In 2013, Pope Francis called for a Year of Consecrated Life to recognize the selfless work and inspiring lives of all men and women religious around the world. The Year of Consecrated Life began on the first Sunday of Advent in 2014 and ends on February 2, 2016, the World Day for Consecrated Life. Here at Catholic Sistas we have highlighted eleven men and women living the consecrated life through a series of interviews. I’ve been privileged to communicate with these fine men and women and learn more about their lives. I hope you, our dear readers, have also enjoyed reading their stories.
This month, instead of a new interview I thought we would revisit a few of our previous interviews. There was one question that each person answered that I found particularly interesting. In many ways, I didn’t expect to find a lot of common ground between my life as a working mom with three small kiddos and the lives of these celibate men and women religious. But in their answers to one particular question, I found a lot that I could take away and apply to my own life.
The question: What does it mean to you that Pope Francis has dedicated this year (November 30, 2014-February 2, 2016) as a Year of Consecrated Life?
There was universal excitement about this time set aside to remind the world of the importance of the consecrated life in spreading the Gospel message, as well as being a time of unity in praying for vocations to religious life. But what particularly struck me were the comments about focusing their lives on praying more or how they took time to remember for themselves why they do what they do. Some mentioned how important families are to the future of vocations. I read this and thought: I need to pray more, too; I need to be reminded of the importance of what I do every day, too; I am in a family. In all these ways, I realized that I too, have an important role in religious vocations, AND my life has many similarities (or it should, i.e., prayer!). Obviously I have no plans for entering into that life myself, that’s not God’s plan for me. But I can pray, I can support vocations, and I can encourage vocations.
Of the eleven interviews I’ve done, I pulled out the answers to the above question from a handful of them to give you a flavor of what I’m talking about. The words these incredible women use are much better than mine anyway.
(N.b. Some of these have been edited down, to get their full text check out the full interviews linked below. Also, there’s more from me at the end, so read to the end, please.)
Sr. Georgette, SSC: “Consecrated Life is a special gift from God and although there are many expressions, I am particularly grateful for all the nuns in cloister around the world who dedicate their lives in perpetual prayer for the rest of us. To me they embody true feminine beauty and strength.”
Sr. Constance, Little Sisters of the Poor: “I have tried to embrace this Year as a call to live the present with more passion and greater love for Christ, by being more conscious of the profound meaning of my spousal relationship with him. Sometimes in the busyness of everyday, we are working hard for God and the good of others, but we can almost forget why we are doing it. So for me, first and foremost, I am trying to just be with and for Christ, as opposed to doing for Him. I’m finding new joy in knowing that God wants me for Himself before I do anything for Him, and to thank Him for all the many little blessings He sends my way each day that I otherwise tend not to pay attention to because I’m so busy. The most beautiful thing about consecrated life is just belonging to Christ as His bride, and living in the heart of that profound relationship with Him. We say to Jesus, ‘Set me as a seal on your heart; take me wherever you go, to bring your love to others!’”
Sr. Joseph Marie, OP: “It’s already been such a grace-filled year! Building a culture of vocations really is the work of the entire Church. Sadly, many young men and women are not asked, or [are] even actively discouraged from discerning a vocation to consecrated life. And those who are in consecrated life are often not supported in their vocations, or there’s simply a lack of awareness of how important these vocations are for the Church. We need each other and so to have this time to learn more about and support consecrated life in the Body of Christ is tremendous.”
Sr. Mary Rose, TOR: “We are grateful for Pope Francis’ effort to highlight the beauty and importance of the gift of Consecrated Life in the Church during this year and the special role of the family in aiding growth in holiness. The Pope’s initiative has helped Catholic families and individuals to become more aware of praying for and fostering religious vocation within their families, as well as to understand more deeply the family’s vital role in nurturing holiness, and seeking God’s will for our lives, which is to discover our truest self by God’s design.”
Sr. Maria Gemma, OP: “It has been a beautiful gift to reflect on the beauty of the gift of consecrated life and the special and vital role it fulfills in the heart of Holy Mother Church, to meditate on the immensity of the gift and nourish the mind, heart, and soul by taking time to reread and study the beautiful Church documents that have been given to us regarding religious life. Religious consecration is a tremendous privilege – to live a life lived completely for the Lord, witnessing to the world the life we will each live in the eternal bliss of heaven – and what an incredible gift it is to be able to live it here and now.”
Help Your Parish and Family celebrate the World Day for Consecrated Life
If you’re still reading then you’re probably wanting to know how you can help support and encourage vocations in your own families or parishes. If not, you should be!! Here’s how: Go to this USCCB page where you will find suggestions for Prayers of the Faithful to be included at Mass the weekend of February 6-7. In addition, this page also contains a short bulletin blurb that parishes can use to let people know about the World Day for Consecrated Life. Make sure your parish knows to include this in their bulletin as well as the Prayers of the Faithful.
In your own families, use the Prayers of the Faithful in your family prayers on February 2 (the actual World Day for Consecrated Life) and the weekend of February 6-7, when we’ll actually recognize it in our parishes. Or, use the Prayer for the Year of Consecrated Life with your family to help conclude this year on February 2, 2016.
Thank you for supporting vocations and thank you for praying for vocations!
Question for our Readers: Do any of these women’s words speak to you in a profound way? Can you relate to one or more of these sisters in your own life?