Monday, November 21, 2011

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

When she was a child, Mary’s parents consecrated her to God in the temple, an event that we commemorate today. In 1997 Blessed John Paul II asked that this day be set aside to thank God for the gift of cloistered and monastic life in the Church. Let us pray for all those called to the contemplative life. With them, we Apostles of Prayer, join in offering our day to God for the needs of the Church and the world. Our reflection is from a homily Pope Benedict gave when he visited cloistered Dominican Sisters in Rome.

Your consecration to the Lord in silence and in hiddenness is rendered fertile and fruitful through this choral prayer which culminates in daily participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. This is not only with regard to the journey of personal sanctification and purification but to that apostolate of intercession which you carry out for the entire Church, so that she may appear pure and holy before the Lord. You who are well acquainted with the efficacy of prayer, experience every day all the graces of sanctification it can obtain for the Church.

Dear Sisters, the community you form is a place in which it is possible to dwell in the Lord; for you it is the new Jerusalem to which the tribes of the Lord go up to praise the name of the Lord. Be grateful to divine Providence for the sublime and free gift of the monastic vocation, to which the Lord has called you through no merit of your own. With Isaiah you can say: "The Lord formed me from the womb to be his servant" (Is 49:5). Even before you were born, the Lord had reserved your heart for himself, to fill it with his love. Through the sacrament of Baptism you received divine Grace within you and, immersed in his death and Resurrection, you were consecrated to Jesus, in order to belong exclusively to him. The form of contemplative life, which you received from the hands of St Dominic in the manner of the cloister, place you as living, vital members in the heart of the Mystical Body of the Lord, which is the Church; and just as the heart makes the blood circulate and keeps the whole body alive, so your hidden existence with Christ, where work and prayer alternate, helps to sustain the Church, the instrument of salvation for every person whom the Lord has redeemed with his Blood. …

May you say every day your "yes" to God's plans with the same humility with which the Blessed Virgin said her "yes". May she, who received the Word of God in silence, guide you in your daily virginal consecration so that you may experience hiddenness, the profound intimacy that she herself lived with Jesus.

Dear Sisters, the community you form is a place in which it is possible to dwell in the Lord; for you it is the new Jerusalem to which the tribes of the Lord go up to praise the name of the Lord. Be grateful to divine Providence for the sublime and free gift of the monastic vocation, to which the Lord has called you through no merit of your own. With Isaiah you can say: "The Lord formed me from the womb to be his servant" (Is 49:5). Even before you were born, the Lord had reserved your heart for himself, to fill it with his love. Through the sacrament of Baptism you received divine Grace within you and, immersed in his death and Resurrection, you were consecrated to Jesus, in order to belong exclusively to him. The form of contemplative life, which you received from the hands of St Dominic in the manner of the cloister, place you as living, vital members in the heart of the Mystical Body of the Lord, which is the Church; and just as the heart makes the blood circulate and keeps the whole body alive, so your hidden existence with Christ, where work and prayer alternate, helps to sustain the Church, the instrument of salvation for every person whom the Lord has redeemed with his Blood. …

May you say every day your "yes" to God's plans with the same humility with which the Blessed Virgin said her "yes". May she, who received the Word of God in silence, guide you in your daily virginal consecration so that you may experience hiddenness, the profound intimacy that she herself lived with Jesus.

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