Pope Benedict instructed members of religious congregations yesterday on the thirteenth Day of Consecrated Life, that the best way to respond to their vocation is to focus on the lifestyle and mission of St. Paul.
The Holy Father met with members of religious congregations, institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life, after the conclusion of a Mass celebrating the Day of Consecrated Life, an annual celebration established by John Paul II.
After greeting those present, the Holy Father focused his remarks on St. Paul, the Apostle who is recognized as the father of those “who, called by the Lord, have chosen to dedicate themselves unconditionally to Him and His Gospel.” He further explained that the best way to respond to one’s vocation to the consecrated life, is by imitating the lifestyle of Paul and his focus on poverty, chastity and obedience.
The Holy Father then zeroed in on the three “evangelical counsels” by first turning his attention to poverty. “In the life of poverty [Paul] saw a guarantee that the Gospel would be announced freely,” and also found a life of poverty to be “an expression of real solidarity towards brothers and sisters in need.”
"Accepting God's call to chastity," continued the Holy Father, the Apostle of the Gentiles "gave his heart entirely to the Lord” to serve others with “greater freedom and dedication.”
In addition, “in a world in which the values of Christian chastity enjoyed little popularity,” Pope Benedict noted, Paul “offered secure guidelines of behavior."
On the subject of obedience, Benedict XVI recalled how St. Paul was "under daily pressure because of his anxiety for all the churches,” and how this "inspired, shaped and consumed his life, making it a sacrifice agreeable to God."
The Holy Father then discussed Paul’s mission as an aspect of consecrated life. “He was entirely for Jesus in order to be, like Jesus, for everyone.” By imitating Paul, “so closely bound to the person of Christ, we recognize a profound capacity to unite spiritual life and missionary activity. In him, these two dimensions support one another."
The Pope told the consecrated people of his hope that the Pauline Year may "give you further encouragement to welcome the witness of St. Paul,” specifically by “meditating daily upon the Word of God through the faithful practice of 'lectio divina', and singing 'psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts'.”
“May the Apostle help you to accomplish your apostolic service in and with the Church, the Holy Father ended in prayer, “with an unreserved spirit of communion, making a gift of your charisms to others and bearing witness to the greatest charism of all, which is charity."