By Antonio Gaspari

ROME, FEB. 7, 2012 ( To mark the feast of the Presentation last week, which is also the World Day of Consecrated Life, the archbishop of Bologna, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, explained what this consecration means.

In a homily given in the cathedral, the cardinal said that "the offering of the firstborn made according to the law of Moses acknowledged that only God can be the true source of life; that only God can assure the continuity of life in the succession of generations."

"Jesus' offering on the cross, announced today in the Temple, gives man the possibility to raise his parched lips from death to the source of Life," he said. "Man is made capable of linking himself to God."

In this way the Word would be present in the succeeding human generations, because "He really became present in human flesh and blood." Hence, he can "take care of us."

He became "a merciful and faithful high priest in the things that pertain to God, in order to expiate the sins of the people."

Cardinal Caffarra explained that "it is through the offer of Himself unto death on the cross, that the incarnate Word, made Himself our true and unique priest, He unites us definitively to Life."

For Cardinal Caffarra the prophet Malachi sees the Lord's entrance in the Temple as the moment in which it becomes possible to offer the Lord "an oblation in keeping with justice," and from which "we are finally able to offer spiritual sacrifices that are pleasing to God."

With regard to consecrated men and women, he stressed that the Lord's mystery "sheds light on your existence!" because "you were willed and thought of in the creative act of God: the offering of your person to God, rooted and founded in Christ's sacrifice."

He spoke of an offering that "renders present the vivifying power of Christ," a total and sacrificial offering because "dying and leaving behind the structures of this creation, you enter into the incorruptible life of the risen Lord;" and he explained the profound meaning of the vows taken by consecrated men and women.

"Your chastity exalts the spousal meaning of your body; your poverty is for the possession of the good that is only satiated by the person of Christ and communion with Him; your obedience introduces you in an experience of freedom that the world does not know and cannot know," he specified.

According to the prelate, "perhaps we are moving toward a time in which the Church here in the West will be stripped of many things." 

"But she will not be able to do it without holy priests, capable of sanctifying and of offering sacrifices in keeping with justice."

"Therefore, remain firmly attached to Christ, and nothing will trouble you," concluded Cardinal Caffarra.