2 Events for the Year of Consecrated Life (from the USCCB) February 8, 2015: Religious Open House.Events will be coordinated to also celebrate the World Meeting of Families to take place in Philadelphia and will include tours, open houses, receptions, family activities, and presentations on the history of religious communities at convents, abbeys, monasteries and religious housesSummer 2015: Day of Mission and Service with Religious.Events will include joining religious in their apostolates or special service projects, such as assisting the elderly, ministering to the poor and homeless, and caring for the less fortunate.September 13, 2015: Day of Prayer with Religious.Events will include vespers, rosary or holy hours in convents, monasteries, religious houses, parishes and churches. The year begins on Nov. 30, 2014Ends February 2, 2016 – The World Day of Consecrated Life
3 This year (2014 & 2015) celebrates the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of 2 of documents from Vatican II that had a major part in the renewal of religious life:Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of the Religious Life: Perfectae Caritatis by Pope Paul VI (Oct. 28, 1965)Lumen Gentium – Dogmatic Constitution on the Church – Nov. 21, 1964This includes a section on Religious LifeSaint John Paul II wrote several documents which pertained to Religious Life, several of which I will be citing.Vita Consecrata: On the Consecrated Life and its mission in the Church and in the World – March 25, 1996Redemptionis Donum - To Men and Women Religious on their Consecration in the Light of the Mystery of Redemption - March 25, 1984
5 What is the Consecrated Life? What is the consecrated life you may ask yourself?Most people assume that the answer is simply priests and nuns, but that is not the case. There are quite a few other forms of Consecrated Life within the Church.Not all priests are necessarily members of the Consecrated Life. There are priests who are also members of religious communities, or secular institutes, but Diocesan priests (which is what most of us are familiar with) would not fall into this category.From the Catechism:One great tree, with many branches917 "From the God-given seed of the counsels a wonderful and wide-spreading tree has grown up in the field of the Lord, branching out into various forms of the religious life lived in solitude or in community. Different religious families have come into existence in which spiritual resources are multiplied for the progress in holiness of their members and for the good of the entire Body of Christ."457918 From the very beginning of the Church there were men and women who set out to follow Christ with greater liberty, and to imitate him more closely, by practicing the evangelical counsels. They led lives dedicated to God, each in his own way. Many of them, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, became hermits or founded religious families.
6 All baptized Christians are “consecrated” (made holy) by the Sacraments and by their reception, though unworthy, of God’s freely given grace. That is the most important consecration that any Christian can receive, to be initiated into God’s ChurchWhat exactly is consecration?Consecration is the setting aside, by God, of something or someone for Himself alone.Consecrated comes from the Latin “cum sacratum” – having been made holy withIn strict sense, consecration signifies the total dedication of a person or thing to God and His service, and consequent separation from ordinary human use. By act of consecration a state or stable condition is inaugurated: what is consecrated belongs exclusively to God.How do we use consecration in common Catholic usage?Transubstantiation of bread and wineElevation to episcopatesolemn blessing of churches, altars, sacred vessels, cemeteriesbaptism–fundamental consecration of Christian life
7 What is Consecrated Life? CCC 915 – the profession of the evangelical counsels (poverty, chastity, and obedience), within a permanent state of life recognized by the Church, that characterizes the life consecrated to God.So if the answer is not, just priests and nuns…what is the definition of consecrated life? (CCC915)So what are these Evangelical Counsels?PovertyDeals not only with material possessions, also involves leaving space for God to act in our lives and trusting in God’s providence. Having a spirit of poverty allows us to make space for God and do away with false idols, since ‘you cannot serve both God and wealth’ (Luke 16:13). Ultimately only God, not things, will satisfy and save us. Material goods are tools given to us by God and are not bad in themselves, but possessions can come to possess us and enslave our hearts. Carmelites strive to live more simply, being not excessively concerned with material things.God gradually releases our hearts to love not only him, but also in solidarity those who have less than ourselves, physically and spiritually. we come to respect the created world of which we are stewards, and to be grateful for God’s bounty which is for all people. Embracing voluntary poverty condemns possession of the poor and the idolatry of wealth, and impels us to seek justice and peace.Chastitychastity is concerned not only with bodily purity but more importantly with purity of mind and heartObedience – from the Latin “to listen to”(One of my favorite quotes!) Archbishop Fulton Sheen-Our Lord spent three hours in redeeming, three years in teaching, and thirty years in obeying, in order that a rebellious, proud, and diabolically independent world might learn the value of obedience.It is not simply about ordering people to do our bidding because we have power over them, nor is it about blindly doing the will of others against our conscience or reason. Obedience in the proper sense is not an exercise of power but rather about listening (hence…back to the Latin meaning of the word! Amazing!), discerning together the will of God, and respecting legitimate authority even when we cannot understand from our limited perspective why something is being asked of us. When we commit ourselves in obedience, we commit everything to God. We hand over control and learn to cooperate with God, so that the Spirit can work in and through us.915. Christ proposes the evangelical counsels, in their great variety, to every disciple. The perfection of charity, to which all the faithful are called, entails for those who freely follow the call to consecrated life the obligation of practicing chastity in celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, poverty and obedience. It is the profession of these counsels, within a permanent state of life recognized by the Church, that characterizes the life consecrated to God.CCC The state of consecrated life is thus one way of experiencing a “more intimate” consecration, rooted in Baptism and dedicated totally to God. In the consecrated life, Christ’s faithful, moved by the Holy Spirit, propose to follow Christ more nearly, to give themselves to God who is loved above all and, pursuing the perfection of charity in the service of the Kingdom, to signify and proclaim in the Church the glory of the world to come.
8 There’s another part to CCC 915… Christ proposes the evangelical counsels, in their great variety, to every disciple. The perfection of charity, to which all the faithful are called, entails for those who freely follow the call to consecrated life the obligation of practicing chastity in celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, poverty and obedience. It is the profession of these counsels, within a permanent state of life recognized by the Church, that characterizes the life consecrated to God.What?!That says, “Christ proposes the evangelical counsels, in their great variety, to every disciple”!!!!You read correctly.
9 Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) #915: Christ proposes the evangelical counsels, in their great variety , to every disciple.The emphasis here is the Universal call to holiness – we are ALL called to the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience!All Christians are called to live the EVANGELICAL COUNSELS in a way which is in keeping with their God-given calling in lifeThis does not necessarily imply that all Christians are called to make VOWS of poverty, chastity, and obedience, but all Christians are called to imitate the life of Jesus Christ – who was poor, chaste, and obedient.Obviously the EXTERIOR way that this following of Jesus in each Christian’s life will differ depending upon their vocation – their calling from God.Poverty, chastity, and obedience are not ends in themselves; they are virtues we practice so as to conform more closely to Jesus Christ.Christ is THE CONSECRATED ONE. All human consecrations - particularly that of Baptism - are patterned on His and draw their power from His consecration as Son.CCC 438 - Jesus' messianic consecration reveals his divine mission, "for the name 'Christ' implies 'he who anointed', 'he who was anointed' and 'the very anointing with which he was anointed'. The one who anointed is the Father, the one who was anointed is the Son, and he was anointed with the Spirit who is the anointing.'" His eternal messianic consecration was revealed during the time of his earthly life at the moment of his baptism by John, when "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power", "that he might be revealed to Israel" as its Messiah. His works and words will manifest him as "the Holy One of God".Consecrated Life has often been referred to as an intensification or specification of baptism.We are all called to imitate the life of Christ – how it looks will be different based on the call that you have received from God. Based on your vocation.VC 30 – special and fruitful deepening of the consecration received in BaptismThe profession of the evangelical counsels thus presupposes a particular gift of God not given to everyone, as Jesus himself emphasizes with respect to voluntary celibacy (cf. Mt 19:10-12).This call is accompanied, moreover, by a specific gift of the Holy Spirit, so that consecrated persons can respond to their vocation and mission.
10 Let’s read on…CCC 916The state of consecrated life is thus one way of experiencing a “more intimate” consecration, rooted in Baptism and dedicated totally to God. In the consecrated life, Christ’s faithful, moved by the Holy Spirit, propose to follow Christ more nearly, to give themselves to God who is loved above all and, pursuing the perfection of charity in the service of the Kingdom, to signify and proclaim in the Church the glory of the world to come.Consecrated Life is a thus one way of experiencing a “more intimate” consecration, rooted in Baptism and dedicated totally to God.
11 Canon 573The life consecrated through the profession of the evangelical counsels is a stable form of living by which the faithful, following Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit, are totally dedicated to God who is loved most of all, so that, having been dedicated by a new and special title to His honor, to the building up of the Church, and to the salvation of the world, they strive for the perfection of charity in the service of the kingdom of God and, having been made an outstanding sign in the Church, foretell the heavenly glory.Yes, this is Canon Law, but I want to point out a few key points from this canon that explain a little more what Consecrated Life is:a stable form of living by which the faithfulfollowing Christ more closelytotally dedicated to God who is loved most of all,dedicated to the building up of the Church, and to the salvation of the world,strive for the perfection of charity in the service of the kingdom of God and,sign in the Church & foretell the heavenly glory.For me as a religious, this is wonderful EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE – am I faithful to what it truly means to be a consecrated religious?
12 USCCB Segment “3 Minutes” Forms of Consecrated Life
13 Forms of Consecrated Life Religious LifeContemplativeActiveHermitsConsecrated VirginsSecular InstitutesMost of the consecrated people you know are religious. All of these different forms, though, demonstrate the diversity of the Consecrated Life within the ChurchReligious LifeContemplative – Carmelites, Carthusians, Benedictines, Trappists, Cistercianslive a life of cloister, constant prayer, offering of self, and the daily recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours.Active – Fransciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits, Sister of Life, Religious Sister of Mercy, Missionaries of Charitydevoted to apostolic and missionary activity and to the many different works inspired by Christian charity outside of the cloister.Some of these forms of consecrated life had been mentioned at Vatican II, but had almost ceased to exist practically - at least in the Western Church – for centuries.Consecrated VirginsConsecrated Widows, found in the New Testament – read St. Paul’s lettersHermits – one of the most ancientSecular Institutes – Goal is to live in the world – dedicated to the perfection of charityThe lines between then can often seem a little blurred, and that’s ok, bc we are trying to go back and retroactively classify groups that were founded in particular times, for particular missions, and sometimes its hard to classify what one group is exactly.The reason why these communities came to exist is to meet the needs of the Church
14 As Consecrated… CCC 932: - Follow and imitate Christ more nearly - Manifest more clearly his self- emptying- Encourage their brethren by their example, as those who are on this "narrower" path
15 “Portraits of the Call” Discernment“Portraits of the Call”
16 Vita Consecrata Video Series Video OneVideo TwoVideo EightThis is a 10-part series on Vita Consecrata – here are 3 of my favorites, but this series would be a wonderful introduction to Vita Consecrata
17 Eremitic Life (Hermit) The Church recognizes the eremitic or anchoritic life by which the Christian faithful devote their life to the praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of solitude and assiduous prayer and penance.Hermits bear witness to the impermanence of the world and the fact that we must always remember: that the most important goal in life is to be with the Lord.Vita Consecrata (7)CCC 920. Without always professing the three evangelical counsels publicly, hermits “devote their life to the praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of solitude and assiduous prayer and penance.”CCC 921. They manifest to everyone the interior aspect of the mystery of the Church, that is, personal intimacy with Christ. Hidden from the eyes of men, the life of the hermit is a silent preaching of the Lord, to whom he has surrendered his life simply because he is everything to him. Here is a particular call to find in the desert, in the thick of spiritual battle, the glory of the Crucified One
18 Eremitic LifeA hermit is recognized in the law as one dedicated to God in a consecrated life if he or she publicly professes the three evangelical counsels, confirmed by a vow or other sacred bond, in the hands of the diocesan bishop and observes his or her own plan of life under his direction.What all have in common is a commitment, under vow to their bishop, to live poorly, chastely, and obediently a life of prayer within the silence of solitude.
19 Consecrated Virgins and Widows - The call to a life as a Consecrated Virgin is distinct from other forms of consecrated life in that it is entered by virtue of the Prayer of Consecration rather than by vows or promises. Characterized by a spousal spirituality with Christ, the consecrated virgin lives individually under the direction of the diocesan bishop, dedicates her prayer to the mission of the Church and the people of God, wears a ring of consecration, and earns her own living.From the Catechism…922. From apostolic times Christian virgins and widows, called by the Lord to cling only to him with greater freedom of heart, body, and spirit, have decided with the Church’s approval to live in the respective states of virginity or perpetual chastity “for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.”923. “Virgins who, committed to the holy plan of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are betrothed mystically to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church.” By this solemn rite (Consecratio Virginum), the virgin is “constituted…a sacred person, a transcendent sign of the Church’s love for Christ, and an eschatological image of this heavenly Bride of Christ and of the life to come.”924. “As with other forms of consecrated life,” the order of virgins establishes the woman living in the world (or the nun) in prayer, penance, service of her brethren, and apostolic activity, according to the state of life and spiritual gifts given to her. Consecrated virgins can form themselves into associations to observe their commitment more faithfully.
20 Vita Consecrata (7)Consecrated Virgins embody the image of the Heavenly Bride and of the life that is to come.Consecrated widows and widowers serve as a sign of the Kingdom of God, devoting themselves to prayer and service of the Church.Consecrated Widows, found in the New Testament – read St. Paul’s letters
21 Secular Institutes CCC 928 - An institute of consecrated life in which the Christian faithful living in the world strive for the perfection of charity and work for the sanctification of the world especially from within." CCC 929- By a "life perfectly and entirely consecrated to [such] sanctification," the members of these institutes share in the Church's task of evangelization, "in the world and from within the world," where their presence acts as "leaven in the world." "Their witness of a Christian life" aims "to order temporal things according to God and inform the world with the power of the gospel." They commit themselves to the evangelical counsels by sacred bonds and observe among themselves the communion and fellowship appropriate to their "particular secular way of life.“Examples:UrsalinesSchoenstatt Sisters of MaryAPOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION OF POPE PIUS XII CONCERNING SECULAR INSTITUTESPROVIDA MATER ECCLESIA12. Finally, as the state of perfection has the status of a legal entity with its appropriate discipline, the Church made the wise provision that, for clerical Orders or Congregations, in all things that pertained to the Religious as clerics, the Order or Congregation itself would take the place of the diocese and admission would be equivalent to clerical incarnation. (canons 111 § 1, 115, 585). In the Code all the existing laws on Religious were assembled, reviewed, and given a definite formulation. Confirmation, cumulative from various contests, was given to the canonical acceptance of "states of perfection" as also to their legal standing. To Pope Leo XIII canonical provisions "Conditae a Christo” a supplement was given, to complete the picture by the admission of Congregations of simple vows to the status of Religious. With this it could be thought that the whole terrain was mapped out. But a further possibility had to be envisaged. *****There were associations which had served well of Church and State but had not all the specific features and legal formalities (public vows for instance) which go with a canonical state of perfection. Yet they were closely akin to Religious since they had everything that makes a life of perfection in the plain meaning of those words. With these, too, the Church must be concerned. They must be given in some way full and equal canonical standing in the manner and degree appropriate to their nature. This was accordingly done by an addendum to the section on Religious (Tit. XVII, Lib. II).
22 This is a screen shot from the Schoenstatt Sisters’ website from Waukesha, WI. They are a secular institute, and describe beautifully the reasoning behind why they as a secular institute do not take public vows – in order to be a model for laity, to help them see that it is possible to become holy even without the help and protection of the vow.
23 Societies of Apostolic Life Code of Canon Law 731- Societies of apostolic life resemble institutes of consecrated life; their members, without religious vows, pursue the apostolic purpose proper to the society and, leading a life in common as brothers or sisters according to their proper manner of life, strive for the perfection of charity through the observance of the constitutions.- Among these are societies in which members assume the evangelical counsels by some bond defined in the constitutions.Societies of Apostolic Life are not members of the Consecrated Life, but "resemble institutes of consecrated life.“Societies of apostolic life are dedicated to pursuit of an apostolic purpose, such as educational or missionary work. They "resemble institutes of consecrated life" but are distinct from them. The members do not take religious vows, but live in common, striving for perfection through observing the "constitutions" of the society to which they belong. Some societies of apostolic life, but not all of them, define in their constitutions "bonds" of a certain permanence whereby their members embrace the evangelical counsels.Within the Code of Canon Law, regulations are much less detailed than for institutes of consecrated life, in many instances simply referring to the constitutions of the individual societies.CCC 930- Alongside the different forms of consecrated life are "societies of apostolic life whose members without religious vows pursue the particular apostolic purpose of their society, and lead a life as brothers or sisters in common according to a particular manner of life, strive for the perfection of charity through the observance of the constitutions. Among these there are societies in which the members embrace the evangelical counsels" according to their constitutions.See Code of Canon Law
24 Societies of Apostolic Life One of the distinguishing characteristics of these societies is that they are defined by their apostolic goal.They are bound by simple vows or “bonds”, renewed annually, rather than perpetual vows which are professed for life. Societies of apostolic life live in community with their lifestyle and spirituality in support of their apostolic goal.Examples:- Daughters of Charity- Maryknoll (Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters)- Congregation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri (Oratorians)
25 Religious LifeCCC 925…distinguished from other forms of consecrated life by its liturgical character, public profession of the evangelical counsels, fraternal life led in common, and witness given to the union of Christ with the Church.Code of Canon Law 607Religious Life, as a consecration of the whole person, manifests in the Church a wonderful marriage brought about by God, a sign of the future age. Thus the religious brings to perfection a total self-giving as a sacrifice offered to God, through which his or her whole existence becomes a continuous worship of God in charity.925. Religious life was born in the East during the first centuries of Christianity. Lived within institutes canonically erected by the Church, it is distinguished from other forms of consecrated life by its liturgical character, public profession of the evangelical counsels, fraternal life led in common, and witness given to the union of Christ with the Church.Code of Canon Law:Emphasis on a wonderful marriage brought about by God, a sign of the future age.Thus the religious brings to perfection a total self-giving as a sacrifice offered to God, through which his or her whole existence becomes a continuous worship of God in charity.From the Juridical Point of View:- Profession of evangelical counsels by public vows that are perpetual or leading to be perpetual- a life in common – not just being incorporated into a society but living in common, in the same house, with a common discipline,- withdrawal from the world according to the nature and purpose of each instituteSEE perfectae caritatis 5(canon 607, sec. 3) Involves separation from the world:- horarium setting aside time for prayer together,- particular prescriptions concering life of poverty and chasitity- life of penance and renunciation- countersign against values prevalent and advocated in certain contemporary elements of a society
26 Religious LifeThe Church is vital to this process. It acts as MEDIATOR between God and the person called. It receives and ratifies the vows of the consecrated one and assures them of the grace needed to live the life of holy consecration.It shows forth the unbreakable and eternal bond of love between Christ and His Bride, the Church.There is nothing to come between the religious person and God. There is nothing held back from Him. It is a way of life that reflects the life of Heaven because it is a life of TOTAL, LOVING UNION WITH GOD.
28 INSTITUTES OF RELIGIOUS BROTHERS IN THE U.S. Alexian Brothers (CFA)Brigittine Monks (OSsS)Brotherhood of Hope (BH)Brothers of Charity (FC)Brothers of Christian Instruction (FIC)Brothers of Mercy (FMM)Brothers of Our Lady Mother of Mercy (CFMM)Brothers of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary (FSR)Brothers of St. Patrick (FSP)Brothers of St. Pius X (CSPX)Brothers of Christian Schools (FSC)Brothers of the Holy Eucharist (FSE)Brothers of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM)Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis (CFP)Brothers of the Sacred Heart (SC)Christian Brothers – Bl. Edmund Rice (CFC)Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn (OSF)Franciscan Brothers of Peace (FBP)Franciscan Brothers of the Holy Cross (FFSC)Franciscan Missionary Brothers (OFM)Holy Cross Brothers (CSC)Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God (OH)Little Brothers of St. Francis (LBSF)Little Brothers of the Good Shepard (BGS)Marist Brothers (FMS)Missionary Brothers of Charity (MC)Presentation Brothers (FPM)Xaverian Brothers (CFX)I was not aware of all of the institutes of Religious Brothers within the US, here is a list of thoseWhat are beautiful gift they are to our country!
30 Lumen Gentium (44)“The profession of the evangelical counsels, then, appears as a sign which can and ought to attract all the members of the Church to an effective and prompt fulfillment of the duties of their Christian vocation. The people of God have no lasting city here below, but look forward to one that is to come. Since this is so, the religious state, whose purpose is to free its members from earthly cares, more fully manifests to all believers the presence of heavenly goods already possessed here below. Furthermore, it not only witnesses to the fact of a new and eternal life acquired by the redemption of Christ, but it foretells the future resurrection and the glory of the heavenly kingdom.Again, this is one of the documents whose 50th anniversary of promulgation we are celebrating in 2014.Things to emphasize:- to attract all the members of the Church to an effective and prompt fulfillment of the duties- but look forward to one that is to come- the religious state, whose purpose is to free its members from earthly cares, more fully manifests to all believers the presence of heavenly goods already possessed here belowThe faithful of Christ bind themselves to the three aforesaid counsels either by vows, or by other sacred bonds, which are like vows in their purpose. By such a bond, a person is totally dedicated to God, loved beyond all things. In this way, that person is ordained to the honor and service of God under a new and special title. Indeed through Baptism a person dies to sin and is consecrated to God. However, in order that he may be capable of deriving more abundant fruit from this baptismal grace, he intends, by the profession of the evangelical counsels in the Church, to free himself from those obstacles, which might draw him away from the fervor of charity and the perfection of divine worship. By his profession of the evangelical counsels, then, he is more intimately consecrated to divine service.(4*) This consecration will be the more perfect, in as much as the indissoluble bond of the union of Christ and His bride, the Church, is represented by firm and more stable bonds.The evangelical counsels which lead to charity (5*) join their followers to the Church and its mystery in a special way. Since this is so, the spiritual life of these people should then be devoted to the welfare of the whole Church. From this arises their duty of working to implant and strengthen the Kingdom of Christ in souls and to extend that Kingdom to every clime. This duty is to be undertaken to the extent of their capacities and in keeping with the proper type of their own vocation. This can be realized through prayer or active works of the apostolate. It is for this reason that the Church preserves and fosters the special character of her various religious institutes.The profession of the evangelical counsels, then, appears as a sign which can and ought to attract all the members of the Church to an effective and prompt fulfillment of the duties of their Christian vocation. The people of God have no lasting city here below, but look forward to one that is to come. Since this is so, the religious state, whose purpose is to free its members from earthly cares, more fully manifests to all believers the presence of heavenly goods already possessed here below. Furthermore, it not only witnesses to the fact of a new and eternal life acquired by the redemption of Christ, but it foretells the future resurrection and the glory of the heavenly kingdom. Christ proposed to His disciples this form of life, which He, as the Son of God, accepted in entering this world to do the will of the Father. This same state of life is accurately exemplified and perpetually made present in the Church. The religious state clearly manifests that the Kingdom of God and its needs, in a very special way, are raised above all earthly considerations. Finally it clearly shows all men both the unsurpassed breadth of the strength of Christ the King and the infinite power of the Holy Spirit marvelously working in the Church.Thus, the state which is constituted by the profession of the evangelical counsels, though it is not the hierarchical structure of the Church, nevertheless, undeniably belongs to its life and holiness.
31 Lumen Gentium cont.Christ proposed to His disciples this form of life, which He, as the Son of God, accepted in entering this world to do the will of the Father. This same state of life is accurately exemplified and perpetually made present in the Church. The religious state clearly manifests that the Kingdom of God and its needs, in a very special way, are raised above all earthly considerations. Finally it clearly shows all men both the unsurpassed breadth of the strength of Christ the King and the infinite power of the Holy Spirit marvelously working in the Church.”
32 Consecration: Active or Passive? Essential Elements 5 - The Church places the first emphasis on the initiative of God and on the transforming relation to Him...Consecration is a divine action.
33 The Christian life should not be considered a mere choice The Christian life should not be considered a mere choice. “It is not you who have chosen me but I who have chosen you.” (John 15:16)No matter what vocation you are called to
34 Examples of Matthew, Peter – God calling them from where they were, their station in life – they dropped everything and followed Him!Mary – may we through her intercession have the same joy and hope as she did, and if we say “yes” to His call that He will provide the grace and strength to be faithful to the promises God has asked us to make
35 Why the Consecrated Life? Because God calls people to it!If someone discerns they have a vocation to the consecrated life, that means they believe that God is inviting them to be consecrated to Him in a special way.The consecrated life exists because God calls people to it!It is always His initative. It can happen only by His grace.Some people have been given a special invitation to live out their Christian life in this specific way.It exists for no other reason than the fact that we believe the Holy Spirit calls individuals to this kind of life.It is a manifestation of the love of Christ
36 Why the Consecrated Life? Consecrated persons desire to live in such a way that their lives point toward Heaven.As consecrated men & women, in our manner of life, and even in how we dress and act, we are supposed to remind people of where we are headed.This picture of Rich Mullins was taken by a friend of his who said he looked like an arrow pointing towards heaven. We, as consecrated men & women, ought to be arrows always pointing towards heaven.
37 Testimony of Sacred Scripture Luke 18 – The Rich Young ManLuke 20 – “Whose wife will she be?”Matthew 19 – On Divorce and Remarriage1 Cor. 7 – Remain single as I do1 Tim 5 – Rules for WidowsLuke 18 – The Rich Young ManI follow the law, but what else can I do? “Sell what you have, give it to the poor, and come follow me.”Then Peter kicks in – “We have left everything and followed you…” and Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”He was already living a good, holy life. What else can I do? Jesus tells him. You should follow me in some special, more intense way. Could he do that? Well, he walked away at that moment, but we don’t know what happened to him.Peter says, “We did do that! Was that a good idea? Why did we do that?” If you have done those things for the sake of the Kingdom – in other words, if you have done them because it is my father who has invited you to do them, then there will be an eternal payoff.Mark 20 - In the Resurrection (*which the people asking Jesus don’t believe in) whose wife will she be? Obviously Jesus doesn’t answer them in the way they were expecting. He says, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage…”Wait! Isn’t marriage wonderful – isn’t marriage good? Yes. Let’s look at other sacraments. There will not be the Eucharist in Heaven either.CCC 1661 The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1799) – even the sacraments will fall away, the sacraments signs that point and brings to us God’s grace – and in eternity, we will no longer need those signs. We will have God himself!Sacraments are our life preservers – our nourishment - on our journey to home – to heaven – where we won’t be pilgrims anymore!Matthew 19 -We know this one was challenging because his disciples seemed to say that they just shouldn’t bother with marriage. Jesus then says, “Not all can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.”Here is the direct quote from ScriptureThe disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
38 Testimony of Jesus’ Life Luke 9:57-58 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”This is what the evangelical counsels are supposed to be about – to model the way that Jesus lived – who was poor chaste and obedient.
39 Why the Consecrated Life? A Preview of HEAVEN!Recall that Jesus teaches that there will not be marriage in eternityConsecrated Life is then, an attempt to begin living the life of heaven while still on earthAs consecrated men and women, our lives may not always be the perfect examples of the preview of heaven, because we are imperfect, but this is the ideal.Does this mean that this vocation is better – NO! We recall, Ephesians 5 – St. Paul uses marriage as one of the most powerful metaphors for the love God has for the Church.The best vocation is the one God has for you.
40 The Year of Consecrated Life Activity Suggestions(from the USCCB)
41 Suggestions for Parishes to Foster Vocations to Consecrated Life Invite a woman or a man (brother or priest) in consecrated life to be introduced to the congregation and to greet parishioners at the door of the church after Mass on days celebrating religious life such as the World Day for Consecrated Life or the World Day for Prayer for Vocations.Suggest that parishioners visit a monastery of cloistered monks or nuns to join in prayer or perhaps to make a spiritual retreat.Encourage members of the church to pray for vocations to religious life at the Prayer of the Faithful.Commit resources for promotion of religious order sisters, brothers and priests.Sponsor diocesan adult education programs that teach about the role of religious in the Church.Host annual gatherings of young religious within the diocese and/or region.
42 Suggestions for Families to Foster Vocations to Consecrated Life Pray for vocations to religious life as a family.Talk with a religious about her/his vocation.If your parish has a vocations committee, learn about their activities and participate in at least one program. If there is no vocation committee, work with other parishioners and the pastor to begin one.Discover a ministry in your area that is sponsored by a religious community and talk with the Mission Director about what makes this ministry unique. If possible, volunteer at the ministry site as a family.Suggest to a single person in your parish the possibility of considering a religious vocation.
43 Suggestions for Families to Foster Vocations to Consecrated Life Write a letter to your local bishop suggesting a Vocations Fair or Adoration Hour for vocations. Offer to help organize this.Make 10 minutes for silent reading of Sacred Scripture. Offer this time for the intention of those considering Consecrated Life.Pray in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament for the intention of vocations to the Consecrated Life.At grace before meals, add the following: “We ask, O Lord, that you let more men and women hear the call to serve you as a priest, brother or sister. Amen.”At supper some night, tell family members about a religious who has meant something to you, perhaps someone you met in school, in the hospital, in the parish or elsewhere.
45 How to Build a Vocation Culture To create an atmosphere or vocation culture, The Third Continental Congress on Vocations in North America (2002), suggested five actions which comprise its Plan:To Pray: to be holy, to be converted, to worshipTo Evangelize: to teach, to form, to catechizeTo Experience: worship, community, service, witnessTo Mentor: to accompany, to guide, to modelTo Invite: to discern, to choose, to commitCompliments of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry
46 How to Build a Vocation Culture The resources here will help you implement these actions. These are some ways in which youth directors can collaborate in building a vocation culture:When planning programs for youth, find opportunities to vitalize and nurture their faith and spiritual renewal.Live with passion and conviction your vocation to proclaim the Gospel inviting young people to discern their own call.Invite religious and priests to be present in youth activities and program.Compliments of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry
47 Compliments of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry Best Practices for Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life for Campus MinistriesEucharistic AdorationMake it available often, daily if possiblePreach on the true PresenceConfessionCreates an awareness of sin, and a need for mercyLeads students to strive for greater conversionSpiritual DirectionTeaches them the importance of daily prayerHolds them accountable for prayerInstills in them a fundamental call to holinessPilgrimage/Retreat/Conference‘jump starts’ the spiritual lifeTakes them out of their normal surroundings to encounter GodService ProjectsSeminary Visits/Nun runsor bring Seminarians and young Sisters to visit the CampusCompliments of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry
48 Best Practices for Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life Discernment GroupsHelps each student to realize they are called specifically by GodGroups let them know they are not alone and that others can help them on their journeyCultivating Christ-centered friendshipsTeaches them how to have fun in a holy and wholesome wayDaily presence of priests or sistersStudents need to see priests or sisters at prayer on a daily basisThey also need to interact with them on a daily basisCatechetical FormationThis could be number one but young Catholics generally do not know their faithIntroducing them to the riches of the intellectual patrimony of the Church opens them to a deeper understanding of God and their role in God’s planCompliments of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry
49 USCCB Website (www.usccb.org) The USCCB has ready-made lesson plans available for download for introducing your students to the consecrated life. Go to their website and check out what they offer and see how you can fit their ideas into your curriculum!
54 The Vocation to the Priesthood Separate from the call to the consecrated life, although there are priests who are consecrated – this vocation is essential to my life as a Religious, because through them we are given the Most Holy Eucharist.