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On Sunday, Feb. 3, the Church celebrates World Day for Consecrated Life 2013.
Established in 1997 by our late and beloved Holy Father, John Paul II, World Day for Consecrated Life was created:
-- To recognize the importance of Consecrated Life to the mission of the Church.
-- To thank those who have embraced the Consecrated Life for their commitment and dedication.
-- To encourage men and women to listen attentively to God's call... a life of service to the Church as a sister, brother, religious priest, consecrated virgin, hermit or member of a secular institute is filled with many blessings.
World Day for Consecrated Life is a day of gratitude.
I am frequently asked; "What is consecrated life?" Here are some frequent answers that I give to this question.
I find the following line from the Apostolic Exhortation "Vita Consecrata" particularly meaningful: "Consecrated Life is at the heart of the Church and essential to her mission of holiness."
Consecrated life is the radical following of Christ through the public profession of Vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience.
Consecrated men and women seek to imitate the compassion, mercy and love that Christ lived and taught during his public ministry.
The consecrated life is dedicated to prayer and service to the Church.
The lives of consecrated men and women witness to the primacy of God in their lives.
The Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience proclaim loudly that what the culture offers as fulfilling is not enough. Materialism, consumerism, individualism do not bring fulfillment. Only God can totally satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts.
Cardinal Seán often says that "Consecrated life witnesses to the promise of eternal life and that God indeed will have the last word in each of our lives."
Occasionally I hear, "A vocation to consecrated life is something from another era. There are so many other choices and possibilities."
"Vita Consecrata" reminds us that the consecrated life has a rich history and a story yet to be told.
Cardinal Seán's Pastoral Letter on Vocations reminds us that "God continues to call..."
Each year a theme is selected for the celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life.
The theme for 2013 is "Here I Am, Send Me." These words from the sixth chapter of Isaiah invite us to listen attentively to God's call and respond generously. They also remind us of the importance of praying for vocations. As we celebrate this day, let us give thanks for the gift of consecrated life. Let us give thanks for those who have dedicated their lives to the service of the Church. Let us pray that more young men and women will hear God's call and respond with a loving and enthusiastic yes!
Sister Marian Batho is the Delegate for Religious for the Archdiocese of Boston.