Mass in Gethsemane concludes Year of Consecrated Life
JERUSALEM – On February 2, Mass was celebrated in the Basilica of All Nations in Gethsemane by His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, attended by men and women religious in the Holy Land, to close the Year of Consecrated Life.
February 2 is the feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, and is also the World Day of Consecrated Life, which was initiated in 1997 by Saint John Paul II, with a threefold purpose.
“In the first place, it answers the intimate need to praise the Lord more solemnly and to thank him for the great gift of consecrated life, which enriches and gladdens the Christian community by the multiplicity of its charisms and by the edifying fruits of so many lives totally given to the cause of the Kingdom…Consecrated life, before being a commitment of men and women, is a gift which comes from an initiative of the Father …the one called, who is urged by the Holy Spirit to place himself or herself in the footsteps of Christ, in a particular way of following him… What would become of the world if there were no religious? This is a question which brings us to give unceasing thanks to the Lord, who by this singular gift of the Spirit continues to enliven and sustain the Church in its demanding journey through this world.” 
Second, “this day is intended to promote a knowledge of and esteem for the consecrated life by the entire People of God… In contemplating the gift of consecrated life, the Church contemplates her own intimate vocation of belonging only to her Lord.”
“The third reason regards consecrated persons directly. They are invited to celebrate together solemnly the marvels which the Lord has accomplished in them, to discover by a more illumined faith the rays of divine beauty spread by the Spirit in their way of life, and to acquire a more vivid consciousness of their irreplaceable mission in the Church and in the world.”
This day also marks the closing of the Year of Consecrated Life, which began in 2014. At the closing event in Rome, Pope Francis recalled the missionary spirit that should animate the religious: “All forms of consecrated life, each according to its characteristics, are called to be in a permanent state of mission, sharing the joys and hopes, the sorrows and anxieties of the people of today.”
In Jerusalem, Patriarch Fouad Twal, celebrated Mass for the men and women religious at the Basilica of All Nations at the foot of Mount of Olives. The celebration started in the Garden of Gethsemane, where the Patriarch greeted the faithful followed by the lighting of candles and procession into the Church through the Holy Door, opened for the Jubilee of Mercy. The Gospel was proclaimed by the Very Rev. Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land.
In his homily, the Patriarch emphasized , the relation between consecrated life and mercy. “The Year of the Consecrated Life closes today… it was a great moment of grace… It is providential that the conclusion of the Year of Consecrated Life coincides with the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, almost a logical sequence. Mercy is indeed at the heart of the commitment of men or women who strive to follow Christ.”
He recalled that the vocation of consecrated persons is primarily mercy, “the Church, each of one of us is the Church, does not exist to condemn people, but to bring about an encounter with the visceral love of God’s mercy… your work, your apostolate…your very presence itself should be based on mercy.”
Citing Pope Francis’ book-interview, “The Name of God is Mercy”, the Patriarch developed his reflection on the duty of the Church to make people feel, “that it is always possible to start again, that Jesus is always here close to us, ready to forgive us and to help us rise again”.
On Wednesday, February 3, the Patriarch also celebrated Mass for the Sisters of Beit Gemal closing the Year of Consecrated Life.
 Message of the Holy Father John Paul II for the first World Day of Consecrated Life on February 2, 1997.