15th World Day of Consecrated Life
2 February 2011
The prophet Simeon was blessed to have recognized Jesus Christ, “lumen… gentium” and “gloria Israel”. And because he has beheld Him, he could now say “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace” (cf. Luke 2:29-32).
Today, however, we might not have that consolation. The light of Christ is being eclipsed by a secularism that has no place for God, a humanism that denies the divine origin and destiny of man and a relativism that ironically excludes moral absolutes. Sadly, convent walls have not prevented these anti-God, anti-human and anti-life attitudes from infecting priests and religious.
What do we see?
1. Life is becoming cheaper. I am talking not only of the violence that fills the newspapers and desensitizes our people. I am talking of the threat against human life that dares to mask itself as “reproductive health” and even distorts the meaning of “responsible parenthood”.
2. Parents are being marginalized. I am talking not only of poverty that forces one or even both parents to take multiple jobs overseas. I am talking of the widespread abdication by parents of their obligation to educate their children. We have many surrogate parents today: private and public schools, TV and mass media, the Internet and social networks.
3. The youth are being corrupted. I am not talking of the mixed messages that children get in families, schools, parishes and society at large. I am talking of the state-sponsored indoctrination and marketing that hides behind “sex education”.
What do we stand for as consecrated men and women?
1. Tertullian asserts that “Nobis vero semel homicidio interdicto etiam conceptum utero… dissolvere non licet. Homicidii festinatio est prohibere nasci, nec refert, natam quis eripiat animam an nascentem disturbet. Homo est et qui est futurus… (In our case, murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even one conceived in the womb… To hinder a birth is merely a speedier murder; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to birth. That is a man which is going to be one…” (Apologeticum, 9). How can we ever think that abortion is morally acceptable and contraception is morally neutral?
2. “The right and duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2221). This means that consecrated persons, particularly those entrusted with the ministry of education may not consider themselves “substitute” parents but as their collaborators. I encourage you, dear Sisters, Brothers and Fathers, to work closely with parents, to offer them ongoing formation as well, so that your efforts on behalf of their children are but an echo of what they live in their homes.
3. It is parents who are responsible for the formation of their children in life and love in order to prepare them to marry and become parents themselves. I exhort you, therefore, to finds ways to help them, perhaps through seminars, workshops and counseling.
“Gloria Dei vivens homo”, exults St. Irenaeus, “but the life of man is to behold God” (Adversus haereses, 4.20.7). Through our consecration, let us affirm that each and every human being is created to “know, love and serve the Lord”. Jesus is the light of all nations, but we – as Christians and as consecrated men and women – are also called to be light in the Light. Today in the Philippines, that means standing up for the fundamental human right to life, the inalienable obligation of parents to educate their children and sharing the light of the Gospel with the youth.
Let us pray for our Representatives and Senators, that they would be open to the light of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that they would reject any reproductive health bill and enact laws that truly protect life, promote the welfare of the family, defend our country from foreign interests and address the root cause of poverty in the Philippines: corruption.
Let us pray for parents, that they would courageously and generously transmit life to and educate their children.
Let us pray for our youth, that they would discern in their families the love and compassion that forms them into dedicated Christians and productive citizens.
Our Lady of Candelaria, pray for our youth.
Our Lady of Candelaria, pray for our families.
Our Lady of Candelaria, pray for our country.
Our Lady of Candelaria, pray for us.
+ JESSE E. MERCADO, D.D.
Bishop of Parañaque