Pope Francis addressed a group of young religious men and women on September 17, and took a few questions from the audience.
Answering a question about the problems of living out a religious vocation, the Pope said that religious are called to “the prophetic way of freedom—that is, the freedom that is to be united with witness and fidelity.” He encouraged the young religious to fight against mediocrity and pettiness, observing that gossip and an “incapacity for forgiveness between brothers and sisters” are among the most deadly problems of religious life.
Taking a question about evangelization, the Pontiff said that evangelization “is not about simply convincing; it is about bearing witness that Jesus lives.” Religious women, he continued, play a unique role in bearing that witness. They are, he told them, “icons of the Church’s tenderness and love, of the maternity of the Church and of our Lady.”
Finally, responding to a question about how he discerned his own vocation, the Pope recounted the story of how he felt a calling to the priesthood one day when he impulsively went to confession. “I entered the church by chance, a saw a confessional, and I left changed,” he said. “My life changed then.”
Concluding his remarks to the young religious, Pope Francis asked them to bear two words in mind. First he spoke of narcissism as a poison to religious life. Then he spoke of adoration, as a central theme of the religious vocation. “Be men and women of adoration,” he urged his audience.