02/02/2004, 00.00
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The Pope to the consecrated: Live with Joy and conviction

Vatican City (AsiaNews) -    This afternoon at 5.30pm in the Basilica of Saint Peter, on the occasion of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, the Pope, with thousands of religious men and women, celebrated the Eighth Day of Consecrated Life. The Holy Mass was preceeded by the Liturgy of Light, with the Basilica completely dark, illuminated only by the lit candles lit  in the hands of each participant.

The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, Prefect of the Congregation for the Institute of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life. The Pope gave the homily.

Taking the cue from the feast of the day,  in which Jesus is offered  to God, the Pontiff remembered  "those who have offered their existence forever to Christ for the coming of the Reign of God." They are "invited to renew their 'Yes' to the special vocation received" together with the whole ecclesial community that must  "rediscover the richness of the prophetic testimony of the consecrated life, in the variety of its charisms and apostolic commitments."

The Feast of the Presentation in an "appropriate occasion" for renewing and rejuvenating each one's vocation. "Repeat each day your 'Yes' to the God of Love with joy and conviction" said the Pope.  "In the intimacy of the monastery or cloister, or at the side of the poor and the marginalized, with the youth or within the ecclesial structures, in the various apostolic activities, or in the mission lands, God wants you to be faithful in your love and totally dedicated to the good of your brothers. This is a precious contribution that you can offer to the Church, because the Gospel of hope reaches the men and women of our time."

 Recalling later the image of  Mary, present at the Temple and present under the Cross, John Paul II said, "Our Lady is ...the first and highest model of all consecrated persons. Let us look toward Her, dear brothers and sisters. Turn to her help with humble confidence, especially in the moments of  trials. And You, Mary, watch over these your children, lead them to Christ, "glory of  Israel, light of the people." Virgo Virginum, Mater Salvatoris, ora pro nobis! (Virgin of Virgins, Mother  of the Savior, pray for us!)"

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