(Vatican Radio) The final days of the Year of Consecrated Life are being marked in the Vatican with a theological symposium on religious life, taking place from 28 Jan to 1 Feb, on the theme Consecrated Life in Communion. A common foundation in the diversity of styles.
The event, hosted by the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL), kicked off with a prayer vigil Thursday night (28 Jan) in St. Peter's Basilica. Pope Francis is set to close the Year of Consecrated Life with a Mass on Tuesday, 2 February, the World Day of Consecrated Life.
During Thursday night's vigil, Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, O.F.M., Secretary of the Congregation for Religious (CICLSAL), gave a reflection on the centrality of joy for the consecrated person.
"The beatitudes," he said, "are, here and now, the path to a full and joyful life. Joy is not a possibility but a responsibility for the consecrated person. If we believe that God can fill our hearts and make us happy; if we believe that the brothers and sisters God has given us are gifts from him (...) then we cannot but share with the world the gift of our joy in Christ".
Friday, the second day of the symposium on religious life, also began with a focus on joy. The first speaker was Cardinal João Bráz de Aviz, the Prefect of CICLSAL, who said, "As consecrated people, we have to show that God can fill our hearts and make us happy" and exhorted all to unity and fraternity as a means to live spirituality of communion in the Church.
Another presenter, Fr. Christoph Theobald, SJ, said, "To follow, to listen and to welcome the other: this is the style of Jesus that consecrated men and women are called to learn. They are consecrated to the service of what is happening where they live and work; witnesses of fraternity which, if lived authentically, becomes an 'alternative' way of life; men and women who look to the future with the prophetic gaze of one who sees the Holy Spirit continuously working and enriching the Church with new charisms."
Maria Grazia Angelini S.O.B. also presented at the symposium on religious life. She made the point that contemplation does not take us out of the world but inserts us fully into it: "God lives and works in the world and places us in the original state of contemplation. It is not an activity, a state of life, but a way of being that shines in itself: it is the unifying act of believing. The Spirit is working and leads us to what is essential, that is, to follow the Teacher".
Pope Francis opened the Year of Consecrated Life on 2 February 2015.