Pope Benedict XVI- Addresses
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO CONSECRATED MEN AND WOMEN
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
XI World Day of Consecrated Life
Friday, Februrary 2, 2007
Brothers and Sisters,
glad to meet you at the end of the Eucharistic Celebration that has
gathered you in this Basilica this year too, on an occasion so
meaningful for you who belong to Congregations, Institutes,
Societies of Apostolic Life and New Forms of Consecrated Life; you
constitute a particularly important element of the Mystical Body of
liturgy recalls the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, the
feast chosen by my venerable Predecessor, John Paul II, as the "Day
of Consecrated Life".
great pleasure I address my cordial greetings to each one of you
present here, beginning with Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect of your
Dicastery, to whom I am grateful for his kind words on your behalf.
I then greet the Secretary and all the members of the Congregation
which looks after a vital sector of the Church. Today's celebration
is especially appropriate for asking the Lord for the gift of an
ever more consistent and incisive presence of men and women
religious and consecrated persons in the Church journeying along the
roads of the world.
brothers and sisters, the Feast day we are celebrating reminds us
that your Gospel witness, to be truly effective, must stem from a
response without reserve to the initiative of God who has
consecrated you to him with a special act of love.
the elderly Simeon and Anna longed to see the Messiah before they
died and spoke of him "to all who were looking for the redemption of
Jerusalem" (cf. Lk 2: 26,38) so also in our time, especially among
young people, there is a widespread need to encounter God.
who are chosen by God for the consecrated life make this spiritual
longing their own in a definitive way. In it, in fact, they have one
expectation: the Kingdom of God: that God reign in our will, in our
hearts, in the world. In them burns a unique thirst for love which
can be quenched by the Eternal One alone.
example they proclaim to a world which is often bewildered but, in
fact, increasingly in search of meaning, that God is the Lord of
life and that his "steadfast love is better than life" (Ps
choosing obedience, poverty and chastity for the Kingdom of Heaven,
they demonstrate that any attachment or love for people and things
is incapable of definitively satisfying the heart; that earthly
existence is a longer or shorter period of waiting for the
"face-to-face" encounter with the divine Bridegroom, an expectation
to be lived with an ever vigilant heart, to be ready to recognize
and welcome him when he comes.
Consecrated life, therefore, is by its nature a total and
definitive, unconditional and passionate response to God (cf.
n. 17). And so, when one renounces everything
to follow Christ, when one gives to him all that one holds most
dear, braving every sacrifice as did the divine Teacher, the
consecrated person who follows in Christ's footsteps necessarily
also becomes "a sign of contradiction", because his/her way of
thinking and living is often in opposition to the logic of the
world, as it is almost always presented in the media.
in choosing Christ we let ourselves be "conquered" by him without
reserve. How many people thirsting for the truth are struck by this
courage and attracted by those who do not hesitate to give their
life, their own life, for their belief.
this the radical evangelical fidelity to which every consecrated
person is called in our time too? Let us give thanks to the Lord so
that many Religious men and women in all the corners of the earth
may continue to offer a supreme and faithful witness of love to God
and to the brethren, a witness that is often marked by the blood of
martyrdom. Let us also thank God so that these examples may continue
to inspire in the souls of many young people the desire to follow
Christ always in an intimate and total way.
brothers and sisters, never forget that the consecrated life is a
divine gift and that it is the Lord in the first place who ensures
its success in accordance with his plans. This certainty that the
Lord leads us to a successful conclusion despite our weakness; this
certainty must be a comfort to you, protecting you from the
temptation of discouragement in the face of the inevitable
difficulties of life and the many challenges of the modern epoch.
Indeed, in the difficult period in which we live many Institutes may
feel a sense of dismay at the failings they discover within them and
the many obstacles they encounter in carrying out their mission.
that Child Jesus who is presented at the Temple is alive among us
and invisibly supports us so that we may cooperate faithfully with
him in the work of salvation, and he does not abandon us.
liturgy is particularly evocative because it is marked by the symbol
of light. The solemn procession with candles which you made at the
beginning of the celebration points to Christ, the true light of the
world who shines in the night of history and illumines every seeker
of the truth. Dear consecrated men and women, burn with this flame
and make it radiant with your life so that a gleam of the brightness
that shone from Jesus, the splendour of the truth, may shine
dedicating yourselves exclusively to him (cf.
n. 15), you witness to the fascination of the
truth of Christ and the joy that derives from love for him. In
contemplation and in activity, in solitude and in fraternity, in
service to the poor and the lowly, in personal guidance and in the
modern areopaghi, be ready to proclaim and to witness that God is
Love and that to love him is sweet.
Mary, the Tota Pulchra, teach you to transmit to men and
women today this divine fascination that must transpire from your
words and actions. As I express to you my grateful appreciation for
the service you render to the Church, I assure you of my constant
remembrance in prayer and I warmly bless you all.
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