World Day for Consecrated Life

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“A light of revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” Luke 2:32

The feast of the Presentation Feb. 2 is replete with themes of light and glory. Simeon, himself a light to all those who visited the Temple, saw the light within Jesus and recognized the hour of his personal encounter with God. He could now “go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples” (Luke 2:31).

Jesus is presented formally to the Jewish people in the Temple. Although he had already been adored by lowly shepherds and elegant Gentiles, it was at this moment that he was offered to the chosen people, his own nation.  This was the moment when the glory of God reentered the Temple and the Old Testament turned into the New.

Women and men in consecrated life have been called to reflect the light of Christ in our world. In 1997, St. John Paul II called on the entire church to pray annually on the Feast of the Presentation for Consecrated Persons to live this calling and be the reflection of the light and glory of Jesus. 

In addition to this mandate to reveal the light of Christ to our brothers and sisters, all those in consecrated life are called to live the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience in the perfection of charity so that we may make Christ visible on earth. In the words of the founder of the Oblate Fathers, Blessed Louis Brisson, who died on the feast of the Presentation in 1908, “The more one loves, the more one gives.  The more one gives, the more one loves God.”

"In effect, the consecrated life is at the very heart of the Church as a decisive element for her mission, since it 'manifests the inner nature of the Christian calling' and the striving of the whole Church as Bride towards union with her one Spouse" (Vita Consecrata 3, St. John Paul II).

For many of our lay brothers and sisters, the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience are a mystery. They wonder how it is possible for someone to give up so much. Those of us who live out the various forms of the consecrated life would tell you that these vows, in other words precepts rooted in the Gospel, are not a matter of giving but of receiving.

“By embracing chastity, they make their own the pure love of Christ and proclaim to the world that he is the Only-Begotten Son who is one with the Father (Jn 10:30, 14:11). By imitating Christ's poverty, they profess that he is the Son who receives everything from the Father and gives everything back to the Father in love (Jn 17:7, 10). By accepting, through the sacrifice of their own freedom, the mystery of Christ's filial obedience, they profess that he is beloved infinitely and loving, as the One who delights only in the will of the Father (Jn 4:34), to whom he is united perfectly and on whom he depends for everything” (Vita Consecrata 16).

As we celebrate this feast of the Presentation of the Lord, let us pray for a renewal of the consecrated life in our church. May men and women hear and accept the call of Jesus to give their lives to him totally, living out this vocation of love and making the light of Jesus shine among his people. May God be praised.

Sr. Eder, who has been living the consecrated life as an Oblate Sister of St. Francis de Sales for 44 years, is principal at Holy Cross Academy in Fredericksburg.

World Day for Consecrated Life

World Day for Consecrated Life is celebrated Feb. 2-3 as a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life. The Office of Vocations has published a new poster of those from the Diocese of Arlington in formation with religious orders. To get a copy, contact the Vocations Office at vocations@arlingtondiocese.org. or call 703/841-2514.

 

 

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019