Pope Francis met on Friday with men and women religious attending an international conference organized by the Congregation for Consecrated Life. Putting aside his prepared text, the Pope spoke about the need to discern the guidance of the Holy Spirit for religious life today.
Noting that the spirit is both the “author of diversity” and the “creator of unity” in the Body of Christ, Pope Francis spoke about what he called the three ‘P’s of religious life: prayer, poverty and patience.
Prayer, he said, means always returning to Him, who first called us to leave everything and follow Him. This radical commitment, the Pope insisted, means leaving behind families, careers and everything that we hold dear. The Pope pointed to Mother Teresa as an example of a consecrated women who always spent time with the Lord in prayer, despite the many problems and challenges she faced.
Secondly, Pope Francis spoke of poverty, without which there is no fruitfulness in religious life. The devil enters our lives via our pockets, he said, and the spirit of poverty preserves us from the worldliness that leads to vanity and pride.
Finally, Pope Francis spoke of the importance of patience to face the suffering and difficulties of our world, including the lack of vocations to religious life. Without patience, he said, we grow tired and close our hearts to God’s grace in a kind of spiritual euthanasia. The Pope recalled how God urged Abraham and his wife Sarah to be patient, even in their old age. In the same way, he said, through patience, poverty and prayer, God will bring fruitfulness in our personal and community lives.