The Good Steward — Religious women and men are close to God

Daniel Conway

In 1997, St. John Paul II instituted the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life. This celebration, which honors all women and men in religious orders, is attached to the 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. 

This year, the celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life was observed February 4-5, in order to highlight the gift of consecrated persons for the whole church.

Religious men and women in our archdiocese serve as educators, evangelists, pastoral leaders and witnesses to the power of prayer. When they are true to their vocations, they are undaunted by illness, physical obstacles, prejudice, poverty or petty jealousy. They discern God’s will in their lives and then refuse to let anything get in the way of carrying out the mission entrusted to them by Christ.

All are called to holiness, and, in this respect, no state of life in the church is better than any other. And yet, our church is enriched by a wonderful diversity of ways to live the Gospel and give witness to the light of Christ, which Scripture calls, “A light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel” (cf. Lk 2:29–32). 

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church,” in paragraph 917, describes the consecrated life as “one great tree with many branches,” and it speaks of this tree as “branching out into various forms of the religious life lived in solitude or in community … in which spiritual resources are multiplied for the progress in holiness of their members and for the good of the entire Body of Christ.”

Throughout  Christian history, some women and men have experienced a particular call to consecrate their lives to an intense, focused pursuit of these virtues. We honor these members of religious orders — from the contemplatives who dedicate their whole lives to prayer, to those priests, sisters and brothers who serve the church through education, pastoral ministry, social service, and other forms of religious activities “in the world.” When they are true to their unique vocations, they truly are a light in the world’s darkness.

Thousands of religious women and men in countries all over the world give witness as people close to God. May their courage and perseverance inspire us to pray for all the women and men in our archdiocese, and throughout the world, who have dedicated their lives to following Christ in religious orders. 

And may all of us who have been called by our baptism to serve as disciples of Jesus Christ maintain the kind of missionary spirit (and trust in God’s providence) that will enable us to serve those who need it most!

Dan Conway is a member of Holy Trinity Church, serves as a member of The Record’s editorial board and is a writer, consultant and stewardship educator.
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