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A Counterbalance to 'Wild Religiosity'

Cardinal Rodé Tells of World's Need for the Consecrated Life

ROME, MAY 27, 2006 (Zenit) - After decades of "more or less pagan and even pantheist forms of wild religiosity," says a Vatican official, "a consecrated life oriented to God" is necessary to give witness to the world.

Cardinal Franc Rodé, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, delivered his address May 20 to a congress on "Consecrated Life: 'Duc in Altum,'" organized by his dicastery and the Regina Apostolorum university.

The meeting, held on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the postsynodal apostolic exhortation "Vita Consecrata," analyzed the content of this document signed by Pope John Paul II.

Addressing 600 women religious, among them 120 mothers general, Cardinal Rodé focused on the history immediately after the Second Vatican Council.

Cardinal Rodé mentioned the difficulties that were faced in applying the "profound intuitions of Vatican II" and that slowed "the authentic renewal of consecrated life." He pointed to ideological influences that "distorted the purity of charity, even though having in themselves a spirit of charity."

Two hermeneutics

The cardinal explained that "two hermeneutics have arisen from the Council, one that caused confusion and another that produced fruits."

According to the prefect of the Vatican dicastery, on one hand there was "the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture" with the Tradition of the Church, "which was able to count on the sympathy of the media and also of a part of modern theology" and, on the other, "the hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in continuity of the one Church entity that the Lord has given us."

To revitalize enthusiasm for religious life, Cardinal Rodé highlighted the centrality of Jesus Christ, affirming that the Church expects from consecrated life the "total gift of self to God."

The 71-year-old prefect continued: "To keep alive the gentle memory of the Savior in our world, distracted and seduced by so many sirens, means to witness the prophetic dimension of consecrated life.

"To renew religious life means to fulfill its identity, namely, its reference to Christ. It is not a question of creating another consecrated life, but of giving it light again in its original force and purity."

Maleny Medina, a professor at the Regina Apostolorum university, also addressed the congress.

She noted "the presence of a new type of atheism: the atheism of indifference," which responds to the temptation "to do without the Creator, making man the absolute," together with the "rejection of any kind of commitment, especially if it is for life."

According to Medina, "consecration is, before an action of ours, a divine action, a sacred act. It is God who chooses and we accept this gift consciously and freely in faith. It is to believe profoundly that God exists, that God is love and that he can satisfy us completely."

She explained that "with our consecrated chastity we will heal the men and women of today of that very great emotional need which they suffer and we will satiate their thirst for true love."

"With our consecrated poverty we respond to the need of true goods that give security in life," she added. "Our consecrated obedience responds to the true identity of man: Before being free, I am a creature, dependent on him who has granted me existence."

Medina concluded with Catherine of Siena's exhortation: "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire, because the world needs witnesses."

True charism

Discalced Carmelite Father Arnaldo Pigna, professor of the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum, defined the "authentic charism" of religious life.

It is, above all, a gift that comes from the Spirit, and that must not be confused with other personal gifts, he said.

This gift, the priest said, is characterized by a profound and ardent desire to be configured with Christ to witness some aspect of his mystery and its objective is "to promote the building of the Church and concord within her."

Father Pigna concluded: "Deep down, faithfulness to the charism is only a variant of faithfulness to Christ, a way to express our conversion to the person of the Lord Jesus, to penetrate an aspect of his mystery and to relive it today, through behavior and lifestyles that are able to show and reveal it.

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Rod, Life, Consecrated, Religion, God

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