Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Forty days have elapsed since Christmas. On February 2 we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. It is an event that we commemorate every year. We also contemplate it when we pray the fourth joyous mystery of the Rosary. The Church also celebrates consecrated life on this day. Today is a special day to pray for vocations to religious life.
The Evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience that religious profess solemnly are valid for all Christians. It is obvious that not all of us live them the same way, as St. Francis de Sales, the patron of our neighboring parish, points out.
A Discalced Carmelite does not live poverty the same way that an entrepreneur or a mother do. However, all of us, without exception, must be detached from material goods. We must always remember that all created goods have a universal destiny and private property, which is an institution of natural law, is at the service of the common good.
The same holds true for chastity. A priest who has made a promise of celibacy does not live it the same way that a single person or a married person do. Yet, all of us, without exception, must strive to live our sexuality according to the natural order.
Living the Evangelical counsels, adjusting our lives to the Gospel will always be a challenge. It is not easy at all, but it is possible with the help of grace.
The prophecy of Simeon is very true. Jesus Christ is a sign of contradiction. The Church and we, Christians, are also a sign of contradiction in the world when we obey Christ and also when we proclaim the truth about God and the human person in season and out of season.
Notwithstanding the difficulties we may encounter, we must never forget that our proclamation must always be with charity. Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that fact in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate.
“Charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection, is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity. Love — caritas — is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace. It is a force that has its origin in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth. Each person finds his good by adherence to God’s plan for him, in order to realize it fully: in this plan, he finds his truth, and through adherence to this truth he becomes free. To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity. Charity, in fact, “rejoices in the truth”. All people feel the interior impulse to love authentically: love and truth never abandon them completely, because these are the vocation planted by God in the heart and mind of every human person. The search for love and truth is purified and liberated by Jesus Christ from the impoverishment that our humanity brings to it, and he reveals to us in all its fullness the initiative of love and the plan for true life that God has prepared for us. In Christ, charity in truth becomes the Face of his Person, a vocation for us to love our brothers and sisters in the truth of his plan. Indeed, he himself is the Truth.
Love is God’s greatest gift to humanity, it is his promise and our hope…
Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived. Truth is the light that gives meaning and value to charity. That light is both the light of reason and the light of faith, through which the intellect attains to the natural and supernatural truth of charity: it grasps its meaning as gift, acceptance, and communion. Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love. It falls prey to contingent subjective emotions and opinions, the word “love” is abused and distorted, to the point where it comes to mean the opposite…
Charity is love received and given. It is “grace”. Its source is the wellspring of the Father’s love for the Son, in the Holy Spirit. Love comes down to us from the Son. It is creative love, through which we have our being; it is redemptive love, through which we are recreated. Love is revealed and made present by Christ and “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit”. As the objects of God’s love, men and women become subjects of charity, they are called to make themselves instruments of grace, so as to pour forth God’s charity and to weave networks of charity…
Awareness of God’s undying love sustains us in our laborious and stimulating work for justice and the development of peoples, amid successes and failures, in the ceaseless pursuit of a just ordering of human affairs. God’s love calls us to move beyond the limited and the ephemeral, it gives us the courage to continue seeking and working for the benefit of all, even if this cannot be achieved immediately and if what we are able to achieve, alongside political authorities and those working in the field of economics, is always less than we might wish. God gives us the strength to fight and to suffer for love of the common good, because he is our All, our greatest hope.”
Fr. Roberto M. Cid