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Tuesday, February 3, 2004


VATICAN CITY, FEB 3, 2004 (VIS) - Yesterday evening thousands of members of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life participated in a Eucharistic celebration presided by the Pope in the Vatican Basilica for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.

The Pope blessed the candles, participated in the initial procession and, after pronouncing the homily, led the thanksgiving to God for the gift of consecrated life. Following the Mass, which was celebrated by Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Holy Father imparted his apostolic blessing.

John Paul II said that on this eighth day of Consecrated Life, "those who have forever offered their lives to Christ for the coming of the Kingdom of God are called to renew their 'yes' to the special vocation they have received. At the same time, the entire ecclesial community also rediscovers the richness of the prophetic witness of consecrated life, in the variety of its charisms and apostolic commitments."

Addressing himself to those present, the Pope highlighted the fact that Christ called them "to model themselves ever more on Him, who for love was obedient, poor and chaste. Continue to dedicate yourselves with passion to announcing and promoting his kingdom, which is necessary today as it was in the past!"

John Paul II invited the religious to renew their faithfulness to God "with the same enthusiasm and generosity as when you first pronounced your vows. Every day repeat with joy and conviction your 'yes' to the God of Love. In the intimacy of the monastery or alongside the poor and the marginalized, among the young or within ecclesial structures, in various apostolic activities or in mission lands, God wants you to remain faithful to his love and dedicated to the good of your brothers. This is the precious contribution you can offer the Church so that the Gospel of hope may reach all the men and women of our time."

At the end of his homily, the Pope called them to imitate the Virgin who "unconditionally accepted the will of God". Mary "is the primary and most exalted model for all consecrated people. Let yourselves be guided by her. Trust in her assistance with humble confidence, especially in moments of trial."

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