February 11, 2011

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Religious ‘cast out into the deep’ with trust in Christ’s grace

On Jan. 30, we celebrated the annual World Day of Consecrated Life at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

As I reflected on the lives of our many consecrated religious women and men, Christ’s words “Cast out into the deep”—“Duc in altum”—came to mind because our religious live a life of utter trust, largely a hidden life in God.

These religious live lives of profound trust, much like the disciples who were challenged by these words of Christ.

After all, it did take profound trust for the disciples to follow the direction of Jesus to cast their nets one more time into the deep after a fruitless night of fishing. They were experienced fishermen. He was a carpenter. But they did what he asked, and that made all the difference.

How often, in consecrated life, religious women and men are challenged to cast out into the deep of their faith to live a profound commitment to the Gospel. Most often, this profound trust is largely hidden, but it makes all the difference.

We gathered in our cathedral to celebrate the enormously important gift of the consecrated religious who serve so generously in our archdiocese, and who have done so in the past.

The International Synod for Consecrated Religious of some years ago reminded us that the consecrated life is a unique state of life in the Church, alongside that of the laity and the clergy. We need to praise God for that gift.

And so, on a cold Sunday afternoon, we especially celebrated and congratulated those who are jubilarians this year. Rightly, we congratulated and gave thanks for 75, 60, 50 and 25 years of beautiful service of our professed, consecrated religious.

Hundreds of years of consecrated life were represented in our cathedral—not to mention the number of sister and brother religious who were with us in spirit from their infirmary rooms at their motherhouses.

We remembered them in a special way, and also those religious who live a consecrated, cloistered life as well. It was a privilege to celebrate untold years of God’s wonderful grace made flesh before our eyes.

As our jubilarians looked back through the grace-filled years of their consecrated life, I know they understand more fully Christ’s call to “cast out into the deep” and to do so with trust in his grace. They have done that in word and in deed—by their very lives.

And we blessed God for the grace of perseverance that he has given our jubilarians. For they have cast their life with Christ. They have not turned back, and they have continued to journey faithfully toward the kingdom.

In celebrating consecrated life in the Church, we also thank God for the marvelous and particular charisms represented by our religious communities living and serving in the archdiocese.

We thank God for bestowing those charisms on our religious, who are “of us,” part of our larger community of faith. How much we need their witness—reminding us that there is a kingdom where God truly reigns!

We treasure the witness of consecrated lives in a society and a culture for whom the Kingdom of God seems so foreign. God crowns his own gift of grace to our sisters and brothers, whom we love and know. One thinks of the familiar words: Gratitude is the memory of the heart.

Our jubilarians witness fidelity in a world that recognizes little about the beauty of fidelity and commitment. What a great gift to our Church and our world. Folks can see that with God’s help it is possible to keep promises in a world of so many broken promises. How important it is for all of us, but especially for our youths, to see that there is a kingdom worth living for and dying for.

We owe special prayers of appreciation for our sisters and brothers religious who are in the evening of this life, and who—like the cloistered religious—continue to offer the incomparable ministry of Jesus at prayer.

Our older sisters and brothers have served long and well in many different ways, and now they offer their ministry of patient prayer from wheelchairs and their infirmary beds or the privacy of their rooms. Their evening of life ministry is even more beautiful and supportive because the ministry of prayer was so much a part of the life of Jesus.

Our sisters and brothers in consecrated life are the hands and feet and voice of Jesus to bring hope to our world. They offer love and meaning to those seeking the One who cares.

Please join me in offering thanks to God for the many unsung consecrated religious women and men in our local Church! After all, they pray for us day in and day out. †

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