Return to your first love, Jesus – bishop to religious

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PATTAYA, Thailand, Aug. 27, 2015 – For New Evangelization to take flight among Asia’s consecrated men and women, they need to fall in love again – with Jesus.

This was the message of Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ to alll the religious communities in Asia during a symposium held by the Federation of Asian Bishops‘ Conferences – Office of Consecrated Life (FABC-OCL) from July 20 to 25 at the Redemptorist Center in this city.

“The New Evangelization thrust of the Church calls us consecrated men and women to return to our ‘first love’, who is God in Jesus Christ to whom we are consecrated and to whom we are to be configured,” the prelate explained.

‘Falling in love’

“This (falling in love) means to encounter the person of the Son anew and allow the Spirit to transform us into his likeness so that we can bear witness to him and to the Gospel for all peoples,” he added.

According to Ledesma, this relationship of love with Jesus implies “an integral and life-long formation”, which focuses on the radical living of the Gospel nurtured by “a life of prayer, simple lifestyle, humility, and docility.”

Making Jesus the central figure in the consecrated person’s life denotes a certain lifestyle, that of:

  • Owning and living our charism;
  • Undergoing a process of conversion which involves “us as persons and as communities, as well as our structures and institutions”
  • Rediscovering the beauty of consecrated life with its joys, hopes and challenges;
  • Becoming prophetic in living the Evangelical Counsels
  • Deepening an awareness of God’s readiness for reconciliation and being forgiven
  • Experiencing God in real-life situations (natural and human-made disasters, political issues, etc.) as “sources of hope and mercy”

Consecrated life and the New Evangelization

According to Ledesma, living out these counsels constitute being faithful to Jesus and to the charism of their respective consecrated community.
The conference participants included 20 bishops, including three cardinals, 29 priests and brothers, 45 religious sisters, and 7 members of secular institutes from China, Nepal, Mongolia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Korea, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the Philippines.

Aside from giving the said talk entitled “Consecrated Life at the Service of New Evangelization in Asia”, Ledesma also prepared the preliminary Lineamenta for the conference.

He also helped draft the conference’s Final Statement together with Fr. Joe Mannath, SDB, Sr. Victorina Palanca, ICM, and Sr. Judette Gallares, RC. (CBCP News)


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