CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 April 2019

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Year of Consecrated Life

The Year of Consecrated Life was launched on 5 December 2014 and comes to a close on February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Over the past 15 months, the Hong Kong Diocesan Group on the Year of Consecrated Life planned a series of activities for this celebration. Also, in collaboration with various religious congregations, it organised prayer meetings and open days to promote vocation to the religious life and an understanding of the charisms of various congregations.

Following the Year of Faith and the Year of the Clergy, the Universal Church declared the Year of Consecrated Life to give recognition to religious and lay people who are living the consecrated life, while calling for attention and support for the vocation to the religious life.

Today, the number of vocations to religious life in local Churches is drastically decreasing.

In November 2014, when receiving religious superiors and announcing the news of the Year of Consecrated Life, Pope Francis said, “I would like to say thank you to all of you for the work, the witness you have made in your faith and the difficulties you have faced and experienced!”

These words of the pope adequately express his support for the religious of the Church.

In his apostolic exhortation of 2013, The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Guadium), addressed to bishops, clergy, consecrated persons and the laity, Pope Francis wrote, “I want to say one word to you and this word is joy. Wherever consecrated people are, there is joy!” 

Here the pope is emphasising that those living a consecrated life should always show joy, so as to spread it to all walks of life.

The vocation to the religious life is a gift by which those who are called respond to God’s call under the charism of a specific religious congregation. All religious people are the followers of the Lord Jesus, in union with Jesus, the source of joy.

The pope wrote in The Joy of the Gospel, “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus… With Christ joy is constantly born anew” (#1).

How blessed we are. Over the years, Hong Kong has been served by many missionaries from men’s and women’s religious congregations. Their witness in society and within the Church are evident.

While the Year of Consecrated Life is drawing to a close, its mission is yet to be accomplished, so religious should be encouraged to continue to reflect on their own role, way of life and mission.

These consecrated people should continue to play a prophetic role by proclaiming Christ in the world, which is facing the challenges of secularisation and individualism, which contradict evangelised cultural values.

After the Holy Doors of the Jubilee Year of Mercy were opened on December 8 last year, the Year of Consecrated Life has become quiet. In fact, rejoicing, joy and mercy co-exist, because a merciful heart comes from a truly joyful heart.

It links with Christ to be constantly born anew and unceasingly reveals the merciful face of Christ. So, let’s continue to extend his mercy and reveal him together! SE