On the occasion of the 24th. World Day of Consecrated Life held on Sunday, February 2 of this difficult year 2020, Msgr. José Rodríguez Carballo, Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, said: “Consecrated life is called to keep the lamp of prophesy on, becoming a beacon for those who are disoriented, torch for those who walk in the midst of darkness , and sentries for those who do not see a way out in life.”
Consecrated persons must not lose their own charism or be oblivious to the needs of today’s world, therefore a return to the sources, to the Christ of the Gospel, return to the spirit of the founder, communion in the life of the Church, knowledge of the modern world, inner renewal is needed.
Consecrated life invites us to focus and take stock of the life to which God has called us and to which we have given our fiat. She is an opportunity to specifically focus our vocation to follow Jesus in a specific way of life, in which we must face human challenges for mission and evangelization with absolute confidence in God. Every consecrated person witnesses Jesus and the Good News of the Kingdom of God from the evangelical counsels and our Christian commitment, because the centrality of our lives is in Christ.
But this centrality must be lived with deep joy. We cannot manifest Christ, nor evangelize, apart from joy or outside of today’s realities. A religious life detained in norms or rites or in past forms, without taking the leap to Christ, is not able to give happiness or radiate a sense of life.
This experience of Christ must be lived in a constant encounter of prayer so that we can be transparency of Christ. It is prayer that models us from the Word of God to configuring ourselves with Him, which makes us experience at every moment, in an updated way, the call of God and the madness of his love in us, but also, a prayer of open bowels and arms of welcome, which will lead us to a deep look at the reality of men and to present that reality to God with all our might; that identifies us with all the deficiencies and we make pleas to the Lord. It is a prayer, like that of Jesus, that places us, in a contemplative way, in the heart of the world and in the bowels of God; a prayer, sometimes painful, because it will decentralize us and uninstall us and send us to the peripheries of history.
Our vocation must make us transparent witnesses of that truth that gives full meaning to the life of man, which allows us to open ourselves to the future with hope and which is a source of joy and joy.
Consecrated life in the Church is her best treasure. And we could say that today, in a special way, in obedience to the Spirit and following the path initiated by Pope Francis, we must bet with him, with courage and without fear. It cannot be said that we are no longer for these things, we are still for many things.
Our life has to be luminous, our congregations have to be luminous, and from their flashes illuminate the life of the Church and be transparency of the presence of Jesus, so that men can recognize in it the mystery of Christ.
Let us bear joyful, joyful witness to the beauty of the vocation with which we have been enriched without our own merit. It is a gift, it is a grace and we want, despite personal and institutional difficulties, we mean that it is beautiful, beautiful, to follow Jesus as consecrated. We have to be protagonists of the culture of encounter.
However, in our current society, religious life is vital as a reference for meaning, ferment and fraternity. It becomes a sign that another order of the world is possible, if we make it possible in our lives and in our communities.
Certainly, the reality of the world challenges us with its individualism and consumerism; with the great crisis of values and ideologies that make us forget the problems of the poor; with a society marked by inequalities, crises of faith and religiosity.
Today as yesterday we have a challenge: to choose to be meaningful and credible communities from the charism of each congregation, in order to look at this world with sympathy. We must look with the gaze of God, we are no strangers to this world; humble messengers are needed with modest and dialogueal faith; accompany, make present the gratuitousness and love of God, living participation, compassion, hope… so we will be “mission open to the future”. All of this would be a good trajectory to make a change of model and say that another Church is possible.
How can we make the Church a sign of God’s Love in the people? By meeting with others, accompaniment with respect, tolerance and critical spirit; critical, enlightened and open Christianity. Only in this way can we achieve a Church that is welcoming and open to dialogue with the world.
What can we contribute? Be “SAL”, “LEVADURA”, “LIGHT”.
We can propose paths open to transcendence; foster attitudes of “reconciliation” and solidarity. Create fraternal communities that evangelise the environment and motivate for a change of personal and social values, aimed at transforming the reality of the people.
We have the challenge of the mission open to the future of the world, to be aware of the role we must play, but we can ask ourselves: In whose service are we? Where do we put our references? What is God’s place in these questions? What place do people occupy? There are things that only make sense when done for God.
Consecrated persons must be very aware that their lives, as Pope Francis says, “it is like water, if it does not flow, rots, and must be appreciated and valued for what it is: a prophetic way of living the Gospel, bearing in mind the charism and signs of the times, always led by the Magisterium of the Church”.
We have to ask ourselves if today we are new to attention. We need to live a project, a mission that makes us find place and meaning in the Church and in society; serving God’s people and the laity.
The call to evangelization is currently at the heart of the Church’s mission. The urgency of the new evangelization requires that religious remain at the forefront.
Let us go out to all places, especially the peripheries, to offer to all the message and the person of Jesus.
The Holy Father always insists on the joy of the Gospel, on being prophecy as an essential element in consecrated life dedicated every day to the world.
Let us keep in mind that it is time, as the CLAR tells us, let us not let ourselves be robbed of the joy of evangelizing! Let’s not let ourselves be robbed of hope! Fear more about locking us up than wrong. Avoid individualism, the identity crisis, the fall of fervor. Not sterile pessimism.
The subject and object of evangelization is the People of God. And in it the religious family pilgrims with their various gifts, charism and mission, which must be given and remain a sign every day of God’s Love in the faith of the people.
I conclude this little reflection on the occasion of the celebration of Consecrated Life on February 2nd, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, with the final words said to us by Sr Nadieska Almeida, Daughter of Charity, President of CONCUR:
“May the true author of unsoborne joy always bless us and grant us to be his witnesses until the end of our lives, that He will help us discover in the most intimate of our hearts what the time is, and that He will give us the courage to do whatever He tells us. For our joy is and will always be a Presence of Him who continues to call us.” Ω