29 November 2013

2015 Devoted to Consecrated Life

The news is Pope Francis has decided 2015 will be devoted to consecrated life. It will be interesting to see what comes of this, especially as we still have no word on the investigation of US apostolic congregations of  Women Religious nor any further action regarding the LCWR. I suspect (and I sincerely hope) that this year will allow us to see clearly the development of new forms of religious life which have come to be in the past 50 years, recognize the new forms of consecrated life which few are aware of (Consecrated virgins living in the world, diocesan hermits), and generally come to revalue the presence and work of religious men and women who tend among members of the church to be derided for their commitment to Christ because in embracing a call to ministry in the post Vatican II Church they climbed down from an ultimately demeaning pedestal they neither deserved nor wanted.

I am personally convinced that some of the sentimentality we see today about "Traditional" religious women stems from the fact that so long as we perceive these women as called to a higher vocation, a more life-enveloping spirituality than the average Christian, a more intimate relationship with God etc, we are freed from the demand to embrace these things ourselves. So long as the mystique of religious life is preserved the profound mystery into which we are each called is made corellatively less demanding or compelling. It is time to look consecrated life full in the face and honor it for what it is, not for sentimental incarnations some major aspects of which have been outgrown and even countered by the Church's own teaching. Further, the Church as a whole needs to "catch up" with the developments which have come in the past decades. It is not just the laity who often do not understand these, but the hierarchy as well. Consecrated life generally serves as an icon of life in Christ we are all called to in some way; I am very grateful Pope Francis has chosen to honor and celebrate it.