Saturday, January 28, 2017
Archbishop Thomas Wenski - The Archdiocese of Miami
Homily by Archbishop Thomas Wenski at Mass with religious at St. Mary Cathedral. Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017.
In 1997, Saint John Paul II instituted a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life. This celebration is attached to the Feb, 2nd feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas Day; the day on which candles are blessed symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world. So too, those in consecrated life are called to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to all peoples.
Vatican II rightly emphasized that the entire community of the baptized is called to holiness.
All are equally called to follow Christ, to discover in him the ultimate meaning of our existence. The Beatitudes – which Jesus enunciates in his Sermon on the Mount – have to be the “altitudes” of every Christian as he or she follows Christ on his or her earthy pilgrimage.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “The Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity. They express the vocation of the faithful associated with the glory of his Passion and Resurrection; they shed light on the actions and attitudes characteristic of the Christian life; they are the paradoxical promises that sustain hope in the midst of tribulations; they proclaim the blessings and rewards already secured, however dimly, for Christ's disciples; they have begun in the lives of the Virgin Mary and all the saints.”
However, those whose baptismal consecration has developed into a radical response to the following of Christ, expressed in vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, have a “special experience of the light that shines forth from the Incarnate Word.”
So today in anticipation of this World Day for Consecrated Life, we honor all the men and women religious who serve this local Church of Miami so well; at the same time, we want to raise up in prayer those consecrated women and men who are celebrating significant anniversaries of religious profession.
St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians in today’s second reading inspire humility in all of us who have responded to a vocation of service in the Church. “… God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something.”
Therefore, if it seems that we are boasting, let it be understood that we are boasting in the Lord – for if it is true that the Lord doesn’t call the most qualified, it is also true that he does qualify the called.
We pray for those consecrated to God by the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience that they may seek to live their baptismal promises more intensely and have the grace to persevere in their commitment to the Lord and serve with open hearts and willing spirits. And may those who have responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to be a consecrated person experience the support of the Church as they continue their growth in holiness.
And, we thank you, for your consecrated life is a gift to the Church that makes manifest the striving of the whole Church as Bride towards union with her one Spouse, Jesus Christ. Your existence – in the world but not of the world – points to the possibility of a different way of fulfillment of one’s life, “a way where God is the goal, his Word the light, and his will the guide, where consecrated persons move along peacefully in the certainty of being sustained by the hands of a Father who welcomes and provides, where they are accompanied by brothers and sisters, moved by the same Spirit, who wants to and knows how to satisfy the desires and longings sown by the Father in the heart of each one.”
A special “thank you” to our jubilarians. Your life’s journeys as vowed religious have been like that of the Virgin Mary’s own journey: pilgrimages of faith and consecration.
A pilgrim – of necessity - cannot be weighed down by extra baggage. And for this reason the evangelical counsels help you mirror in your own lives Mary’s free response to the Lord’s invitation. Poverty, chastity and obedience lived according to the spirit of your own congregation’s rule of life are not simply renunciations; rather the vows have freed you for the journey.
May her prayers – and her example – continue to encourage you on your journey. May you always echo her words in your lives: Before God, may you say with her "Be it done unto me according to your word"; before men, may you instruct them as she instructed the servants at Cana: "Do whatever he tells you."