Living the Gospel in the World
In the last article in this series, the aspect of mission within the consecrated life in Miles Jesu was shown to be closely linked to the authentic secular dimension of the Church and to the mission of the laity within the Church. Rather than lessening the secular witness or the degree to which a member of Miles Jesu engages in temporal affairs, the dimensions of consecration and communion should strengthen a Miles Jesu member’s presence in the world as a witness to Christ. It is by their consecration and by their communion with the whole body of Christ that a Miles Jesu member bears “splendid and striking testimony that the world cannot be transfigured and offered to God without the spirit of the beatitudes.” (VC, 33)
One might ask the question, does not the consecrated life by its very nature separate a person from the world? Certainly there are religious congregations which are cloistered and whose mission has a strictly contemplative dimension. And such orders are needed in the Church. One must also distinguish between separation from the world and true conversion, which frees one from the spirit of the world in order to be free to love God and one’s neighbor. Since the call to the consecrated life is essentially a call to follow Christ in a particular way, some communities of consecrated life, like Miles Jesu, focus on living one of the aspects of Jesus’ mission in the world. In these forms of consecrated life, the world should not be an obstacle to the consecrated life, but a means by which the consecrated person grows in sanctity.
“In institutes dedicated to the apostolate there is no pursuit of sanctity, profession of the evangelical counsels, or life dedicated to God and to his service which is not intrinsically connected with the service of the Church and of the world... The service of one’s neighbor neither divides nor separates a consecrated person from God. If it is moved by a truly theological charity, this service obtains its value as service of God.” (Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; Directives on Formation, 17; February 2, 1990;)
This need for a truly theological charity, in the service of one’s neighbor, then presupposes a prior missionary task that consecrated persons have toward themselves. This task towards themselves is a conversion of heart in a continuous openness to the action of the Spirit. Thus, even in this dimension of mission in the world the essence of the consecrated life remains the same – a “special grace of intimacy” with Christ. (VC, 16) In Miles Jesu, the grace we receive from our vocation calls us to be another Christ in the world, living that aspect of his life in which he manifested his love and majesty to all the nations—being an Epiphany with Christ and in Christ of God’s love and majesty to the world.
“Consecrated persons will be missionaries above all by continually deepening their awareness of having been called and chosen by God, to whom they must therefore direct and offer everything they are and have, freeing themselves from the obstacles which could hinder the totality of their response of love. In this way they will become true signs of Christ in the world. Their lifestyle too must clearly show the ideal which they profess, and thus presents itself as a living sign of God and as an eloquent, albeit often silent, proclamation of the gospel.” (VC, 25)
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