Feb. 2 is the World Day for Consecrated Life. Below is (in part) the homily given by Bishop Sheridan to the assembled religious men and women and the consecrated virgins living in the world during a special Mass on Jan. 26 at Benet Hill Monastery:
We are here to proclaim the value of the consecrated life and of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience. We are here to show our esteem for those who live it faithfully; to express our gratitude for God’s grace that has triumphed in generations of generous women and men religious in this part of the state of Colorado; and to express our own gratitude for the years of service given by those here present and all those dedicated religious men and women who came before you.
Consecrated life is a gift, a special gift at the service of the community. It is a privileged way of loving and serving God for those chosen to live it faithfully.
Especially in the faithful living of the evangelical counsels do consecrated religious proclaim the truth about the relationship of this world to the life of heaven. The Second Vatican Council extolled the witness of consecrated religious women and men as an indispensable expression of the holiness of God and of the Church. How grateful we all are to all consecrated women and men, especially for that proclamation of God and his kingdom, which they make with their lives, their lips and their actions!
Today, sisters and brothers, I say: thank you.
Thank you for your service to the needy, the sick, the dying, those who live in the incredible poverty of not knowing and loving Jesus Christ.
Thank you for teaching our children, for evangelizing in our schools and our parish communities, for serving in our hospitals and in the streets of our city, making Jesus known and loved by your lives in these and in so many other ways.
A special thanks to those of you who are infirm and elderly and experience the weight of age and suffering, but who exercise your very weakness in an apostolate that is full of strength, full of the power of the paschal mystery of Jesus. Deep appreciation goes to those religious who give themselves to prayer for the Church. We rely on you so very much.
Thank you for your self-giving, for your lives of adoration, intercession and service. And not only for what you have done, but for what you are: faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, friends and companions of the crucified and risen Lord.
He — Jesus Christ — is the only one who can adequately thank you and reward you. And, in the final analysis, the only reward that is enough for you is the reward of everlasting life, which your lives of chastity, poverty and obedience are meant to signify and anticipate.
Meanwhile, dear sisters and brothers, remember that the only thing greater than your love for Jesus is his love for you. It is this love that has given you consecration, communion and mission in the Church. It is this love that brings you and those you serve to eternal life.
Today we also want to tell you, brothers and sisters, that we remember with loving gratitude your parents, your families, all those friends and faithful companions of your youth — all those fellow religious, your superiors, generous priests, spiritual directors, confessors and all those benefactors who encouraged you, who gave you support when you needed it, and who sustained you and saw you through to your religious profession and far beyond. We recall all those whom you served throughout the years — the people buried in anonymity, but who in heaven recall, blessing God, your prayers and sacrifices which helped them to eternal life. We remember the hopeless to whom you brought hope, the dejected with whom you prayed, and the legions of people to whom, one by one, you brought the joy of Jesus Christ, his liberating truth and his unconditional love.
May this celebration give rise to our renewed prayers for vocations to the consecrated life and to our commitment to encourage our young people to respond generously if God calls them to this vocation.
God bless you!