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Section 4 - Vocations - Consecrated Life - Unit 7

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Cecelia Foster

on 14 January 2015

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Transcript of Section 4 - Vocations - Consecrated Life - Unit 7

History of Consecrated Virginity
Consecrated virginity is the oldest form of consecrated life in the Church.
Consecrated virgins outside of religious orders do not follow the charism of any particular founder.
The Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity
Today the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity is the foundation of a vocation to consecrated virginity.
During the Rite of Consecration, a consecrated virgin is presented with a breviary and is commissioned to pray for the needs of the world. Consecrated virgins pray the Liturgy of the Hours, maintain a faithful private prayer life, and receive the Sacraments regularly.
Article 37: Consecrated Virgins
Consecrated virgins—women called to renounce an earthly marriage in order to devote themselves more wholeheartedly to God through a spousal relationship with Christ.
The love represented by vocations to consecrated life helps to animate and encourage both the lay faithful and the Church’s ordained ministers.
The consecrated life is essentially
a vocation to love
: to love God unselfishly with one’s whole heart and to let this love overflow into love of one’s neighbor. This love is a source of inspiration for the whole Church, and it contributes to the Church’s vitality and strength.
Consecrated life moves some to pursue their vocation focused on a particular charism.
Consecrated Life
A vocation to consecrated life is a commitment to seek to conform one’s life to Christ more deeply and to give oneself totally to God.
It is a permanent profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Consecrated Life is not in itself part of the Church’s hierarchical structure.
Men and women in consecrated life witness, in a unique way, to the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Different Kinds of Commitments
The general category of consecrated life includes:
Religious Sisters
Religious Brothers
Priests who are part of Religious Communities.
Consecrated life also encompasses the contemplative monks and nuns who live hidden lives dedicated entirely to prayer.
The Vows of Consecrated Life
These vows are known as evangelical counsels because they come directly from the life and teaching of Jesus in the Gospels.
They are called counsels because they represent advice or guidance from Christ that is proposed to all disciples; they are ways to perfect the Christian life by removing all that stands in the way of charity.
The Meaning of the Three Evangelical Counsels
The evangelical counsel of
is a call to imitate the material poverty that Christ experienced while he walked the earth, as well as the
poverty of spirit
that he advocated in the Beatitudes.
The evangelical counsel of
means that consecrated people promise to accept God’s will in place of their own.

The evangelical counsel of
obliges consecrated people to remain
chaste and unmarried
“for the sake of the kingdom of heaven”.
Every Christian is called to live the virtue of chastity in a way that is appropriate to his or her state in life, but consecrated men and women vow to remain unmarried and to abstain from sexual intimacy. In doing so they make a free choice to sacrifice the possibility of marriage and family life.
The evangelical counsel of celibacy is not a call to love less—it is a call to love more. The call to love God with an undivided heart overflows into a call to love everyone whom God loves.
Consecrated Life and the Hierarchy
The hierarchy of the Church, like the Church in general, needs the gifts of love and witness found in consecrated life.
It is only by the authority of the Church that baptized men and women can be formally set apart for God in the vocation of consecrated life.
Those who join religious communities are called to live a life consecrated to God in the pattern set by a founder, according to the charism the founder received.
A charism is a gift from God.
When the Holy See approves a new religious community—or even an entirely new form of consecrated life—it confirms that a particular inspiration within consecrated life is truly from the Holy Spirit.
The word
means “set aside for a sacred purpose.”

Article 32
We may have trouble seeing Heaven as relevant to our daily lives because it can seem so distant and hard to understand
The difficulty of understanding Heaven helps us to appreciate a vital purpose of consecrated life in the Church.
Consecrated men and women, through their unique commitment to Christ, can show us what Heaven is all about.
An Eschatological Sign
The Church often speaks of the eschatological nature of consecrated life and calls men and women in consecrated life to be eschatological signs by conforming their whole lives to Christ and by focusing more exclusively on the things of Heaven.
The word eschatological comes from the Greek word eschaton, meaning “last.” It refers to final or ultimate things, in particular God’s plan for the conclusion of time.
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Both the
pearl of great price
and the
hidden treasure
represent the
eternal joys of Heaven
Several of Jesus’ parables can help us to understand this dimension of consecrated life.
Every Christian will eventually be asked to “sell everything” at the moment of death. We will all need to let go of our earthly lives to enter into the life of Heaven.
A consecrated person is an eschatological sign because she or he chooses to give up ordinary life and strives to center everything she or he does on Christ.
In Matthew 13:45–46, Jesus tells a similar story of a merchant who came across a pearl that was so perfect and valuable that the merchant was willing to sell everything he owned to buy it. He knew that, despite the great cost, it was still worth having.
In Matthew 13:44, Jesus tells the story of a man who discovers a treasure hidden in a field and promptly sells everything he owns so he can buy the field.
The evangelical counsels aim to cut off sin at its root.
A commitment to evangelical poverty, for example, helps one to overcome the inclination to greed and unhealthy attachment to material things.
The counsel of
helps to counter pride and the inordinate desire for power.
Consecrated Life and the Paschal Mystery
In addition to their contributions to education, men and women religious have contributed to our society and culture throughout history in other countless ways.
Their influence today is felt in health care, care for the poor and oppressed, music and art, science and economics, and in many other areas. Take time to learn more about the many ways in which the work of religious sisters and brothers, nuns, priests, and monks influences our world today.
Being versus Doing
Remember that the consecrated life is
primarily a vocation to do good deeds.
All Christians are called to engage in the
corporal works of mercy

and the
spiritual works of mercy

Consecrated life is not so much a call to do good things as it is to become a certain kind of person—to wholly and completely give oneself over to God and his Church.
Spiritual Works of Mercy
Charitable actions that respond to people’s spiritual needs and show respect for human dignity. The traditional list of seven works includes sharing knowledge, giving advice to those who need it, comforting those who suffer, being patient with others, forgiving those who hurt you, giving correction to those who need it, and praying for the living and the dead.
Corporal Works of Mercy
Charitable actions that respond to people’s physical needs and show respect for human dignity. The traditional list of seven works includes feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, visiting prisoners, and burying the dead.
In the fourth century, Church Fathers such as Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine, and Saint Jerome wrote extensive treatises on the vocation of consecrated virginity.
Early consecrated virgins could not join religious communities because religious life as we know it did not develop until the mid-500s.
In the twentieth century, the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) sought to foster a renewal of the Church’s ancient liturgical heritage.
To validly receive the Rite of Consecration, a candidate must be a chaste Catholic woman who has never been married. Only a bishop can celebrate the Rite of Consecration.
Dedicated to the Local Church
Consecrated virgins are consecrated by the authority of the diocesan bishop, and they live out their vocation directly under his guidance.
Consecrated virgins are not automatically called to any particular apostolate; rather, a consecrated virgin engages in ongoing discernment with her bishop to identify how she can best use her gifts and talents to meet the needs of her diocese.
Hermits are baptized men and women who live alone in prayerful silence and solitude so that they can focus constantly on God, with as few distractions as possible.
They embrace a life of full-time, solitary prayer.
The Origins of the Eremitic Life
The vocation to eremitic life as a form of consecrated life emerged just as the early Roman persecutions of the Church were abating.
The eremitic life – relating to the life of a hermit, characterized by self-denial and solitude.
An ascetic life - pertaining to spiritual discipline in which a person leads a strict life of simplicity and self-denial - of prayer and penance.
The early hermits lived a strict life of prayer, penance, and work.
They reflected deeply on Sacred Scripture in an early form of prayer we know today as lectio divina (A Latin term meaning “divine reading”).
Lectio divina is a form of meditative prayer focused on a Scripture passage. It involves repetitive readings and periods of reflection and can serve as either private or communal prayer.
A hermit’s life of penance was intended to make this life of prayer more fruitful.
Hermits Today
As formal religious orders developed starting in the sixth century, the eremitic life was gradually absorbed into cenobitic (Monastic life lived in community rather than in solitude), or communal, monastic life.
Rather than heading into the wilderness on their own, men and women who felt called to give themselves to God through a life of solitude gradually began to join religious orders that emphasized solitude as a characteristic of their communal life.
Today modern hermits live under the direction of their local diocesan bishop. They usually make public vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Hermits today also write their own “Rule of Life,” a document that describes the concrete ways in which they intend to live out their vocation to solitary prayer.
To discern a vocation to eremitic life, an aspiring hermit usually lives according to his or her proposed Rule of Life for several years before professing vows.
Religious life is probably the form of consecrated life most familiar to Catholics today.
Religious life has been part of the Church for nearly fifteen hundred years.
Religious life takes on a wide variety of forms—from cloistered contemplative communities to active missionary communities.
History of Religious Life
Christian monasticism is traditionally thought to have begun with Saint Anthony of Egypt (251–356), who led a life of prayer, meditation, and penance as a hermit in a desert cave in Egypt.
Religious life as we know it today began with the Rule of St. Benedict, written around AD 529.
He soon attracted a number of followers and realized that for many a life of prayer and penance could be more fruitfully lived out in a supportive community.
Influenced by the rule of life that Saint Augustine had written in 400, Saint Benedict wrote his Rule to guide his followers toward a communal way of life that balances prayer and work.
His twin sister, Saint Scholastica, founded similar communities for women.
For the next several centuries, religious communities remained monastic in nature, meaning that they were permanent, self-contained communities dedicated primarily to contemplative prayer and liturgy.
The mendicant orders focused not only on prayer and liturgy but also on apostolic activity.
During the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century and the subsequent Counter-Reformation, the Church’s newly emerging spiritual and pastoral needs led to the founding of several new religious orders.
The Counter-Reformation was a movement of internal reform within the Church during the later 16th and early 17th centuries that came about as a response to the Protestant Reformation.
It was at this time that Saint Ignatius of Loyola gathered the first members of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits, to combat distortion of Catholic doctrine through better education.
Formation for Religious Life
Not every religious community follows the same entrance process, many communities invite a candidate to enter a community as a postulant.
The word postulant comes from the Latin word postulare, meaning "to ask".
Depending on the individual community, postulancy can last from a few months to one or two years.
If both the community and the postulant discern that the postulant continues to show strong signs of a religious vocation, the postulant is received into the community as a novice and enters a time of further formation that is called the novitiate.
In some communities this is the point when the person aspiring to religious life receives a religious habit and sometimes also a new name.
What Is a Society of Apostolic Life?
Members of societies of apostolic life make other kinds of commitments, such as promises, oaths, annual (temporary) vows, or some other sacred bond (A binding commitment within the Church – especially to a particular state of life – that is recognized by Canon Law.
Religious vows are considered sacred bonds, but a sacred bond does not necessarily need to be a religious vow. Other sacred bonds could include promises or oaths.)
The Spirituality of Societies of Apostolic Life
Like religious communities, each society of apostolic life has its own founder, spirituality, and charism, so no two societies of apostolic life are exactly alike.
Like all consecrated people, members of societies of apostolic life are called first and foremost to an apostolate of prayer and witness.
Societies of apostolic life place greater emphasis on their active apostolate than do most religious communities.
Societies of apostolic life are essentially communities of men or women called by God to a specific kind of apostolic work.
Secular Institutes
Article 41
What Is a Secular Institute?
A secular institute is an organization for members of the faithful who feel called to live the evangelical counsels as completely as possible, while at the same time living fully in the world as laypeople.
Each secular institute has its own charism, spirituality, and particular apostolic focus.
Unlike those in religious life, members of secular institutes usually do not live together in community or take on common apostolic projects (although some do in certain circumstances).
Typically they live in their own homes, meeting with the other members of their institute on a regular basis so they can encourage and support one another in their mutual vocation.
All secular institute members promise to live a life of chaste celibacy.
They are able to own personal property.
Secular institute members promise obedience to the rules and moderators (Those who hold a place of authority within a secular institute; similar to the superior of a religious congregation.) of their institute in the ways defined in their constitutions.
The Mission of Secular Institutes
The vocation of secular institute members is to be witnesses in the world, bringing the Gospel into places and situations in which clergy and other consecrated persons ordinarily would not have the opportunity to minister and teach.
History of Secular Institutes
Secular institutes are the newest form of consecrated life in the Church, having been formally recognized as a distinct vocation only in the mid-twentieth century.
In 1947 Pope Pius XII promulgated the apostolic constitution Provida Mater Ecclesia (Provident Mother Church). This document officially established secular institutes as a new form of dedication in the life of the Church. As a result some early groups of consecrated laypeople finally found their home in the Church, being formally approved as secular institutes. Today new secular institutes continue to be formed, and older ones continue to attract new members.
Saint Catherine of Siena
Born in Siena, Italy in 1347. She received visions of Christ as a young child. One of 24 children, after her parents allowed her, she lived as a hermit, became a Dominican tertiary, a lay member of the Dominican order who did not take religious vows or live inside a convent. She experienced stigmata. She died at the age of 33 in 1380 after suffering a stroke. She was the first layperson named a Doctor of the Church.
In doing so, consecrated men and women become for the whole Church vivid reminders of our common destiny.
And celibacy calls one to live out the counsel of
in a way in which one’s undivided heart is given to God.
Religious Orders
Also known as the “Little Flower” she was born in France in 1873 and joined a Carmelite convent when she was 15.
She wrote an autobiography of her life that was published in 1899. She described her life as the “little way”.
Theresa’s “little way” to holiness emphasizes great love rather than deeds.
A Call to Personal Holiness
The Paschal Mystery is a central mystery of our faith, and all Christians are called to echo it in their lives. Consecrated persons are called to conform themselves in a unique way tot he Paschal Mystery through their lives of penance and sacrifice and because they are called to “die to the world” through their conscious choice to renounce or detach themselves from many of the good things of this earth.
In being called to a life of spiritual joy and growth in holiness, consecrated people are called to conform themselves in a special way to Christ’s Passion, death, Resurrection and Ascension.
Born in Macedonia in 1910.
Mother Teresa died in 1987 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2002.
By the 1990’s the Missionaries of Charity were all over the world.
In 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the poor. She became known as the “saint of the gutters”.
She was joined by former students and sought to found the Missionaries of Charity as an order dedicated to helping the poor. In 1950 the Church first recognized the Missionaries of Charity as an approved religious institute in Calcutta.
Blessed Mother Teresa
She experienced a call from God to serve those who suffered from extreme poverty. In 1948 she received permission to leave her convent to work with the poorest of the poor in the streets of Calcutta.
After learning English in Ireland she moved to India and was a school teacher for almost 20 years.
Joined the Sisters of Lisieux at age 18 and took the name Teresa.
The focus of the novitiate is growth in prayer, study, continued discernment, deepening knowledge of the community’s charism, and spiritual preparation for the profession of vows
The novitiate can last one or two years, with at least one full year devoted entirely to prayer and spiritual formation.
According to the laws of the Church, those in religious life must spend at least three years in temporary vows.
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