Today the Church celebrates this beautiful feast of light—the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple forty days after His birth. Before the liturgical changes this feast also marked the end of Christmastide. Our Brother Lew of Contemplata allis Tradare (the best Devout Blog out there!) has a wonderful entry on this feast! Check it out!
We sing every evening at Compline the words of Simon that Jesus is the "light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of His people, Israel." On this day we take up our lighted candles and go in procession through the dark corridors in the early morning. The secular world might have it's eyes on a hole in the earth waiting for a groundhog but we have our eyes fixed on the true Light on whom there is never any shadow and whose radiance pierces through every darkness and most especially the darkness in our own hearts through sin!
In 1997, John Paul II proclaimed this day as World Day of Consecrated Life so to "to help the entire Church to esteem ever more greatly the witness of those persons who have chosen to follow Christ by means of the practice of the evangelical counsels and, at the same time, is intended to be a suitable occasion for consecrated persons to renew their commitment and rekindle the fervor which should inspire their offering of themselves to the Lord." Our beloved Pope wanted this day to be a day on which the whole Church thanks God for the gift of consecrated life and to promote knowledge of the beauty of the gift of this vocation to the People of God.
Most especially he wanted to help consecrated men and women to rekindle their own appreciation and love for their vocation. By establishing this celebration he hoped that the candles of our witness to the world would be rekindled with the flame of the love of Christ himself! "They are invited to celebrate together solemnly the marvels which the Lord has accomplished in them, to discover by a more illumined faith the rays of divine beauty spread by the Spirit in their way of life, and to acquire a more vivid consciousness of their irreplaceable mission in the Church and in the world."
In the first days of monasticism in the Egyptian desert the monks were called the "white martyrs". Martyr means "witness" and the monks were seen as those who witness to the primacy of God. No less today are we consecrated to God by evangelical profession called to be white martyrs today. We have the responsiblity to be lights of Christ, to remind our brothers and sisters that only in Christ alone is true happiness to be found. Cloistered religous are no less called to this witness. Our monasteries should be "cities set on a hill" radiant in the glory of the face of Christ to whom we have given everything to follow Him. We ask your prayers that we may always be faithful to our vocation and like the prudent virgins be always found with our torches burning brightly!
For the full text of John Paul II's promolgation of Consecrated Life go HERE.
In the United States World Day for Consecrated Life is (in typical fashion) moved to Sunday, February 5. Most of the dioceses have special celebrations in the Cathedral Church. We invite you to join with the Consecrated Religious of your diocese in these celebrations.