On February 2 we celebrate the XXVII World Day of Consecrated Life. On this occasion, the Episcopal Commission for Consecrated Life proposes us as a motto for reflection and prayer "Consecrated Life, walking in Hope". This experience helps us to give thanks to God for the gift of vocation in the plurality of his charisms and to perceive, at the same time, what the Spirit is stirring up in the Church of each time.
We give value to who we are and want to live when we show gratitude to God and to so many people who make possible the presence of Consecrated Life in the Church and in the world. What we are and what we do, however insignificant it may seem, acquires a different value in any manifestation of gratitude. In Religious Institutes there are more reasons for grateful joy than for sadness and discouragement. There is an evangelical wisdom, achieved through time, in each of the charisms that we must not forget. Consecrated men and women are bearers of this wisdom, not only because of the knowledge of the things we have but also, and above all, because of the life experience that we want to offer according to the radical nature that following the Lord entails.
Giving thanks to God for the gift of a vocation helps us to focus on the good things in our lives and to feel blessed and graced by what we have. In this way, we make it possible for the unexpected to break through with greater force in the appreciation for who we are and in the daily life of what we do. Gratitude, let us not forget, is about appreciating the deep - spiritual - aspects of life and the willingness to recognize that others play a fundamental role in carrying out our commitment. Without them we would not be able to perceive the God who is present among the people we serve, wherever our presence takes place.
In our thanksgiving we want to better perceive the cultural and historical moment that we have had to live. A time in which the Spirit continues to discover new demands for evangelization. We don't want to stay asleep. Nor are they indifferent to what happens in society. The children and young people whom we want to educate based on faith in Jesus Christ continue to resound in our ears; the people we accompany in their existential evolution; the furthest away and those closest with whom we celebrate faith and the sacraments; the sick and elderly whom we try to care for with the care of kindness; the poorest and most vulnerable whom we truly love. Anyway! to the men and women of our time whom we look at with the affection of friendship, that which, from our way of seeing things, we want to offer.
These life experiences demand of us the fidelity and permanence of continuing to "walk in hope." Much has been achieved, but there is still a long way to go. We must also be aware of our own limitation and vulnerability. Not to regret the time that we have had to live with the longing for a past that will no longer return. But rather to continue expressing that our reason for being is valuable and significant in itself, because it finds the best expression of it in following Jesus, as it is carried out for only one reason, out of love. We follow the Master out of love. There is no other motivation greater than this. In it is the guarantee of our hope.
Much has been said about Christian hope. Together with faith and charity they form part of our theological life. They dispose us to live in a very close relationship with God and, from Him, with others. By highlighting hope on this Day, the trust we continue to have in God and in the possibilities we have to continue giving evangelical witness to the promises is revealed.
But we have to go one step further. Hope, as Benedict XVI wrote, "changes the vine" and, furthermore, in the words of Pope Francis, "is the light that overcomes darkness." Two very suggestive thoughts to live the consecrated life from hope. Change is possible. In everyone is the will to seek it. That is why we want to renew the wisdom that hope provides us. This new Day makes us more aware of it and helps us to perceive ourselves more from God than from ourselves and our own reality.
Consecrated Life is currently facing many challenges. We want to discern them, we are working on it, with the wisdom provided by the rich tradition of each charism, but also with fidelity to the signs of the times. Nothing in the world we step on and in which we move is foreign to us. Thus, we renew our listening to God from what happens in the world. This dynamic listening opens our eyes to look at reality with the eyes with which God looks at it. A constant appeal to read and know how to interpret with 'human and divine wisdom' the prophetic signs that the Spirit sends us. A necessary contrast to continue “walking in hope”.
We echo the prayer offered for this day by José Mª Rodríguez Olaizola, SJ. He invites us to keep walking in hope because we do not go alone. Christ unites us. With the. Among us. And with so many who live, cry, love, yearn, grow, fight and hope. (,,,) Together. Walking in hope. Men and women of God, consecrated to a mission, to a desire, to the project of whom he invited us to share his path. May it be so and may all this be fulfilled in each Institute, in each and every one of us. Happy Day for Consecrated Life!
Br. Jesús Díaz Sariego, OP.
President of the CONFER (SPANISH CONFEDERATION OF RELIGIOUS)