsessed with activism and tries at all costs to drive away the fears and anxieties of life in pagan temples of consumption or entertainment, it is impossible to slow down and make room for God’s action in a person’s life. Francis called for abandoning reckless adaptation to the world’s style: “So let’s take care that the spirit of the world does not enter our religious communities, the life of the Church and the path of individuals. Far from modern society’s assumptions that success lies in running, waiting matured in prayer and daily devotion frees us from the myth of efficiency”.
Quoting the words of the French mystic and philosopher Simon Weil, the Pope emphasized: “Longing for God and renouncing everything else – only in Him there is salvation.” Francis invited those present to open themselves to the “God of novelty”. This step is not easy, because it is difficult for a person to resist the pull of everything old. Will this newness really come into our lives, or will we rather try to put the old and the new together, trying to make the presence of God’s newness disturb us as little as possible? – asked the Pope.
Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica