Pope Benedict XVI holds a monstrance as he leads a vespers service in the Vatican's St. Peter's Basilica with members of religious orders Feb. 2, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the World Day for Consecrated Life. CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters

Strong bond with God is defining quality of religious life, pope says

By  Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
  • February 2, 2012

VATICAN CITY - Strengthening one's relationship with God must be the highest priority and most defining quality of religious life, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Celebrating vespers with members of religious orders Feb. 2, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the World Day for Consecrated Life, the Pope said the day was a way of bringing greater attention to the witness of faith of religious men and women worldwide.

In his homily during the evening service in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict said the day was also an important occasion for religious to "renew your intentions and rekindle the feelings that inspire the giving of yourselves to God."

The evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, he said, "strengthen faith, hope and charity," and bring people closer to God.

"This profound connection to the Lord, which must be the overriding and defining element of your existence, will renew your bond to him and will have a positive influence on your particular presence and form of apostolate," he said.

Pope Benedict told religious that they will be "credible witnesses for the church and the world today" through their charisms, their faithfulness to church teaching and witness to the faith.

He said he hoped the Year of Faith that starts in October would be a fruitful time for inner renewal, which is always needed, and for growing closer to God.

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, he said, will help promote and make suggestions for the special year "so that all consecrated men and women will pursue, with enthusiasm, new evangelization."

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