(Vatican, july 22, 2016) – The Vatican on Friday published a new Apostolic Constitution, Vultum Dei quaerere (Seeking the Face of God), On Women’s Contemplative Life.
The promotion of an adequate formation; the centrality of prayer and of the word of God, especially in lectio divina; specific criteria for the autonomy of contemplative communities; and membership of monasteries within federations are some of the main points addressed by Pope Francis in the new Apostolic Constitution.
In the introduction to Vultum Dei quaerere, Pope Francis explains the motivation behind the document, noting the journey the Church has undergone, and “the rapid progress of human history,” in the fifty years since the Second Vatican Council. From that starting point, the Pope points out the need “to weave a dialogue” with contemporary society, while preserving the “fundational values” of contemplative life – silence, attentive listening, the call to an interior life, stability. Through these values, the Pope says, contemplative life “can and must challenge the contemporary mindset.”
The document is introduced by a broad discussion of the importance of nuns and the contemplative life for the Church and the world. Addressing contemplative sisters, the Pope asks, “Without you what would the Church be like, or those living on the fringes of humanity and ministering in the outposts of evangelization?” The Church, he says, “greatly esteems your life of complete self-giving. The Church counts on your prayers and on your self-sacrifice to bring today’s men and women to the good news of the Gospel. The Church needs you!”
The bulk of the document is taken up with a reflection on twelve themes calling for discernment and renewed norms. Among these, Pope Francis calls special attention to the need for adequate formation, to prayer, and to the centrality of the Word of God.
The new document concludes with a series of fourteen articles that set the Pope’s reflections in juridical terms, notably with regard to formation and vocational discernment; the exercise of authority within communities; the autonomy of the various communities; and their relationships to one another – especially in federations. The final article establishes that the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life will be responsible for issuing new regulations with regard to the indications of the Apostolic Constitution.
(from vatican radio)
COSTITUZIONE APOSTOLICA VULTUM DEI QUAERERE
sulla vita contemplativa femminile