“We are called to know and show that God is able to fill our hearts to the brim with happiness; that we need not seek our happiness elsewhere…”
(Apostolic Letter of Pope Francis to all Consecrated People on the Occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life, November 21, 2014)
This past weekend, we attended the Encounter for the Year of Consecrated Life for the Madrid diocese. Saturday started with a conference of several speakers, followed by a concert and testimonies. On Sunday there was an overflowing Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Almudena.
After the homily on Sunday, several lectors read prayers of thanksgiving for the gift of consecrated life to the Church. Each prayer focused on one of the evangelical counsels, thanking God the Father for the gift of Christ’s poverty, chastity, and obedience, and then asking for the grace to renew our own vows to follow in his footsteps. In each of these prayers, one word stood out to me: JOY. “With joy, we renew our vow of poverty…” “Today we joyfully renew our vow to keep our bodies chaste and our hearts pure…”
As I looked around the Cathedral full of so many congregations and forms of consecrated life, I started to look at the faces of each of the religious sisters and priests who passed by my pew. A question came to my heart: How is it possible to see so much joy in one place? How can a thousand people in a church who have given up families, possessions, homelands, and dreams be happier than a crowd at a mall or a concert who has “everything what they want”?
The answer to that question speaks volumes about HIM… the source of our joy.