February 2, Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, has been recognized as the World Day of Consecrated Life since 1997. John Paul II decided to institute this day of recognition after the Synod of Bishops on Consecrated Life and the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation “Vita Consecrata”.
Three reasons motivated the Holy Father at the time. The first was “to thank the Lord for the great gift of consecrated life, which enriches and rejoices the Church through the multiplicity of charisms and the dedication of so many lives totally given to the Lord and the brethren. “What would the world be like without religious?” St. Teresa rightly asked herself (cf. VC 105a).
The second wants to make better known and appreciate the life devoted to all the people of God. In his explanation, John Paul II stresses that “consecrated life has the priority mission of keeping alive in the Church the historical form of life assumed by the Son of God when he came to this earth. Consecrated life is therefore a living memory of the Son… »
The third motivation directly affects consecrated persons to invite them to “celebrate together and solemnly the wonders that the Lord has accomplished in them; they are invited to reflect on the gift received, to discover, in a look of faith … to become aware of their incomparable mission in the Church for the life of the world. »
Several activities are being organized in dioceses around the world to mark this special day. For example, prior to COVID-19, the religious of the Diocese of Saint-Jean-Longueuil used to meet at the Maison Jésus-Marie des Sœurs des Saints Noms de Jésus et de Marie (SNJM) in Longueuil, to reflect and share on a specific theme.
An Archive in the Spotlight exists on this theme. It was produced by the SNJM central archive service.