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Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: January 15, 2015
By Father Erik Pohlmeier
As a diocesan priest who grew up in the shadow of a monastery, I am grateful for the ever present witness of those men dedicated to the work of God and the pursuit of holiness. Many times I have heard people speaking of visits to Subiaco as stepping into another place and time. It seems they felt a stirring inside that was hard to pinpoint but worked a kind of renewal in them, a different perspective on life and faith for having come to such a place.
In my years of following God’s call I have come across many more such places as well as men and women who themselves cause a stirring of faith. This is the nature of the particular witness of consecrated life.
Pope Francis has tried to pinpoint what is going on with this influence by giving us a Year of Consecrated Life. As in previous such years, the Holy Father asks us to look more closely at some aspect of Catholic life and be enriched by what we might have taken for granted. In a document to set the tone for this year, Pope Francis highlights three aims: To look at the past with gratitude, to live the present with passion and to embrace the future with hope.
Technology shapes our experience of the world now and evangelization must adapt to employ every means in spreading the Gospel. But for all that is new in the means of communication, the message itself is timeless and the witness of a holy life the most important tool.
These aims have marked the life of consecrated men and women for centuries, and in our day are being lived in monasteries, hospitals, shelters, soup kitchens, schools and offices. Wherever you come across these men and women, often in the most unassuming ways, you find people of faith willing to give everything in the service of God and His Church.
With their consecration they have opened their hearts to the fire of the Holy Spirit and work to share that fire with joy. In fact, Pope Francis also commented, “I want to say one word to you and this word is joy. Wherever consecrated people are, there is always joy.”
There is much talk in our day about evangelization and the most effective way to reach people shaped by the conveniences and challenges of modern life. Technology shapes our experience of the world now and evangelization must adapt to employ every means in spreading the Gospel.
But for all that is new in the means of communication, the message itself is timeless and the witness of a holy life the most important tool. Consecrated men and women have committed themselves to being instruments of God and when their lives are filled with gratitude, passion and hope, the Holy Spirit will reach hearts.
Some have asked what the difference between evangelizing and proselytizing is, as most have experienced misguided attempts at sharing faith. Proselytizing involves coercion in some way and lacks a trust in the human heart to respond to genuine holiness.
Evangelizing is living the faith in a way that is attractive and, as the First Letter to Peter says, “Always being ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.”
In the Year for Consecrated Life, we are grateful for the religious who have shared their faith by their lives and words. We should all pray for their continued holiness and growth with new vocations. Our Church and our world need the timeless and dedicated witness of those consecrated to God for the work of the Kingdom.