Camillians, too, are Joyful about their
Vocation and Look for New Signs for their Consecrated Lives
Meeting of 29 November 2014
On the day when the whole of the Church is preparing to inaugurate the Year dedicated to Consecrated Life (29 November 2014), when in Rome there will be solemn prayer vigil in the Basilica of S. Maria Maggiore, we Camillian men religious as well, together with the women religious, the consecrated women and the members of the Great Family of St. Camillus, wish to come together to reflect on, and share, our perspectives on life and our wish for a renewal of the form of our consecration with a view to the revitalisation of the style by which we live, and bear witness to, our charism and thus also the style of animation of vocations and pastoral care for young people with which we wish to present ourselves to those who know us or simply wish to see how we live.
We, should, therefore pose a very simple question, the answer to which for some people is perhaps self-evident: what is consecrated life? This question prepares the ground for the one that follows: how should we express our consecration?
Consecrated life is first and foremost Theology: consecrated life is the life itself of the Son Jesus; consecrated life is a presenting anew of the life itself of the Son (not simply or mechanically imitating him but, rather, allowing him to take possession of my life and enabling him to present himself anew to others through my life). Consecrated life is not only theological it is also practical theology, that is to say it is immersion/participation in the very life of the Son in relation to the Father. Consecrated life is living the filial/Christic life.
On 5 December 2005 Benedict XVI declared, when addressing the bishops of Brazil who were visiting the Apostolic See: ‘the origin of consecrated life is the life itself of Jesus Christ: Jesus is the Consecrated Son of the Father; Jesus chose for himself this form of .life; therefore consecrated life would not be absent in the Church. This origin has special historical beginnings which coincide with the charismatic experience of individual founders’.
The post-synodal exhortation Vita Consecrata uses three phrases that express what is essential in consecrated life: confessio trinitatis (bearing witness to divine life, to unique and absolute belonging until the extreme point of life); signum fraternitatis (the sign of a communion that generates new relationships; a fragment of new humanity, yeast of new humanity); and servitium caritatis (epiphany of God’s love for us, as we are led to bear witness to the essence of the Church herself, that is to say agape).
This state of consecration is first and foremost a state of perfection which on every occasion, and always, should be acquired: the definitive nature of our status of perfection is being a work in progress, a permanent search, a constant dynamic towards perfection, a search for that perfection that love is.
The source of consecration can only be consecration by God who makes us participants in His holiness. Defining, therefore, a state of life founded upon a free and aware choice of man, a state lived through vows (my vows affect practically and give shape to mu life), a theological state that says of God – loving God above everything, a consecrated man dedicates himself to God under the perennial action of the Spirit and gives over the whole of his life to the Father because he lives as a follower of the Son.
This theological state removes us from a self-referential management of our lives and also from a levelling downwards (each according to his capacity but each according to the gift of the Holy Spirit who creates only beauty, harmony); a state of consecration in favour of and for the good of the Church. This is a state that is not only pro ecclesia but also in ecclesia, inasmuch as I take part in the life of the Church and I am meaningful for the life of the Church.
Our consecrated life thus becomes living tradition, transparency, and memory of the life that the son chose not only before men but also, and above all else, before God (cf. Vita consecrata n. 49)!
Only from this point of view can our being consecrated be understood as PROPHECY! A prophet in holy scripture is a free man before God and before men; he is a man in whom a Word dwells; a prophet brings an announcement above all else to his life: he is a word that goes beyond and transforms his wound; a word that wounds his life.
A prophet is not someone who tells the future: a prophet may also proclaim a future event but this is because he starts from the certainty of faith that this event has already taken place; a prophet, before prophesying something that will take place, remembers something that has already taken place: he remembers the faithfulness of God; he keeps awake the wish for God: he listens to a word that is not his; a prophet interprets the Word of God because he has so allowed God to dwell in him that the wisdom of God inhabits him; a prophet calls on his people to choose radically for God.
To be prophets means to allow the Word of God to give meaning to our lives.
Our lives are profoundly conditioned, circumscribed and determined by the evangelical counsels.
The word of which we are the bearers is also a word of scandal, of a break and of a fracture. A prophet is called to reinterpret history and judgement on history. Our presence remembers and calls for the wish for God, the radicality of Totally Other!
Consecrated life is a SIGN: in Latin a ‘segno’ is something that is inscribed, cut. Mediocrity should be something that is extraneous to our lives: what we do, we say and we are should mark our lives and the existence of other people. We have to ensure that what we professed then marks our lives at a deep level and increasingly defines our definitive belonging (our belonging is for ‘for ever’; we are calibrated for ‘for ever’) but also a non-definitive fullness/incompleteness of this belonging because of limitations, of sin, and of laziness (our consecrated lives also take part in the already and not yet of the Advent of the Kingdom of God).