Religious life is a calling, not a job

During the General Audience on February 1, Pope Francis asked Catholics to pray for all those in religious and consecrated life, those who have been called to profess the evangelical counsels.

Feb 17, 2017

By Ken Cham
During the General Audience on February 1, Pope Francis asked Catholics to pray for all those in religious and consecrated life, those who have been called to profess the evangelical counsels. Some 300 Catholics from various churches attended a special Mass to celebrate the World Day for Consecrated Life at St Ignatius Church (SIC) on Thursday, February 9 at 6.00pm. They came to pray for, and to be in solidarity with, about 70 priests, nuns and religious brothers from 10 religious communities who were present.

Archbishop Julian Leow was the main celebrant. Cardinal Soter Fernandez, Archbishop Joseph Marino (Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia), Archbishop Emeritus Murphy Pakiam and SIC Assistant Parish Priest Fr Lawrence Ng, CDD were the concelebrants.

In his homily, Archbishop Leow said that on this day, the religious celebrate the vows they have taken.

He reminded all that religious life is a calling, not a career; a way of life, not a job; an identity and not just a role they play. The lives of the religious — their witness and example — puts flesh to all that they preach.

Archbishop Joseph Marino addressed the congregation at the end of the Mass. He said, “The ultimate expression of a true vocation or the actualization of a vocation is verified if the person lives no longer for self but for others. To be an outgoing person of encounter signifies three characteristics:

“First is to be outgoing, to be active, not passive. It means to go out to meet people where they are, where they live, where they interact, where they recreate. It is the opposite of passively sitting in our rectories or convents, waiting for people to come to us. We must be ready and willing to go to the “peripheries”, geographically and spiritually.

“The second characteristic of a person of encounter is proximity, that is, being close to others, not distant or aloof, not judgmental or condescending. Essentially, it signifies that we live a life of ‘face-to-face encounters’ (Evangeli Gaudium, 88 and following). Specifically, it means that as religious, we cannot live in isolation. Proximity is not only physical, it also entails a spirit of empathy. Empathy is that ability to understand and share the feelings of another. But we can only understand the other if we are willing to enter into the other’s reality of life.

“Third, our going out and our closeness or proximity to people has one goal in mind, namely, to bring people hope, which arises from our being people of mercy, giving people a new chance in life, by embracing with the purpose of re-integrating people into society and into the Church, those who live on the margins.

“Yes, when we actively search to be near those in need, to bring them hope, we are encountering Christ himself,” shared Archbishop Marino.

A fellowship dinner followed.

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