Pope Francis frequently denounces two aspects of modern culture: the way it encourages people to throw away whatever or whoever they no longer find useful and the belief that nothing lasts forever, not even love.
- Catholic News Service
Hundreds of members of the Franciscan family - friars from different branches as well as different congregations of religious women - gathered in Rome on October 29 to discuss the impact the "culture of the provisional" is having on religious life.
In brown robes or black veils or bright batik African scarves, the sisters and friars spent a day discussing a key challenge for modern religious life: "fidelity and perseverance."
The problem is decades old, but all the speakers quoted Pope Francis' succinct descriptions of the cultural atmosphere that makes it difficult today for young people to make lifelong commitments and encourages those who have made vows to head for the door when trouble arises.
Meeting with families -- grandparents, engaged couples, parents and children -- in late October, Pope Francis said the "culture of the provisional cuts life up into pieces." Meeting with novices in July, he said he'd once heard a seminarian say he would go forward to ordination and "try out" the priesthood for 10 years, and then he'd see.
That's not the way it's supposed to work, the pope said. A vocation is a call by God, who loves continuously and endlessly. God's love is reflected in the sacrifice of Christ, who died to save human beings "not provisionally, but for eternity," he said, and making vows is a person's response to that everlasting love.
The October conference was part of an ongoing, long-term project of the Franciscan friars to study why so many religious are leaving and what orders can and should be doing to help members live their permanent vows permanently.