Pope Francis with members of the Canons Regular of the Lateran Pope Francis with members of the Canons Regular of the Lateran  (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

Pope Francis meets with the Canons Regular of the Lateran

Pope Francis meets with the Canons Regular of the Lateran celebrating the bicentenary of their foundation. He recommends they follow "four stars" in their apostolate: prayer, community, sharing everything in common, and service to the Church.

By Salvatore Cernuzio

Pope Francis offered four recommendations to the Canons Regular of the Lateran in his audience with them on Monday 19 June at the Vatican, noting they are also helpful for every religious congregation. First, he underscored the importance of "prayer" as "oxygen" for the soul and a help not to fall into selfishness and self-referentiality. Then he mentioned "community," being "brothers" and avoiding at all times the "scourge" of gossip. Third, he explained how "common use of goods", sharing all in community is a "wise" practice, while watching out against the devil who "always enters one's pockets". Finally, he encouraged the "spirit of service to the Church", rather than just living for oneself. 

Prayer, community, the sharing of goods, and service represent four continuing aspects of the history of the Canons Regular as they celebrate 200 years since their foundation, the Pope underscored, "four stars that never wane and ones that make your apostolate luminous and relevant."

Historic roots

With a centuries-old legacy dating back to the 15th century with the merger of two communities - the Canons Regular of the Most Holy Saviour and that of the Canons Regular of the Lateran - the Congregation has its roots in the early times of the Church and promoting the common life of priests. Calling this a "very great grace" the Pope praised their origins going back to the early Christian communities centred on prayer, communion of life and the communal sharing of goods.

The Pope described how their charism encourages them to be contemplative and active at the same time, both dedicated to prayer and study as well as to ministry, ready to respond to the needs of the changing times.

Importance of prayer

Apart from the challenges of the past when the Congregation made "courageous choices," there are those of the present, the Pope went on to say. "Now you are asking yourselves how to continue with the renewal of your religious life," the Pope noted, recommending they let "four stars" guide them. First among them is "prayer" because if you do not pray, he warned you become "your own god" and "all selfishness arises from a lack of prayer." How many hours a day do you pray, he asked them. 

Scourge of gossip

The Pope then spoke about "community", and to be brothers he said we must "never gossip about each other, never" as it is scourge and destroys communities. The Pope then offered them a book on the subject by Archbishop Fortunatus Nwuachukwu, the new secretary of the Dicastery for Evangelisation. 

He also warned about how money can destroy communion, as "the devil enters through pockets." The sharing of goods in community is wise on the other hand, the third "star." 

Always of service

In conclusion, the fourth "star" the Pope highlighted is "the spirit of service to the Church" recalling how the very title of the Canons Regular recalls the importance of service. He noted how their link with the Lateran Basilica reflects their "invitation to fidelity to the Church to be witnessed especially through service."

Openness of heart

Addressing in particular the younger priests from various parts of the world who are having an experience in the congregation over recent months, he encouraged them to "live this opportunity as a gift, one of listening to each other and seeing each person as a richness for each other." Be sincere with an openness of heart, "this I wish you with all my heart, going forward."

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19 June 2023, 14:31