First, I want to thank all those who helped with the Generations of Faith event last Wednesday. It was once again a great event and enjoyed by many!
This coming Monday, February 2, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord. This is also called Candlemas day. This is the traditional day for blessing candles and making those candles available to parishioners. Given that there are no scheduled liturgies at either parish on this day, I plan to bless several candles and make them available to you next weekend. I will also have available glass globes that can be used with the candle inserts.
On Tuesday, February 3, we will celebrate the Memorial of St. Blaise. This is the traditional time of the throat blessing. I will offer the blessing of throat after HolyMass this day.
We are the in the midst of the Year for Consecrated Life in the Church as called for by Pope Francis. In offering this special year to honor those who are living a dedicated life of Consecration in the Church, our Holy Father gives all of us a special opportunity to learn more about the special call of Jesus to give oneself to the Church for unique service.
Several years ago, St. John Paul II began meeting with those living in Consecrated Life on Feast of the Presentation of the Lord or February 2 and gave a special meaning to the day by calling it the ‘World Day for Consecrated Life’. This particular feast was chosen because we commemorate the day when the child Jesus
was consecrated to God in the Temple.
On February 2, 2010, Pope Emeritus Benedict said this about the Presentation of the Lord: “On the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple we are celebrating a mystery of Christ's life linked to the precept of Mosaic Law which prescribed that 40 days after the birth of their first-born child parents should go to the Temple of Jerusalem to offer the infant to the Lord and for the ritual purification of the mother (cf. Ex 13:1-2, 11-16; Lv 12:1-8). Mary and Joseph also fulfilled this rite, offering to comply with the law a couple of turtle doves or pigeons. In giving a deeper interpretation to these things we understand that at this moment it is God Himself who is presenting his Only-Begotten Son to humanity through the words of the elderly Simeon and the Prophetess Anna. Simeon, in fact, proclaimed Jesus as the "salvation" of humanity, a "light" for all the nations and a "sign that is spoken against", because He would reveal the thoughts of hearts (cf. Lk
2:29-35). In the East this Feast was called Hypapante, a feast of encounter. In fact, Simeon and Anna, who met Jesus in the Temple and recognized Him as the Messiah so long awaited, represent humanity that encounters its Lord in the Church. Subsequently, this Feast also spread to the West, where above all the
symbol of light and the procession with candles which gave rise to the term "Candlemas" developed. This visible sign is intended to mean that the Church encounters in Faith the One who is "the light of men" and in order to bring this "light" into the world, receives Him with the full dynamism of her Faith…
In fact, it is precisely and only on the bases of this Faith, on this profession of Faith in Jesus Christ, the only and definitive Mediator, that consecrated life, a life consecrated to God through Christ has meaning in the Church. It has meaning only if He is truly the mediator between God and us; otherwise it would merely be a form of sublimation or of escape. If Christ were not truly God and at the same time fully man, the foundation of Christian life as such would be lacking as, in quite a significant way, would the foundation of every Christian consecration of man and woman.
The consecrated life, in fact, "powerfully" witnesses and expresses the reciprocal seeking of God and man, the love that attracts them to each other. The very fact of being consecrated makes the consecrated person, as it were, a "bridge" to God (and) for all who encounter him or her a reminder, a reference point. And this is all by virtue of the mediation of Jesus Christ, the Consecrated One of the Father. He is the foundation! He who shared our weaknesses so that we might participate in His Divine Nature…
Consecrated people are called in a special way to be witnesses of this mercy of the Lord in which human beings find their salvation. They have a vivid experience of God's forgiveness, because they know that they are people saved, that they are great when they see themselves as small and feel renewed and enveloped by the holiness if God when they recognize their sins. For this reason, for contemporary men and women too, consecrated life remains a privileged school of "compunction of heart", of the humble recognition of one's poverty but it likewise remains a school of trust in God's mercy, in his love that never abandons us. Actually the closer we become to God, the closer we are to him, the more helpful we are to others. Consecrated people experience God's grace, mercy and forgiveness not only for themselves but also for their brothers and sisters since they are called to carry in their hearts and prayers the anxieties and expectations of human beings, especially those who are far from God. Cloistered communities in particular, with their
specific commitment to fidelity in "being with the Lord", in "standing beneath the Cross", often carry out this vicarious role, united to the Christ of the Passion, taking upon themselves the suffering and trials of others and offering all with joy for the salvation of the world.
Lastly, dear friends, let us raise to the Lord a hymn of thanksgiving and praise for consecrated life itself. If it did not exist, how much poorer the world would be! Quite apart from the superficial assessments of its usefulness the consecrated life is important precisely because it is a sign of unbounded generosity and love, and this all the more so in a world that risks being suffocated in the vortex of the ephemeral and the useful (cf. Post- Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata,n. 105). Instead the consecrated life witnesses to the superabundance of love that is an incentive to "lose" one's life in response to the superabundance of the love of the Lord who first "lost" his life for us.”
Through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, St. Joseph, St. Michael and St. Paul, may God bless our Church with an increase in those who will generously serve the Church in Consecrated Life!