Happy feast of the Presentation of the Lord and wishes of the day of Consecrated life.
In the first week of February, we celebrate different events that deepen the different dimensions of our missionary vocation. I think of three events of this week that are very significant for us.
The first is the Memorial Day of Claretian martyrs on February first. Our 184 martyr brothers who were beatified and those whose cause is being processed and many more who are not beatified, but lived the same mystery of shedding their blood for Christ. This is also the day our Founder was brutally wounded by an assassin because of his stand against slavery and discrimination in Cuba. Standing with Christ to defend the dignity of every human person is worth the cost we pay for it. Our martyrs inspire us to be courageous in the midst of hardships.
On second February we celebrate the day of the Consecrated people on the feast of the presentation of the Lord. This is a day we thank the Lord for our consecrated life. The Lord has given us a charism that treasures and promotes consecrated life in the Church. It is our charism that impelled us to start the six Institutes of Consecrated life on four continents. We live at a time consecrated life is often ridiculed as obsolete, the vows portrayed as dehumanizing. Without being rooted in Christ, we cannot live our consecrated life with audacity as a counter-cultural sign in the world. Arguments will not convince anybody, but a testimony of life which radiates joy, interior freedom, intimacy with the Lord, fraternal life in community, and self-giving dedication in the mission which our form of life embodies will.
In this year, the Pope has called us to give special attention to consecrated women in the Church. We should admit that often we fail to appreciate and value the beauty of their consecrated life and the tremendous good they do in the Church. We shall treasure them on equal terms both in life and mission, and value our mutual complementarity. I have seen how clericalism, spiritual worldliness, and a false sense of male superiority at times blind our men to see the truth and beauty of the vocation and mission of women religious. In this year let us make an effort to look at these great evangelizers through the eyes of Christ and together with them let us work in the vineyard of the Lord as his brothers and sisters, our family vineyard, the Church.
On 4th January is the death anniversary of venerable Fr. Clotet, the Co-founder of our beloved congregation. In the month of July, on the 25th is the 200th anniversary of his birth. As the youngest in the group, Clotet knew our Founder and his spirit closely. He was Sub-Director General for thirty years, from 1858 to 1888. We are all in that line joining Claret and are on fire with love today. These celebrations ignite the fire within us and dust of the possible ashes of worldliness that may be smoldering it.
There is one thing that is common to all the three events that I have mentioned. It is the rootedness in Christ. Without that, there is no audacity of martyrdom, nor authentic consecrated life, nor the fire of Claretian charism. Let us seek to be rooted in Christ and audacious in mission.
Mathew Vattamattam, CMF