St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

A Call to be the Lord’s                                                         -Homily February 1, 2015

On Consecrated Life

 

The text of St. Paul we have read today is very interesting, and it is perhaps the best explanation of consecrated life. This is the Year of the Family and of Consecrated Life, as you know. And I would like to share a little bit of this, what it means to consecrate your life to the Lord, as a sister, as a priest, and in other ways.

 

St. Paul says: “The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord.” When I was eleven years old, more or less, I started to feel that God was calling me to become a priest. But if you ask me: what did you feel my answer would be this: I wanted to be the Lord’s; I wanted to be something belonging to God; I wanted to be his and only his. Mind you, I was certainly too young to understand what this meant. I did not know what it meant. But God knew what it meant, and for him I was not too young to feel that call. He is God, he calls you when he wants. In the Bible, God says to the Prophet Jeremiah: “Do not say ‘I am too young’, because to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak” (Jer 1:7). When you consecrate your life to God, you remain always a child. It is he who leads you; it is his word that you speak. There is nothing to be afraid of.

 

To consecrate your life to God is to devote yourself to God. It is to radicalize the first commandment: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” This is a commandment for every baptized person, but for those who are called, it is the expression of a deeper consecration. You desire to be totally the Lord’s, you want that every dimension of your life becomes sacred to him. St. Paul says: “The unmarried woman and the virgin are concerned about the affairs of the Lord.” It is the desire that everything in your life is sacred, that is to say, it is directly related to the Lord. You want that your affairs be the Lord’s affairs.

 

What are these Lord’s affairs? Basically two. Prayer and mission. It is an intimate communion of prayer with the Lord, and a call to love your neighbour in the mission. To consecrate our life to God is by itself a mission, a witness, a prophecy, a light to the nations. Even without saying anything, a brother or a sister with his or her habit cries aloud that the Lord exists and is good. Churches are usually different; they have towers and are bigger than regular houses, because they signify the transcendence of God. Religious people wear a habit; they dress differently, for the same reason. They remind us all of the presence of God in the world. They are a gift for families and other lay people because they are witnesses to our faith. Churches and religious people are for us a visible reminder of the invisible. When we do not have those reminders, we tend to forget the Lord, immersed as we are in the affairs of the world.

 

Prayer is the most important for a consecrated person. It is our job. People feed religious people and priests because they pray. Many of you would like to pray more, but you cannot because of your different occupations and family concerns. Many of you pray better than us, and I am sure that God is sometimes happier for your prayers, in the middle of so many difficulties, than for our lazy prayers as consecrated people. But the point here is that for us religious, prayer is our office. We have devoted our life to prayer. If we don’t pray we are bad religious. If we don’t pray we are nonsense. If we don’t pray, we steal from people who sustain us with their contributions. You don’t pay for our prayers, of course, but if we don’t pray, what is the purpose of feeding us? To feed a lazy person who wastes your time with bad homilies? A consecrated person must be a man or a woman of prayer. A man or a woman, who enjoys spending time alone with the Lord, who is our friend.

 

Finally, a consecrated person is by nature a missionary. Because we belong to God, our children are the children of God. A consecrated person becomes a teacher, a nurse, a helper of the poor and those in war, a defender of the rights of the marginalized; it is a woman or a man for others, a woman or a man that forgets her or himself for the love of God and his children. A consecrated person is a prophet of justice on earth, and of eternal life in Heaven. Most of all, a consecrated person is a prophet of the word of God, and someone who wants everyone to be baptized and enter in communion with God through the Eucharist. In our meetings with God (that is prayer!), we realize how much God loves people, and in our mission, we try to let people know about his love, we try to bring them closer to the love of God.

 

We are prophets. If we do not pray, we cannot hear what the Lord has to say, and therefore we do not preach the word of God, but ourselves or some worldly message. On the other hand, if we do not speak out for others, we are not showing that we love God, but we love ourselves and our own comfort. If we do not pray, we do not receive from God the love we have to give. Only the one who prays is on fire for his brothers and sisters, because he has touched the fire of God in prayer, and he burns. But if we do not work for our brothers and sisters, how can we say that we love God? Jesus died for the salvation of everyone, and that means that we must also give our lives for our brothers and sisters.

 

Consecrated life is a vocation to prayer and mission, to talk to God and about God, with our words and with our lives.

 

If we have good religious, we will have good families. The witness of religious people encourages families to persevere in their endeavours. If we have good families, we will have good religious too. We need each other. Let us ask the Lord for our families, for our consecrated people, and for those who are called to consecrated life, that they may have the courage to give themselves totally to the Lord, to prayer and mission in the Church.  –Fr. Andrew