Bangalore – Consecration is a sacred purpose and it is a joyous sacrifice. Consecration of oneself is the core belief of religious life. Each and everyone offers themselves to God by saying ‘Yes.’ First of all we need to have a comprehensive understanding of what consecration means. To know this at the very beginning of religious life, our Guanellian novices and novices from other congregations, attended a course entitled, ‘Consecration for the Mission’ in order to consecrate for God’s mission. Fr. Jerry SJ, a world renowned and versatile person, gave a challenging insight on the demands of Consecrated life and the Mission of God. The program was organized at National Biblical Catechetical Liturgical Centre, NBCLC, Bangalore. Around 71 novices from 10 Congregations attended. The talk was so enriching and inspiring for the novices to live the mission of God through genuine dedication.
Chennai – Through the efforts of the formators, the Poovai Formees Meet: A Gathering for all Poonamallee Formation Centers was held on February 4th at Bon Secours Novitiate. The theme was “Year of Consecrated Life” under the meritorious guidance of Sr. Pauline, FBS. She presented the document, ‘Witnesses of Joy,’ saying that we are called to a unique way of life, with its aim and expectations to be prophetic by our way of life from this budding stage onwards. She also mentioned that Consecrated Life is a gift to the Church, born in the Church, grown in the Church and directed to the Church. After the talk the formees were divided into groups and sent for the discussion on our way of life which was followed by creative group presentations. The event ended with dinner.
New Year wishes to all and may you be constantly filled with the blessings of the Lord and the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ during 2015. We turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Divine Providence, during this year for her maternal love and guidance. As we celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life, may we be filled with the joy and hope of our Guanellian religious vocation and strive to respond to that call faithfully turning to the example of St. Louis Guanella. I thank all for their prayerful support of the Divine Providence Province (DPP) and be assured of my prayerful solidarity with all of you in 2015.
You know of the upcoming celebration of the Third DPP Provincial Chapter, with its theme, The Bond of Charity, the Sense of Belonging and Fraternal Correction /Promotion in the Guanellian Consecrated Life which will take place in Bangalore, India from January 12-17. You know, as well, of the importance of the chapter: as a grace-filled moment; as a period of discernment and verification; as a special way of planning for our future rediscovering the identity of Guanellian Consecrated Life with Gospel prophecy and hope. As I expressed in the convocation letter for the chapter, “Let us take from his (St. Louis Guanella) spring of charity and from his heart the spirit of fraternal communion which can only strengthen us in the bond of charity he so desired, deepen our sense of belonging, and humbly lead us toward fraternal promotion.”
This year has been designated by the United Nations (UN) as The International Year of Soils. It is a year in which we are reminded of the 805 million people who are facing hunger and malnutrition and the need for healthy soil and agricultural methods to produce the food for the hungry along with the just distribution of that food. There are the existing problems today, especially in Asia, of the land being stripped, by real estate developers, of its natural resources and minerals and its trees and vegetation which contribute to climate change, drought and flooding in the impacted areas. During 2015, let us cultivate the soil of our heart and the soil of mother earth to produce the good soil leading to peace, joy…and good crops.
Fr. Soosai Rathinam
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.
Our Holy Father Benedict XVI rightly says that “If the Consecrated life did not exist how poor would the world be”, because they are witnessing the transfiguring presence of God in the world. The World Day for Consecrated Life is celebrated with the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and it is also known as Candlemas Day- the day on which candles are blessed symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world. Therefore, those in consecrated life are called to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to all peoples: “To mirror His light, to irradiate His love, to bear witness to His life style. “
Today, in Consecrated life, essentially there is a crisis of identity, visibility, and of credibility. In a divided and fragmented world, there is a tendency for “mediocrity in spiritual life and a consumer mentality”. The 19th General Chapter, at various levels, calls us to keep watch over the visibility of personal and community witness and, if necessary, to intervene with clarity and determination in prohibiting attitudes and lifestyles clearly in contradiction with our public identity as men of God and servants of the poor. In this critical situation, there is a strong need for “Renewal,” for going back to our origin, our roots and to the very spring of our charism or charismatic identity. Sometimes renewal is confused with adaptation to the dominant mindset and culture, with the risk of forgetting authentic Gospel values. Our charism inserts us into the great movement of “Sequela Christi”, reproducing Jesus’ own lifestyle with the urgent need to fuel the fire of the great passion that is the driving force of our consecrated life as Guanellians. We need to be visionaries, born out of our commitment to live the Gospel in creative fidelity and to re-incarnate His presence, vision and mission. Through love of Christ and closeness to them, we ourselves become poor and with the poor are ready to evangelize them, while, at the same time, allowing ourselves to be evangelized by them.
The Year of Faith brings a greater opportunity for conversion and to a rediscovery of our faith as consecrated people. Rediscovering faith involves rediscovering our commitment to the Lord and living it credibly and joyously in the changing situations of our life.
The Presentation of Our Lord in the temple is a complete gesture of surrender to God’s plan in the eyes of St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother, even when doing so entails suffering. So also our religious consecration should lead us to do God’s will, always more generously, by living out the evangelical counsels and re-grounding our religious life.
Wishing you all a joyful and faithful Consecrated Life Day Celebration and a radical and passionate love of Christ!