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A Fullness of Trinitarian Life
Part two in a series of articles on the consecrated life by Bradley Poore

The Magna Carta of Consecrated Life
Trinitarian LifeWithin the context of the Magisterium of the Church, Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation, Vita Consecrata, can be considered the Magna Carta on consecrated life, written after 2000 years of history and at the dawn of the third millennium. It takes up theological developments on religious life reflected in the Second Vatican Council and sets forth clear guidelines by which every institute of consecrated life can live in fidelity to their own charism within the Church.

In the previous part of this series, the distinctive element of the consecrated life, according to Vita Consecrata, was highlighted. As a particular state of life in the Church, and in communion with the whole Church, the consecrated life is a call to live a “special grace of intimacy” with Christ (VC, 16). Pope John Paul II chose as an icon of this special call, the image of the transfiguration and in particular the words spoken by the Father, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to him!”” (Mt. 17:5)

In order to understand better what this “special grace of intimacy” consists of, it can be helpful to refer back to the dogmatic treatises and decrees of the Second Vatican Council.

“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.” (Second Vatican Council, Perfectae Caritatis, 5)

Sharing in the Divine Dialogue
This short quote from Perfectae Caritatis has several implications for the consecrated life, all of which are evident in Pope John Paul II’s Vita Consecrata. For example, there is an elaboration on how the consecrated life is a fuller expression of baptism. It is through the living of the evangelical councils that baptized Christians share in a special way in an “expression of the love of the Son for the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit.” (VC, 21)

“The deepest meaning of the evangelical counsels is revealed when they are viewed in relation to the Holy Trinity, the source of holiness. They are in fact an expression of the love of the Son for the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit.” (VC, 21)
Chastity “constitutes a reflection of the infinite love that binds the three divine persons in the mysterious depths of the Trinitarian life; a love witnessed to by the incarnate Word even to the gift of his life; a love ‘poured out into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit’ (Rm. 5:5), which elicits a response of total love for God and for the brethren.” (VC, 21)

Poverty “becomes an expression of the complete gift of self which the three Divine Persons reciprocally make of themselves. It is a gift which overflows into creation and manifests itself fully in the incarnation of the Word and in his redemptive death.” (VC, 21)

Obdience “manifests the liberating beauty of a filial and not servile dependence...which is the reflection in history of the loving correspondence of the three divine persons.” (VC, 21)

And so the Pope, in synthesis, states:
“With such a ‘conformative’ identification to the mystery of Christ, consecrated life carries out by a special title that confession of the Trinity which characterizes the entire Christian life.” (VC, 16)


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