Posted August 09, 2010 in The Pope's Corner:
Why Consecrated Life?

by Pope John Paul II.

Many people today are puzzled and ask, "What is the point of the consecrated life when there are so many urgent needs in the areas of charity and of evangelization itself to which one can respond even without assuming the particular commitment of the consecrated life?"

Is the consecrated life not a kind of waste of human energies which might be used more efficiently for a greater good, for the benefit of humanity and the Church?

These questions are asked more frequently in our day, as a consequence of a utilitarian and technocratic culture which is inclined to assess the importance of things and even of people in relation to their immediate "usefulness."

But such questions have always existed, as is eloquently demonstrated by the gospel episode of the anointing at Bethany:

Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped them with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment (Jn 12:3).

When Judas, using the needs of the poor as an excuse, complained about such waste, Jesus replied, "Let her alone" (Jn 12:7).

This is the perennially valid response to the question which many people, even in good faith, are asking about the relevance of the consecrated life…. Let her alone.

Those who have been given the priceless gift of following the Lord Jesus more closely consider it obvious that he can and must be loved with an undivided heart, that one can devote to him one’s whole life, and not merely certain actions or occasional moments or activities.

The precious ointment poured out as a pure act of love, and thus transcending all "utilitarian" considerations is a sign of unbounded generosity, as expressed in a life spent in loving and serving the Lord, in order to devote oneself to his person and his Mystical Body.

From such a life "poured out" without reserve, there spreads a fragrance which fills the whole house. The House of God, the Church, today no less than in the past, is adorned and enriched by the presence of the consecrated life.

What in people’s eyes can seem a waste is, for the individuals captivated in the depths of their heart by the beauty and goodness of the Lord, an obvious response of love, a joyful expression of gratitude, for having been admitted in a unique way to the knowledge of the Son and to a sharing in his divine mission in the world.

"If any of God’s children were to know and taste divine love, the uncreated God, the incarnate God, the God who endured suffering, the God who is the supreme good, they would give themselves completely to him.

"They would withdraw not only from other creatures but even from their very selves, and with all their being would love this God of love to the point of being completely transformed into the God-Man, who is the supreme Beloved."*

*Blessed Angela of Foligno, Il libro della Beato Angela da Foligno (Grottaferrata, 1985), 498

Excerpted from the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Vita Consecrata (Consecrated Life), #104


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