What in particular do I expect from this Year of grace for consecrated life?
That the old saying will always be true: “Where there are religious, there is joy”. We are called to know and show that God is able to fill our hearts to the brim with happiness; that we need not seek our happiness elsewhere; that the authentic fraternity found in our communities increases our joy; and that our total self-giving in service... brings us life-long personal fulfilment...
I am counting on you “to wake up the world”, since the distinctive sign of consecrated life is prophecy...
~ Pope Francis, Letter to Consecrated People for the Year of Consecrated Life
And so we begin the Year of Consecrated Life: an opportunity and invitation to religious for reflection and renewal, and to celebrate and share this amazing, transformative adventure into Love to which we have been called, and which causes our hearts to brim over with joy.
I have been re-reading the Pope's letter, as well as the original proclamation of the Year, and finding so much in both of them to challenge and lead me to further reflection. The clear, underlying message is one of joy and rejoicing, calling us - calling me - to radiate joy: joy in the God who loves and calls us, and joy in what we have been called to. And when I ask myself to what extent I "wake up the world" - my world, the little world in which I live, love and serve - I know that a large part of the answer lies in the extent in which I can radiate a life which, whether in times of light or darkness, is backlit with the quiet, leavening, graced joy of having Jesus at the very core of my existence.
I'm sure there will be much food for reflection and writing in the year to come, and I look forward to this God-given opportunity to proclaim my joy from the rooftops, doing my bit to awaken my little world! And I also hope it will enable me to live more fully these words from our Constitutions (#169):
Our happiness, our peace, our whole way of being
will be a sign of Him whom we have met
and who comes every day of our lives
to fulfil God's Covenant with His people.
Silvana Dallanegra rscj