February 2 is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. This is the day the church celebrates Mary and Joseph bringing Jesus, their firstborn, to the temple to present him to the Lord. It is here that the wise old Simeon and Anna declare that their light and redemption have come.
Since 1997 this feast has also been declared the World Day of Consecrated Life. It is day of prayer and celebration for male and female religious communities. Religious communities are called to reflect the light of Jesus and bring his light to all the world.
We asked Brother Benjamin Ripley, O.F.M. to share his thoughts on being a consecrated religious today.
What does it mean to me to be a consecrated religious today?
Being a consecrated religious gives me a unique way to live the joy of the Gospel and bringing it to the world in my own, little way. It gives me the opportunity to bring joy in a world where there is often a lack of joy. Consecrated life for me is the way to bring God’s compassion, mercy, healing, and the Gospel message of salvation. My vocation to consecrated life is an assurance to me that I am loved by God, I am important to Him and he is calling me to bring that message of joy to others. Consecrated life is an ongoing spiritual journey where I am continually transformed within in my interactions and ministry with my fellow Franciscan brothers and to all those I meet in my ministry. It means a renewal and continued growth in my relationship with Jesus Christ, myself and my relationships with others and the world.
Consecrated life challenges me to go beyond myself and meet the issues which are affecting my local community and beyond. My vocation has given me a desire and restlessness to share the joy of God’s love to others, to perhaps transform the world and people’s lives in my small, humble way. Living out my vows of living without property, obedience, and chastity also helps me to live the joy of the Gospel life by giving complete trust to the Lord. I have the joy of knowing that I do not have to rely on material things that have the power to control me, but that God will provide me with what truly matters. My vow of obedience allows me to give of myself and sacrifice my personal pride and ego and allow God to work within me. My vow of chastity allows me to center my love towards Jesus Christ and others.
What do I love most about being part of a Religious Community?
The thing that I love most about belonging to the Franciscan Friars is the gift of living in fraternity with such a diverse mixture of people who are also desiring to live the Franciscan way of life. There is such a variety of personalities and perspectives within each community which work together towards a common mission. This diversity manifests itself in sometimes humorous or infuriating ways—I believe this is the beauty of living in community. I can be myself and am accepted by the community—imperfections and all. Community challenges me to grow and know that I have value and gifts that I bring to the table and contribute to the life of the community and its mission of spreading the Gospel joy to the world.
We humbly ask for your continued prayers for all consecrated men and women, that we may indeed by bearers of the light of Christ and go forth with the Good News.