On February 2, 2016 the Church celebrated the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and the close of the Year of Consecrated Life (November 30, 2014 – February 2, 2016). Religious life has been closely tied to this feast day over the centuries since it is the celebration of the consecration of Jesus Christ according to the flesh, according to the Mosaic laws of the first-born son.
He explained the purpose of the day as three-fold in his first Message for the World Day of Consecrated Life (1997): “In the first place, it answers the intimate need to praise the Lord more solemnly and to thank him for the great gift of consecrated life. …In the second place, this day is intended to promote a knowledge of and esteem for the consecrated life by the entire People of God….The third reason regards consecrated persons directly. 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.”
Celebration within the Province
As the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word, we gather annually with our priests and brothers of the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE) and all our sisters of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará (SSVM). This year the celebration in Washington for the houses of formation and the provincial houses was held in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
During the Holy Mass three new postulants received the Cross of Matará. When we, as religious, witness these early steps in the consecrated life it is a beautiful reminder of our own beginnings and of the “gift and mystery” of religious vocations.
2015: A Bouquet of Novices Around the World During the Year of Consecrated Life
In a recent message shared with all our sisters, we were updated on the “novices of the Northern Hemisphere” who had received their religious names and been invested in October and November of 2015 (the academic year running September to May). The photos and news from novices in other corners of our community made a kind of “bouquet of novices” at the close of the Year of Consecrated Life.
Together with the June news from the “novices of the Southern Hemisphere” (who are invested in April and May, since the academic year runs February to November), we can really thank God for the young religious who have begun the journey of consecrated life during this special year in the Church.
The novices of the houses in the Northern Hemisphere include our own here in the United States(15), as well as the novitiate in Italy for the Western European vocations (15), the novitiate in Ukraine (7), the novitiate in Russia(2), and the novitiate in the Philippines for Asian vocations(7). By contrast, the novices of the houses in the Southern Hemisphere live in our first novitiate in Argentina where we were founded (20), as well as the novitiate in Brazil (13), the novitiate in Peru (7), the novitiate in Ecuador (9).
In conclusion, we also give thanks for the sisters who professed perpetual vows during the Year of Consecrated Life, and for those who made their first temporal profession. For the gift of perseverance and in great love for the Lord at His coming, let us be wise virgins who sing forever:
One thing I ask of the Lord;
this I seek:
To dwell in the Lord’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the Lord’s beauty,
to visit his temple.