VATICAN CITY — The religious-order brothers, sisters and priests and the hermits, monks and consecrated virgins who serve God and the Catholic Church are called to stoke the “missionary fire” in their souls, said Cardinal João Bráz de Aviz.
“To live mission in God’s way as consecrated persons, we need the breath of the Spirit, who oxygenates our consecration, who widens our tent, who does not allow the desire to go out and reach out to others to proclaim the Gospel fade or be eclipsed,” said the cardinal, who is prefect of the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
In a letter preparing for the celebration Feb. 2 of the feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the World Day for Consecrated Life, Cardinal Bráz de Aviz pointed to the Catholic Church’s preparations for the Synod of Bishops on synodality, its focus on mission and the image of “enlarging the tent” used in the working document for the synod’s continental meetings.
The cardinal also noted that Pope Francis, who usually celebrates Mass with consecrated people on the feast day, will be in Congo, where hundreds of religious minister to the people, bringing the sacraments, education, health care, charity and other services.
The Holy Spirit is “the real protagonist of the mission,” he said, “and at the same time the one who maintains the freshness of our faith so that it does not wither away.”
The cardinal encouraged consecrated men and women to consider several questions: “Do we powerfully and frequently invoke the Spirit and ask him to rekindle in our hearts a missionary fire, apostolic zeal, passion for Christ and for humanity? Are we impelled to ‘speak of what we have seen and heard’? Do we feel a longing for Christ? Do we suffer and risk in harmony with his pastoral heart? Are we willing to ‘widen our tent,’ to walk together?”
“Above all,” he said, believers must ask themselves: is it “the person of Jesus, his feelings, his compassion, that excites our hearts?”
Firm in the knowledge of having been loved by God and saved by Christ, he said, consecrated men and women should “experience mission as a free gift to others of all that we are and have.”