Vatican City, 2 February 2013 (VIS) – At 5:30pm this afternoon in the Vatican Basilica, Benedict XVI presided at Mass for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the Day of Consecrated Life for members of institutes for consecrated life and societies of apostolic life. Following are ample excerpts of the Holy Father's homily.
"'A light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel', thus Simeon defines the Messiah of the Lord at the end of his song of blessing. The theme of light, … is strongly present in this liturgy. In fact, the liturgy opens with a … procession in which the general superiors of the institutes for consecrated life represented here carried lit candles. This sign, specific to the liturgical tradition of this Feast, is very expressive. It shows the beauty and the value of consecrated life as the reflection of Christ's light and recalls Mary's entrance into the Temple: the Virgin Mary, consecrated woman par excellence, carried Light itself in her arms, the incarnate Word who had come to dispel the darkness of the world with God's love."
"You are all represented in that symbolic pilgrimage, which in the Year of Faith expresses even more strongly your own assembly in the Church, to be confirmed in the faith and to renew the offering of yourselves to God. … In the light of Christ, with the many charisms of contemplative and apostolic life, you cooperated in the Church's life and mission in the world. In this spirit of gratitude and communion, I would like to offer you three invitations so that you might fully enter through that 'door of faith' that is always open to us."
"Firstly, I invite you to nourish a faith that is capable of illuminating your vocation. In this regard I urge you to remember, in an interior pilgrimage, of the 'first love' with which the Lord Jesus Christ warmed your heart, not out of nostalgia, but to nourish its flame. This is why it is necessary to be with Him, in the silence of adoration, and thus to reawaken the desire and the joy of sharing one's life and choices, of the obedience of the faith, the blessedness of the poor, and the fundamental nature of love."
Secondly, I invite you to a faith that knows how to recognize the wisdom of weakness. In today's joys and afflictions, when the harshness and weight of the cross make themselves felt, do not doubt that Christ's 'kenosis' is already a paschal victory. In societies of efficiency and success, your life, marked by its 'minority' and by the weakness of the small, by its empathy with those who have no voice, becomes an evangelic sign of contradiction."
"Finally, I invite you to renew the faith that makes you pilgrims toward the future. By its nature consecrated life is a pilgrimage of the spirit, in search of a Face that sometimes shows itself and sometimes hides itself: 'Faciem tuam, Domine, requiram'. May this be your heart's constant desire, the fundamental criterion that guides your path, both in its small daily steps as well as in its more important decisions. Do not fall in with the prophets of doom who proclaim the end or the non-sense of consecrated life in the Church in our days. Rather, 'put on the Lord Jesus Christ', 'put on the armour of light' … and remain wakeful and vigilant."
"The joy of consecrated life necessarily goes through participation in Christ's cross. That is how it was for Mary, Most Holy. Hers is the suffering of a heart that is wholly one with the Heart of the Son of God, pierced by love. God's light springs forth from that wound, and from the suffering, sacrifice, and gift of self that consecrated persons live out of love for God and others shines forth that same light, which evangelises the nations. On this Feast, I wish particularly for you consecrated persons, that your lives might always have the flavour of evangelic 'parrhesia', so that, in you, the Good News might be lived, witnessed to, announced, and shine forth as the Word of truth."