VATICAN CITY, FEB. 2, 2004 (Zenit.org).- On the Day of Consecrated Life, John Paul II exhorted religious and consecrated persons to renew their total dedication to God.
“Repeat every day your ‘yes’ to the God of love with joy and conviction, in the intimacy of the cloistered convent or together with the poor and marginalized, among young people or within ecclesial structures, in the different apostolic activities or in mission lands,” the Pope said today during a homily in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The day of the consecrated — those who live the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience — takes place every year on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord.
As on previous occasions, the Holy Father presided at a Mass attended by men and women religious and consecrated lay people.
The Pope, who read the homily and sang some of the hymns, let Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, celebrate the Mass.
“God wants you to be faithful to his love and totally dedicated to the good of your brothers,” John Paul II said in a ceremony that began with the rite of the blessing of candles.
“This is the precious contribution you can offer the Church so that the Gospel of hope will reach the men and women of our time,” he added.
At the same time, the Pope exhorted the whole Church to “rediscover the richness of the prophetic witness of consecrated life.”
According to the 2003 Pontifical Yearbook, there are 139,159 religious priests, in addition to 54,970 men religious who are not priests. There are 792,317 women religious of active life, and 51,973 contemplative women religious.