Ecclesial Perspectives of Religious Formation
Kuncheria Pathil CMI, reflecting on the ecclesial perspectives of religious formation, notes that in the period immediately after Vatican II, the Church faced a deep crisis in vocations. Underlying the various reasons for this crises, there was a deeper theological reason. The Council presented and endorsed a new understanding of ‘holiness’ – every Christian is called to holiness or perfection. Then, why should one become a religious or a priest? A similar crisis has surfaced today in the formation of religious. The Jesus’ community at its origins was ‘Kingdom Community’ marked by the Kingdom values of love, freedom, fellowship and justice. Hence, the Church right from the early period witnessed to powerful spiritual, prophetic and missionary movements led by several holy men and women. A consecrated life is a spiritual and prophetic movement, so it is historically and theologically a powerful missionary movement proclaiming the Kingdom of God and the Gospel of Jesus in a dialogical and liberative way. To effect this in India, religious formation has to be in the cultural, religious, social and ecclesial context of India with a spirit of dialogue or relationship with all the living religions of India. Religious have to function as leaven, salt and light in the Church and move ahead with new experiments and prophetic movements welcoming them as creative polarities and spirit-filled kairos, which will lead the Church to ever new and wider horizons.