Saturday, September 10, 2016

Vocations- if all are equal and in service of one another, how do we speak of them?

Vatican II affirmed the universal call to perfect holiness of all Christians, whatever their state or condition,[1] with the following of Christ, whose life was poor, chaste and obedient, being the foundation of perfect love.[2] Indeed,  Rincón-Pérez notes that “the Council, as emerged from the development of chapters V and VI of Lumen gentium, deliberately suppressed the term “state of perfection” to avoid making any suggestion that Christian perfection is a monopoly reserved to a canonical state.”[3] All Christians are called to live a life that is chaste, obedient to God and the Church, and reasonably detached from material possessions appropriate to their state.[4] In so doing, all Christians are called to the perfection of love in accordance with the fit of their proper vocation,[5] for diversity of gifts is the work of the Holy Spirit. Thus describing consecrated life as more perfect, more complete, more radical, undermines the universal call to holiness of all the baptized.
So how do can we reflect on and speak of the differing vocations in service of one another without retreating to former language of more perfect or more radical. Does the following hold any possibilities?
  • Christian marriage is a graced way of being to image/make present/to be an icon of the convenant relationship of love between God and the People of God.
  • Consecrated life (or more particularly, consecrated celibacy) is a graced way of being to express the primacy of Christ and His Kingdom in our lives.
  • The single way of life? A graced of way being that reflects/images God's openness to all? inclusivity? universal call to holiness? 
  • ........

[1] Lumen Gentium 11, 29.
[2] Perfectae Caritatis 1, 466. This was affirmed again in John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation. Vita Consecrata 31.
[3] Tomás Rincón-Pérez, “Introduction to PARS III De institutis vitae consecratae et de societatibus vitae apostolicae” in E. Caparros et al., Exegetical Commentary on the Code of Canon Law: Book Ii: The People of God (Canons 460 - 746). Vol. 2,2 (Midwest Theological Forum, 2004). 1455.
[4] John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation. Vita Consecrata 30.
[5] John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation. Vita Consecrata 31.

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