Pope Francis began observance of the Year of Consecrated Life with issuance of an Apostolic letter on November 21 proclaiming the goals, expectations, and horizons of this year-long initiative. The Year of Consecrated Life will focus on the contributions and challenges of consecrated nuns, brothers and priests throughout the universal Church. It will run from the first Sunday of Advent, November 30, 2014, to the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, February 2, 2016.
In his message, the Pope outlined the aims, expectations, and horizons of the Year of Consecrated Life. Excerpts from the Pope’s letter are copied below. Read the entire official English translation of the letter by clicking HERE!
Look to the past with gratitude. “Recounting our history is essential for preserving our identity, for strengthening our unity as a family and our common sense of belonging. More than an exercise in archaeology or the cultivation of mere nostalgia, it calls for following in the footsteps of past generations in order to grasp the high ideals, and the vision and values which inspired them, beginning with the founders and foundresses and the first communities. In this way we come to see how the charism has been lived over the years, the creativity it has sparked, the difficulties it encountered and the concrete ways those difficulties were surmounted.” (Click HERE for a short history of Sisters, Home Visitors of Mary in Detroit, and HERE for a short history in Nigeria.)
Live the present with passion. “The Gospel is demanding: it demands to be lived radically and sincerely. It is not enough to read it (even though the reading and study of Scripture is essential), nor is it enough to meditate on it (which we do joyfully each day). Jesus asks us to practice it, to put his words into effect in our lives.” “In a polarized society, where different cultures experience difficulty in living alongside one another, where the powerless encounter oppression, where inequality abounds, we are called to offer a concrete model of community which, by acknowledging the dignity of each person and sharing our respective gifts, makes it possible to live as brothers and sisters.”
Embrace the future with hope. “We all know the difficulties which the various forms of consecrated life are currently experiencing: decreasing vocations and aging members, particularly in the Western world; economic problems stemming from the global financial crisis; issues of internationalization and globalization; the threats posed by relativism and a sense of isolation and social irrelevance… But it is precisely amid these uncertainties, which we share with so many of our contemporaries, that we are called to practice the virtue of hope, the fruit of our faith in the Lord of history, who continues to tell us: “Be not afraid… for I am with you” (Jer 1:8).”
“I want to say one word to you and this word is joy.
Wherever consecrated people are there is always joy!”
The Pope also expressed his expectations for the yearlong observance, including that consecrated men and women examine their presence in Church life to respond to the “new demands constantly being made on us, to the cry of the poor.”
The Home Visitors of Mary charism has focused on respect for the individual person for more than 65 years. Sr. Mary Finn, HVM has taught seminarians at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit for almost 50 of those years. As we begin the Year of Consecrated Life it is illustrative to reflect on Sr. Mary’s article below which recently appeared in MOSIAC magazine at the seminary … “Turn Around and Catch Sight of Jesus.”