World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life 2017

World Day of Prayer for Vocations 2017


Consecrated life, in the canonical sense defined by the Catholic Church, is a stable form of Christian living by those faithful who feel called to follow Jesus Christ in a more exacting way recognized by the Church. It "is characterized by the public profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, in a stable state of life recognized by the Church".The Code of Canon Law defines it as "a stable form of living by which the faithful, following Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit, are totally dedicated to God who is loved most of all, so that, having been dedicated by a new and special title to his honour, to the building up of the Church, and to the salvation of the world, they strive for the perfection of charity in the service of the kingdom of God and, having been made an outstanding sign in the Church, foretell the heavenly glory."

What makes the consecrated life a more exacting way of Christian living is the public vows or other sacred bonds whereby the consecrated persons commit themselves, for the love of God, to observe as binding the counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience from the Christian Gospel, or at least, in the case of consecrated virgins and widows/widowers, a vow of total chastity. The Benedictine vow as laid down in the Rule of St Benedict, ch. 58:17, is analogous to the more usual vow of religious institutes. Consecrated persons are not part of the Catholic Church hierarchy, unless they are also ordained bishops, priests or deacons.



The Catechism of the Catholic Church comments: "From the very beginning of the Church there were men and women who set out to follow Christ with greater liberty, and to imitate him more closely, by practising the evangelical counsels. They led lives dedicated to God, each in his own way. Many of them, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, became hermits or founded religious families. Thus the Church, by virtue of her authority, gladly accepted and approved them."

Consecrated life may be lived either in institutes or individually. While those living it are either clergy (if ordained) or lay people, the state of consecrated life is neither clerical nor lay by nature.

World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life

Prayers of the Faithful

For young men and women; That God may give them the gift of understanding to discern their service in the Church, the priesthood, diaconate, or consecrated life; And for the gift of courage to follow His call. We pray to the Lord. . . .
For young people; That they may know the personal love of the Lord for them, and respond with open and generous hearts. We pray to the Lord. . . .

Institutes of consecrated life

Institutes of consecrated life are either religious institutes or secular institutes.

Religious institutes are societies in which members, according to proper law, pronounce public vows, either perpetual or temporary, which are to be renewed, however, when the period of time has lapsed, and lead a life as brothers or sisters in common".
Secular institutes, are "institutes of consecrated life in which the Christian faithful, living in the world, strive for the perfection of charity and work for the sanctification of the world especially from within".



History of Consecrated life

Eremitic life

When Constantine was legalizing Christianity in the Roman Empire in the early 4th century, and the Christian faith became the favoured religion, it lost the self-sacrificing character that had profoundly marked it in the age of Roman persecution. In response to the loss of martyrdom for the sake of the Kingdom of God, some of the very devout men and women left the cities for the testings of the life in the desert that was meant to lead the individual back into a more intimate relationship with God, just like the wandering of the Israelites in the Desert of Sin. The Greek word for desert, eremos, gave this form of religious living the name eremitic (or eremitical) life, and the person leading it the name hermit. St Antony the Great and other early leaders provided guidance to less experienced hermits, and there were soon a large number of Christian hermits, particularly in the desert of Egypt and in parts of Syria.

Though the eremitic life would eventually be overshadowed by the far more numerous vocations to the cenobitic life, it did survive. The Middle Ages saw the emergence of a variant of the hermit, the anchorite; and life in Carthusian and Camaldolese monasteries has an eremitic emphasis. The Greek Orthodox and the Russian Orthodox Churches have their own eremitic traditions, of which Mount Athos is perhaps the most widely heard of today.

In modern times, in the Roman Catholic Church the Code of Canon Law 1983 recognises hermits who - without being members of a religious institute - publicly profess the three evangelical counsels, confirmed by vow or other sacred bond in the hands of their respective diocesan bishop, as Christian faithful that live the consecrated life (cf. canon 603, see also below).

World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life

Apostolic institutes

Until the 16th century recognition was granted only to institutes with solemn vows. Institutes with simple vows arose in the 16th century and increased in number. After at first being merely tolerated, they afterwards obtained approval. They provided specific services or ministries for the Church and society, building schools, hospitals and new missionary enterprises around the world. The period of their greatest growth was in the wake of the French Revolution in early 19th century France and Belgium. Only in 1900 did they obtain full recognition as religious.

The Society of Jesus is an example of an institute that obtained recognition as an "order" with solemn vows, although the members were divided into the professed with solemn vows (a minority) and the "coadjutors" with simple vows.It was founded in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, introducing several innovations designed to meet the demands of the 16th century crisis. Its members were freed from the commitments of common life, especially the common prayer, which allowed them to minister individually in distant places. Their unusually long formation, typically thirteen years, prepared them to represent the intellectual tradition of the Church even in isolation.

Secular institutes

Secular institutes have their modern beginnings in 18th century France. During the French Revolution, the government attempted to dechristianise France. The French government had required all priests and bishops to swear an oath of fidelity to the new order or face dismissal from the Church, and had forbidden any form of religious life. Fr Pierre-Joseph Picot de Clorivière, a Jesuit, founded a new society of women, the Daughters of the Heart of Mary (French: Société des Filles du Coeur de Marie). While living a life of perfection, they did not take vows, remaining a secular institute to avoid being considered a religious society by the government. They would eventually receive pontifical institute status in 1957. On 2 February 1947 Pope Pius XII issued the apostolic constitution Provida Mater Ecclesia recognizing secular institutes as "a new category of the state of perfection" Latin: nova categoria status perfectionis. The 1983 Code of Canon Law recognizes secular institutes as a form of consecrated life. They differ from religious institutes in that their members live their lives in the ordinary conditions of the world, either alone, in their families or in fraternal groups. They include, among others, Caritas Christi, The Grail, and the Servite Secular Institute.



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