Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address during the Angelus on Sunday, February 2, 2014 to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple is also World Day for Consecrated Life.
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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!
Today we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple. Today is also the Day of Consecrated Life, which recalls the importance for the Church of those who have received the vocation to follow Jesus closely along the path of the evangelical counsels. Today’s Gospel gives an account of how Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple 40 days after his birth to offer and consecrate him to God according to the prescription of the Jewish Law. This Gospel episode also constitutes an icon of the gift of their life made by those who, by a gift of God, assume the traits of Jesus as virgin, poor and obedient.
This gift of ourselves to God regards every Christian because we are all consecrated to him through our baptism. We are all called to offer ourselves to the Father with Jesus and like Jesus, making a generous gift of our lives, in the family, at work, in service to the Church, in works of mercy. Nevertheless, such a consecration is lived in a special way by religious, by monks and by consecrated laypersons, who, with the profession of their vows, belong to God in a total and exclusive way. This belonging to the Lord permits those who live it in an authentic way to offer a special witness of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Totally consecrated to God, they are totally given to their brothers, to bring the light of Christ where the darkness is the most impenetrable and spread hope to discouraged hearts.
Consecrated persons are a sign of God in the different spheres of life, they are the leaven for the growth a just and fraternal society, they are a prophecy of sharing with the little ones and the poor. Thus understood and lived, the consecrated life appears to us as it really is: a gift of God, a gift of God to the Church, a gift of God to his People! Every consecrated person is a gift a gift for the People of God on its journey. There is great need of these presences that reinforce and renew the commitment to spread the Gospel, Christian education, charity toward the neediest, contemplative prayer; the commitment to human formation, the spiritual formation of young people and of families; the commitment to justice and peace in the human family. But think about what would happen if there were no sisters in the hospitals, sisters in the missions, sisters in the schools. Think of a Church without sisters! You can’t. They are this gift, this leaven that moves the People of God forward. These are great women who consecrate their life to God, who advance the message of Jesus.
The Church and the world need this witness of God’s love and mercy. The consecrated and religious are that God is good and merciful. So, it is necessary to appreciate with gratitude the experiences of consecrated life and deepen our knowledge of the different charisms and spiritualities. We must pray that many young people answer “yes” to the Lord’s call to consecrate themselves totally to him in view of a disinterested service to their brothers, of consecrating their life to serve God and their brothers.
For all these reasons, as it was just announced, next year will be dedicated in a special way to consecrated life. From this moment let us entrust this initiative to the intercession of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, who, as the parents of Jesus, were the first to be consecrated to him and to consecrate their life to him.
[Translation by Joseph Trabbic form ZENIT.ORG]