Letter Superior General 1° advent 2014
Beginning of the Year of Consecrated Life
My dear Sisters,
Advent opens the new liturgical year and challenges our thinking and our way of living differently, because it is the time when the message, ‘He is coming, prepare you the way of the Lord’ is re-echoed:“the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ready the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Matt 3:3)
This year, the time of Advent is enriched by the opening of the Year of consecrated Lifeconcluding on February 2, 2016, the World Day of Consecrated life. In the official announcement from the Vatican, Cardinal João Braz De Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, says the goal of this observance is to “make a grateful remembranceof the recent past… embrace the future with hope,” and “live the present with passion.” The Year of Consecrated Life will be an important time for “evangelizing” our own vocation.
It is significant these two journeys – of preparing for the Lord’s coming and responding to his invitation – begin together. They call out for recognition and involvement: “knowing the season, it is already time for you to wake up fromsleep: for now is salvation nearer to us than when we first believed”. (Rom 13:11) In the words of Pope Francis, in his address to the Superiors General we hear: “Religious life ought to promote growth in the Church by way of attraction. The Church must be attractive. Wake up the world! Be witnesses of a different way of doing things, of acting, of living! It is possible to live differently in this world.” (29, Nov 2013)
We are invited, more than that, we are even commanded to wake up, to come alive, to get involved; this requires an attentivelistening – an irreplaceable dispositionwhich is found in abundance throughout the Bible. God leads me in a constant and consistent way along my personal and unique path. He says: ‘Listen to me, … you who have been borne by me from your birth, carried from the womb … I will carry and will save’ (Is 46:3-4). In turn the servant who listens to God re-echoes: “Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name”.(Is 49:1)
King David personifies this attentiveness for meeting God, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul” (Ps 143:8).
Jesus’ own life began with Mary’s listening and radical openness to God’s will for her. Risking public disgrace and banishment, she listened and accepted with her ‘Yes’ for the rest of her life. Benedict XVI says “the Virgin Mary perfectly embodies the spirit of Advent, which involves both listening to God and having a deep desire to do his will in joyful service to others”. (2 Dec 2012)
The same disposition of listening continues throughout the life of Jesus. God the Father certainly wants us to be attentive; at the transfiguration he says:‘This is my beloved Son, my chosen; listen to him,’ (Matt: 17:5) re-echoing what was heard at the time of the baptism of Jesus. Mary, his Mother also says to us: “Do whatever he tells you”. (Jn 2:5) In turn Jesus can say: “TheOne who sentMeiswithMe. He has notleftMealone,becauseIalwaysdowhatpleasesHim.”(Jn 8:29)
To be disciple of Jesus is to listen to his CALL , to respond to him and to walk with him – even to Calvary: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”. (John 10:27) The second letter “Scrutate”, (Scrutinize) written for the Year of Consecrated Life, sends a clear message: “The Lord is living and active in our history, and calls us to collaboration and to community discernment, for new seasons of prophecy in the service of the Church, in view of the coming Kingdom “.
On the occasion of the First World Day for Consecrated Life 1997, Pope John Paul II had already underlined: “In effect, the consecrated life is at the very heart of the Church as a decisive element for her mission, since it ‘manifests the inner nature of the Christian calling’ … I would like to renew the invitation to consecrated persons to look to the future with confidence, relying on the fidelity of God and the power of his grace, who is always able to accomplish new wonders.” (6 Jan 1997)
Preparing the Way of the Lord, together with listening to and answering his call requires a continual conversion of heart, rekindling our first desire to know him: “And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness … with joy unending” (Is 35:8,10). “… maintain – I say again – the freshness of your charism, respect the freedom of each person, and always strive for communion. Do not forget, however, that to reach this goal, conversion must be missionary: the strength to overcome temptations and insufficiencies comes from the profound joy of proclaiming the Gospel, which is the foundation of your charism. In fact, “when the Church summons Christians to take up the task of evangelization, she is simply pointing to the source of authentic personal fulfilment” (Evangelii Gaudium, 10), the true motivation for renewal of one’s own life, since all mission is a sharing in the mission of Christ who always precedes and accompanies us in the work of evangelization.(Pope Francis, 22 Nov 2014)
Bl Antonio Rosmini goes straight to the core of the message: “the disciple must go on longing for measureless justice … with the same request as Jesus says,“Stay awake, praying at all times” (Lk 21, 36) … to become more holy, more just, that is, in other words, more dear to God and more pleasing to Him”. (First Maxim)
Entering into the spirit of Advent means journeying towards an encounter with the Lord who comes; it is a time of joy and hope, a time of listening to the Word, a time of a universal call to spread the Good News through word and action. And what does the Lord ask of you?
To act justly and to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God. (Mic 6:8)
I recommend during this year – especially for us – we allow ourselves to be challenged by the Word of God in a new way: entering into Liturgy of the Day; in our personal reflection; and by sharing together some ‘listening’ passages for Lectio Divina. In this way we will certainly experience “the power which will transform our lives” (Const 96)
May we each discover the Will of God every day, at every present moment, listening to Him: “Today, when you hear His Voice, do not harden your hearts…”(Heb 3:8) and be mindful of His plans for our lives, “He awakens me morning by morning; He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple”. (Is 50:4)
Happy journey of Advent and through the coming Year!
“Wake the World with Dawning Joy,” is the title of a song composed by Steve Warner in honour of the Year of Consecrated Life, inspired by the words of Pope Francis. It urges religious to continue to wake the world with their witness. Parishes and religious communities are asked to join with this song incorporating it into worship and prayer services throughout the Year of Consecrated Life and beyond to remind each of us of Christ’s call to wake up the world and live in a different way—a way of faith, hope, love, and joy!
The song: Wake the World with Dawning Joy, music and words by Steven C. Warner
can be found in multi-language in ‘Google’: steve warner, wake the world
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