On February 2, 1997, the first World Day for Consecrated Life was celebrated, instituted by St. John Paul II for the purpose of "to help the whole Church to value ever more highly the witness of those who have chosen to follow Christ closely through the practice of the evangelical counsels." The Pope also wanted the Day to be a propitious occasion for consecrated persons to renew their resolutions and rekindle the sentiments that should inspire their dedication to the Lord.
St. John Paul II set three objectives. The first was to praise and thank the Lord for the great gift of consecrated life, which enriches and rejoices the Christian community with the charisms and fruits of lives dedicated to the cause of the Kingdom. The second, to promote among the people of God the knowledge and esteem of consecrated life. The third is to invite consecrated persons to celebrate together the wonders that the Lord works in them.
On February 2, 2021, we will commemorate the 25th anniversary of this event. To celebrate this silver jubilee, the slogan chosen in Spain The book "Consecrated Life, a Parable of Fraternity in a Wounded World" reflects current events and the evangelical appeals of Pope Francis.
This motto is one of the prophetic names of consecrated life at this moment in history. With the same problems, hopes and challenges as the rest of the members of the people of God and of our society, consecrated life continues and must continue to be a prophetic parable of grace.
Rejecting any defeatist perspective, consecrated persons, clothed in Jesus Christ, are bearers of His light, as Benedict XVI affirmed a few days before his resignation: "Do not join the prophets of woe who proclaim the end or the meaninglessness of the consecrated life in the Church of our day; rather, put on Jesus Christ and bear the arms of light, as St. Paul exhorts (cf. Rm 13:11-14)-, remaining awake and vigilant". These words were quoted by Pope Francis in his Apostolic Letter on the Occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life (2014).
Consecrated persons become fewer and older, but always imbued with the love of God and the Gospel of Jesus, witnesses and prophets of the joy and hope that spring from an encounter with the Lord. United among themselves, with Him at their center, they are able to sail to other shores where they are needed. Their life and mission consecrate them to carry out a singular project that implies going, seeing and dwelling where Christ places the center, that is, in the peripheries, because the Kingdom of God has as its capital the shores of this world.
During the pandemic
Some of these shores have been, in recent months, the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. On the peripheries of pain, precariousness, depression, uncertainty and death, consecrated persons have been fraternally committed, showing themselves to be experts in the Gospel and humanity, especially with the most vulnerable.
His parable of fraternity in a wounded world has shone like a light of calm and hope in this humanitarian emergency. In nursing homes where the virus has taken its toll; in hospitals alongside health professionals, or as part of them; living with minors without families, people with addictions, disabilities or mental illnesses; welcoming the homeless and victims of abuse, prostitution and human trafficking; responding to the challenges of education; accompanying and consoling in loneliness; going to any region of need; praying with hope.
As we bishops of the CLCEC said in the message for the XXV World Day on February 2, the entrails satellite dish of the consecrated becomes oil and wine for the wounds of the world, bandage and home of God's health. Let us thank God for them and with them, weavers of Samaritan bonds inward and outward, close followers of Jesus Christ, Good Samaritan.
Bishop of León and president of the Episcopal Commission for Consecrated Life.