A year ago, on November 21, Pope Francis wrote the Apostolic Letter to all Consecrated People for the Year of Consecrated Life. With the letter he opened the year of consecrated life, to run from Nov. 30, 2014 through Feb. 2, 2016.
I'm a little late coming to this. A month ago I was at a talk by my dear friend, Dominican Sister and Aquinas Institute of Theology professor Carla Mae Streeter. She was talking to Catholic sisters, and she described Francis' letter so warmly that I read it myself.
I'm not keen on the language of the consecrated life. But in Part 3 of this short letter, Francis would seem to be including all the active members of the church in what he sees as our work. That made his words even more exciting to me. Building the realm of God is work for us all, a message that becomes clearer as the number of sisters diminishes.
So here's an outline of the letter, to help inspire you to read it yourself:
I. The aims of the letter -- A call to
- Look to the past with gratitude
- Live in the present with passion
- Embrace the future with hope
II. Francis' expectations of us
- Radiate joy
- Create community wherever you are
- Go to the peripheries
- Search out the needs of today
III. The horizons Francis opens before us
- Laity and sisters share the same ideals, spirit and mission
- The entire church must pay attention
- Other churches, too, give birth to communal fraternity and service
- Other religious traditions will enrich us if we travel together
- To the bishops, may this year be an opportunity to accept the gifts consecrated life brings to the church
If you think the outline is exciting, read the letter. And then get out to the peripheries, radiating joy and creating community.