For our sake He was presented to the Lord that we may learn to offer ourselves to God. (Thomas Aquinas)
The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary include the feast of the Presentation of our Lord. I was at mass that day and although it was a weekday, it was well attended. What struck me was the quiet tradition of Candlemas. I found it quite beautiful, and I have the candle with me as I write. There are great traditions in the Church that we cannot lose. This is an interesting tradition. This day is also the Feast of Consecrated Life.
The Feast of the Presentation is full of prophecy. Simeon and Anna spoke in the gospel; we do not hear of them again. Yet, Simeon could not leave this world until he met the Messiah. “Now, Master, you let your servant go in peace. You have fulfilled your promise.” The 40th day after Christmas is Candlemas. Dutifully, Mary brought Jesus to be presented to God.
The Significance of this Feast
“Consecrated life means going to the very root of the love of Jesus Christ with an undivided heart and putting nothing ahead of this love.” said Pope Benedict XVI
Consecrated Life includes many forms of vocation. There are Consecrated Virgins, Hermits, Religious and other forms whereby men and women devote their lives to God in a more special way. The new movements in the Church, Communion and Liberation, Focolare and others all have some form of single life. These vocations are unique. The Church recognizes many forms of vocation and February 2nd is a time celebrate these lives. But, in the end, our vocation is Christ and the form of that vocation, from my perspective, is something that God chooses for us.
I read about many saints who took private vows to our Lord in the early Church and in subsequent years. It always involved some form of sacrifice. Not only did each person sacrifice marriage for the sake of Christ, but he or she tried and still tries to witness in the world of Christ’s great presence. Opus Dei and St. Jose Escriba refer to work as, “Sanctity, for the vast majority of people, implies sanctifying their work, sanctifying themselves in it, and sanctifying others through it.” Those Catholics who have taken the courageous step of offering a more concrete way in their vocation is beautiful. It is impressive. I thought about the many people I have met who live in the world yet still apart from it.
This consecrated life that we might now visibly see is probably obvious in the people we meet. They might live in the world, but they live a stricter observance and a stricter solitude. Solitude is not easy, and neither is silence, but both are necessary to be able to listen to the voice of God in our hearts. They are great examples for us, and I have been fortunate and blessed to meet some of these individuals. I read on the website of the USCCB what is said about people who live this ‘different’ life, and it is amazing that people still feel called to some sort of life that is apart from society. "Consecrated men and women live with a full dedication to God, so that this world may never be without a ray of divine beauty to lighten the path of human existence." St. Pope John Paul II
We need to find God and cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is a friend of silence. Mother Teresa
One hermit that always struck me is Charles de Faucould. He was already looking to a new life. Charles wrote: “I relish the charms of solitude more and more, and I am trying to find out how to enter into a deeper and deeper solitude.” Why would a person desire such solitude? It is a curious life for me and going to mass on February 2nd, receiving a blessed candle and listening to the homily began a peaceful day for me. For my part, I want to live my faith seriously and to do this I need to keep my eyes open. There is a richness in the Catholic Church despite its struggles. There are many rooms in His Father’s house as Christ told us. I was struck in a quiet and beautiful way February 2nd this year. Some great traditions in the Church should not be lost.
They (the consecrated) are men and women who can awaken the world. Consecrated life is prophecy. God asks us to fly the nest and to be sent to the frontiers of the world, avoiding temptation to ‘domesticate’ them. This si the most concrete way of imitating the Lord. Pope Francis