Summary of Chapter VI,

Religious

Lumen Gentium

“The Church”,  Vatican II

 

 

“The evangelical counsels of chastity dedicated to God, poverty and obedience are based upon the words and examples of the Lord.”   They were commanded by the Apostles and Fathers of the Church.  The Church regulates the practice of these counsels.  “Thus it has come about, that, as if on a tree which has grown in the field of the Lord, various forms of solidarity and community life, as well as various religious families have branched out in a marvelous and multiple way from this divinely given seed.

 

These religious families give a firm support of the their charism and the doctrine of acquiring perfection.  “They further offer their members the support of fraternal association in the militia of Christ and of liberty strengthened by obedience.”  “From the point of view of the divine and hierarchical structure of the Church, the religious state of life is not an intermediate state between the clerical and lay states. But, rather, the faithful of Christ are called by God from both these states of life so that they might enjoy this particular gift in the life of the Church and thus each in one's own way, may be of some advantage to the salvific mission of the Church.”

 

The religious are bound to the evangelical counsels either by vows.  Service to God is bound up by a new life in Him and a new life and title.   Grounded on baptism, this call is to a more perfect life without the distractions of the world, this service is more intimately consecrated to divine service. 

 

The evangelical counsels lead to charity, dedicated to the welfare of the whole Church.  This is achieved through prayer and service  This is why the Church preserves “and fosters the special character of her various religious institutes.”  “…the religious state, whose purpose is to free its members from earthly cares, more fully manifests to all believers the presence of heavenly goods already possessed here below. 

 

The religious life “clearly shows all men both the unsurpassed breadth of the strength of Christ the King and the infinite power of the Holy Spirit marvelously working in the Church.

“The importance of the profession of the evangelical counsels is seen in the fact that it fosters the perfection of love of God and love of neighbor in an outstanding manner and that this profession is strengthened by vows.

 

The institutes may be removed from the jurisdiction of the local bishop but if not, are subject to the local patriarchical authority.    The religious should show obedience and deference to the local bishop not only due to the respect that is commanded by the office “but because of the unity and harmony in the apostolate.”

 

“The Church not only raises the religious profession to the dignity of a canonical state by her approval, but even manifests that this profession is a state consecrated to God by the liturgical setting of that profession. 

 

The Church presents Christ to the world through the religious.  This reality must be kept in mind.  Christ in His ministry in the world was always “obedient to the will of the Father who sent Him.” 

 

The religious life is conducive to the building up of other persons and of the world in Christ.  The evangelical counsels contribute a great deal to the purification of heart and spiritual liberty.   They build up the fervor of charity.  “[The evangelical counsels]

 are able to more fully mold the Christian man to that type of chaste and detached life, which Christ the Lord chose for Himself and which His Mother also embraced.

 

“Therefore, this Sacred Synod encourages and praises the men and women, Brothers and Sisters, who in monasteries, or in schools and hospitals, or in the missions, adorn the Bride of Christ by their unswerving and humble faithfulness in their chosen consecration and render generous services of all kinds to mankind.”

 

“Let each of the faithful called to the profession of the evangelical counsels, therefore, carefully see to it that he persevere and ever grow in that vocation God has given him. Let him do this for the increased holiness of the Church, for the greater glory of the one and undivided Trinity, which in and through Christ is the fount and the source of all holiness.