Welcome to part three of the Vita Consecrata Series! Thank you for joining us as we walk through Saint John Paul II’s reflection on what the consecrated life is and what role it plays in the Church and in the world.
As we saw in our last post, John Paul II spends much of the first chapter describing the connection between the consecrated life and the life of the Trinity. In the second chapter of the exhortation, he notes how the consecrated life can “be credited with having effectively helped to keep alive in the Church the obligation of fraternity as a form of witness to the Trinity.”
Not only do religious communities witness to the Trinity through their communion with the Church, but they also provide this witness in the different cultures that they find themselves in:
Placed as they are within the world's different societies — societies frequently marked by conflicting passions and interests, seeking unity but uncertain about the ways to attain it — communities of consecrated life, where persons of different ages, languages and cultures meet as brothers and sisters, are signs that dialogue is always possible and that communion can bring differences into harmony.
The Good News inspires “a self-giving love towards everyone,” and that is what consecrated religious witness to when they live in solidarity with others in their own communities. This is true of consecrated life in all of its different forms, and as St. John Paul II writes, it should remain true despite any difficulties that communities face.
The late Holy Father ends the chapter by reminding communities of the importance of formation, because formation is “a path of gradual identification with the attitude of Christ towards the Father.” It is crucial that this process takes place within the community, for “initiation into the hardships and joys of community life takes place in the community itself.” John Paul II continues:
Through the fraternal life each one learns to live with those whom God has put at his or her side, accepting their positive traits along with their differences and limitations.
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit live harmoniously as one, and so we are called to live as one with our brothers and sisters. Consecrated religious witness to this through their lives, and that gives us another reason to thank the Lord for them.
Saint John Paul II, Pray for Us!