Nostalgia won’t save religious orders

Pope Francis has delivered a strong message to contemplative religious orders, saying nostalgia won’t save monasteries from closure or shifts in vocations.

Addressing superiors and delegates from Discalced Carmelite monasteries in Rome, the pontiff stressed the need for adaptation to modern times.

“Defensive strategies are the fruit of a nostalgic return to the past; this does not work, nostalgia does not work” Francis said at a gathering on April 18.

Instead, Francis urged the Discalced Carmelites to adopt a “Gospel hope” that “makes us capable of looking to the future with those roots we have received.”

“That is called preserving the charism (with) the thrill of moving forward, and that does work” he said.

He told the attendees this “Gospel hope” aligns with society’s evolving needs. At the same time, he encouraged preserving the essence of their charism.

Like a light with flies

The pope highlighted the importance of maintaining the Order’s mission while exploring innovative ways to promote contemplative life. He encouraged members to seek “new languages, new paths and new instruments” to invigorate their commitment to contemplation.

“When a Carmelite works well, he or she attracts, isn’t that right?” he asked. “It is like a light with flies.”

Amid discussions about revising the order’s constitutions last approved by St John Paul II in the early 1990s, Pope Francis emphasised the need to nurture the fire of their charism rather than merely safeguarding tradition. He underlined the role of contemplative life as a dynamic force that enriches both the Church and the world.

While acknowledging the challenge of balancing separation from the world with engagement in daily life, the pope affirmed that contemplation should not lead to spiritual detachment but rather deepen one’s connection to daily responsibilities.

Drawing from the teachings of St Teresa of Ávila, he emphasised the transformative nature of mystical union with God in the midst of ordinary activities.

The pope’s message extends beyond monasteries, underscoring the universal relevance of adapting religious structures to contemporary realities. His call for a forward-looking approach resonates with the broader imperative for religious institutions to remain relevant and impactful in a rapidly changing world.


America Magazine


Additional reading

News category: Great reads, World.

Tags: , , ,