VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A new set of “beatitudes” and priorities for novice directors recognizes the personal, professional and spiritual challenges involved in formation and seeks to offer encouragement in a general climate of decreased vocations to religious life.
Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, issued the guidelines at the end of a conference in Rome for religious involved in formation work. About 1,300 people attended the April 7-11 event, which addressed the current formation needs for consecrated life.
In a text that recognizes the hard work and disappointments of formation directors, the cardinal issued “beatitudes” for novice directors, encouraging certain spiritual dispositions for those involved in formation.
“Blessed are those who, feeling poor before the sublime task of forming hearts in Christ, trust in the action of the Holy Spirit,” he wrote. Blessed are those who, in their meekness “know how to wait” for “the good seed” to mature, without “force or guile,” and how to continue sowing in all circumstances, he continued.
Blessed are those novice directors, who know how to share the challenges of consecrated life, who welcome in their hearts “the suffering of young people,” who look upon them with empathy, and who cry for their own failures, he said.
Blessed are those who want to see the justice of God realized and who seek the “divine plan” for each novice “without imposing your personal points of view or the interests of the institute, so that each person can be themselves,” according to God’s plan, he said.
Blessed are the novice directors who, having encountered God’s rich tenderness, respond to the cry of the poor with mercy; the young will follow them, he said. Blessed are those who live with “a sincere heart” and “without hypocrisy,” who know how to “look upon youth with the eyes of God, and to see God in their hearts,” he said.
Blessed are the novice directors who are “at peace with themselves” and who know how to educate for peace and fraternity, even amid cultural diversity, he said. Blessed are those novice directors in countries where Christians are persecuted. “Like the grain of wheat, you bring much fruit,” he said.
The cardinal assured those involved in formation of the church’s love, appreciation and prayers.
“Without your service, consecrated life could not exist or would have an uncertain future,” he said.
In the same document, the cardinal listed priorities he saw for formation directors. They included urging novice directors to: transmit their joy to people in formation; pay attention to the formation of the heart and not just to behaviors; care for their own ongoing formation; have a welcoming heart and value each person in formation; form novices to be rich in mercy; not expect of novices what they do not live themselves; accompany young people in their growing knowledge of self and of their weaknesses; demonstrate God’s love, in particular to those who abandon formation; and not be afraid to accompany young people along the path of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.
The training of novice directors is the responsibility of the superiors of each religious community, who together should promote a culture of continuous formation, the cardinal said.
The next event organized by the congregation in Rome for the Year of Consecrated Life, is a congress for young consecrated people, Sept. 16-18.