The Annual World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life occurs each year on February 2nd which is observed on the Church’s calendar as the Solemnity of the Presentation of the Lord. On that day the Church celebrates that Mary and Joseph, observing the Law of Moses, go to the Temple in Jerusalem with their newborn Son to offer Him to God. On that day the child Jesus is consecrated to God through the offering of Mary and Joseph, a turtle dove, the offering of the poor.
February 2nd is also referred to as Candlemas Day because at Mass the candles for liturgical use are blessed. The candles symbolize the Light of Christ which overcomes the darkness in the world. The Feast of the Presentation recalls the day that Jesus, the Light of the World, entered into the Temple. By their vowed lives consecrated women and men witness to the Light of Christ.
Pope Saint John Paul II defined the purpose of the celebration of the World Day of Consecrated Life: “To help the whole church to esteem ever more greatly the witness of those persons who have chosen to follow Christ by means of the practice of the evangelical counsels … a suitable occasion for consecrated persons to renew their commitment and rekindle the fervor which should inspire their offering of themselves to the Lord.”
In our diocese we use this occasion to express our gratitude to the religious women and men who serve and live in our diocese. We honor those consecrated religious who are observing during the year special anniversaries of their religious profession.
This year we honored 10 Jubilarians who are celebrating in 2020, 25, 50 and 60 years of religious consecration. These 10 consecrated religious represent 300 years of commitment and ministry. Their examples of perseverance and diversity of ministries are inspirational and are deserving of our recognition and above all our gratitude. Their service has made a difference in the lives of many people and has contributed to the building up of the kingdom of God in the world. These 10 represent seven religious families whose charisms these Jubilarians have introduced where they have served.
Consecrated life is important for the church and also for the world. First, the church needs their holiness. Second, the world benefits from their example of living as a consecrated religious who have voluntarily made an offering of their lives to God through daily living of the evangelical counsels of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. Obedience through which they have found genuine freedom; Chastity by which their love is not exclusive for one person but for all people. Poverty which recognizes in the midst of this world the true pearl of great price. Their examples of Discipleship encourage our following the Lord and our belonging to the church.
When the Child Jesus entered the Temple He encountered His people in the persons of Anna and Simeon who greeted Him as the promised Messiah. These 10 Religious over the 25, 50 or 60 years of living their consecration have met Christ on many days and in many people, situations and circumstances. People have benefited from these encounters and from the example of their witness.
The next time you are with a Religious thank her or him for her or his example of living the consecrated life. And, congratulations to the 10 celebrating special anniversaries this year who were recently honored at our Diocesan celebration of World Day of Consecrated Life.