Signs of God: To love and serve life
Among his teachings about the ideals of the consecrated life, Pope Francis called on religious in the Church to be “a sign of God” and “to love and serve life.” Speaking on the Day for Consecrated Life, in Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Pope invited us “to love and serve life, to welcome, respect and promote it, especially when it is fragile and in need of attention and care, from the womb to its end on this earth”.
Right now this ministry of compassion for our fellow human beings is urgently relevant, in the many tragic examples of man’s inhumanity to man: the ongoing warfare in Syria, the wild fanaticisim of jihadists now spread to many countries, the continuing tension between Israelis and Palestinians, the plight of refugees desperately seeking to enter Europe; the challenge of helping such immigrants to integrate within the culture of the host countries.
On February 2nd, dedicated to renewing our religious life, we could renew our personal commitment to a life-ideal of mercy, focussing our prayer on the suffering people in our world. As we gather in community on that day, or on the vigil of the presentation of Our Lord we can join those two themes into our prayer, a new compassion for the suffering of others, and a promise to love and serve them in whatever way we can.
Meeting of old and young
Examining the story of the Presentation in the temple, we might reflect on the encounter between the young and old, and extend our compassion also to the young people of our time, faced with a world largely devoid of a clear moral compass with which to steer their lives. We think of the joyful encounter between the young pair, Mary and Joseph, with the elderly Simeon and Anna, the two newlyweds receiving the blessing of the devout older pair who were so full of joy and trusting in the Holy Spirit.
Totally consecrated to God
Pope Francis has interpreted the Presentation as an iconic moment for the gifting of our entire lives by those who, through a gift of God, take on the typical traits of Jesus, chaste, poor and obedient, the Anointed One of the Father. This offering of themselves to God relates to every Christian, for all are consecrated to Him through baptism. Our baptism is lived in a particular way by consecrated people, who with the profession of vows, fully and exclusively belong to God. This belonging to the Lord provides an authentic way to offer a special witness to the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Totally consecrated to God, they are totally consigned to their brethren, to bring the light of Christ there where the darkness is densest and to spread His hope in the hearts of the disheartened”.
“Understood and lived in this way, consecrated life appears as it really is: a gift from God, a gift of God to the Church, a gift of God to His people. Every consecrated person is a gift to the people of God on their journey. “The Church and the world needs this witness of God’s love and mercy. Therefore, we must appreciate with gratitude experiences of consecrated life and deepen our knowledge of the different charisms and spirituality. We must pray that many young people respond ‘yes’ to the Lord who calls them to consecrate themselves wholly to Him, in selfless service to others. This spirit is fully alive in this Year of Mercy. 2016.
Prayers for those in the Consecrated Life
For those consecrated to God by the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience that they may joyfully live their baptismal promises intensely and have the grace to persevere in their commitment to God and serve with open hearts and willing spirits. We pray to the Lord… Lord, be gracious and bless us. For those who have responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to be a consecrated person that they may experience the support of the Church as they continue their growth in holiness. We pray to the Lord… Lord, be gracious and bless us.