A Friday Reflection - During the Year of Consecrated Life

(c) University of Exeter, Fine Art Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) University of Exeter, Fine Art Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

During this Year of Consecrated Life I am prayerfully reading Vita Consecrata. This is a post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation written by Saint John Paul the Great about Consecrated Life and its gift and mission to the Church. I thought the following an inspiring point to share with you on a Friday - the day we recall Christ's "beautiful" act of Self-Gift.

The Paschal dimension of the consecrated life

24. In the different forms of life inspired by the Spirit throughout history, consecrated persons discover that the more they stand at the foot of the Cross of Christ, the more immediately and profoundly they experience the truth of God who is love. It is precisely on the Cross that the One who in death appears to human eyes as disfigured and without beauty, so much so that the bystanders cover their faces (cf. Is 53:2-3), fully reveals the beauty and power of God's love.

Saint Augustine says: "Beautiful is God, the Word with God ... He is beautiful in heaven, beautiful on earth; beautiful in the womb, beautiful in his parents' arms, beautiful in his miracles, beautiful in his sufferings; beautiful in inviting to life, beautiful in not worrying about death, beautiful in giving up his life and beautiful in taking it up again; he is beautiful on the Cross, beautiful in the tomb, beautiful in heaven. Listen to the song with understanding, and let not the weakness of the flesh distract your eyes from the splendour of his beauty."

The consecrated life reflects the splendour of this love because, by its fidelity to the mystery of the Cross, it confesses that it believes and lives by the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In this way it helps the Church to remain aware that the Cross is the superabundance of God's love poured out upon this world, and that it is the great sign of Christ's saving presence, especially in the midst of difficulties and trials. This is the testimony given constantly and with deeply admirable courage by a great number of consecrated persons, many of whom live in difficult situations, even suffering persecution and martyrdom.

Their fidelity to the one Love is revealed and confirmed in the humility of a hidden life, in the acceptance of sufferings for the sake of completing in their own flesh "what is lacking in Christ's afflictions" (Col 1:24), in silent sacrifice and abandonment to God's holy will, and in serene fidelity even as their strength and personal authority wane.

Fidelity to God also inspires devotion to neighbor, a devotion which consecrated persons live out not without sacrifice by constantly interceding for the needs of their brothers and sisters, generously serving the poor and the sick, sharing the hardships of others and participating in the concerns and trials of the Church.