By Paul Samasumo
Zambia’s Bishop of Mansa Diocese, Patrick Chisanga, OFM Conv., who is also Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) Director for Consecrated Life has commended consecrated persons in Zambia for their pastoral presence in the various dioceses.
In a message on behalf of other Zambian Bishops, Bishop Chisanga said the annual celebration of the World Day for Consecrated Life was also an occasion for introspection and recommitment to the values of a consecration life.
Each year, the Catholic Church celebrates the World Day for Consecrated Life together with that of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord,
“The Church in Zambia does recognise, with deep gratitude, your presence and apostolic activities in all dioceses. Through your presence and ministry in the health facilities, schools, nutrition centres as well as other integral human development programmes, our Lord Jesus Christ guarantees his continued living presence among his people, especially those on the margins of society. May you fan into an even bigger flame the passion for Christ and the spirit of witnessing by which the dignity of every human person is promoted and upheld,” said the Mansa Bishop.
The Bishop says consecrated persons must continue to carry out their everyday apostolate, whatever it may be, with the love and joy of the Gospel. He also urges self-reflection on the part of the consecrated person.
“I invite you to take this annual celebration as the opportune occasion for introspection and recommitment to the values of your consecration … above all, let the community and personal daily prayer and meditation on the Word of God be the springboard that propels you into your everyday life and activities,” Bishop Chisanga said.
Instituted by Pope St. John Paul II in 1997, the World Day for Consecrated Life celebrates the selfless witness of the service of consecrated persons in the life of the Church. Consecrated men and women live out their unique vocation through the profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience in religious congregations, secular institutes or private vows.
The World Day for Consecrated Life is celebrated on the same day as the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, who is the light of the world. This is symbolic because consecrated persons are called and reminded to be the light of the world through the symbolic lighting of candles during the liturgy of the day. Being the light, consecrated persons reach out to those on the peripheries of society where others find ordinarily hard to reach.
In the Gospel reading of the day, one encounters the Holy Family in a unique conversation with Simeon and Anna.
The whole episode represents the convergence of humanity around the light of salvation: the new-born in the child Jesus, the young in Mary and Joseph, and the old in Simeon and Anna. The convergence point is God’s own dwelling place – The Temple. This is the point from which all go forth, and all return. In the presence of Christ the Light, each person finds fulfilment, serenity and acceptance.
In Vita Consecrata, the 1996 Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Saint John Paul II wrote of the different forms of consecrated life as “the many branches which sink its roots into the Gospel and brings forth abundant fruit in every season of the Church’s life.” These diverse forms include Monastic Life, the Orders of Virgins, Hermits, and Institutes completely devoted to contemplation, Apostolic Religious Life, Secular Institutes, Societies of Apostolic Life, and new or renewed forms of the consecrated life. Each type is described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.