Today is Candlemas, a feast of light: the day when Jesus was presented in the temple; and the day when Simeon and Anna recognised the glory and the promise of God in the baby brought in by this nondescript, humble young couple. It is also the World Day of Consecrated Life, and the Pope has asked Catholics to pray for all religious, that through their witness of life, they may radiate to the world the love of Christ and the grace of the Gospel.

Later today I will be gathering with other religious in Oxford to celebrate "our" feast with prayer and adoration, followed by cake and conviviality. We will come together as sisters, brothers and priests, from several different traditions, spiritualities and ways of living religious life; a great diversity, but within that a great unity. However we live, understand and express it, we have all heard a compelling, all-consuming call: like Anna and Simeon, we too are called to contemplation and commitment, and from those depths, to be able to recognise and proclaim the God who is Love, no matter how ordinary or unprepossessing his appearance.

There is mystery in all this, and grace... but also the urgency of Love; of radiating that love, as the pope has prayed for us. Because surely the ugly, divisive events of the past year, and especially the past few days and weeks have shown us that one of the things our world so needs is people who believe in and can witness to the power of love! Which is why I was so especially struck by these words from Henri Nouwen. Today my prayer for myself and all religious is that we can more than live up to this vocation, revealing a love which is tender, limitless and seeks only to gather all into its infinite Heart...

In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.