The Year of Consecrated Life Has Begun!
In November 2013, Pope Francis proclaimed the Year of Consecrated Life to be celebrated in honor of Men and women in Religious Orders and Congregations, Secular Institutes, Societies of Apostolic Life and new forms of consecrated life. It started on November 30, 2014 and will end on February 2, 2016.
The proclamation of a 14-month celebration of those who devote themselves to God expands on the World Day of Consecrated Life, a day of Thanksgiving for the gift of consecrated life, begun in 1997 by Saint John Paul II, following the 1994 Synod on Consecrated Life and its role in the Church and the world.
The 1996 Post-Synodal Exhortation Vita Consecrata, described Consecrated Life as being “deeply rooted in the example of Christ the Lord…a gift of God the Father to his Church through the Holy Spirit.” The document also describes the call to a consecratedlife: “All are called equally to follow Christ…but those who are calledto a consecrated life have a special experience of the light which shines forth from the Incarnate Word…The church entrusts to communities of consecrated life the particular task of spreadingthe spirituality of communion.” The document also included “all those individuals who, in their inmost hearts, dedicate themselves to God bya special consecration.”
Saint John Paul II chose February 2,The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple to be the World Day of Consecrated Life, as it is considered the backdrop of the first encounter of Christ with his people, Simeon and Anna, who were called there by the Holy Spirit.
Saint John Paul II wrote: “Consecrated persons live ‘for God’ and ‘from God’ and precisely for this reason they areable to bear witness to the reconciling power of grace.”
For the Augustinian Friars, Sistersand Nuns, who take vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, Vita Consecrata made special note that “the professionof evangelical counsels (vows) makes them a kind of sign and prophetic statement for the community.”
Pope Francis announced the Year of Consecrated Life at a meeting of the Union of Superiors General of Religious Orders and had a special message for the formation of religious members: “Develop a tender heart.”
The Prior General of the Order of Saint Augustine, Alejandro Moral Antón, O.S.A. addressed the Sisters and Brothers of the Order in a letter where he quoted Saint Augustine when he expressed objectives to keep in mind for this special year: “To give thanks to the God who is the giver of all good things (Rule VII, 49), to take on the future as people who are blessed and happy in hope (The City of God XIX, 4, 5) and to live the present time with passion and with openness to the Spirit, ‘holding on to love, loving truth, desiring unity’” (Sermon 267, 4).