‘Be not afraid’

Before the Cross - Archbishop Robert J. Carlson's Column

Consecrated life and the new evangelization In carrying out the work of the new evangelization, Pope John Paul II gave special attention to the various vocations in life: the vocations of the laity to the married life or the dedicated single life; the vocation to the consecrated life in its many forms; and the vocations to the permanent diaconate and to the priesthood.In calling us to follow Christ with new enthusiasm and new energy, he reminded us that the principal way in which we follow Christ is our vocation in life, God’s plan for each of us. The vocation to the consecrated life is especially rich in its forms.The Holy Spirit has inspired and continues to inspire various forms of consecrated life, according to the needs of the Church.In the Archdiocese of St. Louis, we are blessed to have monks; canons regular; religious sisters dedicated completely to the contemplative life; religious sisters, brothers and priests dedicated to the apostolic life; and consecrated hermits.God willing, in the near future, I will consecrate a woman called to the vocation of virginity lived in the world.We also have members of societies of apostolic life. Universal call to holiness Giving attention to each vocation, Pope John Paul II reminded us that we are all called to holiness. Christ calls us all to be perfected in love as our heavenly Father is perfect (cf. Matthew 5:48).Our late and most beloved Holy Father showed us how each vocation fosters the growth of all in holiness of life. The consecrated life helps us all to live out the call to holiness, according to our vocation.By giving themselves totally to Christ, consecrated persons give us confidence that we, too, can follow Christ faithfully.When we hear Christ’s call to be perfected in our love, according to the model of the love of God the Father for us, we can easily be discouraged.We are easily tempted to think that it is just too difficult for us to love others as God loves us.The witness and the apostolate of consecrated persons give us confidence that what is impossible for us alone is made possible because Christ is with us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.Married persons, single persons and priests have a special affection for consecrated persons because of the encouragement and help which they give to us all in following Christ. World Day for Consecrated Life On Feb. 4, the archdiocese observed a special day in honor of our brothers and sisters called to the consecrated life.Pope John Paul II and his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, have designated Feb. 2, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, as the annual World Day of Consecrated Life.The Feast for the Presentation gives the occasion for each bishop to honor and celebrate with the faithful who have given themselves completely to Christ and the Church in the consecrated life.As Christ was recognized as the Messiah, the light of revelation to the nations, at His presentation, so those called to the consecrated life give strong witness to Christ the light in the world today. This year, the World Day for Consecrated Life was observed in our archdiocese on Feb. 4 so that as many consecrated persons as possible would be free to participate.The heart of the archdiocesan celebration was the solemn celebration of the Holy Mass at St. Louis Abbey Church at St. Anselm Parish in Creve Coeur.The Benedictine monks of St. Louis Abbey generously offered their hospitality so that I could gather together as many consecrated persons as possible for the celebration.After the celebration of the holy Mass, we gathered in the parish hall to visit and enjoy some lunch together. I wish that the whole archdiocese could have had a small window into St. Louis Abbey Church to see how richly God has blessed our archdiocese in vocations to the consecrated life. Consecrated life and the Holy Eucharist The heart of our celebration was participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.The Holy Eucharist is the center of the life of those called to the consecrated life.Consecrated persons give their lives totally to Christ and to the Church.Their deep love of Christ is understandably expressed in a fervent devotion to the Holy Eucharist.Consecrated persons daily unite themselves to Christ in His Eucharistic Sacrifice.They also give time each day to prayer before our Lord in the tabernacle. The celebration of the Holy Eucharist is the most perfect way possible to honor the vocation of the consecrated life as Christ’s gift to His Mystical Body, the Church.At the Holy Mass, we prayed for those who have responded to Christ’s call to the consecrated life, that they will remain steadfast. We also prayed that the young men and women called to the consecrated life today will put aside their fears and place their trust in Christ, knowing that He who gives the call also gives in abundance the grace to respond. May we never fail to be grateful for the vocation to the consecrated life.May we never fail to draw inspiration and strength for our life in Christ from those who have consecrated their lives totally to Him and His Church.

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