VATICAN CITY, 3 FEB 2010 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Basilica at 5.30 p.m. yesterday Benedict XVI presided at the celebration of Vespers for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the Day of Consecrated Life.
The Pope recalled how it was John Paul II who, in 1997, decided that this Day should coincide with the Feast of the Presentation. "In fact", he said, "the oblation of the Son of God - as symbolised by His presentation in the Temple - represents a model for all men and women who consecrate their lives to the Lord.
"This Day", he added, "has a triple aim: firstly, to praise and thank the Lord for the gift of consecrated life; secondly, to promote awareness and respect for consecrated life among all the People of God; and finally, to invite those who have fully dedicated their own lives to the cause of the Gospel to celebrate the marvels the Lord has worked in them".
The Holy Father then went on to comment on one of the readings from today's liturgy, a passage from the Letter to the Hebrews in which "Christ is presented as the Mediator: He is true God and true man, and therefore truly belongs to the divine and the human worlds", the Pope said. "It is, in fact, only on the basis of this faith, of this profession of faith in Jesus Christ the one and definitive Mediator, that consecrated life has meaning in the Church, a life consecrated to God through Christ. It has meaning only if He truly is the Mediator between God and us, otherwise it would merely be a form of sublimation or evasion".
"Consecrated life", the Pope went on, "is a 'strong' expression of God's and man's reciprocal search for one another. ... Consecrated people, by the very fact of their existence, represent a kind of 'bridge' towards God for everyone they meet. ... This is by virtue of the mediation of Christ, Who was consecrated by the Father. He is the foundation, He Who shared our frailty that we might share in His divine nature".
"Consecrated people experience the grace, mercy and forgiveness of God, not only for themselves but also for their brothers and sisters, being called to carry in their hearts and their prayers the anguish and desires of mankind, especially those who are far from God. Cloistered communities in particular, with their specific commitment to faithfulness in 'being with the Lord' and in 'standing under the cross', often play this intermediate role, united to Christ in the Passion, taking upon themselves the suffering and trials of others and joyfully offering everything for the salvation of the world".
Consecrated life "is a testament to the superabundance of love which stimulates us to 'lose' our own life in response to the superabundance of the love of the Lord, Who first 'lost' His life for us. At this moment my thoughts go to consecrated people who feel the burden of a daily fatigue that offers scant human gratification, I think of elderly and sick religious, and those who face difficulties in their apostolate. None of them are useless, because the Lord associates them with the 'throne of grace'; rather, they are a precious gift for the Church, and for the world which thirsts for God and His Word".
Benedict XVI concluded by expressing the hope that the current Year for Priests "may be a further opportunity for regular priests to intensify their journey to sanctification, and a stimulus for all consecrated people to accompany and support their ministry with fervent prayer".
HML/CONSECRATED LIFE/... VIS 20100203 (610)