Turn on the Light

Tomorrow is World Day for Consecrated Life, and U.S. parishes will mark it this weekend. Begun in 1997 by Pope John Paul II, the commemoration is intended “to help the entire Church to esteem ever more greatly the witness of those persons who have chosen to follow Christ by means of the evangelical counsels”—poverty, chastity, and obedience—and “to be a suitable occasion for consecrated persons to renew their commitment and rekindle the fervor which should inspire their offering of themselves to the Lord” (John Paul, 1997).

The pope selected the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord for this event. This feast is known as Candlemas Day, when the church blesses all of the candles to be used in the year in parishes, homes, and places of worship. All disciples, by virtue of our baptism, are called to be the light of Christ. Our tradition teaches us that vowed religious life is an intensification of the baptismal call to live Jesus.

As the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales profess these vows, we look forward to this day which coincides this year with the 110th anniversary of the death of our founder, Blessed Louis Brisson, OSFS. His exhortation that we “reprint the Gospel” with our lives is an appropriate reminder for all of us, whether in religious, married, or the single life. Like a small candle is lighted from the large paschal candle at every baptism, our lives are meant to be a flame of faith, hope, and love to join with all the flames flickering throughout the world to set it ablaze with the love, peace, and joy of Jesus.

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Yes, this weekend we will have an opportunity to pray for those sisters, brothers, and priests whose poverty, chastity, and obedience inspired, taught, or animated us to be stronger and more faith-filled disciples. And, we also pray that each of us cooperates with the grace to deepen our commitment and renew the fervor of our own baptism for a world in great need of our light, which is the light of Christ.

O God, throughout the ages you have called women and men to pursue lives of perfect charity through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. During this Year of Consecrated Life, we give you thanks for these courageous witnesses of Faith and models of inspiration. Their pursuit of holy lives teaches us to make a more perfect offer- ing of ourselves to you. Continue to enrich your Church by calling forth sons and daugh- ters who, having found the pearl of great price, treasure the Kingdom of Heaven above all things. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.