By Rev. Fr. Jean-Robert Ngandjui
Pope Francis has called for a Year of Consecrated Life to be celebrated from November 30, 2014 to February 2, 2016. Consecrated Life is marked by the acceptance of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. In Consecrated Life one is completely given to God through intense prayer and contemplation.
Today it is common to see people of all ages who have willingly abandoned promising professional careers to embrace Consecrated Life. What compels them to take up such a demanding vocation other than their social realisation? As the Gospel teaches, the Kingdom of Heaven is "a treasure" for which it is truly worth giving up everything (cf. Mt 13:44). The brothers and sisters who joyfully embrace Consecrated Life have found a greater treasure than any other material or earthly treasure. Consecrated people are a witness to us of something greater and higher than just the simple professional career.
Consecrated Life is a reminder to all of us that in the midst of the sometimes frenetic pace of daily events, the one support that never topples is God, the indestructible rock of faithfulness and love. As Teresa of Avila often said: "Everything passes, God never changes." Consecrated Life is a reminder to all of us that we need to take sometime off to be refreshed and renewed by God. It is more and more common to see people today going away from urban centres and from busy daily lives to silent places. Consecrated people have a permanent desire to flee from the world to be close to God.
But Consecrated Life to Jesus in the Church is not about turning one's back on the world:"I do not ask that you take them out of the world... As you sent me into the world, so I send them into the world" (Jn 17, 15.18). In fact, the life of prayer that is proper to Consecrated Life is the true source of action, for Scripture teaches that without God we can do nothing, on our own we cannot bring about the true and needed change in the world. To pray is, therefore, to acknowledge that God plays a significant part in our decisions and actions. To pray is to reaffirm that God intervenes in the world; to pray is to change the world at God's paste and according to Him. And this is called missionary activity.
Consecrated Life is a gift to the Church: "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’ and the striving of the whole Church as Bride towards union with her one Spouse." (John Paul II, Vita Consecrata, 3)
As a testimony of heavenly realities, Consecrated Life helps us lift up our eyes from earthly to heavenly realities. It is therefore eminently missionary in its outlook and input for the growth of humanity is obvious. May this year dedicated to Consecrated Life bring to all those concerned a renewed favour to encourage the rest of the Church to seek first the kingdom of God.