February 2, 2016 (Celebrated in Parishes February 6-7)
In 1997, Pope Saint John Paul II instituted a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life. This celebration is attached to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd. This Feast is also known as Candlemas Day; the day on which candles are blessed symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world. So too, those in consecrated life are called to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to all peoples. The celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life is transferred to the following Sunday in order to highlight the gift of consecrated persons for the whole Church.
Speech delivered by the Holy Father :
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I’m glad to meet you at the end of this year dedicated to the consecrated life.
One day, Jesus, in His infinite mercy, addressed to each and every one of us and asked us personally: “Come! Follow me! “( Mk10:21). If we are here it is because we have answered “yes.” Sometimes it came to full membership of enthusiasm and joy, sometimes more painful, perhaps uncertain. We still followed, with generosity, letting ourselves be guided by ways that we would not even imagined. We shared moments of intimacy with Him: “Come away by […] and rest a while ” ( Mk 6:31); moments of service and mission: “You give them something to eat” ( Lk 9:13); even his cross: “If anyone would come after me […] and take up his cross” ( Lk 9:23). He introduced himself in his relationship with the Father, he has given us his Spirit, has expanded our heart on the extent of his, teaching us to love the poor and sinners. We followed him along, learning from him the service, hospitality, forgiveness, fraternal charity. Our consecrated life has meaning because they stay with him and go on the roads of the world by bringing him, conforms us to Him, makes us be Church, a gift to humanity.
This year we are concluding helped to shine more in the Church the beauty and holiness of the consecrated life, consecrated intensifying in gratitude for visit and the joy of the answer. Each anointed and consecrated had the opportunity to have a clearer sense of identity, and so look to the future with renewed apostolic zeal to write new pages of good, on the heels of the charism of the Founders. We are grateful to the Lord for all he has given us to live in this year so rich in initiatives. And I thank theCongregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life , which prepared and realized the great events here in Rome and throughout the world.
The year ends, but continues our commitment to remain faithful to the call received and to grow in love, in the gift, in creativity.For this I would like to leave you three words.
The first is prophecy . And ‘your specific. But that prophecy expect from you the Church and the world? You are first called to proclaim with your life before it with words, the reality of God to say God. If at times he is rejected or marginalized or ignored, we must ask ourselves if perhaps we were not transparent enough to his face, showing rather ours. God’s face is that of a Father, “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” ( Ps 103,8). To do this you must learn to have a personal relationship with Him; and for that it needs the ability to worship Him, to grow day after day friendship with him, through the heart to heart conversation in prayer, especially adoration silent.
The second word that I give you is near . God, in Jesus, has reached out to every man and every woman: has shared the joy of the newlyweds at Cana in Galilee, and the anguish of the widow of Nain; He entered the house of Jairus touched by death and in the house of Bethany fragrant nard; He charged the diseases and suffering, even to giving his life as a ransom for all. To follow Christ means to go wherever he went; upon himself, like the Good Samaritan, the wounded that we meet along the way; go in search of the lost sheep. To be like Jesus, close to the people; share their joys and sorrows; show, with our love, the fatherly face of God and the motherly caress of the Church. That no one will ever feel distant, detached, closed and therefore sterile. Each of you is called to serve the brothers, following their own charism: who through prayer, those with catechesis, those with teaching, with those who care for the sick or the poor, those who proclaim the Gospel, those making the different works of mercy. Important thing is not to live for themselves, as Jesus did not live for Himself, but for the Father and for us.
Thus we come to the third word: hope . Witnessing to God and his merciful love, by the grace of Christ can inspire hope in our humanity marked by several reasons for anxiety and fear and tempted at times of discouragement. You can make people feel the renewing power of the beatitudes, honesty, compassion; the value of goodness, of simple living, vital, full of meaning. You can provide hope even in the Church. I think, for example, to ecumenical dialogue. The meeting a year ago between consecrated of the different Christian confessions was a good news, that deserves to be continued. The charismatic and prophetic witness of consecrated life, in the variety of its forms, can help you recognize all closer together and encourage full communion.
Dear brothers and sisters, in your daily apostolate, do not be influenced by age or number. What matters most is the ability to repeat the “yes” to the initial call of Jesus that continues to be felt, ever anew, in every season of life. His call and our response keeps our hope alive. Prophecy , close , hope . Living in this way, you will have joy in the heart, a distinctive sign of the followers of Jesus and even more so of the consecrated. And your life will be attractive to many and many to the glory of God and the beauty of the Bride of Christ, the Church.
Dear brothers and sisters, I thank the Lord for what you are and do in the Church and in the world. I bless you and entrust you to our Mother. And please, do not forget to pray for me.