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The Presentation Of The Lord And Consecrated Life

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February 2 of every year the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. On this day, moreover, the Church celebrates the World Day of Consecrated Life. 


St. Luke narrates to us the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple (cf. Lk 2:22-40). Following Jewish Law, Mary and Joseph go to the Temple of Jerusalem to present Jesus to God. Forty days after his birth, and to fulfill the Law, Jesus is presented, offered and consecrated to God in the Temple.  Saint Thomas tells us that He did it to obey the law and thus give us a lesson of obedience and humility (STh III, q. 37).  From his incarnation to his resurrection, and to fulfil the will of God the Father, Jesus offered his life for humankind – for its salvation. 

The Child Jesus’ presence in the Temple was noticed by two holy souls, two elderly: Simeon and Anna. Simeon – Anna, too - expected the Lord in the Temple constantly, and his hope was realized: My eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all peoples (cf. Lk 2:29-32). Simeon presents Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior of humankind and Light of all nations. He adds that Jesus will be a sign of contradiction: those who will know him will be either with or against him. He presents to us, too, the mission of Mary, the Mother of Jesus: a sword will pierce your heart, too (Lc 2:35).  Mary who gave birth to Jesus, God-man, will also see him die on the cross.  

Around the year 386 the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord was celebrated in Jerusalem. By the fifth century, it was celebrated in Rome and later on throughout the world. In popular piety, this feast is known as Candlemas Day: candles, which represent Christ as the light of the world, Lumen Gentium, are blessed. In many places it is also known as the Feast of Our Lady of Candles or the Candelaria. The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple is a significant event in the life of Jesus and Mary. That is the reason why it is also a mystery of the Holy Rosary, the 4thJoyful Mystery.

Commenting the Baptism of Christ, St. Gregory Nazianzen writes: “As He [Jesus] is Spirit and flesh, so He consecrates us by the Spirit and water.” All the disciples of Jesus are asked to renew, especially on the day of the Presentation of the Lord, their baptismal consecration, which continually calls us to renounce Satan and sin, and to announce the Good News that is Jesus by word and deed.


Since February 2, 1997, to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is attached the World Day of Consecrated Lifeinstituted by Saint John Paul II. 

         Religious life is consecrated life. Religious women and men are consecrated in a special way to God, following the examples of Samson (cf. 1 Jdg13:2-7, 24-25), Samuel (cf. 1 Sam 1), John the Baptist (cf. Lk 1:5-25), and above all of Jesus. Hannah, one of the two wives of Elkanah was barren. She asked the Lord for a child that she would offer to him. She had Samuel and offered him through the priest Eli to the Lord. Anna said to Eli:  “For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he is given to the Lord” (1 Sam 1:27-28). Thus Samuel is offered to the Lord, consecrated to God. Similarly thousands upon thousands of religious throughout the world have consecrated their life to God through Jesus in the Spirit, and manifested it publicly by their profession of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and their adherence to different religious observances. And for this wonderful reality, the whole Church rejoices in the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord!

Today, their day, religious men and women throughout the world rejoice in a special way and renew their vowed consecration: total dedication, availability and commitment to Jesus. They all belong to God and have the same total vow, that is, total consecration to God: totus tuus, or tota tua, all yours. Religious life or consecrated life entails for the religious the personal offering of their heart to the heart of Jesus, an offering of love that implies the radical responsibility to love God in himself, in others, and in creation (Karl Rahner, On Prayer).

There are many religious orders, congregations and institutes of consecrated life in the Church, and each of them has its own specific charism and mission, but all women and men religious have Christ as the center of their lives, and the same basic goal: the ever ascending identification with Christ through, above all, prayer and compassion which are the two main characteristics of the spirituality and life of Jesus. Indeed, all Founders and Foundresses of the different and varied Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life point to Christ the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jn 14:6). St. Augustine comments: “I am the Way. Whereto does the Way take us? It take us to Truth and Life.”

Pope Francis – as previously Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI - invites the People of God today to understand deeply the special grace which is for the whole Church consecrated life. Moreover, the Argentine Pope invites the whole ecclesial community to give thanks to God for the gift of religious life, to pray for the fidelity of religious men and women to their vocation and to petition the good Lord for more vocations to the consecrated life.

Simeon rejoiced: “My eyes have seen the Savior of the world.”  We – all Christians - rejoice and realize that only those who hope to see the Savior will see him; only those who go to the places where the Lord resides will see him. But, where? “This is my Body… This is my Blood”; “If two of you meet in my name, I will be in your midst”; “I was hungry and you gave me food,” “I was thirsty and you gave me a glass of water,”  “I was sick and you visited me…” Golden words particularly for religious men and women: “What you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do it to me.” St. John Paul II quoted St. Augustine to us: “Christ is poor on earth in the person of the poor” (cf. Vita Consecrata, 82).

Dear Lord, cleanse our eyes and our hearts so that we may see you and follow you, our Light, our only Way to salvation, to love, to the cross and the resurrection - to happiness here and hereafter!