02/02/2006, 00.00
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Pope: consecrated persons, sign the Kingdom of God's presence in the world today

In celebrating the World Day of Consecrated Life, Benedict XVI gives the example of Mary, "the first person to associate herself to Christ."

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Those who have embraced religious life are "an announcement of God's presence, made loud and clear in a language that is comprehensible even to our contemporaries," "the eloquent sign of the presence of the Kingdom of God in today's world" and "heralds that glimpse and announce the new life that is already present in history." Thousands of candles are illuminating Saint Peter's Basilica today for the tenth World Day of Consecrated Life, celebrated, as each year, on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Today's is a spectacular and solemn rite which evokes the Easter Vigil and in which the Pope customarily emphasizes his expectations and those of the Church for all those who have embraced religious life.

Thus it was today also, Benedict XVI's first celebration of this World Day. To illustrate his vision of religious life, the Pope dwelled considerably on the meaning of Jesus' Presentation at the Temple and on the figure of Mary, "the first person to associate herself to Christ on the path of obedience, proven faith and shared sorrow."

Today's World Day, in the words of Benedict XVI, is thus "an appropriate occasion to praise the Lord and to thank Him for the priceless gift that consecrated life represents in its different forms; it is at the same time an incentive to promote in all God's people the knowledge and the esteem for those who are totally consecrated to God. In fact, just as Jesus' life in His obedience and dedication to the Father, is the living parable of the "God-with-us", the concrete dedication of consecrated persons to God and to their brothers becomes the eloquent sign of the presence of the Kingdom of God for today's world. Their way of living and working allows them to display in full force that they fully belong to the one Lord; their complete consignment into the hands of Christ and the Church is an announcement of God's presence, made loud and clear in a language which is comprehensible even to our contemporaries. This is the first service that consecrated life renders to the Church and to the world. Among the People of God, they are like heralds that glimpse and announce the new life which is already present in history."

Then, addressing himself direct to the "dear brothers and sisters that have embraced the vocation of special consecration," the Pope asked that "the Lord renew each day in you and in all consecrated persons the joyous response to His free and faith love. Dear brothers and sisters, like lighted candles, irradiate always and everywhere the love of Christ, light of the world. May the Most Holy Mary, the consecrated Woman, help you to life fully your special vocation and mission in the Church for the world's salvation." (FP)p

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