The World Day of Consecrated Life, instituted by then Pope John Paul II in 1997, was celebrated, a few days ago, on February 2. It served as an occasion for the consecrated person to cherish their vocation and life as a consecrated person.
In his message for the first World Day of Consecrated Life, Pope reminded all the consecrated people that it is an occasion for all the consecrated persons (1) “to celebrate together solemnly the marvels which the Lord has accomplished in them,” (2) “to discover by a more illumined faith the rays of divine beauty spread by the Spirit in their way of life” and (3) “to acquire a more vivid consciousness of their irreplaceable mission in the Church and in the world.”
The date chosen for the world day of consecrated life is particularly significant.
The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple which St. Luke presents dramatically has a deeper meaning and is thought provoking. The characters in the episode, their spontaneity and gestures manifest a lot about consecrated life.
St Luke narrates that ‘moved or led by the spirit, Simeon went into the Temple when Mary and Joseph brought the child Jesus to offer him in the temple.’ Yes, something stirs and arouses the heart which leads Simeon to the Temple. His sight, though dimmed by age, falls on Jesus and recognises him as the One whom his eyes were waiting to see - the Salvation of God. Having moved and seen, he holds and embraces the Child.
Similarly, Prophetess Anna, full of hope though aged, sings praises of God, filled with the Spirit, ending her long wait for the saviour.
Simeon and Anna, awaited with patience, trusting in the fidelity of the Lord, and did not allow themselves to be robbed of the joy of the encounter with him. The encounter of Simeon with Jesus, led to flow rivers of joy and he dared to prophesy.
This is what happens when God’s Spirit stirs us; he gives us a mission to dare.
But the questions arise – what is it that moves us? What do I wish to see? And finally, what do I wish to embrace or take into my arms?
God has placed his Son in our arms too, because embracing Jesus is the essential thing, the very heart of faith. Sometimes we risk losing our bearings, getting caught up in a thousand different things, obsessing about minor issues or plunging into new projects, yet the heart of everything is Christ. Embracing him as the Lord of our lives is what sets the seal of consecrated life upon your heart!
When asked why you still wants to continue in the consecrated life, several religious gave very encouraging responses.
“Because the Lord has chosen me and desired me to be his own. I can feel his presence in my life. Though at times I fail” said Sister Betty SAB from Delhi.
A Pallotine Father Carlos, from Bangalore acknowledged: “I'm attracted to this way of life. Being a religious, I can give more of my time to the Lord and dedicate myself to the task entrusted to me with more love and generosity. And also contribute to glorify the Lord with the talents Hee has bestowed on me”.
Sister Sneha HCM from Kerala had this to say: “We know the value of water, once we feel thirsty, we feel to drink water only. So, I’ve tasted the Lord. This taste quenches all other things. I want to drink this living water than any other thing.”
“Commitment, Service and gratitude to what I received leads me to continue being a religious as my gift to God” said Father Jose Silveira SJ from Goa.
Sr. Deonisia HC loves and cherishes her vocation: “I love my vocation, God has been gracious, it is by his grace what I am today. My Founder inspires me to a great extent to be a blessing to others and it gives me the satisfaction to see the smile on their faces”.
Fr. Joaquim Lakra OP, a Dominican, added, “I consider religious life as a special gift which perhaps I don’t deserve, but God was kind enough to grant me. Amidst various trials/temptations, continuing as a religious is a big challenge. However, I believe one who called me, strengthens me, even though I am weak. He surrounds me with his love and it is only because of his love, I’m able to continue. The love which I received from him is what I want to give him back”.
“I have encountered and embraced him in those whom I serve and want to continue to share the love I have experienced to many more” said Sr. S. Mary SFN.
Says Sister Regis SRA explained why she still want to continue as a religious: “I do not have any thought to break away from the relationship with my Lord and master that I have built up very painstakingly as a religious. Even when he could have thrown me out from human point of view, for valid reasons, He remains faithful, patient, loving, caring, and making me happy with ever new surprises every new dawn. All the more, I ask for the graces to make up for the less and lesser contributions from my part as His co-worker in his enterprise of building the Kingdom of God” as I thought over.
It is good to recall the words of Saint Pope John Paul II, “The mission of the consecrated life in the present and in the future of the Church concerns not merely those who have received this special charism, but the entire Christian community.”
It is the duty of all the Catholics to esteem and promote the consecrated life praising and thanking the Lord for the great gift of consecrated life and encouraging the consecrated people through friendship and prayer.
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