February 2, 2000
volume 11, no. 23
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

John Paul II's Prayer Intention for February is for Vocations and Jubilee Pilgrims

    VATICAN CITY, FEB 1 (ZENIT).- 18,000 men and women religious have come to Rome over the past few days to participate in the Jubilee of the Consecrated Life. The climax of the celebrations takes place on the morning of the Presentation of the Lord in St. Peter's Square, when the participants will meet with John Paul II.

    The celebrations of the religious during this Holy Year have been thought out in great detail, including very original initiatives that made the last two days particularly intense. Today was dedicated to the mission and testimony of the consecrated. The participants celebrated by going to the Basilica of St. Mary Major and spending time in adoration of Christ present in the Eucharist, the sole reality that gives meaning to their consecration.

    Yesterday afternoon the participants enjoyed music, songs, testimonies, and images. The event, which took place in the Paul VI Auditorium in the Vatican, was televised for the general public.

    For two hours, the program celebrated the meaning of a life dedicated to God, from the first call to the consecration, a road that at times costs blood. Among those present were 9,000 men and women religious and consecrated laity, an extraordinary expression of charisms showered on the Church over the past 2000 years.

    The ceremonies began with a Swahili dance, which provided the background for the enthronement of the Gospel, symbol of the radical adhesion of the consecrated to Christ's message. This was followed by large screen pictures evoking the awakening of a vocation. A young girl, who will spend her life for God, spoke for all: "I had an inner certainty that life is a gift and that it must be given. This certainty fills me with peace and joy. The missionary life seemed to be the answer. I wanted to do something for others. This was the way and I couldn't dismiss it, in spite of all the sacrifices."

    Passages from Sacred Scripture, poems by saints and theologians, intertwined with the solemnity of singular notes like those of the Gregorian Choir of the Monks of the Spanish Monastery of St. Dominic of Silos, made of this moment of the consecrated's celebration an extremely strong message for the general public. The ceremony included a "Via Lucis," or fourteen stations recalling Christ's post-resurrection appearances.

    These men and women, who breathe the dust of dry African lands, spend sleepless nights caring for AIDS patients, or are consecrated to a contemplative life in a monastery, present a challenge to the world of the third millennium. In the words of Capuchin Sisto Zarbellon, one of the presenters of the event, "we respond to the challenges of the world with the challenges of the Gospel. This is our call."

    The Jubilee of the Consecrated Life, which will be held on Wednesday, will begin at the Vatican with the ceremony of crossing the Holy Door and blessing of the candles, symbol of the light of Christ for every faithful and, in particular, for the consecrated, who must keep it burning. During the ceremony, as a sign of love for the poorest of our times, the donations of religious communities throughout the world will be given to the works of charity and help carried out on behalf of the Holy Father. The Jubilee day of the consecrated will end in St. Peter's Basilica in the afternoon with prayer in common.

    During the month of February, John Paul II appeals to all Catholics around the world to pray that "Christian communities will be adapted and welcoming terrain for all vocations of special consecration," that is, vocations to the religious life or to lay movements, according to the three evangelical counsels: chastity, poverty and obedience.

    Moreover, John Paul II has also revealed his missionary intention for the month: "That the pilgrims who visit Rome, Jerusalem and other places of Christian spirituality, will become messengers of the Gospel of hope for the men of our times."

    A series of intentions are proposed by the Apostleship of Prayer and the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples for each month, and the Holy Father chooses one general intention and one missionary intention from the lists.

    The Apostleship of Prayer is an ecclesial association that came into existence in the middle of the last century at the initiative of the Jesuits, inspired by the revelations of the Sacred Heart to St. Mary Margaret Alacoque, which took place in France in the 17th century. This initiative, which has spread throughout the Church, has persons who are responsible in the different dioceses. The central direction is in Rome, in the Jesuit mother house.

    The Apostleship of Prayer consists in promoting the union of faithful in the sacrifice of the Mass through the offering of prayers, works, joys and sacrifices of every day in reparation for offenses against the Heart of Jesus -- God's redeeming love for humanity. ZE000020104 and ZE00020108.


February 2, 2000
volume 11, no. 23

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