Religious give themselves freely and with love in a society ruled by the ephemeral and the useful
Thousands of monks and nuns celebrated with Benedict XVI the Feast Day of the Presentation, World Day of Consecrated Life. May those who choose this path “keep alive the experience of God’s forgiveness because they are aware that they have been saved.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In a society that “runs the risk of suffocating in the vortex of the ephemeral and the useful,” those men and women who have chosen the religious life are particularly important because they give themselves freely and with love, and bear witness “to the superabundance of love that drives one to ‘lose’ one’s life in response to the Lord’s superabundance of love who first ‘lost’ his life for us.”

This is meaning of life for the men and women who choose a monastic vocation, Benedict XVI said as he delivered his reflections today on the occasion of the Feast Day of the Presentation of Our Lord, 14th World Day of Consecrated life, which he celebrated in Saint Peter’s Basilica. Today is in fact Candlemas, the day that symbolises the light created by the meeting of Simeon and Anna with Jesus in the Temple, when they recognised in Him the much-awaited Messiah, “light of the human race.”

“In conjunction with the liturgical festivity, the Venerable John Paul II decided that starting in 1997 the Church would dedicate a special world day to the consecrated life,” Benedict XVI said. “The purification of the Son of God, symbolised by his presentation to the Temple, is a model for each man and woman who choose to consecrate their life to the Lord. This day has three purposes. The first one is to praise and thank the Lord for the gift of the consecrated life. The second one is to promote awareness and respect towards it among the people of God. The last one is to invite all those who devoted their life completely to the cause of the Gospel to celebrate the marvel the Lord achieved through them.”

Speaking to the men and women religious in the basilica, the Pope said, “With trust, you approached the ‘throne of grace’ that is Christ, his Cross, his Heart, his divine presence in the Eucharist. Each one of you came closer to Him as the source of pure and faithful Love, one that is so big and beautiful that it deserves everything, even more than all we have, because a lifetime is not enough to repay what Christ is and what he did for us. But you came, and each day you come to Him, to be helped at the right moment and in times of trial.”

“Consecrated people are especially called to bear witness to the Lord’s mercy, in which men find their salvation. They keep alive the experience of God’s forgiveness because they are aware that they have been saved, that they are big when they see themselves as small, that they can feel renewed and wrapped in the mantle of God’s holiness when they acknowledge their own sin. For this reason, even for modern men, consecrated life remains a privileged school for the ‘compunction of the heart’, the humble acknowledgement of one’s own misery, but also a school of trust in God’s mercy, in his love which never quits. In fact, the closer we get to God, the closer we are to Him, the more we are useful to others. Consecrated people experience God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness not only for themselves but also for their brothers, since they are called to bear in their heart and in their prayers mankind’s distress and hopes, especially for those who are far from God. In particular, the communities who lead a cloistered life, charged with the specific task of being faithful by ‘being with the Lord’ and ‘under the cross’ often play this vicarious role, united with Christ in his Passion, taking upon themselves the suffering and trials of others, and offering with joy everything for the salvation of the world.”