"What counts most is not what religious do, but what they are as persons consecrated to the Lord."
~ Saint Pope John Paul II
Consecrated men and women throughout the ages have made a significant impact on the Church and the world - Augustinian monk Gregor Mendel laid the foundation for modern studies of genetics, Fra Angelico is still one of the most widely known painters of religious art, and the contribution of the religious Orders to the life and culture of society is immeasurable. But, as St. John Paul II articulated above, it is not for these things that religious life is valued. Religious life, the following of the poor, chaste, and obedient life of Jesus Christ, is valued because of who the religious person is - a spouse and bearer of Christ in a preeminent way. A woman consecrated to God has definitively chosen to belong to Him without reservation and to bear witness to Him in every aspect of her life. When a consecrated woman approaches an assignment, she brings not simply her own gifts and talents, but the gift of God Himself. Beginning her day in the presence of her Divine Spouse, receiving Him in the Sacrament of Love, she goes forth as Mary in the Visitation to bring Him to each soul she encounters. Each of the evangelical counsels enables the light of Christ to shine through those consecrated, witnessing to society in a manner unrepeatable by any other means. Vowed poverty makes the consecrated person a beacon highlighting the bounty of God's loving providence. Obedience uniquely configures her life to Jesus Christ and pulls forth from her God-given talents for the service of His people, gifts that she may not have noticed or chosen to exercise. As for chastity, Blessed Pius VI wrote to religious that, "no one can adequately reckon the powerful effectiveness of the sacred ministry of one whose life is radiant with the light of a chastity consecrated to God and from which he draws his strength." Indeed, this life of spousal love pledged to God alone provides the fire and impetus that drives open her heart to embrace all of His people as her own, mirroring the love that Christ has for the souls He created. We pray that we may lovingly and faithful live out the life of consecration to which He has called us, for the glory of His name and the salvation of His people.
"Of its nature, religious life is a witness that should clearly manifest the primacy of the
love of God and do so with a strength from the Holy Spirit"
~Essential Elements 32