On Tuesday evening, the Holy Father celebrated Vespers at St. Peter's Basilica for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the 14th annual World Day for Consecrated Life. In his homily he called for consecrated people to be "a bridge to God" for the rest of humanity.

"The offering of the Son of God - symbolized by his presentation in the Temple - is a model for every man and woman that consecrates his or her entire life to the Lord," said Pope Benedict, reflecting the on the significance of the observance of the two celebrations together.

The consecrated life, he declared, "witnesses and expresses in a 'strong' way God and man's reciprocal search for one another, the love that attracts them; the consecrated person... represents a 'bridge' to God for all of those that encounter him or her, a call back, a return."

This is only possible through the "mediation" of Jesus Christ between the divine and human worlds, the Pope added, alluding to verses from the Letter to the Hebrews. "It is, in fact, only on the basis of this faith, of this profession of faith in Jesus Christ the one and definitive Mediator, that consecrated life has meaning in the Church, a life consecrated to God through Christ. It has meaning only if He truly is the Mediator between God and us, otherwise it would merely be a form of sublimation or evasion.

"He is the foundation, He who shared our frailty that we might share in His divine nature."

Pope Benedict further laid out the way consecrated people serve as a "bridge," saying that they "carry in their hearts and their prayers the anguish and desires of mankind, especially those who are far from God." Consecrated religious do this by experiencing the grace, mercy and forgiveness of God, he explained.

The life of the consecrated is therefore a "testament to the superabundance of love which stimulates us to 'lose' our own life in response to the superabundance of the love of the Lord, Who first lost his life for us."

The Holy Father then recalled how some consecrated people are afflicted by old age, sickness and even the burden of their daily toils but go unrecognized. "None of them are useless," he said, "rather, they are a precious gift for the Church, and for the world which thirsts for God and His Word."

In closing, Benedict XVI prayed that this Year for Priests might provide a stimulus for all consecrated people to accompany and sustain the priestly ministry with their fervent prayers.

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