Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration Katie Mitchell and Laurie Sullivan share their "Called" experiences.
Around the world today the Catholic church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. It’s also the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life. In the time of Jesus, infants were presented in the temple and a traditional sacrifice was made on their behalf. This action marked their consecration to God and welcomed them as members of the faith community. Today's Gospel recounts the story of Jesus presented by Mary and Joseph. In our times it is through the sacrament of baptism that we become members of the Catholic church.
As a pastoral associate working in two rural Wisconsin parishes one of my favorite ministries was preparing parents for the baptism of their child. The goal of the meetings was to discuss the commitment they were making on behalf of their child. I would also ask what dreams they had for the child, and how they planned to share the Catholic faith with their son or daughter as they grew. These were inspiring conversations as the love they had for their child was so strong, even if the baby was just a few weeks old. They were already dreaming of school concerts, dance recitals and far-away wedding days for their infant. It was amazing to see the hope and pride the parents had, holding their baby as the priest poured the blessed baptismal water over the child's head in the name of the Trinity. Some enjoyed the water and others cried. I always thought that was symbolic as experiencing the call of the Gospel contains moments of joy and moments of startling revelation, just like the cold water trickling over their heads. At the end of each baptism the priest would hold the baby up high, proclaiming an introduction to the gathered faith community. Applause would erupt from the congregation and the proud parents, godparents and family members beamed with joy. In that moment many dreams came to fruition and many more—as to who the little child would be—began to take shape in their hearts.
If we listen to the ritual language of baptism we hear that we are all called to a life of service. Discerning religious life comes from the very root of the first sacrament you received—baptism. Choosing to make religious profession is an intensification of baptismal commitment. It is to dedicate all of your life to the service of others and to share the good news of the Gospel in service of the church and the world. It’s choosing to fully consecrate your life to God. It’s making God your primary relationship and commitment. It’s a joy-filled choice.
How does your baptism shape how you live your life?
Will you be a part of the next generation of consecrated life?
Live into this World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life with FSPA's "Called: the future of religious life" and National Religious Vocation Conference's "Why We Love Our Vocation."