On this beautiful Solemnity of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, a “Global Chain of Prayer” celebration is taking place in designated contemplative monasteries around the world, in honor of the Year of Consecrated Life. The Dominican Nuns are represented by the Monasterio de Santa Catalina in Arequipa, Peru.
The Year of Consecrated Life declared by Pope Francis began on the First Sunday of Advent, 2014, and will conclude on the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, February 2, 2016. The celebration focuses on gratitude for the grace of God in the past, following Jesus more closely in the present, and looking with Him in hope toward the future. “The whole Christian people,” writes the Holy Father, should be “increasingly aware of the gift which is the presence of our many consecrated men and women, heirs of the great saints who have written the history of Christianity.”
During this year, we invite you to join us in praying especially for all consecrated men and women, and for many young people to respond to Our Lord’s invitation: “Come, follow Me!”
Explanation of the Image
According to tradition, the Blessed Virgin Mary was presented in the Temple at a young age, there to live dedicated to God. This image is especially appropriate for us to choose, since the feast of her Presentation, November 21st, was declared by St. John Paul II to be “Pro Orantibus Day,” “For Those Who Pray,” in honor of contempative religious.
In the image, Mary’s parents Sts. Joachim and Ann escort her, showing the importance of family life in nurturing vocations.
Mary herself is the preeminent model of a human person consecrated to God: the relationship with God is primary in the life of every consecrated man or woman, and to lead others to an eternal friendship with Him is the ultimate goal of every apostolate. Union with Mary’s obedience to the Father leads us to the Paschal Mystery of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection, represented by the Cross above the image, and to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church to bring us to eternal life with the Blessed Trinity in Heaven. All graces come to us from God through Mary’s hands.
The priest receives Mary into the Temple, signifying the ecclesial nature of consecrated life placed by God under the teaching, governing, and sanctifying authority of His Church.
The quote from the Psalm comes from a suggestion from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life on ways to celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life. “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple” (Ps. 26/27:4). They spoke of art and “the contemplation and proclamation of the truth and beauty of faith.” The consecrated life, and our Dominican monastic life in particular, radiates a beauty that attracts us and those who come to know us to God.
Prayer of St. John Paul II
Mary, Mother of the Church, to you we turn. With your “yes” you have opened the door to the presence of Christ in the world, in history and in souls, receiving in humble silence and total submission the appeal of the Most High.
Grant that many men and women may know and hear, even today, the inviting voice of your Son: “Follow Me.” Stretch out your motherly hand over all missionaries scattered throughout the world, over religious men and women who assist the elderly, the sick, the deficient, the orphans; over those who are engaged in teaching, over the members of secular institutes, the silent leaven of good works; over those who in the cloister live on faith and love and beg for the salvation of the world. Amen.