Last week at the University of Notre Dame (my alma mater) members of the various religious orders along with a secular priest, spoke about their place in the Church. In church lingo: they spoke about their charism (the diivne gift). As you know ND was founded and continues to be sponsored by the Congregation of Holy Cross (CSC) but through the years members of religious orders like the Franciscans, Jesuits and Dominicans (among others) have worked and/or studied at ND. The richness ot the women religious ought to be explored at some point.
In today’s feast we contemplate the Lord Jesus whom
Mary and Joseph take to the Temple “to present him to the Lord” (Luke
2:22). Revealed in this evangelical scene is the mystery of the Son of the
Virgin, the consecrated One of the Father, who came into the world to carry out
his will faithfully (cf. Hebrews 10:5-7).
Simeon points to him as “light
for revelation to the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32), and proclaims with prophetic
word his supreme offer to God and his final victory (cf. Luke 2:32-35). It is
the meeting of the two Testaments, the Old and the New. Jesus enters the
ancient Temple, He who is the new Temple of God: He comes to visit his people,
bringing to fulfillment obedience to the Law and inaugurating the end times of
February 2, Candlemas, is since 1997, World Day of Consecrated Life was instituted by Pope John Paul II. Candlemas is a feast of encounter. In years past the Pope celebrated the Mass but this year he’s celebrating Vespers. Four years ago I was there with some friends and it was a widely beautiful experience because we were united in prayer and in communion with Pope Benedict with all the various charisms –religious orders, congregations, religious and secular institutes– called by the Lord into existence for the entire Church, not just for a select few. While a man professes the vows of a Capuchin or Benedictine his vocation is for his own salvation and for the witness of the Resurrection. It is not a case of either-or. This is an important point: a day of prayer like the one for consecrated life is not exclusively for those in vows, but for all of the faithful who are called to live a life of holiness, a life of conversion rooted in Baptism. Pope Benedict notes three aspects of the day of prayer for consecrated life: to thank and praise God for the gift of the consecrated life, to promote and appreciation with all the faithful of this vocation and to invite all the vowed people to recognize what the Lord has done in them through the Gospel.