Sunday, February 2, 2014

Like a Consuming Fire

I've noticed a number of friends on facebook picking up on a post by a guy named Dame Luthas with the title "19 Hard Things You Need to Do to be Successful". Don't mind me, but I couldn't find any more there than I do in the sure fire weight loss recipes which abound on the internet. I guess in a sense I admire sure fire people who don't put a price-tag on their advice, because they are obviously sincere... Putting all my cards on the table, if you will, let it be clear that for me neither success, nor muscle gain or weight loss are what happen to be on my mind this morning. I'm thinking rather about the mystery of the Presentation in the Temple, today's feast, which I celebrated yesterday in a special gathering of consecrated men and women at Ukraine's national Marian Sanctuary of Berdychiv.

Whenever I celebrate this day which also focuses on the consecrated life, whenever I meet with a group of religious, the issue of vocations promotion, of the growth of their communities always comes in play as something I feel bound to at least touch upon if not discuss attentively in my contacts, homilies and discussions with them. Yesterday, I told them they had the same role as the Blessed Mother: to hold the Baby Jesus tight and close to their hearts and carry Him to a waiting world, just as Mary carried Him to the Temple. We would like the vocation numbers to help with the harvest, but ultimately our examples of success, if you will, are the great saints who imitated Mary, like St. Francis of Assisi, whose impact upon his world was like unto that of a consuming fire. Embracing the Infant, devoting time and attention to Him, is like carrying a candle, but let there be no doubt that this is the action which saves souls! It is thus that the world is sanctified!

What I am trying to say to myself by this is that nothing surpasses the importance of following Mary's lead in her devotion to the Infant King. Making points, winning arguments, crossing the finish line first, being accorded deference and respect by other, who even seem to listen to the Gospel message, all pales by comparison with the transforming and consuming fire unleashed when you or I lose ourselves in the embrace of the Heavenly Bridegroom. Filling and expanding monasteries and convents is not the goal as such but rather the witness or consequence when that consuming fire touches other human hearts.

We pray for good vocations to the consecrated life; we pray that many, many young men and women would find happiness in embracing the counsels of the Gospel: poverty, chastity and obedience. We pray that Baby Jesus would get more quality time from us than any scheme, no matter how well-intentioned, for success, muscle gain or weight loss.


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