February 2nd is the 17th World Day of Consecrated Life and it will be celebrated on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas Day, which symbolizes Christ who is the light of the world and consecrated person par excellence. The fundamental call of religious life is always the search for God and the deepening of one’s relationship with God. “Religious life is about keeping the dangerous ‘memory of Jesus’ alive, dangerous because “love of God and of neighbor constitutes, costly grace,” as Bonheoffer says.
We recently had our traditional learning meeting in the Generalate with all the Provincials. In Europe, we cannot avoid putting a lot of time and energy discussing and planning its future in Religious Life with the phenomenon of the ‘inverted pyramid’ because the number of older and retiring members are increasing while new members are decreasing. Therefore, restructuring and closer collaboration with the laity in the Service of Charity and also bringing new energy to revitalize our religious life and mission is indispensable in the Congregation. Whereas on the other side of the globe, such as Asia and Africa, we have to take a fresh look at the increasing vocations and thank God for the gift and blessing of the large number of candidates in the various stages of initial formation and the need to prudently develop current mission centers .
Today, Consecrated life is like a sailboat pushed by the wind of the Spirit. In many places, she has no tailwind- she is slowed and finds a lot of obstacles in her path. The conversation of Pope Francis with the Superior Generals of religious men at the end of their 82nd General Assembly on November 29, 2013 gave an open invitation to the religious, “Wake the World Up.” The priority that consecrated life, “is the prophesy of the kingdom,” is not negotiable. We are bound to follow the Lord in a prophetic way, with generosity, detachment, sacrifice, and self-forgetfulness which is the witness, the “martyrdom of religious life.”
Let us praise the Lord more enthusiastically for the great gift of consecrated life. The presentation of Jesus in the Temple is an eloquent icon of the total offering of each one of us and thus helping us to grow in prophetic relevance of our consecration by reproducing Jesus in a more visible and viable way.