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June 22, 2008

Consecrated Life - A Viable Option in the 21st Century?
                                            (Cont. from last week)

    Consecrated Life is one that is lived as part of a religious community (unless a person chooses to live as a hermit).  This life is consecrated to God by way of the vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.  These vows are based on the life of Christ as found in the Gospels.  Living such a life in happiness and peace is greatly dependent on a person’s calling in life.  One cannot choose to live in a religious community simply because they like the habit the religious are wearing or they think they might like the peace and quiet of the convent or monastery.

    Living a vowed life of consecration to God is a vocation just like all other vocations in life.  Although the greater majority of people are called to the married life, there are other callings that are authentic and necessary in our world.  Understanding someone else’s calling is not always easy but we must make an effort to respect their perspective.

    The past few decades have proven to be very tumultuous for the Catholic Church. For many Catholics, the 2nd Vatican Council has had the effect of turning the Church on its head.  There has been a tremendous burst of energy in the area of giving the laity its proper place in the church.  This is a positive step for the life of the Church.  However, it seems to have had a negative impact on religious vocations.  Other negatives in the church are the fact that religion is not as “popular” as it was fifty years ago.  People presently place more emphasis on financial success as well as fun and entertainment.  The sexual revolution of the 60's has not helped to create a healthy climate for the vow of chastity either.

    One very important factor that plays an important part in religious vocations being promoted in the families is the fact that families are now much smaller.  Most families only have two children.  Giving up a child to chastity lessens the chances of having grandchildren.  Parents weigh this option very seriously. 

    The 21st century is no different than any other century when the notion of vocation is called to play.  Every person, man and woman, is called to a specific way of life.  We are all called to fulfill our lives in love and happiness.  When we follow our particular life’s calling we find this love, joy and happiness.  We do not have to create it ourselves.  It happens as a matter of course.  Despite the trials of every day life, we are able to maintain an inner peace and tranquility that assures us happiness. 

    Being faithful to our calling in life is vital to our spiritual life but it is also vital to our emotional and physical well being.  When we are unhappy everything suffers.  Forcing a false vocation on ourselves or others is analogous to forcing a round ball in a square peg.  It doesn’t work, or at least it doesn’t work easily.  Despite all the changes of our century, God continues to call people to himself.  These men and women are called to share their time, their talents their energies for love of God.  This type of life makes them happy.  What right do others have to tell them otherwise?  Yes indeed, consecrated life is a viable option for our century.

                                Lorette P. Nault