Last week, the Holy See issued its proposed plans for the upcoming Year for Consecrated Life as announced by Pope Francis last November during a gathering with superior generals of men’s institutes. “Make no little plans” as the saying goes and this certainly holds true for this year that is so important to the IRL and its member communities.
The Year will kick off in October to coincide with the anniversary date of the issuance of the conciliar constitution Lumen Gentium as well as the 50th anniversary of the publication of the conciliar decree on the renewal of consecrated life Perfectae Caritatis.
The Year for Consecrated Life will have three objectives.
- Gratefully remembering the past.
- Embracing the future with hope.
- Living the present passionately.
The 50 years since Vatican Council II is an opportunity to reflect on God’s love and mercy. Though the consecrated life has experienced severe strain in the ensuing decades, it is not an “antechamber of death.”
We have hope because the consecrated life will never disappear from the Church since “it was desired by Jesus Himself as an irremovable part of His Church,” said Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. This is a moment “for bearing witness to the beauty of the sequela Christi (following Christ).”
A few of the Events planned for the year will include:
- A kick off on November 21, 2013, World Pro Orantibus Day (“For those who pray”)
- A plenary assembly of the Congregation with the theme: “The ‘Novu’’ in Consecrated Life beginning from Vatican II”
- A meeting of young religious and novices
- An international conference dedicated to “Renewal of the Consecrated Life in Light of the Council and Perspectives for the Future”
- An international exhibit on “Consecrated Life: The Gospel in Human History”
- A world Chain of Prayer among monasteries
Two important documents related to the consecrated life are also being rewritten:
- Mutuae relationes: On the relations between bishops and religious
- Verbi Sponsa: Instruction on the Contemplative Life and on the Enclosure of Nuns
- And possibly Sponsa Christi (Spouse of Christ)
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the Year for Consecrated Life is a call to religious to fully embrace and discover anew the charism and witness of the founders of the institutes as a means to awaken the world. It is a prophetic witness meant to reach those at the existential margins of poverty and thought, as Pope Francis has asked.