CISA – Nairobi, Kenya.
Archbishop van Megen Annual General was speaking at a Kenyan Religious Superiors’ Conference meeting (RSCK) held at the Passionists Retreat Centre in Karen, Nairobi.
“Dear brothers and sisters, we did not deserve religious life; it is a gift of love that we have received. We were not called to religious life because of our many gifts and merits. Let's be honest, some of us would have a hard time surviving in the society today,” opined Archbishop van Megen.
Seeing what really matters
“Religious life is this vision. It means seeing what really matters in life. It means welcoming the Lord’s gift with open arms. The consecrated person is one who every day looks at himself or herself and says: "Everything is a gift, all is grace," he added.
The Apostolic Nuncio observed that recognising Christ in their daily work, prayer and relationship is not easy, “There is a temptation that looms over religious life seeing things in a worldly way. This entails no longer seeing God’s grace as the driving force in life, then going off in search of something to substitute for it; a bit of fame, a consoling affection, finally getting to do what I want.”
Without God’s grace religious life becomes stagnant
Archbishop van Megen posited that when a consecrated life no longer revolves around the grace of God, then it turns upon itself.
“It loses its passion, it grows slack, becomes stagnant. And we know what happens then: We start to demand our own space, our own rights, we let ourselves get dragged into gossip and slander, we take offence at every small thing that does not go our way, and we pour forth litanies of lamentation-lamentation- about our brothers, our sisters, our communities, the Church, society," he said.
Gaze upon the world with compassion
Archbishop van Megen, however, implored the religious to imitate Jesus and turn their gaze into the world, a gaze of compassion, a gaze that goes in search of those at the peripheries; a gaze that does not condemn, but encourages, frees, and consoles.
“The gaze of consecrated men and women can only be one of hope. Knowing how to hope. Looking around, it is easy to lose hope; things that don’t work, the decline in vocations, the enormous scandal of abuse. There is always a temptation to have a worldly gaze, one devoid of hope. Here is the secret: never to alienate oneself from the Lord, who is the source of hope,” counselled the Nuncio.