Pope Francis: Nostalgia is the ‘siren song of religious life’

Courtney Mares   By Courtney Mares for CNA

Pope Francis’ video message to the Confederation of Latin American and Caribbean Religious (CLAR) on Aug. 13, 2021. / Screenshot

Rome Newsroom, Aug 14, 2021 / 10:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis warned against misuse of the liturgy that places an emphasis on ideology in a video message sent Friday to a Latin American conference on religious life.

“Let us not forget that a faith that is not inculturated is not authentic. For this reason, I invite you to participate in the process that will provide the true sense of a culture that exists in the soul of the people,” Pope Francis said in the video sent on Aug. 13.

“When this inculturation does not take place, Christian life, and even more so the consecrated life, ends up with the oddest and most ridiculous Gnostic tendencies. We’ve seen this, for example, in the misuse of the liturgy [where] what is important is ideology rather than the reality of the people. This is not the Gospel.”

The pope’s video message was featured at a virtual conference organized by the Confederation of Latin American and Caribbean Religious (CLAR).

The conference focused on inculturation, a concept which John Paul II described as the process by which “the Church makes the Gospel incarnate in different cultures and at the same time introduces peoples, together with their cultures, into her own community.”

Pope Francis said that many men and women in religious life can be tempted to focus on the decline in numbers of vocations in their orders. He urged them to “renounce the criterion of numbers.”

“Otherwise it can turn you into fearful disciples, trapped in the past and giving into nostalgia. This nostalgia is fundamentally the siren song of religious life,” Francis said.

Instead of focusing on numbers, religious should focus on evangelization and “leave the rest to the Holy Spirit,” the pope said.

“I would like to remind you that joy, the highest expression of life in Christ, is the greatest witness we can offer the holy people of God whom we are called to serve and accompany on their pilgrimage toward the encounter with the Father,” he said. “Peace, joy, and a sense of humor.”

“How sad it is to see consecrated men and women who have no sense of humor, who take everything so seriously …  To be with Jesus is to be joyful,” Pope Francis said.

“May the Holy Virgin protect you. She knows all about encounter, fraternity, patience, and inculturation,” he said.

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    • Hi Gilberta,
      Very good question!

      The 1970s rock band Chicago once asked: “Does anybody really know…? Does anybody really care?” I suggest not, except perchance to laugh, to inhabit for a little while the rabbit hole in Alice’s Wonderland, or to prepare for future moves on one’s chessboard.

      Meanwhile, I’m contemplating this interim battle cry: “Beware overstuffed colostomy bags!”

  1. Assolutamente confermato. Stanno facendo un calcio mercato dello spirito per gareggiare a chi transita i “giovani” contro i vecchi. Una nuova forma ridicola di eutanasia spirituale. Come pure inutile che ti bardi d’oro e di diamanti e poi rispondi con freddezza senza cuore a chi ti dice che ti stima. Non parliamo delle offese tramite web in terza persona fatte da preti. E pure questa ventata di tristezza che perseguita tutto ciò che non è serioso. Io concordo con la critica di Papa Francesco.
    Si sta costruendo una chiesa parallela di falsi perfettini eugeneticamente selezionati.

  2. The only people showing nostalgia are the Hippies currently in senior positions in the Vatican, who are still hellbent on “updating” the Church to the 1970’s whether it works or not.

  3. Il Papa is carrying on about his ideological dilemma with traditional liturgy, traditional doctrine, traditional practice. Adverse response to Traditionis Custodes [jettison of traditional liturgy to preserve tradition means preserving it secured in the Vatican archives]. Ideologically, the premise is, Faith that is not inculturated is not authentic. Apparently his conviction that the Church to be effective must shed nostalgia [religious vocations in this context are reactionary] over tradition. Acculturation, a cultural anthropological process, refers to adapting one’s culture to the new cultural environment, whereas here the Pontiff is speaking about Catholicism’s acculturation to the current culture. Conceptually it requires accommodation rather than conversion. Obstinacy, complaint, resistance is seen in the many dour religious who take everything so seriously vacant of any joie de vivre. Folks, you out there delaying the inevitable evolutionary process of Catholicity into something exciting, joyous, “May the Holy Virgin protect you. She knows all about encounter, fraternity, patience, and inculturation”. A truly pious assumption. That Our Lady with admirable humility comes to His Holiness’ aid during this controversy and blesses Amoris Laetitia, Fratelli Tutti, and Amazonia.

    • In 1940 Winston Churchill posed this to the House of Commons: “If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future.”

      And if no future, then the pope’s “oddest and most ridiculous Gnostic tendencies.”

      • Can’t help myself…the pope’s script-writers lack all perspective. Children with access to word processors…There’s nothing more frightful than what John Courtney Murray called a “learned ignorance.”

        The scripted “siren song” and “nostalgia” thingy. They ought to get out of the office more. Reconnect with Sacrosanctum Concilium from the Second Vatican Council.

        During his hospitalization, having edited Pope Francis into a box canyon with a fragmentary and skewed survey (re TLM), and regarding the “reality of the people” AND AND AND the reality of the perennial Catholic Church!–now they’re trying to cover they ass-umptions.

  4. Communion with the saints of the past, and the Catholic practices that remind us that such has value for our souls, what an invincibly small mind would call “ideology,” that same smallness of thought submits is less sustaining than the wisdom of the boob tube?

  5. When I go to the historic source that is the Bible I can see all manner of examples how inculturation can take place. In the Old Testament the Israelite people all too often inculturated in a manner that was corrosive to the faith and their covenant with God. The outcome of the book of Ruth was radically different than the outcome of King Solomon and his foreign wives. Then there were the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. The modernists appear to be taking after King Solomon and the Lost Tribes. Their behavior would suggest that the Great Commission has reached its expiration date and that the Church is in need of a new mission.

  6. “To be with Jesus is to be joyful,” Pope Francis said.

    Even as we walk the Way of the Cross with Jesus?

    Let’s observe Francis. His face often expresses undue dourness. Perhaps he lost his traveling companion.

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