Put Out into the Deep

The Joy of Religious life

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

As we prepare to celebrate the World Day for Consecrated Life on Feb. 2, we remember that the Year of Consecrated Life called by our Holy Father, Pope Francis, will come to an end. However, the celebration of Consecrated Life in the Church, since its specific designation in 1997 by Saint John Paul II, must continue.

In the message of Pope Francis for the Year of Consecrated Life, he focused on several ways in which the religious can “Wake up the world.” Waking up the world is not a matter of shaking those who are asleep into wakefulness. Rather, it is a matter of witnessing to what is important in Christian life so that others will want to imitate a Christian life. It is the spirit of God that motivates consecrated women and men to be faithful to the mission of their individual communities and institutes.

As Pope Francis said, “Living the present with passion means becoming ‘experts in communion,’ ‘witnesses and architects of the ‘plan for unity’ which is the crowning point of human history in God’s design.’” How important being witnesses to communion and unity is to the divided and fractured world in which we live. Religious, by their witness, can do much to wake up the world to the unity intended by God.

In his letter for the Year of Consecrated Life, Pope Francis outlined certain expectations that he hoped would be achieved during this year. One was achieving the joy of religious life. Joy should be a characteristic of all Christian life, but especially for those who have given up what the world considers important to follow Christ should radiate that particular joy which is never skin deep. Rather, it takes possession of the soul of the religious and gives them that special ability to manifest joy in the world. How important it is that we rely on our religious to show us the Joy of the Gospel as Pope Francis has told us in his wonderful Encyclical.

Secondly, our Holy Father wanted all members of the Church, but especially the religious, to go into the world and evangelize. These are the last words which Jesus spoke to His followers and which he continues to address to us. The world is awaiting the announcers and witnesses to the Gospel. Hopefully, during this year many religious have taken special attention to go into the world. We need only mention in our own Diocese here in Brooklyn and Queens the San Damiano Mission intended to reach out to the new young people settling in our Diocese as one example. After one year of existence, the achievements of the mission perhaps are modest; however, a foundation has been laid for the eventual work of the mission. The combination of two Franciscan provinces gave us the opportunity to seek new religious to work in our diocese in this special mission. Hopefully, with God’s good help, we will be able to achieve its purposes by reaching out to the young Catholics and others whose religious needs are not easily met by existing parish structures.

As we come to the conclusion of the Year of Consecrated Life, only God can truly evaluate its success. We leave it to the Lord’s judgment how well we have been able to meet the expectations for the future.

Consecrated Life, by definition, is a putting out into the deep recesses of Christian life by pledging all to the mission of the Gospel. Join me as we pray for the Consecrated Religious of Brooklyn and Queens and in the world, that they may accomplish the mission entrusted to them.

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