Background: World Day for Consecrated Life
February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, is also the 27th World Day for Consecrated Life, a commemoration instituted by Pope St. John Paul II in 1997.
In his message for the 1st World Day for Consecrated Life, St. John Paul explained that the day has three purposes:
In the first place, it answers the intimate need to praise the Lord more solemnly and to thank him for the great gift of consecrated life, which enriches and gladdens the Christian community by the multiplicity of its charisms and by the edifying fruits of so many lives totally given to the cause of the Kingdom …
In the second place, this day is intended to promote a knowledge of and esteem for the consecrated life by the entire People of God …
The third reason regards consecrated persons directly. They are invited to celebrate together solemnly the marvels which the Lord has accomplished in them, to discover by a more illumined faith the rays of divine beauty spread by the Spirit in their way of life, and to acquire a more vivid consciousness of their irreplaceable mission in the Church and in the world. Immersed in a world which is often agitated and distracted, taken up sometimes by the press of responsibilities, consecrated persons also will be helped by the celebration of this annual World Day to return to the sources of their vocation, to take stock of their own lives, to confirm the commitment of their own consecration.
The World Day for Consecrated Life takes place on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the Pontiff continued, because “the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple is an eloquent icon of the total offering of one’s life for all those who are called to show forth in the Church and in the world, by means of the evangelical counsels the characteristic features of Jesus—the chaste, poor and obedient one.”
Pope Francis’s annual messages for the day are available on the Vatican website, as are the annual messages of Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI’s homilies and addresses for the day. (Pope Benedict did not issue annual messages for the day.) The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked parishes to commemorate the World Day for Consecrated Life on the weekend of February 4-5.