World Day for Consecrated Life, February 2
February 2 is designated throughout the world to remember and celebrate the gift of “consecrated life.” What does this mean? What exactly is it that is being honored on this day?
In its broadest sense, consecration is a solemn commitment of life or time to some cherished purpose. Throughout history, to be consecrated has meant to be set apart for a special purpose. This often involves a ceremony and frequently anointing with oil.
In the Old Testament books of the Bible we find many examples of this including the anointing of David as King and the anointing of Isaiah as a prophet. Jesus used Isaiah’s proclamation of the purpose of his anointing, (NRSV, Is.61, 1-2) to describe his own consecration:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(NRSV Luke 4, 18-19)
Consecrated life, in the legal sense defined by the Catholic Church, is a stable form of Christian living, chosen by those who feel called, by the action of the Holy Spirit, to follow Jesus Christ more closely and to publicly proclaim this call and commitment in the Church and the world.
Consecrated religious in the Church are especially chosen to give public witness to the fact that Jesus Christ is, ultimately, who every Christian is consecrated to in Baptism.
In addition to this invitation to witness to a life dedicated to the love and following of Jesus’ example in the Gospels, each religious community is invited by a special grace or charism to witness to a special aspect of his spirit and mission and so we hear, for example, of Dominican spirituality or Franciscan spirituality.
For the Sisters of St Joseph, we recognize that we are called to witness to and bring about in the Church and the world, union or wholeness- with ourselves, with and among others, with the Divine Mystery we call God and with the whole of Creation.
On the World Day for Consecrated life we honour the contribution, throughout history, of the men and women who have responded to this call within the Church and we pray that many other men and women will answer the prompting of the Spirit to this way of witness and service in the Church and in the world.
Rosemary Fry, CSJ
Prayer for Vocations
Gracious God, we thank you
for your loving kindness and faithfulness.
Be with us as we follow Jesus in serving
the dear neighbour, and in spreading
the good news of your love.
We ask, through the intercession of
Mary and Joseph, that you inspire women
and men to respond to your call to serve you
as consecrated religious.
Most especially, we ask you to send
generous and courageous women to join us,
the Congregation of Great Love.
We ask this through your son Jesus,
and in the power of your Holy Spirit.
—The Sisters of St. Joseph