An Invitation to the Contemplative Life
An apostolic exhortation to prayer and the contemplative life:
Dear Brothers and Sisters;
As we were finishing up our Easter celebration yesterday, I had an epiphany of sorts. The Lord placed on my heart a heart-felt pang of love and concern for our youth. Without effectively encouraging the next generation to grow in the love of our Lord, these will be no next generation to pass on our legacy.
It is a sad fact that many of those who were baptized or confirmed during our Triduum celebrations will fall away from the faith, due to several factors:
- Lack of proper follow up catechesis,
- poor parental modeling,
- peer pressure,
- declining cultural morality, and finally,
- poor modeling on the part of the clergy on the importance of an internal life of prayer.
The contemplative life should be the central focus in the life of the Church. All the men and women of faith should follow Christ in the contemplative life — at least on some level. In this focus we become a people who are continually seeking the face of God, and are actively participating in the Church’s mission as her praying heart.
Without a concerted effort to prayer we have no effective communication with God. We also loose a sense of awe and wonder in the sacramental life of the Church. In may ways without this open line of communication with the divine, we are simply going through rote motions.
Think about it, what would become of the weaker members of the of our Church, who don’t find in you, a prayerful support to continue the journey? In my opinion, the decline of the Church in our age can be intrinsically linked to a decline in personal prayer life of our clergy — bishops included.
We are finding that a church without a focus on the internal life becomes devoid of the beacons that signal to the presence of Christ in our midst. Without internalized, contemplative prayer, many are lost on the high seas, without the torches that illuminate the darkness we are going through, without the sentinels announcing the new day when it is still night?
To my brother bishops, I encourage you you to take this as a serious challenge for the spiritual formation of those in our care. Catholic spirituality, which, as you well know, consists of a path of gradual identification with the attitude of Christ towards the Father. This is why, since formation clearly continues throughout a lifetime, it is also necessary to accept with responsibility that it is a slow process, for which it is important not to be hasty. In this context, I also remind you of the importance of discernment and of the spiritual and vocational accompaniment of candidates, without ever allowing oneself to be filled with anxiety over numbers and efficiency as well as the formation of catechists called to provide the service of authority.
In order for your contemplative life to be meaningful for the Church and for today’s world, it is necessary to focus on a formation that is adapted to the needs of the present moment: an integral formation, personalized and well-accompanied. Such formation will nurture and safeguard your creative fidelity to the charism received, both of each of the sisters and of the whole community.
In the above understanding of the need for ongoing catechesis, a dedicated prayer life, I encourage each of you to consider adopting a formal recognition of religious orders. My particular spirituality is focused on the Carmelite tradition. You are welcome to join me in this particular Order. You can find more information regarding Carmelites Spirituality on this website. And, if interested you may contact me for more information about forming a Carmelite Chapter in your own jurisdiction.
I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you with affection and ask you, please, to pray for me.