Year of Consecrated Life concerns all of us Print
Written by Mary Uhler   
Thursday, Feb. 05, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

Year of Consecrated Life

In case you haven’t heard, we’re in the midst of the Year of Consecrated Life in the Catholic Church. It began in November of 2014 and continues until February 2, 2016 — so it actually lasts more than a year.

An average lay Catholic may think, what does this have to do with me? Why should I be concerned about a year dedicated to priests, Sisters, consecrated virgins, and other persons in consecrated life?

Applies to all of us

Pope Francis would say, “It applies to every single Catholic person.”

That’s what the Holy Father did say in a letter he wrote on the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life. He said he wished to speak not only to consecrated persons, but also to the laity, “who share with them the same ideals, spirit, and mission.”

Indeed, he added, “around each Religious family, every society of apostolic life, and every secular institute, there is a larger family, a ‘charismatic family,’ which includes a number of institutes which identify with the same charism, and especially lay faithful who feel called, precisely as lay persons, to share in the same charismatic reality.”

What Pope Francis means by “charism” is the special gifts or graces that flow from God. Many lay people get involved with specific Religious communities and share in the work of those communities, be it teaching, helping the poor, ministering to the sick, or other efforts.

Heirs of the great saints

In addition, the Holy Father says that the entire Church should be involved in the Year of Consecrated Life. “I ask the whole Christian people to be increasingly aware of the gift which is the presence of our many consecrated men and women, heirs of the great saints who have written the history of Christianity.”

He goes on to ask, “What would the Church be without St. Benedict and St. Basil, without St. Augustine and St. Bernard, without St. Francis and St. Dominic, St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Teresa of Avila, St. Angelica Merici and St. Vincent de Paul? The list could go on and on, up to St. John Bosco and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.”

Pope Francis invites all of us to experience this Year of Consecrated Life as “a moment of thanksgiving to the Lord and grateful remembrance for all the gifts we continue to receive.”

Draw closer

He asks us to draw closer to men and women in consecrated life, rejoice with them, share their difficulties, and assist them in their ministries and works. “Let them know the affection and the warmth which the entire Christian people feels for them,” says Pope Francis.

This is indeed a special opportunity to reach out in friendship and support to all those in consecrated life through our prayers, joining with Religious orders in their mission, and supporting them by our financial support.

Throughout this Year of Consecrated Life, the Catholic Herald will help by publishing information on various aspects of consecrated life. We have begun a series of articles by Abbot Marcel Rooney, reflecting on the Second Vatican Council’s document, Perfectae Caritatis (Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life).

We will also be including information on Religious orders in the Diocese of Madison, starting in the vocation section published in this week’s paper. We hope lay people will meet men and women Religious and learn more about the many gifts they share with us.