On March 25, 2015, the Religious Associations of Men & Women in Macau organized a special lecture, which was part of the series of lectures taking place through the Year of Consecrated Life. The interesting topic was Quality of Life in Religious Life. The speaker was the well-known theologian, lecturer and writer fr. Felicísimo Martínez, OP, who is at present a visiting professor at the Faculty of Religious Studies of the University of Saint Joseph, Macau. The lecture, attended by about eighty religious women and men, was held in the evening at the Bishop’s House Conference Hall.

In the context of religious life, quality of life refers to a meaningful life, to happy life, to personal satisfaction in religious life – a life faithful to the Gospel and satisfied with the religious vocation. This satisfaction or happiness is manifested in enthusiasm, optimism, joy and apostolic zeal.

The quality of life of the religious is grounded first on an authentic experience of faith; which is strengthened by cultivating silence, solitude and a contemplative life. It is based, second, on a good community or fraternal life, which is fed by the facts that religious life is the common vocation of all the members of the community, a common Christian faith (a common Creed), a common celebration of faith, and the practice of fraternal correction and communitarian reconciliation. The third column of a good quality life or a happy religious life is an evangelical mission motivated by working for the community, showing apostolic zeal and responsible witnessing of the Gospel. A happy religious life is shown in enjoying our mission, our community and our Christian faith.

Fr. Felicísimo’s spiritual lecture was indeed good food for the soul to be ruminated by all religious women and men, who are called by God to love him, all neighbors and in particular the poor and marginalized brothers and sisters in the world.

As I close this brief report I remember the words of God the Father to St. Catherine of Siena: “The religion of Dominic is joyful and lightsome.” And also the words of Pope Francis, the author of the Gospel of Joy, who said that the first thing he expects from the consecrated women and men in this Year of Consecrated Life is:

That the old saying will always be true: “Where there are religious, there is joy.” We are called to know and show that God is able to fill our hearts to the brim with happiness; that we need not seek our happiness elsewhere; that the authentic fraternity found in our communities increases our joy; and that our total self-giving in service to the Church, to families and young people, to the elderly and the poor, brings us life-long personal fulfillment” (Pope Francis, Message for the Year of Consecrated Life, The Vatican: November 21, 2014, II, 1). (FGB)