February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, is also the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life.

The purpose of the day is “to help the entire Church to esteem ever more greatly the witness of those persons who have chosen to follow Christ by means of the practice of the evangelical counsels [poverty, chastity, obedience]” as well as “to be a suitable occasion for consecrated persons to renew their commitment and rekindle the fervour which should inspire their offering of themselves to the Lord” – John Paul II (1997) [from the Canadian Ordo]

The Holy Father marked the day with prayer with thousands of religious in St Peter’s Basilica:

Here in our canon law programme in Ottawa, we are blessed to have many religious with us.  Here’s a shot of a few of them this morning following class:

 [From left to right: A Sister of St Joseph;  one of our professors (not a religious!);  a Dominican Sister;  and a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate.]

Consecrated Life is a great gift in and for the Church, and it is “a special way of participating in the sacramental nature of the People of God.  Indeed, the consecration of those professing religious vows is especially ordained to this purpose, namely of offering to the world visible proof of the unfathomable mystery of Christ, inasmuch as in themselves they really present ‘Christ in contemplation on the mountain, or proclaiming the kingdom of God to the multitudes, or healing the sick and maimed and converting sinners to a good life, or blessing children and doing good to all men, always in obedience to the will of the Father who sent Him’ ” (Mutuae relationes, 10;  Lumen gentium, 46).

Say a prayer today for all the religious you know, in thanksgiving for their offering of themselves to God, and that they may always be faithful to their way of life and thereby enrich the Church with many blessings.