Friday, 2nd February, 2018 is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, the patronal feast of Lux Edmundi. In the Tridentine Rite, it is the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is also known as Candlemas, when candles are blessed and carried by the faithful in procession, celebrating the Holy Infant as “a light for the revelation of the Gentiles (Luke 2:32)”.

This is, besides, the World Day for Consecrated Life. Inaugurated by Pope St. John Paul II in 1997, this Day “is intended to help the Church to esteem ever more greatly the witness of those persons who have chosen to follow Christ by means of the practice of the evangelical counsels and, at the same time, is intended as a suitable occasion for consecrated persons to renew their commitment and rekindle the fervour which should inspire their offering of themselves to the Lord”.

The evangelical counsels are Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. They are evangelical because they are rooted in the evangelium, the Good News, the Gospel, proclaimed in, and by, Christ Jesus. They are counsels because, whereas observance of the Ten Commandments is obligatory, observance of the Counsels is advisory only. In the traditional language of Ascetic and Mystical Theology, we must keep the Commandments if we are to be saved, keep the Counsels if we would be perfect.

For all involved in Catholic education, this will be a day of reflection on, and celebration of, those religious who committed themselves to the service of youth for the sake of the Gospel in the apostolate of the school, of those, especially, who gave all that they had and all that they were to founding the many and various congregations of men and women dedicated to the instruction of the young, especially the poor, “in the principles of religion and Christian piety”. We owe these founders our deep and abiding respect and we owe their followers, the religious men and women who preceded us in the schools, our highest regard, our enduring loyalty and, above all, our emulation.

One of the great insights of Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, formally promulgated at Vatican II on 21st November, 1964 – on, indeed, the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple – was that the Call to Holiness is universal; that “all Christians in any walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of love (paragraph 40)”. In effect, in virtue of our baptism, each one of us is directly called by God to be holy as he is holy.

We become holy by observing the will of God. That is expressed most succinctly and most authoritatively in the Two-fold Law of Charity which requires us to love God above all for his own sake and to love the neighbour as ourselves for the love of God. We must live this Great Commandment in the state of life, and in the concrete circumstances in which the Lord has set us. The “stuff” of our everyday lives, therefore, is the “stuff” of our sanctification, the means by which the Holy Spirit will make each of us perfect in love, the most exact “icon” of Christ that we can be, the most complete and authentic version of ourselves possible.

We are what we are by the dispositions of Divine Providence. That we work in Catholic education is part of God’s plan for us from all eternity. The school is for us “the house of God”, “the Gate of Heaven”; the place where we meet God and the neighbour each and every day; where, by serving them, we climb ever higher towards our true homeland; where we become fully, truly, “us”.

God, though, never forces anyone. He stands at the door and knocks. It is for each of us to open to him or not. May each of us intentionally (re)open our hearts to Christ on this feast of Consecration.


Provided to CEIST by Dr. Frank Steele