Perfectae Caritatis 5

Moving from the consideration of “institutes” and to the individual members of religious communities, we read:

Members of each institute should recall first of all that by professing the evangelical counsels they responded to a divine call so that by being not only dead to sin (cf. Rom. 6:11) but also renouncing the world they may live for God alone. They have dedicated their entire lives to His service. This constitutes a special consecration, which is deeply rooted in that of baptism and expresses it more fully.

Service is a consecration and it is a more full expression of baptism. That’s a concept worth a quantity of discussion. Would any life of service be considered a fuller expression of our initiation: parenting? teaching? pastoring? advocacy for the poor?

Since the Church has accepted their surrender of self they should realize they are also dedicated to its service.

The Church ties together its acceptance of their vows with a dedication to its mission. What does that mean exactly? Does it go beyond obedience?

This service of God ought to inspire and foster in them the exercise of the virtues, especially humility, obedience, fortitude and chastity. In such a way they share in Christ’s emptying of Himself (cf. Phil. 2:7) and His life in the spirit (cf. Rom. 8:1-13).

Service cultivates the spiritual virtues. It is not in itself a sign of them.

Faithful to their profession then, and leaving all things for the sake of Christ (cf. Mark 10:28), religious are to follow Him (cf. Matt. 19:21) as the one thing necessary (cf. Luke 10:42) listening to His words (cf. Luke 10:39) and solicitous for the things that are His (cf. 1 Cor. 7:32).

Mary of Bethany is lifted up in two of these references, and I like the emphasis on attending to the Word.

It is necessary therefore that the members of every community, seeking God solely and before everything else, should join contemplation, by which they fix their minds and hearts on Him, with apostolic love, by which they strive to be associated with the work of redemption and to spread the kingdom of God.

Contemplation plus action: the ideal formula.

Comments on any of these questions, or perhaps something else you’ve detected in this section?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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