On Religious Life

Author: Pope John Paul II


Pope John Paul II

Apostolic Exhortation of His Holiness promulgated on 25 March 1984

To Men And Women Religious

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus!

1. The gift of the Redemption, which this extraordinary Jubilee Yearemphasizes, brings with it a particular call to conversion andreconciliation with God in Jesus Christ. While the outward reason forthis extraordinary Jubilee is of an historical naturefor what is beingcelebrated is the 1950th anniversary of the crucifixion andresurrectionat the same time it is the interior motive that isdominant, the motive that is connected with the very depth of the mysteryof the Redemption. The Church was born from that mystery, and it is bythat mystery that she lives throughout her history. The period of theextraordinary Jubilee has an exceptional character. The call toconversion and reconciliation with God means that we must meditate moredeeply on our life and our Christian vocation in the light of the mysteryof the Redemption, in order to fix that life and vocation ever morefirmly in that mystery.

While this call concerns everyone in the Church, in a special way itconcerns you, men and women religious, who, in your consecration to Godthrough the vows of the evangelical counsels, strive towards a particularfullness of Christian life. Your special vocation and the whole of yourlife in the Church and the world take their character and their spiritualpower from the same depth of the mystery of the Redemption. By followingChrist along the "narrow and ... hard" way,[1] you experience in anextraordinary manner how true it is that "with him is plenteousredemption":copiosa apud eum redemptio.[2]

2. Therefore, as this Holy Year moves towards its close, I wish toaddress myself in a particular way to all of you, the men and womenreligious, who are entirely consecrated to contemplation or vowed to thevarious works of the apostolate. I have already done so in numerousplaces and on various occasions, confirming and extending the evangelicalteaching contained in the whole of the Church's Tradition, especially inthe Magisterium of the recent Ecumenical Council, from the DogmaticConstitution Lumen Gentium to the Decree Perfectae Caritatis, in thespirit of the indications of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelica testificatio of my Predecessor, Paul VI. The Code of Canon Law, whichrecently came into force and which in a way can be considered the finalconciliar document, will be for all of you a valuable aid and a sureguide in concretely stating the means for faithfully and generouslyliving your magnificent vocation in the Church.

I greet you with the affection of the Bishop of Rome and Successor of St.Peter, with whom your communities are united in a characteristic way.From the same See of Rome there also reach you, with an unceasing echo,the words of St. Paul :"I betrothed you to Christ to present you as apure bride to her one husband."[3] The Church, which receives after theApostles the treasure of marriage to the divine Spouse, looks with thegreatest love towards all her sons and daughters who, by the professionof the evangelical counsels and through her own mediation, have made aspecial covenant with the Redeemer of the world.

Accept this word of the Jubilee Year of the Redemption precisely as aword of love, spoken by the Church for you. Accept it, wherever you maybe: in the cloister of the contemplative communities, or in thecommitment to the many different forms of apostolic service: in themissions, in pastoral work, in hospitals or other places where thesuffering are served, in educational institutions, schools oruniversitiesin fact, in every one of your houses where, "gathered inthe name of Christ," you live in the knowledge that the Lord is "in yourmidst."[4]

May the Church's loving word, addressed to you in the Jubilee of theRedemption, be the reflection of that loving word that Christ Himselfsaid to each one of you when He spoke one day that mysterious "Followme"[5] from which your vocation in the Church began.

3. "Jesus, looking upon him, loved him,"[6] and said to him, "If youwould be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and youwill have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."[7] Even though weknow that those words, addressed to the rich young man, were not acceptedby the one being called, their content deserves to be carefully reflectedupon, for they present the interior structure of a vocation.

"And Jesus, looking upon him, loved him." This is the love of theRedeemer: a love that flows from all the human and divine depths of theRedemption. This love reflects the eternal love of the Father, who "soloved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in himshould not perish but have eternal life."[8] The Son, invested with thatlove, accepted the mission from the Father in the Holy Spirit and becamethe Redeemer of the world. The Father's love was revealed in the Son asredeeming love. It is precisely this love that constitutes the true priceof the Redemption of man and the world. Christ's Apostles speak of theprice of the Redemption with profound emotion: "You were ransomed...notwith perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the preciousblood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot,"[9] writesSt. Peter And St. Paul states: "You were bought with a price."[10]

The call to the way of the evangelical counsels springs from the interiorencounter with the love of Christ, which is a redeeming love. Christcalls precisely through this love of His. In the structure of a vocation,the encounter with this love becomes something specifically personal.When Christ "looked upon you and loved you," calling each one of you,dear religious, that redeeming love of His was directed towards aparticular person, and at the same time it took on a spousal character:it became a love of choice. This love embraces the whole person, soul andbody, whether man or woman, in that person's unique and unrepeatablepersonal "I." The One who, given eternally to the Father, "gives" Himselfin the mystery of the Redemption, has now called man in order that he inhis turn should give himself entirely to the work of the Redemptionthrough membership in a community of brothers or sisters, recognized andapproved by the Church. Surely it is precisely to this call that St.Paul's words can be applied: "Do you not know that your body is a templeof the Holy Spirit...? You are not your own; you were bought with aprice."[11]

Yes, Christ's love has reached each one of you, dear brothers andsisters, with that same "price" of the Redemption. As a consequence ofthis, you have realized that you are not your own, but belong to Christ.This new awareness was the fruit of Christ's "loving look" in the secretof your heart. You replied to that look by choosing Him who first choseeach one of you, calling you with the measurelessness of His redeeminglove. Since He calls "by name," His call always appeals to human freedom.Christ says: "If you wish...." And the response to this call is,therefore, a free choice. You have chosen Jesus of Nazareth, the Redeemerof the world, by choosing the way that He has shown you.

4. This way is also called the way of perfection. Speaking to the youngman, Christ says: "If you wish to be perfect...." Thus the idea of the"way of perfection" has its motivation in the very Gospel source.Moreover, do we not hear, in the Sermon on the Mount: "You, therefore,must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect"[12]? The calling ofman to perfection was in a certain way perceived by thinkers andmoralists of the ancient world and also afterwards, in the differentperiods of history. But the biblical call has a completely originalnature: it is particularly demanding when it indicates to man perfectionin the likeness of God Himself.[13] Precisely in this form the callcorresponds to the whole of the internal logic of Revelation, accordingto which man was created in the image and likeness of God Himself. Hemust therefore seek the perfection proper to him in the line of thisimage and likeness. As St. Paul will write in the letter to theEphesians: "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walkin love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrantoffering and sacrifice to God."[14]

Thus the call to perfection belongs to the very essence of the Christianvocation. On the basis of this call we must also understand the wordswhich Christ addressed to the young man in the Gospel. These words are ina particular way linked to the mystery of the Redemption of man in theworld. For this Redemption gives back to God the work of creation whichhad been contaminated by sin, showing the perfection which the whole ofcreation, and in particular man, possesses in the thought and intentionof God Himself. Especially man must be given and restored to God, if heis to be fully restored to himself. From this comes the eternal call:"Return to me, for I have redeemed you."[15] Christ's words: "If you wishto be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor,..." clearlybring us into the sphere of the evangelical counsel of poverty, whichbelongs to the very essence of the religious vocation and profession.

At the same time these words can be understood in a wider and, in asense, essential way. The Teacher from Nazareth invites the person He isaddressing to renounce a program of life in which the first place is seento be occupied by the category of possessing, of "having," and to acceptin its place a program centered upon the value of the human person: uponpersonal "being" with all the transcendence that is proper to it.

Such an understanding of Christ's words constitutes as it were a widersetting for the ideal of evangelical poverty, especially that povertywhich, as an evangelical counsel, belongs to the essential content ofyour mystical marriage with the divine Spouse in the Church. ReadingChrist's words in the light of the superiority of "being" over "having,"especially if the latter is understood in a materialistic and utilitariansense, we as it were touch the very anthropological bases of a vocationin the Gospel. In the framework of the development of contemporarycivilization, this is a particularly relevant discovery. And for thisreason the very vocation to "the way of perfection" as laid down byChrist becomes equally relevant. In today's civilization, especially inthe context of the world of well-being based on consumerism, man bitterlyexperiences the essential incompleteness of personal "being" whichaffects his humanity because of the abundant and various forms of"having"; he then becomes more inclined to accept this truth aboutvocation which was expressed once and for all in the Gospel. Yes, thecall which you, dear brothers and sisters, accepted when you set out onthe way of religious profession touches upon the very roots of humanity,the roots of man's destiny in the temporal world. The evangelical "stateof perfection" does not cut you off from these roots. On the contrary,it enables you to anchor yourselves even more firmly in the elements thatmake man, permeating this humanitywhich in various ways is burdenedby sinwith the divine and human leaven of the mystery of the Redemption.

5. Vocation carries with it the answer to the question: Why be a humanpersonand how? This answer adds a new dimension to the whole of lifeand establishes its definitive meaning. This meaning emerges against thebackground of the Gospel paradox of losing one's life in order to saveit, and on the other hand saving one's life by losing it "for Christ'ssake and for the sake of the Gospel," as we read in Mark.[16]

In the light of these words, Christ's call becomes perfectly clear: "Go,sell what you possess, and give to the poor, and you will have treasurein heaven; and come, follow me."[17] Between this "go" and the subsequent"come, follow me" there is a close connection. It can be said that theselatter words determine the very essence of vocation. For a vocation is amatter of following the footsteps of Christ (sequito follow, hencesequela Christi). The terms "go...sell...give" seem to lay down theprecondition of a vocation. Nevertheless, this condition is not"external" to a vocation but is already inside it. For a person discoversthe new sense of his or her humanity not only in order "to follow" Christbut to the extent that he or she actually does follow Him. When a person"sells what he possesses" and "gives it to the poor," he discovers thatthose possessions and the comforts he enjoyed were not the treasure tohold on to. The treasure is in his heart, which Christ makes capable of"giving" to others by the giving of self. The rich person is not the onewho possesses but the one who "gives," the one who is capable of giving.

At this point the Gospel paradox becomes particularly expressive. Itbecomes a program of being. To be poor in the sense given to this "being"by the Teacher from Nazareth is to become a dispenser of good throughone's own human condition. This also means to discover "the treasure."This treasure is indestructible. It passes together with man into thedimension of the eternal. It belongs to the divine eschatology of man.Through this treasure man has his definitive future in God. Christ says:"You will have treasure in heaven." This treasure is not so much a"reward" after death for the good works done following the example of thedivine Teacher, but rather the eschatological fulfillment of what washidden behind these good works here on earth, in the inner "treasure" ofthe heart. Christ Himself, in fact, when He invited His hearers in theSermon on the Mount[18] to store up treasure in heaven, added: "For whereyour treasure is, there will your heart be also.[19] These words indicatethe eschatological character of the Christian vocation. They indicateeven more the eschatological nature of the vocation that is realizedthrough spiritual marriage to Christ by the practice of the evangelicalcounsels.

6. The structure of this vocation, as seen from the words addressed tothe young man in the synoptic Gospels,[20] is traced little by little asone discovers the fundamental treasure of one's own humanity in theperspective of that "treasure" which man "has in heaven." In thisperspective the fundamental treasure of one's own humanity is connectedto the fact of "being, by giving oneself." The direct point of referencein such a vocation is the living person of Jesus Christ. The call to theway of perfection takes shape from Him and through Him in the HolySpirit, who continually "recalls" to new people, men and women, atdifferent times of their lives but especially in their youth, all thatChrist "has said,"[21] and especially what He "said" to the young manwho asked him: "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternallife?"[22] Through the reply of Christ, who "looks upon" His questioner"with love," the strong leaven of the mystery of the Redemptionpenetrates the consciousness, heart and will of a person who is searchingwith truth and sincerity.

Thus the call to the way of the evangelical counsels always has itsbeginning in God: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointedyou that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit shouldabide."[23] The vocation in which a person discovers in depth theevangelical law of giving, a law inscribed in human nature, is itself agift! It is a gift overflowing with the deepest content of the Gospel, agift which reflects the divine and human image of the mystery of theRedemption of the world. "In this is love, not that we loved God but thathe loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins."[24]

7. Your vocation, dear brothers and sisters, has led you to religiousprofession, whereby you have been consecrated to God through the ministryof the Church, and have been at the same time incorporated into yourreligious family. Hence, the Church thinks of you, above all, as personswho are "consecrated": consecrated to God in Jesus Christ as Hisexclusive possession. This consecration determines your place in the vastcommunity of the Church, the People of God. And at the same time thisconsecration introduces into the universal mission of this people aspecial source of spiritual and supernatural energy: a particular styleof life, witness and apostolate, in fidelity to the mission of yourinstitute and to its identity and spiritual heritage. The universalmission of the People of God is rooted in the messianic mission of ChristHimselfProphet, Priest and Kinga mission in which all share indifferent ways. The form of sharing proper to "consecrated" personscorresponds to your manner of being rooted in Christ. The depth and powerof this being rooted in Christ is decided precisely by religiousprofession.

Religious profession creates a new bond between the person and the Oneand Triune God, in Jesus Christ. This bond develops on the foundation ofthe original bond that is contained in the Sacrament of Baptism.Religious profession "is deeply rooted in baptismal consecration and is afuller expression of it."[25] In this way religious profession, in itsconstitutive content, becomes a new consecration: the consecration andgiving of the human person to God, loved above all else. The commitmentundertaken by means of the vows to practice the evangelical counsels ofchastity, poverty and obedience, according to the determinations properto each religious family as laid down in the constitutions, is theexpression of a total consecration to God and, at the same time, themeans that leads to its achievement. This is also the source of themanner proper to consecrated persons of bearing witness and of exercisingthe apostolate. And yet it is necessary to seek the roots of thatconscious and free consecration and of the subsequent giving of self toGod as His possession in Baptism, the sacrament that leads us to thePaschal Mystery as the apex and center of the Redemption accomplished byChrist.

Therefore, in order to highlight fully the reality of religiousprofession, we must turn to the vibrant words of St. Paul in the letterto the Romans: "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptizedinto Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried thereforewith h m by baptism into death, so that as Christ...we too might walk in newness of life";[26] "Our old self was crucified with him sothat...we might no longer be enslaved to sin";[27] "So you also mustconsider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus."[28]

Upon the sacramental basis of Baptism in which it is rooted, religiousprofession is a new "burial in the death of Christ": new, because it ismade with awareness and by choice; new, because of love and vocation;new, by reason of unceasing "conversion." This "burial in death" causesthe person "buried together with Christ" to "walk like Christ in newnessof life. " In Christ crucified is to be found the ultimate foundationboth of baptismal consecration and of the profession of the evangelicalcounsels, whichin the words of the Second Vatican Council"constitutesa special consecration." It is at one and the same time both death andliberation. St. Paul writes: "Consider yourselves dead to sin." At thesame time he calls this death "freedom from the slavery of sin." Aboveall, though, religious consecration, through its sacramental foundationin holy Baptism, constitutes a new life "for God in Jesus Christ."

In this way, simultaneously with the profession of the evangelicalcounsels, in a much more mature and conscious manner, "the old nature isput off" and likewise "the new nature is put on, created after thelikeness of God in true righteousness and holiness," to use once more thewords of the letter to the Ephesians.[29]

8. Thus, then, dear brothers and sisters, all of you who throughout theChurch live the covenant of the profession of the evangelical counsels:renew in this Holy Year of the Redemption your awareness of your specialsharing in the Redeemer's death on the crossthat sharing through whichyou have risen with Him, and continually rise with Him to a new life. TheLord speaks to each of you, just as He once spoke through the prophetIsaiah:

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you aremine."[30]

The evangelical call: "If you would be perfect, . . .follow me"[31] guides us with the light of the words of the divine Teacher. From thedepth of the Redemption there comes Christ's call, and from that depth itreaches the human soul. By virtue of the grace of the Redemption, thissaving call assumes, in the soul of the person called, the actual form ofthe profession of the evangelical counsels. In this form is containedyour answer to the call of redeeming love, and it is also an answer oflove: a love of self-giving, which is the heart of consecration, of theconsecration of the person. The words of Isaiah"I have redeemedyou...you are mine"seem to seal precisely this love, which is the loveof a total and exclusive consecration to God.

This is how the special covenant of spousal love is made, in which weseem to hear an unceasing echo of the words concerning Israel, whom theLord "has chosen as his own possession."[32] For in every consecratedperson the Israel of the new and eternal covenant is chosen. The wholemessianic people, the entire Church, is chosen in every person whom theLord selects from the midst of this people; in every person who isconsecrated for everyone to God as His exclusive possession. While it istrue that not even the greatest saint can repeat the words of Christ:"For their sake I consecrate myself"[33] in the full force of thesewords, nevertheless, through self-giving love, through the offering ofoneself to God as His exclusive possession, each one can through faithstand within the radius of these words.

Are we not reminded of this by the other words of the Apostle in theletter to the Romans that we so often repeat and meditate upon: "I appealto you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodiesas a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is yourspiritual worship"[34] These words are as it were a distant echo of theOne who, when He comes into the world and becomes man, says to theFather: "You have prepared a body for me.... Lo, I have come to do yourwill, O God."[35]

In this particular context of the Jubilee Year of the Redemption, let usthen go back again to the mystery of the body and soul of Christ, as thecomplete subject of spousal and redemptive love: spousal because it isredemptive. For love He offered Himself, for love He gave His body "forthe sin of the world." By immersing yourselves in the Paschal Mystery ofthe Redeemer through the consecration of the religious vows, you desire,through the love of total giving, to fill your souls and your bodies withthe spirit of sacrifice, even as St. Paul invites you to do in the wordsof the letter to the Romans, just quoted: "to offer your bodies as asacrifice."[36] In this way the likeness of that love which in the heartof Christ is both redemptive and spousal is imprinted on the religiousprofession. And such love should fill each of you, dear brothers andsisters, from the very source of that particular consecration whichonthe sacramental basis of holy Baptismis the beginning of your new lifein Christ and in the Church: it is the beginning of the new creation.

Together with this love, may there grow deeper each one of you the joy ofbelonging exclusively to God, being a particular inheritance of the mostHoly Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Now and then repeat with thepsalmist the inspired words:

"Whom else have I in heaven?And when I am with you,the earth delights me not.Though my flesh and my heart waste away,God is the rock of my heartand my portion for ever."[37] or:

"I say to the Lord, my Lord are you. Apart from you I have no good. O Lord, my allotted portion and my cup, You it is who hold fast my lot."[38]

May the knowledge of belonging to God Himself in Jesus Christ, theRedeemer of the world and Spouse of the Church, seal your hearts,[39] allyour thoughts, words and deeds, with the sign of the biblical spouse. Asyou know, this intimate and profound knowledge of Christ is actuated andgrows deeper day by day through the life of personal, community andliturgical prayer proper to each of your religious families. In this too,and especially so, the men and women religious who are dedicatedessentially to contemplation are a powerful aid and a stimulating supportfor their brothers and sisters devoted to the works of the apostolate.May this knowledge of belonging to Christ open your hearts, thoughts anddeedswith the key of the mystery of the Redemptionto all thesufferings, needs and hopes of individuals and of the world, in the midstof which your evangelical consecration has been planted as a particularsign of the presence of God for whom all live,[40] embraced by theinvisible dimension of His kingdom.

The words "Follow me," spoken by Christ when He "looked upon and loved"each one of you, dear brothers and sisters, also have this meaning: youtake part, in the most complete and radical way possible, in the shapingof that "new creation"[4]l which must emerge from the Redemption of theworld by means of the power of the Spirit of Truth operating from theabundance of the Paschal Mystery of Christ.

9. Through your profession, the way of the evangelical counsels opens upbefore each one of you. In the Gospel there are many exhortations that gobeyond the measure of the commandment, indicating not only what is"necessary" but what is "better." Thus, for example, the exhortation notto judge,[42] to lend "expecting nothing in return,"[43] to comply withall the requests and desires of our neighbor,[44] to invite the poor to ameal,[45] to pardon always[46] and many other invitations. If, inaccordance with Tradition, the profession of the evangelical counsels hasconcentrated on the three points of chastity, poverty and obedience, thisusage seems to emphasize sufficiently clearly their importance as keyelements and in a certain sense as a "summing up" of the entire economyof salvation. Everything in the Gospel that is a counsel entersindirectly into the program of that way to which Christ calls when Hesays: "Follow me." But chastity, poverty and obedience give to this way aparticular Christocentric characteristic and imprint upon it a specificsign of the economy of the Redemption.

Essential to this "economy" is the transformation of the entire cosmosthrough the heart of man, from within: "For the creation waits with eagerlonging for the revealing of the sons of God ... and will be set freefrom its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the childrenof God."[47] This transformation takes place in step with that love whichChrist's call infuses in the depth of the individualthat love whichconstitutes the very substance of consecration: a man or woman's vowingof self to God in religious profession, on the foundation of thesacramental consecration of Baptism. We can discover the bases of theeconomy of Redemption by reading the words of the first letter of St.John: "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one lovesthe world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in theworld, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride oflife, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passesaway, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abidesforever.[48]

Religious profession places in the heart of each one of you, dearbrothers and sisters, the love of the Father: that love which is in the heart of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world. It is love whichembraces the world and everything in it that comes from the Father, andwhich at the same time tends to overcome in the world everything that"does not come from the Father." It tends therefore to conquer thethreefold lust. "The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and thepride of life" are hidden within man as the inheritance of original sin,as a result of which the relationship with the world, created by God andgiven to man to be ruled by him,[49] was disfigured in the human heart invarious ways. In the economy of the Redemption the evangelical counselsof chastity, poverty and obedience constitute the most radical means fortransforming in the human heart this relationship with "the world": withthe external world and with one's personal "I"which in some way is thecentral part "of the world" in the biblical sense, if what "does not comefrom the Father" begins within it.

Against the background of the phrases taken from the first letter of St.John, it is not difficult to see the fundamental importance of the threeevangelical counsels in the whole economy of Redemption. Evangelicalchastity helps us to transform in our interior life everything that hasits sources in the lust of the flesh; evangelical poverty, everythingthat finds its source in the lust of the eyes; and evangelical obedienceenables us to transform in a radical way that which in the human heartarises from the pride of life. We are deliberately speaking here of anovercoming as a transformation, for the entire economy of the Redemptionis set in the framework of the words spoken in the priestly prayer to theFather: "I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but to guardthem from the evil one."[50] The evangelical counsels in their essentialpurpose aim at "the renewal of creation": "the world," thanks to them, isto be subjected to man and given to him in such a way that man himselfmay be perfectly given to God.

10. The internal purpose of the evangelical counsels leads to thediscovery of yet other aspects that emphasize the close connection of thecounsels with the economy of the Redemption. We know that the economy ofthe Redemption finds its culminating point in the Paschal Mystery ofJesus Christ, in whom there are joined self emptying through death andbirth to a new life through the resurrection. The practice of theevangelical counsels contains a deep reflection of this paschal duality:[51] the inevitable destruction of what in each of us is sin andits inheritance, and the possibility of being reborn each day to a moreprofound good hidden in the human soul. This good is manifested under theaction of grace, towards which the practice of chastity, poverty andobedience renders the human soul particularly sensitive. The entireeconomy of Redemption is realized precisely through this sensitivity tothe mysterious action of the Holy Spirit, the direct Author of allholiness. Along this path the profession of the evangelical counselsopens out in each one of you, dear brothers and sisters, a wide space forthe "new creation"[52] that emerges in your human "I" precisely from theeconomy of the Redemption and, through this human "I," also into theinterpersonal and social dimensions. At the same time it emerges inhumanity as part of the world created by God: that world that the Fatherloved "anew" in the eternal Son, the Redeemer of the world.

Of this Son St. Paul says that "though he was in the form of God...heemptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likenessof men."[53] The characteristic of self-emptying contained in thepractice of the evangelical counsels is therefore a completelyChristocentric characteristic. And for this reason also the Teacher fromNazareth explicitly indicates the cross as the condition for following inHis footsteps. He who once said to each one of you "Follow me" has alsosaid: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take uphis cross and follow me"[54] (that is to say, walk in my footsteps). AndHe said this to all His listeners, not just to the disciples. The law ofrenunciation belongs therefore to the very essence of the Christianvocation. But it belongs in a particular way to the essence of thevocation linked to the profession of the evangelical counsels. To thosewho walk the way of this vocation even those difficult expressions thatwe read in the letter to the Philippians speak in a comprehensiblelanguage: for him "I have suffered the loss of all things, and count themas refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him."[55]

Renunciation therefore the reflection of the mystery of Calvaryin order"to be" more fully in the crucified and risen Christ; renunciation inorder to recognize fully in Him the mystery of one's own human nature,and to confirm this on the path of that wonderful process of which thesame Apostle writes in another place: "Though our outer nature is wastingaway, our inner nature is being renewed every day."[56] In this way theeconomy of the Redemption transfers the power of the Paschal Mystery tothe level of humanity, docile to Christ's call to life in chastity,poverty and obedience, that is, to a life according to the evangelicalcounsels.

11. The paschal character of this call makes itself known from variouspoints of view, in connection with each individual counsel.

It is indeed according to the measure of the economy of the Redemptionthat one must also judge and practice that chastity which each of you haspromised by vow, together with poverty and obedience. There is containedin this the response to Christ's words, which are at the same time aninvitation: "There are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for thesake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let himreceive it."[57] Prior to this Christ had emphasized: "Not all men canreceive this saying, but only those to whom it is given."[58] These lastwords clearly show that this invitation is a counsel. To this also theApostle Paul devoted a special reflection in the first letter to theCorinthians.[59] This counsel is addressed in a particular way to thelove of the human heart. It places greater emphasis on the spousalcharacter of this love, while poverty and still more obedience seem toemphasize primarily the aspect of redemptive love contained in religiousconsecration. As you know, it is a question here of chastity in the sense"of making themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven," aquestion, that is, of virginity or celibacy as an expression of spousallove for the Redeemer Himself. In this sense the Apostle teaches thatthey "do well" who choose matrimony but they "do better who choosevirginity."[60] "The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of theLord, how to please the Lord,"[61] and "the unmarried woman or girl isanxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body andspirit."[62]

There is contained neither in the words of Christ nor in those of Paulany lack of esteem for matrimony. The evangelical counsel of chastity isonly an indication of that particular possibility which for the humanheart. whether of a man or of a woman, constitutes the spousal love ofChrist Himself, of Jesus the "Lord." "To make themselves eunuchs for thesake of the kingdom of heaven" is not in fact merely a free renunciationof marriage and family life, but a charismatic choice of Christ as one'sexclusive Spouse. This choice not only specifically enables one to be"anxious about the affairs of the Lord" butwhen it is made "for thekingdom of heaven"it brings this eschatological kingdom of God close tothe life of all people in the conditions of temporality, and makes it ina certain way present in the midst of the world.

In this way, consecrated persons accomplish the interior purpose of theentire economy of the Redemption. For this purpose expresses itself inbringing near the kingdom of God in its definitive, eschatologicaldimension. Through the vow of chastity, consecrated persons share in theeconomy of the Redemption through the free renunciation of the temporaljoys of married and family life; on the other hand, precisely by their"having made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven,"they bring into the midst of this passing world the announcement of thefuture resurrection[63] and of eternal life: life in union with GodHimself through the beatific vision and the love which contains in itselfand completely pervades all the other loves of the human heart.

12. How very expressive in the matter of poverty are the words of thesecond letter to the Corinthians which constitute a concise synthesis ofall that we hear on this theme in the Gospel! "For you know the grace ofour Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake hebecame poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich."[64] Accordingto these words poverty actually enters into the interior structure of theredemptive grace of Jesus Christ. Without poverty it is not possible tounderstand the mystery of the gift of divinity to man, a gift which isaccomplished precisely in Jesus Christ. For this reason also it is foundat the very center of the Gospel, at the beginning of the message of theeight beatitudes: "Blessed are the poor in spirit."[65] Evangelicalpoverty reveals to the eyes of the human soul the perspective of thewhole mystery, "hidden for ages in God."[66] Only those who are "poor" inthis way are also interiorly capable of understanding the poverty of theone who is infinitely rich. The poverty of Christ conceals in itself thisinfinite richness of God; it is indeed an infallible expression of it. Arichness, in fact, such as the Divinity itself could not have beenadequately expressed in any created good. It can be expressed only inpoverty. Therefore it can be properly understood only by the poor, thepoor in spirit. Christ, the God-man, is the first of these: He who"though he was rich became poor" is not only the teacher but also thespokesman and guarantor of that salvific poverty which corresponds to theinfinite richness of God and to the inexhaustible power of His grace.

And thus it is also true as the Apostle writesthat "by his poverty wehave become rich." It is the teacher and spokesman of poverty who makesus rich. For this very reason He says to the young man of the synopticGospels: "Sell what you possess and give...and you will have treasure inheaven."[67] In these words there is a call to enrich others throughone's own poverty, but in the depths of this call there is hidden thetestimony of the infinite richness of God which, transferred to the humansoul in the mystery of grace, creates in man himself, precisely throughpoverty, a source for enriching others not comparable with any otherresource of material goods, a source for bestowing gifts on others in themanner of God Himself. This giving is accomplished in the context of themystery of Christ, who "has made us rich by his poverty." We see how thisprocess of enrichment unfolds in the pages of the Gospel, finding itsculmination in the paschal event: Christ, the poorest in His death on thecross, is also the One who enriches us infinitely with the fullness ofnew life, through the resurrection.

Dear brothers and sisters, poor in spirit through your evangelicalprofession, receive into the whole of your life this salvific profile ofthe poverty of Christ. Day by day seek its ever greater development! Seekabove all "the kingdom of God and his righteousness" and the otherthings "shall be yours as well."[68] May there be accomplished in you andthrough you the evangelical blessedness reserved for the poor,[69] thepoor in spirit![70]

13. Christ, "though he was in the form of God, did not count equalitywith God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of aservant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human formhe humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on across."[71]

Here, in these words of the letter of St. Paul to the Philippians, wetouch the very essence of the Redemption. In this reality is inscribed ina primary and constitutive way the obedience of Jesus Christ. Other wordsof the Apostle, taken this time from the letter to the Romans, confirmthis: "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by oneman's obedience many will be made righteous."[72]

The evangelical counsel of obedience is the call which derives from thisobedience of Christ "unto death." Those who accept this call, expressedby the words "Follow me," decide as the Council saysto follow Christ"who, by an obedience which carried Him even to death on the cross,redeemed humanity and made it holy."[73] By living out the evangelicalcounsel of obedience, they reach the deep essence of the entire economyof the Redemption. By fulfilling this counsel they desire to gain aspecial sharing in the obedience of that "one alone" by whose obedienceall "will be made righteous."

It can therefore be said that those who decide to live according to thecounsel of obedience are placed in a unique way between the mystery ofsin[74] and the mystery of justification and salvific grace. They are inthis "place" with all the sinful background of their own human nature,with all the inheritance "of the pride of life," with all the selfishtendencies to dominate rather than to serve, and precisely by means ofthe vow of obedience they decide to be transformed into the likeness ofChrist, who "redeemed humanity and made it holy by his obedience." In thecounsel of obedience they desire to find their own role in the Redemptionof Christ and their own way of sanctification.

This is the way which Christ marked out in the Gospel, speaking manytimes of fulfilling the will of God, of ceaselessly searching for it. "Myfood is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish hiswork."[75] "Because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sentme."[76] "He who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for Ialways do what is pleasing to him."[77] "For I have come down fromheaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me."[78] Thisconstant fulfilling of the will of the Father also reminds us of thatmessianic confession of the psalmist in the Old Testament: "Behold, Icome; in the written scroll it is prescribed for me. To do your will, Omy God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart."[79]

This obedience of the Sonfull of joyreaches its zenith in the face ofthe passion and cross: "Father, if it is your will, take this cup fromme; yet not my will but yours be done."[80] From the prayer in Gethsemaneonwards, Christ's readiness to do the will of the Father is filled to thevery brim of suffering, becoming that obedience "unto death, even deathon a cross" spoken of by St. Paul.

Through the vow of obedience consecrated persons decide to imitate withhumility the obedience of the Redeemer in a special way. For althoughsubmission to the will of God and obedience to His law are for everystate a condition of Christian life, nevertheless, in the "religiousstate," in the "state of perfection," the vow of obedience establishes inthe heart of each of you, dear brothers and sisters, the duty of aparticular reference to Christ "obedient unto death." And since thisobedience of Christ constitutes the essential nucleus of the work of theRedemption, as is seen from the words of the Apostle quoted above,therefore, also in the fulfilling of the evangelical counsel of obediencewe must discern a particular moment in that "economy of the Redemption"which pervades your whole vocation in the Church.

From this derives that "total availability to the Holy Spirit" who is at work above all in the Church, as my Predecessor Paul VI puts it in theApostolic Exhortation Evangelica testificatio,[81] and who is likewisemanifested in the constitutions of your institutes. From this derivesthat religious submission which in a spirit of faith consecrated personsshow to their legitimate superiors, who hold the place of God.[82] In theletter to the Hebrews we find on this theme a very significantindication: "Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keepingwatch over your souls, as men who will have to give account." And theauthor of the letter adds: "Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, forthat would be of no advantage to you."[83]

On the other hand, superiors will bear in mind that they must exercise ina spirit of service the power conferred on them through the ministry ofthe Church, and they will show willingness to listen to their brothers orsisters in order to discern more clearly what the Lord asks of each one.At the same time they retain the authority proper to them to decide andorder what they consider appropriate.

Hand in hand with submission-obedience thus conceived goes the attitudeof service which animates your whole life after the example of the Son ofMan, who "came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as aransom for many.[84] And His Mother, at the decisive moment of theAnnunciation-Incarnation, entering from the very beginning into the wholesalvific economy of the Redemption, said: "Behold, I am the handmaid ofthe Lord; let it be to me according to your word."[85]

Remember also, dear brothers and sisters, that the obedience to which youcommitted yourselves by consecrating yourselves without reserve to Godthrough the profession of the evangelical counsels is a particularexpression of interior freedom, just as the definitive expression ofChrist's freedom was His obedience "unto death": "I lay down my life,that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it downof my own accord.[86]

14. In the Jubilee Year of the Redemption the entire Church wishes torenew her love for Christ, the Redeemer of man and of the world, her Lordand also her divine Spouse. And so in this Holy Year the Church lookswith special attention to you, dear brothers and sisters, who, asconsecrated persons, occupy a special place both in the universalcommunity of the People of God and in every local community. While theChurch wishes also your love for Christ to be renewed through the graceof the extraordinary Jubilee, at the same time she is fully aware thatthis love constitutes a special possession of the whole People of God.The Church is aware that in the love that Christ receives fromconsecrated persons, the love of the entire Body is directed in a specialand exceptional way towards the Spouse, who at the same time is the Headof this Body. The Church expresses to you, dear brothers and sisters, hergratitude for your consecration and for your profession of theevangelical counsels, which are a special witness of love. She alsoexpresses anew her great confidence in you who have chosen a state oflife that is a special gift of God to the Church. She counts upon yourcomplete and generous collaboration in order that, as faithful stewardsof this precious gift, you may "think with the Church" and always act inunion with her, in conformity with the teachings and directives of theMagisterium of Peter and of the pastors in communion with him, fostering,at the personal and community level, a renewed ecclesial awareness. Andat the same time the Church prays for you, that your witness of love maynever fail,[87] and she also asks you to accept in this spirit thepresent message of the Jubilee Year of the Redemption.

Precisely in this way the Apostle Paul prayed in his letter to thePhilippians, "that your love may abound more and more...with alldiscernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pureand blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruits ofrighteousness...."[88]

Through the work of Christ's Redemption "God's love has been poured outinto our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us."[89] I constantly ask the Holy Spirit to grant to each one of you, accordingto your own gift,[90] to bear special witness to this love. May "the lawof the Spirit that gives life in Christ Jesus..."be victorious withinyou, in a way worthy of your vocation, that law that has "set us freefrom the law of death."[91] Live then this new life in the measure ofyour consecration and also in the measure of the different gifts of Godwhich correspond to the vocation of your individual religious families.The profession of the evangelical counsels shows each of you how with thehelp of the Spirit you can put to death[92] everything that is contraryto life and serves sin and death; everything that is opposed to true loveof God and others. The world needs the authentic "contradiction" providedby religious consecration, as an unceasing stimulus of salvific renewal."Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal ofyour mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good andacceptable and perfect."[93] After the special period of experimentationand renewal provided for by the Motu Proprio Ecclesiae sanctae, yourinstitutes have recently received or are preparing to receive theChurch's approval of your renewed constitutions. May this gift of theChurch encourage you to know them, to love them and, above all, to livethem in generosity and fidelity, remembering that obedience is anunambiguous manifestation of love.

It is precisely this witness of love that the world today and allhumanity need. They need this witness to the Redemption as this isimprinted upon the profession of the evangelical counsels. Thesecounsels, each in its own way and all of them together in their intimateconnection, "bear witness" to the Redemption which, by the power ofChrist's cross and resurrection, leads the world and humanity in the HolySpirit towards that definitive fulfillment which man andthroughmanthe whole of creation find in God, and only in God. Your witness istherefore of inestimable value. You must constantly strive to make itfully transparent and fully fruitful in the world. A further aid to thiswill be the faithful observance of the Church's norms regarding also theoutward manifestation of your consecration and of your commitment topoverty.[94]

15. From this witness of spousal love for Christ, through which theentire salvific truth of the Gospel becomes particularly visible, therealso comes, dear brothers and sisters, as something proper to yourvocation, a sharing in the Church's apostolate, in her universal missionwhich is accomplished contemporaneously in every nation in many differentways and through many different charisms. Your specific mission is inharmony with the mission of the Apostles, whom the Lord sent "to thewhole world" to "teach all nations,"[95] and it is also linked to themission of the hierarchical order. In the apostolate which consecratedpersons exercise, their spousal love for Christ becomes, in an organicway as it were, love for the Church as the Body of Christ, for the Churchas the People of God, for the Church which is at one and the same timeSpouse and Mother.

It is difficult to describe, or even to list, the many different ways inwhich consecrated persons fulfill their love for the Church through theapostolate. This apostolate is always born from that particular gift ofyour founders, which, received from God and approved by the Church, hasbecome a charism for the whole community. That gift corresponds to thedifferent needs of the Church and the world at particular moments ofhistory, and in its turn it is extended and strengthened in the life ofthe religious communities as one of the enduring elements of the Church's life and apostolate. In each of these elements, in each fieldboth ofcontemplation, so fruitful for the apostolate, and of direct apostolicactionthe Church's constant blessing accompanies you, as does at thesame time her pastoral and maternal solicitude, with regard to thespiritual identity of your life and the correctness of your activity inthe midst of the great universal community of the vocations and charismsof the whole People of God. Through each of the institutes separately andthrough their organic integration in the whole of the Church's mission,special emphasis is given to that economy of the Redemption, the profoundsign of which each one of you, dear brothers and sisters, bears withinhimself or herself through the consecration and profession of theevangelical counsels.

And thus, even though the many different apostolic works that you performare extremely important, nevertheless the truly fundamental work of theapostolate remains always what (and at the same time who) you are in theChurch. Of each one of you can be repeated, with special appropriateness,these words of St. Paul: "For you have died, and your life is hidden withChrist in God."[96] And at the same time this "being hidden with Christin God" makes it possible to apply to you the words of the MasterHimself: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your goodworks and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."[97]

For the sake of this light with which you must "shine before men," ofgreat importance among you is the witness of mutual love, linked to thefraternal spirit of each community, for the Lord has said: "By this allmen will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for oneanother.[98]

The fundamentally community nature of your religious life, nourished bythe teaching of the Gospel, by the sacred liturgy and above all by theEucharist, is a special way of accomplishing this interpersonal andsocial dimension: by caring for one another, by bearing one another'sburdens, you show by your unity that Christ is living in your midst.[99]Important for your apostolate in the Church is every kind of sensitivityto the needs and sufferings of the individual, which are seen so clearlyand so movingly in today's world. For the Apostle Paul teaches: "Bear oneanother's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,"[100] and he addsthat "love is the fulfilling of the law."[101]

Your mission must be seen! Deep, very deep must be the bond which linksit to the Church![102] Through everything that you do, and especiallythrough everything that you are, may the truth be proclaimed andreconfirmed that "Christ loved the Church and gave himself up forher":[103] the truth that is at the basis of the whole economy of theRedemption. From Christ, the Redeemer of the world, may the inexhaustiblesource of your love for the Church pour forth!

16. This exhortation which I address to you on the Solemnity of theAnnunciation in the Jubilee Year of the Redemption is meant to be anexpression of that love which the Church has for men and women religious.You, dear brothers and sisters, are truly a special treasure of theChurch. And this treasure becomes more understandable through meditationon the reality of the Redemption, for which the present Holy Year offersa continuous opportunity and a welcome encouragement. Recognize,therefore, in this light, your identity and your dignity. May the HolySpiritthrough Christ's cross and resurrection"having the eyes of yourhearts enlightened," enable you "to know what is the hope to which he hascalled you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in thesaints."[104]

These "eyes enlightening the heart" the Church unceasingly asks for eachone of you who have already taken the road of the profession of theevangelical counsels. The Church, together with you, asks for the same"enlightened eyes" for many Christians, especially for young men andwomen, that they may discover this way and not be afraid to enter uponit, thateven in the midst of the adverse circumstances of lifetodaythey may hear Christ's "Follow me.[105] You too must strive for thisthrough your prayer and also through the witness of that love whereby"God abides in us and his love is perfected in us."[106] May this witnessbecome present everywhere and universally clear. May the people of ourtimes, in their spiritual weariness, find in it both support and hope.Therefore, serve your brethren with the joy that wells up from a heart inwhich Christ has His dwelling. "And may the world of our time...beenabled to receive the Good News not from evangelizers who are dejectedand discouraged...but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow withfervor, who have first received the joy of Christ."[107]

The Church, in her love for you, does not cease "kneeling before theFather,"[108] that He may effect in you " ... the strengthening of theinner nature,[109] and as in you, so also in many others of your baptizedbrothers and sisters, especially young people, so that they may find thesame way to holiness which in the course of history so many generationshave traveled together with Christ, the Redeemer of the world and Spouseof souls, often leaving behind them the bright radiance of God's lightagainst the dark and gray background of human existence.

To all of you who travel this road in the present phase of the history ofthe Church and the world there is addressed this fervent hope of theJubilee Year of the Redemption, that "you, being rooted and grounded inlove, may have the power to comprehend with all the saints what is thebreadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christwhich surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullnessof God."[110]

17. On the feast of the Annunciation in this Holy Year of the Redemption,I place the present exhortation in the heart of the immaculate Virgin.Among all persons consecrated unreservedly to God, she is the first. She-the Virgin of Nazarethis also the one most fully consecrated to God,consecrated in the most perfect way. Her spousal love reached its heightin the divine Motherhood through the power of the Holy Spirit. She, whoas Mother carries Christ in her arms, at the same time fulfills in themost perfect way His call: "Follow me. And she follows Him she, theMotheras her Teacher of chastity, poverty and obedience.

How poor she was on Bethlehem night and how poor on Calvary! How obedientshe was at the moment of the Annunciation, and thenat the foot of thecrossobedient even to the point of assenting to the death of her Son,who became obedient "unto death"! How dedicated she was in all herearthly life to the cause of the kingdom of heaven through most chastelove.

If the entire Church finds in Mary her first model, all the more reasondo you find her soyou as consecrated individuals and communities within the Church! On the day that calls to mind the inauguration of the Jubileeof the Redemption, which took place last year, I address myself to youwith this present message, to invite you to renew your religiousconsecration according to the model of the consecration of the veryMother of God.

Beloved brothers and sisters! "God is faithful, by whom you were calledinto the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."[111] Perseveringin fidelity to Him who is faithful, strive to find a very special supportin Mary! For she was called by God to the most perfect communion with HisSon. May she, the faithful Virgin, also be the Mother of your evangelicalway: may she help you to experience and to show to the world howinftnitely faithful is God Himself!

With these hopes I bless you with all my heart.

From the Vatican, on March 25, in the Jubilee Year of the Redemption,1984, the sixth of my Pontificate.


1. Cf. Mt. 7:14.

2. Ps. 130[129]:7.

3. Cf. 2 Cor. 11:2.

4. Cf. Mt. 18:20.

5. Cf. Mt. 19:21; Mk. 10:21; Lk. 18:22.

6. Mk. 10:21.

7. Mt. 19:21.

8. Jn. 3:16.

9. 1 Pt. 1:18-19.

10. 1 Cor. 6:20.

11. 1 Cor. 6:19-20.

12. Mt. 5:48.

13. Cf. Lv. 19:2; 11:44.

14. Eph. 5:1-2.

15. Is. 44:22.

16. Mk. 8:35; cf. Mt. 10:39; Lk. 9:24.

17. Mt. 19:21.

18. Cf. Mt. 6:19-20.

19. Mt. 6:21.

20. Cf. Mt. 19:21; Mk. 10:21; Lk. 18:22.

21. Cf. Jn. 14:26.

22. Mt. 19:16.

23. Jn. 15:16.

24. 1 Jn. 4:10.

25. Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree Perfectae Caritatis,no. 5; cf. also Document of the Sacred Congregation for Religious andSecular Institutes, Essential Elements in the Church's Teaching on Religious Life as Applied to Institutes Dedicated to Works of the Apostolate (May 31, 1983), nos. 5ff.

26. Rom. 6:3-4.

27. Rom. 6:6.

28. Rom. 6:11.

29. Cf. Eph. 4:22-24.

30. Is. 43:1.

31. Mt. 19:21.

32. Ps. 135[134]:4.

33. Jn. 17:19.

34. Rom. 12:1.

35. Heb. 10:5, 7.

36. Rom. 12:1.

37. Ps. 73[72]:25-26.

38. Ps. 16[15]:2, 5.

39. Cf. Sg. 8:6.

40. Cf. Lk. 20:38.

41. 2 Cor. 5:17.

42. Cf. Mt. 7:1.

43. Lk. 6:35.

44. Cf. Mt. 5:40-42.

45. Cf. Lk. 14:13-14.

46. Cf. Mt. 6:14-15.

47. Rom. 8:19-21.

48. 1 Jn. 2:15-17.

49. Cf. Gn. 1:28.

50. Jn. 17:15.

51. Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree Perfectae Caritatis,no. 5.

52. 2 Cor. 5:17.

53. Phil. 2:6-7.

54. Mk. 8:34; Mt. 16:24.

55. Phil. 3:8-9.

56. 2 Cor. 4:16.

57. Mt. 19:12.

58. Mt. 19:11.

59. Cf. 1 Cor. 7:28-40.

60. Cf. 1 Cor. 7:38.

61. 1 Cor. 7:32.

62. 1 Cor. 7:34.

63. Cf. Lk. 20:34-36; Mt. 22:30; Mk. 12:25.

64. 2 Cor. 8:9.

65. Mt. 5:3.

66. Eph. 3:9.

67. Mt. 19:21; cf. Mk. 10:21; Lk. 18:22.

68. Mt. 6:33.

69. Lk. 6:20.

70. Mt. 5:3.

71. Phil. 2:6-8.

72. Rom. 5:19.

73. Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree Perfectae Caritatis,no. 14.

74. "Mysterium iniquitatis"; cf. 2 Thes. 2:7.

75. Jn. 4:34.

76. Jn. 5:30.

77. Jn. 8:29.

78. Tn. 6:38.

79. Ps. 40[39]:8-9; cf. Heb. 10:7.

80. Lk. 22:42; cf. Mk. 14:36; Mt. 26:42.

81. Cf. Evangelica testificatio, no. 6: AAS 63 (1971), p. 500.

82. Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree Perfectae Caritatis,no. 14.

83. Heb. 13:17.

84. Mk. 10:45.

85. Lk. 1:38.

86. Jn. 10:17-18.

87. Cf. Lk. 22:32.

88. Phil. 1:9-11.

89. Rom. 5:5.

90. Cf. 1 Cor. 7 :7.

91. Rom. 8:2.

92. Cf. Rom. 8:13.

93. Rom. 12:2.

94. Cf. CIC, Canon 669.

95. Cf. Mt. 28:19.

96. Col. 3:3.

97. Mt. 5:16.

98. Jn. 13:35.

99. Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree Perfectae Caritatis,no. 15.

100. Gal. 6:_.

101. Rom. 13:10.

102. The Code of Canon Law explicitly mentions this with regard toapostolic activity: cf. Canon 675, par. 3.

103. Eph. 5:25.

104. Eph. 1:18.

105. Lk. 5:27.

106. 1 Jn. 4:12.

107. Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, no. 80: AAS 68 (1976), p. 75.

108. Cf. Eph. 3:14.

109. Cf. Eph. 3:16.

110. Eph. 3:17-19.

111. 1 Cor. 1:9.

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