SPECIAL MESSAGE OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
Archbishop Franc Rodé, C.M., Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, presided at the traditional Mass for consecrated persons in St Peter's Basilica. Here is a translation of Archbishop Rodé's brief introduction in Italian to the Holy Father's Message for the Day.
"On the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, the day on which the Son of God, conceived in eternity, is proclaimed by the Holy Spirit as "a light for revelation to the Gentiles' and the "glory for your people Israel', we are gathered here to renew our consecration to the Lord. Dear Brothers and Sisters, I convey to you all the personal greeting of the Holy Father, who thanks you for the affection you have shown him and for your fervent prayers. He joins us here at this moment with his prayers and he sends us his Blessing. Let us listen with grateful hearts to his Message to the consecrated men and women of the world".
Archbishop Rodé then read the Pope's Message:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Today, we are celebrating the Day of Consecrated Life, a favourable occasion for thanking the Lord together with all who are called by him "to the practise of the evangelical counsels, and who make faithful profession of them, bind[ing] themselves to the Lord in a special way. They follow Christ who, virginal and poor (cf. Mt 8: 20; Lk 9: 58), redeemed and sanctified men by obedience unto death on the cross (cf. Phil 2: 8)" (Perfectae Caritatis, n. 1). This year the celebration acquires special importance because we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the Decree Perfectae Caritatis, through which the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council updated the guidelines for the renewal of the consecrated life.
During these 40 years, in obedience to the directives of the Church's Magisterium, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic life have followed a fertile path of renewal, marked on the one hand by the desire to be faithful to the gift received from the Holy Spirit through their Founders and Foundresses and, on the other, by concern to adapt their way of living, praying and acting to "the present-day physical and psychological condition of the members. It should also be in harmony with the needs of the apostolate, in the measure that the nature of each Institute requires, with the requirements of culture and with social and economic circumstances" (ibid., n. 3).
How could we not thank the Lord for this timely "updating" of consecrated life? I am certain that it will also lead to the multiplication of the fruits of holiness and missionary activity, on condition that consecrated persons keep their ascetic zeal unaltered and instil it in their apostolic works.
2. The secret of this spiritual ardour is the Eucharist. In this year specially
dedicated to the Eucharist, I would like to urge all men and women religious to
establish an ever more profound communion with Christ by sharing daily in the
sacrament which makes him present, in the sacrifice which actualizes the gift of
his love on Golgotha, the banquet which nourishes and sustains God's pilgrim
people. "By its very nature", as the Apostolic Exhortation
Vita Consecrata affirms, "the Eucharist is at the centre of the
consecrated life, both for individuals and for communities" (n. 95).
Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us penetrate the mystery of the Eucharist guided by the Blessed Virgin Mary and following her example! May Mary, Woman of the Eucharist, help all who are called to special intimacy with Christ to participate diligently in Holy Mass and obtain for them the gift of prompt obedience, faithful poverty and fruitful virginity; may she make them holy disciples of Christ in the Eucharist.
With these sentiments, as I assure you of my remembrance in prayer, I willingly bless all consecrated persons and the Christian communities in which they are called to carry out their mission.
From the Vatican, 2 February 2005
JOHN PAUL II
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