“I did not change the whole world but I changed the world for a few.”
In 1997, St. John Paul II established the special Day of Consecrated Life to coincide with the Feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem (February 2nd). The Pope gave three reasons for his selection of February 2nd as a special day for religious women and men: first, to praise and thank the Lord for the gift of consecrated life; second, to promote the knowledge and appreciation of consecrated women and men by all People of God; and third, to invite all those who have dedicated their life to the cause of the Gospel to celebrate the wonderful ways the Lord has worked through them.
Along with mother Church we thank the Lord as the Divine Providence Province for all the graces we received throughout these years, especially the gift of vocations, hundreds of young men saying “Yes” to follow and serve the Lord in and through the Guanellian Charism and Spirit.
Secondly the Presentation of the Lord invites all of us to appreciate and to assert who we are. What is our identity? In other words we must speak boldly about the goodness of religious life. At times along with the tides of competitive society, people may make a comparison of our religious life with other walks of life and we may fall prey to their calculations saying what is so special in this life? But we all know deep down that this life is the prototype of the heavenly table, the continuation of the early Christian community, the antidote to the divisive world, the real globalization, we go where the Lord sends us and still we own people as our children and others own us as their fathers and mothers. We left one family but we are part of many families around the world.
Thirdly it is a moment of celebration and sharing with others what the Lord has done in and through me. I did not change the whole world, but I changed the world of at least a few people, I was the eye for the blind, I was the hand and leg for the crippled, I was the mind for the intellectually disabled.
At this juncture we thank the Lord in a special way for the special grace that has been given to our confrere. Bro. Praveen, who met with a road accident, has been freed of all charges. We appreciate all those who involved themselves in this process and accompanied our confrere.
Let us celebrate the sacerdotal ordination of eight confreres on February 11th and their first Eucharistic celebrations in the following days. We thank and appreciate all the formators and in a special way the formation team of DGMS for their accompaniment and stewardship in the final phase of their preparation.
Let us welcome and celebrate the presence of the DSMP superiors who are on their Canonical Visit. Let us keep them in our prayers and sustain them.
Fr. Ronald J, SdC
February 2nd is the 17thWorld 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!