what does the Year of Consecrated Life mean to me?
To me the words of Saint John Paul II underline the real value of consecrating one’s life to God. Instituting the World Day of Consecrated life, in 1997, he stated that consecrated life, deeply rooted in the example and teaching of Christ, is a gift of God the Father to his church – a reminder to us of the feast of the Presentation of the Lord – that, as did Jesus through the action of Mary, so consecrated persons give their lives to God as their greatest gift.
The foundation of this life is thus grounded in the life of Jesus. Through living our profession of the evangelical counsels the character of Jesus – the chaste, poor and obedient one – is made constantly visible and realized in the midst of the world. Eyes of faith are always geared towards the mystery of the kingdom. As a Pallottine, this mystery is witnessed every time our consecration is realized.
St Vincent Pallotti added three additional promises to the three evangelical counsels, as stated in our Law:
“By our consecration we give ourselves entirely to God, and we resolve to follow Jesus…So we promise to the Society: consecrated celibacy, poverty, obedience, perseverance, the sharing of resources and a spirit of service.”
This profession commitment is our response to God’s invitation to live for him in the service of the world, and to realize the mystery of God in a fraternal community. We follow the example of Mary who offered the greatest gift to God, meaning Jesus who sacrificed Himself for our redemption and salvation. I am convinced that, to put this mystery into practise, one has to allow oneself to be cultivated inwardly by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus came amongst us as the apostle of the eternal Father, His Spirit must become our drive too.
“If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life…through his Spirit that dwells in you.” [Rom. 8:11]
God’s Spirit is the core value of our consecration. Pallotti tells us: “If we are to imitate Our Lord Jesus Christ, it is very necessary that we possess His Spirit. Accordingly all our thoughts and feelings must be like those of Jesus Christ, so that we can…imitate him in our actions”. We are invited to give God’s Spirit a place in our hearts. It is indeed this Spirit who awakens and moulds our desire to respond fully to our vocation. In every age the Spirit of God enables men and women to realize the fullness of God. As Jeremiah put it: “You have seduced me, Lord, and I have let myself be seduced” [Jer. 20:7].
So the word of God is our guidance in this vocation. We ought to have a complete dedication characterized by a boundless love to serve all. Saint John Paul II’s words again:
“The first missionary duty of consecrated persons is to themselves, and they fulfil it by opening their hearts to the promptings of the Spirit of Christ. Their witness helps the whole Church…to serve God freely, through Christ’s grace which is communicated to believers.”
As consecrated persons, we are called to continually deepen our response to God, so that we become true signs of Christ in the world. Like the apostles, who left everything to gain life in Christ, we are encouraged to follow the steps of our Founder and to put all our trust in Christ. Through the gift of our charism, spirituality and apostolic life we must make visible the mission of the Church. We are challenged to continue reviving faith in our secularized world as consecrated persons.
This year marks the 18th year of celebration of the original ‘Day of Consecrated Life’, and now coincides with the theme proclaimed by Pope Francis, for a ‘Year of the Consecrated Life’.
Let us use this precious moment to dedicate all consecrated people into the loving care of our mother Mary for her intercession.
Dedan Munyinyi sac [IR] – Nairobi – KENYA