Vatican City, Aug 17, 2020 / 06:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis has urged consecrated men and women in Brazil to remember that Jesus must be their “first and only love.”
In a letter marking the country’s First National Week of Consecrated Life, observed Aug. 16-22, the pope said that religious should prioritize prayer.
In the letter, published Aug. 16 in Portuguese on the website of the Brazilian Conference of Religious, he recalled a question that he had posed in his apostolic letter for the 2014-15 Year of Consecrated Life.
He wrote: “Therefore, to seek a greater promotion and renewal of the life and mission of consecrated persons in Brazil, I invite you once again to ask the question that I proposed in the apostolic letter to consecrated people in 2014: ‘Is Jesus really our first and only love, as we promised he would be when we professed our vows? Only if he is, will we be empowered to love, in truth and mercy, every person who crosses our path. For we will have learned from Jesus the meaning and practice of love. We will be able to love because we have his own heart.’”
In his letter to Brazilian religious, dated Aug. 5, the pope recalled that each vocation had its origin “in the experience of knowing that one is loved by God.”
“On the other hand, in the face of the challenges imposed by today’s society, which is living through a change of era, we must be vigilant in order to avoid the temptation to have a worldly outlook, which prevents us from seeing God’s grace as the protagonist of life and leads us to go out in search of any substitute,” he wrote.
“The best antidote against temptation is to give priority to prayer in the midst of all our activities, certain that the person who keeps his gaze fixed on Jesus learns to live to serve, because he experiences what the prophet Isaiah said: ‘You are precious in my eyes … I love you’ (43:4).”
The pope concluded the letter by asking for the intercession of Our Lady of Aparecida “so that this Week of Consecrated Religious Life may be very fruitful.”
Speaking after the Angelus Aug. 16, Pope Francis acknowledged the Brazilian religious among the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
He said: “I affectionately greet all of you, people from Rome and pilgrims from various countries. In particular, I greet the Brazilian men and women religious present here in Rome — with so many flags — these religious are following spiritually the First National Week of Consecrated Life being celebrated in Brazil. Happy week of consecrated life. Ever onward!”