“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
In the midst of Jesus’ discourse on the sheep, the gate, and the shepherd, we find these illustrious words.
As the Good Shepherd, he offers life: real life, abundant life to his sheep. His sheep hear his voice and follow him.
In baptism, we were all called by name and given life. This is where our life in Christ, our shepherd, begins. We now belong to him. His we are.
The Consecrated Life
Some of us are called to a deepening of this call, a special dedication, an “intensification” of our baptismal consecration.
“Already dedicated to him through Baptism, the person who surrenders themselves to the God they love above all else thereby consecrates themselves more intimately to God’s service and to the good of the church.”
This we call the “consecrated life.” However, contrary to subconscious perceptions of our culture, this is still real life. We, consecrated men and women, are real people, born into real families, and living our daily lives in the real world.
It seems like many people don’t view consecrated or religious life as real. They have not had enough exposure to this beautiful vocation. Much of what they have heard of the life of religious Sisters or Brothers comes from movies or corny jokes. To many, this is not real life, a real option.
Like in my case in my early years, consecrated life is not even “on the radar” for many people. If they even think of it at all, it is “somewhere out there.”
This unfortunate cultural tendency (of not seeing the reality of consecrated life) is not beyond remedy, I hope. That is part of the reason that I began a blog, Our Franciscan Fiat. In it, I try to share and relay the message that religious life is real. It is not “somewhere out there” but it a life lived by real, ordinary human beings.
Those who receive this beautiful call are not somehow from a different class, nature, or even planet.
As frustrated as I may get with the nuisance of social media, it is a tool I can use to try to get the word out about this life in its beauty and its reality. Wouldn’t it be nice if somehow, in some way, these efforts could help inspire someone to consider giving themselves to Jesus in this special way?
A Real Life
After all, religious life is a real option today.
In speaking of a “real option” I do not mean to make a vocation to the consecrated life into a path one may simply choose from among many; it is truly a call from God, a gift from him. It is a gift to the Church.
From experience, I can say, it is also a gift to the individual called to be consecrated. What a privilege it is to belong to Jesus in this special way, to live a life with him and for him.
For me, it was a gift first perceived in a time of prayer, a time spent with Jesus in Eucharistic adoration. According to an ecclesial document on this life “every vocation to consecrated life is born in contemplation, from moments of intense communion and from a deep relationship of friendship with Christ, from the beauty and light which was seen shining on his face. (Starting Afresh from Christ, 2002).
Although this life is a gift and is real life, it is a changed life. As St. John Paul II once shared some beautiful thoughts on this matter:
“Invited to leave everything to follow Christ, you, consecrated men and women, no longer define your life by family, by profession, or by earthly interests, and you choose the Lord as your only identifying mark.” (Homily on the Jubilee of Consecrated Life, February 2, 2000)
Thus, as consecrated persons, we belong to Christ, our shepherd, and our spouse, in a special way. We live a real life with him.
Thank you, Jesus, for inviting us to life with you.