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Consecrated life: A sign that says 'Stop, and look at God'

English Spanish Sister Grace Marie Heinrich Profile
Every year, on Feb. 2, the Church celebrates the World Day of Consecrated Life. This day was chosen to coincide with the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. You may be asking how this feast is related to consecrated life, but of the surprisingly many and diverse connections that can be made, I'd like to draw out just one: this feast celebrates the revelation of the Messiah in the Temple.

How is this connected to consecrated life? Precisely because consecrated life, by its nature, is called to reveal the life of Christ to the world. Through the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, through our life in community, through our service to His Kingdom, we are called to live as He lived and thus to bear witness to His constant presence and action among us. As Blessed John Paul II told us in his Apostolic Exhortation on consecrated life, Vita Consecrata, consecrated life is a "prolongation in history of a special presence of the Risen Lord." (n. 19)

A couple of years ago, I was at one of the schools of the archdiocese for a vocational day with some of my religious sisters and sisters from other religious institutes. One of the sisters was explaining religious life to a Pre-K 3 class. I was wondering how she was going to help them to understand it, but she gave a beautifully simple answer: When you see a religious sister or a brother, they are a sign that says, "Stop, and look at God."

All the religious of the Archdiocese of Miami are cordially invited to celebrate the World Day of Consecrated Life at a Mass presided by Archbishop Thomas Wenski. At this time, those religious marking their 25th, 50th and 60th anniversaries of religious life will be honored.

The Mass will take place Saturday, Feb. 22, at 5:30 p.m. at St. Mary Cathedral, 7525 N.W. Second Ave., Miami. Family and friends of the jubilarians are invited to attend the Mass.

Any religious working in the archdiocese who are marking anniversaries this year should contact the Office for Religious before Jan. 31 in order to be recognized at the celebration. Email: [email protected] or call 305-762-1082.
The World Day of Consecrated Life was called for by Blessed John Paul II in 1997 to bring the Church to a renewed awareness of the centrality of the consecrated vocation in the identity and mission of the Church. The Church is totally dedicated to Christ, Her Bridegroom, and the expansion of His Kingdom. The consecrated soul is a sign of this reality, belonging totally to the Lord and being dedicated totally to the love of God and neighbor, expressed through service.

I think so often of what St. Peter said to the lame man who was begging for alms at the gate of the temple in Acts 3:6: "I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, (rise and) walk."

This is the witness that consecrated people can give to humanity today. In the eyes of the secular world, and unfortunately many within the Church, consecrated life has nothing to offer, it is seen as a waste. But we, like St. Peter, can proclaim through our poverty the greatest treasure: the name of Jesus who is the "one thing necessary" to satisfy the human heart; to free humanity from the chains of the many 'isms' of today; and to proclaim to the world "rise and walk in the freedom of the sons of God!"

Humanity today tries to fill itself with technological advances, or wealth, or power, etc., but in the midst of the whirlwind of materialism and of the resulting despair, consecrated life can be a sign of the joy of following Christ. We can be a sign that says, "Stop, and look at God." He is the only One who can fill our hearts with lasting peace and joy. 
Sister Grace Marie Heinrich
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Comments from readers

Lisa P - 02/01/2014 07:14 PM
Thank you, Sister Grace Marie, and all of the Religious, for your YES to Jesus in the greatest possible way! Your beautiful spousal relationship with Him is not only a witness, but you secure His blessings for all of us! Please be assured of our love and prayers in a special way during this year dedicated to you!
Alicia M. - 01/31/2014 11:05 AM
Sister Grace,
Thank you for such a wonderful reflection, I thank you and the sisters for your dedication to your mission. It is by witness like you that so many women learn to love Christ. "Stop and look at God" great phrase to live by every day.
My spiritual formation was thanks to the formation I received from the sisters of St. Ann in South America. Thank you for your service and witness of Christ to others. Happy World Day of Consecrated Life!
Sr. Grace Marie Heinrich, SCTJM - 01/28/2014 02:34 PM
I'm so glad to hear of your many experiences with religious! It is truly a gift to live and serve together as the family of God according to our proper vocations. I pray that we can continue to be witnesses for each other of God's presence and action in history, in each of our lives, and that together we may walk the path of holiness. Thank you for all of your comments!
Nathalia Moncayo - 01/28/2014 07:53 AM
very interesting topic thank you for your input
Nathalia Moncayo - 01/28/2014 07:49 AM
very interesting article
Sister Lidia Valli - 01/27/2014 08:34 PM
Thank you Sr. Grace Marie. I am a sister too and I am happy to share with you the joy of belonging to God.
Nancy Heise - 01/27/2014 06:59 PM
Thank you for this beautiful article, for your witness and the gift of your life. God bless you
Jennifer D - 01/27/2014 05:42 PM
Thanks for this reflection on the beauties of the consecrated life! The wearing of the religious habit as a visible witness of God's grace in our modern times is so needed! So too is the commitment to prayer and contemplation as a first priority - even above action - in the religious life! Our love for God must be exercised in charity for others, but how are we to love others if we don't put God first?

May God bless our Archdiocese with more consecrated religious who bear such a witness!

Thank you, Sister Grace Marie Ashleigh! I remember with fondness the opportunity to celebrate February 2nd with you and your sisters in 2012 at the Pontifical High Mass (in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite) celebrated by Abp. Wenski for Candlemas. What a beautiful example to the world of the importance of worshipping God together!
Pat Solenski - 01/27/2014 05:01 PM
Let me add my gratitude to those women who consecrated their lives to God so that I came to know Him and in knowing Him I came to love Him and to serve Him as a wife and mother. It would be difficult to adequately express my appreciation for the wisdom and witness the sisters provided for my formation. Any achievements I experience in my ministry belong to my parents and the sisters who guided me through the years. I am most grateful.

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