Message for World Day for Consecrated Life 2021 (Summary)
The Consecrated Are Called to Have More Intimate Relationships with Jesus Christ
Our Church celebrates World Day for Consecrated Life, instituted by St. Pope John Paul II in 1997, on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, to remember the consecrated persons who dedicate their lives to following Christ.
Throughout the history of religious life, there have been religious Fathers of the Church and sacred teachers who presented new aspects of Christian spirituality through their exemplary lives of prayer, ascetic practices, and virtuous lives. Also, many displayed the true meaning of poverty and the beauty of lives inspired by the Word. Moreover, history records how many religious men and women heroically went forth into the world to help people in times of famine, disease, and war. Their vows to live by the virtues of chastity, poverty, and obedience became a bond of solidarity with people in the world and a light shone on Christian spirituality.
We, the consecrated persons, are praying together and keeping our eyes on the doors of our churches, which have been closed, opened and closed again during this unprecedented time of the pandemic. We feel inadequate even though we are striving to follow the examples given by many teachers of religious life, founders, and other senior members, who sacrificed themselves in the love for God when the world met crisis and the Church faced difficult times. We are today being challenged to mull over our various congregational charisms, as bestowed by the Holy Spirit, and discern what the world and the Church are asking from us.
Pope Francis, in his message for the World Day of Peace 2021, emphasized a culture of care as a path towards peace and as a way to combat the culture of indifference, waste, and confrontation so prevalent in our times. In addition, he reminded us of the life of Jesus’ disciples, telling us that the first generation of Christians endeavored to fulfill the spiritual and corporal works of mercy (cf. nn.1,5).
St. Pope John Paul II said in his Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata; “If, on the one hand, the consecrated life contemplates the sublime mystery of the Word in the bosom of the Father (cf. Jn 1,1), on the other hand it follows the Word who became flesh (cf. Jn 1,14), lowering himself, humbling himself in order to serve others. Even today, those who follow Christ on the path of the evangelical counsels intend to go where Christ went and to do what he did” (Vita Consecrata, n.75). All consecrated persons, who enliven the meaning of vocation and strive to carry out their mission, are called to stand up freely for the urgent challenge which is “commitment to promoting the dignity of each human person, solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, the pursuit of the common good and concern for protection of creation” (Message for the 54th World Day of Peace, n.6).
“Consecrated men and women are sent forth to proclaim, by the witness of their lives, the value of Christian fraternity and the transforming power of the Good News, which makes it possible to see all people as sons and daughters of God, and inspires a self-giving love towards everyone, especially the least of our brothers and sisters. Such communities are places of hope and of the discovery of the Beatitudes, where love, drawing strength from prayer, the wellspring of communion, is called to become a pattern of life and source of joy” (Vita Consecrata, n.51).
In these days, when the entire world seems to have come to a sudden halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, each of us is called to have a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ who asked the disciples to be with him and sent them forth to proclaim the Gospel (cf. Mk 3,13-15). This call is not only for the consecrated, but for all Christians.
Anna and Simeon recognized Christ through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and glimpsed the light of revelation. Likewise, let us pray that all consecrated persons who have committed their lives to God will recognize Him in true faith and help enlighten people with the light of love, given through the power of the Holy Spirit. I hope we will meet on the path towards solidarity. And I ask you to pray that more young people freely respond to the vocation of ‘following Jesus.’
February 2, 2021
+ Blasio Park Hyun-dong
Abbot of the Order of St. Benedict Waegwan Abbey
Chairperson of the Korean Conference
of Major Superiors of Men’s
Religious Institutes and Societies
of Apostolic Life