To the Father

Feb 2, 2013 by

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, that moment when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple – the fourth joyful mystery. Similarly, we remember that it is also Mary’s feast – her purification. Through her womb by the power of the Spirit and in her arms, Mary presents Jesus to the Father – all in accord with Mosaic Law (Ex 13:1).  Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…

Simeon, taking Jesus in his arms and inspired by the Spirit, proclaims – “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples – a light to the gentiles and glory for your people Israel”  (Lk 2: 29-32). The identity that Jesus’ name betrays is confirmed: Yahweh saves. And in Jesus’ death and resurrection Simeon’s prophecy will find its ultimate fulfillment – a source of great hope for all of us.

Prayer Card - World Day for Consecrated Life


Yes, there is much reason for hope. And  “hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies..” (1994, Shawshank Redcemption). On this day I am full of hope as a Christian and as a consecrated person. Today we in the Church also celebrate the World Day of Consecrated Life. In 1997, Pope John Paul II instituted a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life. This celebration is attached to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd and is also known as Candlemas Day (the day on which candles are blessed symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world). So too, those in consecrated life are called to reflect light of Jesus Christ to all peoples. USCCB

As a religious in perpetual vows since 2003, I am thankful for today’s celebration(s), and I am reminded of the first time I celebrated the World Day of Consecrated Life. I was in Rome, Italy studying theology at the Gregorian University and in temporary vows. It was the Jubilee Year, and we were celebrating the Jubilee of Consecrated Life. John Paul II presided at an outdoor mass at St. Peter’s. What a glorious day. There were tens of thousands of consecrated people praising the Lord and thanking him for the gift of consecrated life. What I remember most vividly from that day was how inspired I felt and many times Pope John Paul II (now Blessed) used the word witness in his homily. That day had a significant impact on my understanding of my mission as a consecrated person. Here are a few verses that are especially powerful and have greatly influenced me and my thoughts in forming the ecclesial family, the Missionaries of Mercy.

“Assembled at the Tomb of the Prince of the Apostles in this Jubilee Year, you wish to express with special emphasis the deep bond that links consecrated life to the Successor of Peter.

“You are asking yourselves at the beginning of a new millennium about the most effective ways to contribute, while respecting your foundational charism, to the new evangelization by reaching out to the many people who still do not know Christ. With this in mind, your fervent prayer rises to the Lord of the harvest that he will awaken in the hearts of many young men and women the desire to give themselves totally to the cause of Christ and the Gospel.

“Men and women of this generation have a great need to meet the Lord and his liberating message of salvation”

Eschatological witness is part of your vocation. The vows of poverty, obedience and chastity for the kingdom of God are a message that you proclaim to the world about man’s ultimate destiny. It is a valuable message:  “Those who vigilantly await the fulfillment of Christ’s promises are able to bring hope to their brothers and sisters who are often discouraged and pessimistic about the future” (Vita consecratan. 27)

“It had been revealed to him by the Spirit” (Lk 2: 26). What the Evangelist said of Simeon can easily be applied to you whom the Spirit leads towards a special experience of Christ. By the renewing power of his love, he wants to make you effective witnesses to conversion, penance and new life.

To have your heart, affections, interests and feelings centered on Jesus is the most important aspect of the gift that the Spirit works within you. He conforms you to the chaste, poor and obedient Jesus. And the evangelical counsels, far from being an impoverishing renunciation, are a choice that frees a person for a fuller realization of his potential. 

The Evangelist notes that the prophetess Anna “did not depart from the temple” (Lk 2: 37). The first vocation of those who endeavour to follow Jesus with an undivided heart is “to be with him“(Mk 3: 14), to be in communion with him, listening to his words in constant praise of God (cf. Lk2: 38).

Dear brothers and sisters, make your praise resound in the Church with humility and constancy, and the hymn of your life will echo deeply in the heart of the world.

Invited to leave everything to follow Christ, you, consecrated men and women, no longer define your life by family, by profession or by earthly interests, and you choose the Lord as your only identifying mark. Thus you acquire a new family identityThe divine Teacher’s words apply particularly to you:  “Here are my mother and my brethren” (cf. Mk 3: 35). The invitation to renunciation, as you know well, is not meant to leave you “without a family” but to make you the first and distinctive members of the “new family”, a witness and prophetic example for all whom God wishes to call and bring into his house.

Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ
and of the Church,
look upon the men and women
whom your Son has called to follow 
him in total consecration to his love:
may they always let the Spirit
guide them;
may they be tireless in giving of
themselves and in serving the Lord,
so as to be faithful witnesses to 
the joy that flows from the Gospel,
and preachers of the Truth
that leads human beings
to the springs of immortal life.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation and the World Day of Consecrated Life. Today we remember that moment when through her womb and by the power of the Holy Spirit Mary and Joseph present Jesus – body, blood, soul and divinity – to the Father in the Temple. We as Christians and those of us who are consecrated are reminded of how we through both the womb of Mother Church and of our spiritual Mother Mary, whose heart was pierced as she offered Jesus to the Father at the foot of the cross, are made in Christ, as members of  His body and in a special way through the Eucharistic sacrifice, an offering to the Father – for His glory, the salvation of the world, and our sanctification. We understand that this offering is a concrete realization of our salvation and an essential part of our  journey to the House of the Father – a journey and an offering to the Father –  in Christ and through Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit.     FSF

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