Here I am, send me!
World Day for Consecrated Life: a day to recognize and give thanks for those who have consecrated their lives to God, to learn more about the consecrated life and to pray for future vocations to this life. Feb. 2, 2004, the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, commemorates the day that Mary and Joseph presented Jesus to the Lord. This is the day that we associate with the celebration of consecrated life in the world.
We are all consecrated or dedicated to a divine purpose through our sacrament of Baptism. On this World Day, we celebrate those who are called to further their baptismal commitment by taking religious vows. Religious Sisters, nuns, brothers, priests and monks all consecrate their lives to God and the church. Single lay people may choose to be a part of a secular institute or may profess the evangelical vows privately to the local bishop. In doing so, these individuals provide blessings for the whole church.
The Holy Father John Paul II established the first World Day for Consecrated Life on Feb. 2, 1997, to encourage us to give thanks to God for those men and women who are called to offer their lives in service to the church. He also wished to promote esteem for the consecrated life and to invite consecrated persons to celebrate together.
Here is how Sister Claire Bradley CSJ described her own call in Wisdom Raises Her Voice: An Oral History: "Religious life is a call in the real sense of the word. In the early stage, when I found myself thinking about it, I would say, "No way, not me!" God works very gently at first. Then gradually, I realized I felt strongly about it. That is the way God worked with me, at any rate." Read Sister Claire's story.
We are invited to pray for those who have chosen this path. On this day, we ask God to bless the church with others who, like Isaiah, respond to a call with the words, "Here I am, send me!"