THE TRINITARIAN AND CHRISTOLOGICAL DIMENSION OF THE EVANGELICAL COUNSELS

17 December 2014 – (By Fr. Phillip Andruga Kenyi / Rome) – Consecrated life, which has been present in the Church since from the beginning, can never fail to be one of her essential characteristic elements, for it expresses her very nature.

 

This is clearly seen from the fact that the profession of the evangelical counsels is intimately connected with the mystery of Christ and it has the duty of making somehow present the way of life which Jesus himself chose. Christ called some men and women to abandon everything in order to follow him, and to establish this type of life which, under the guidance of the Spirit, would gradually develop down the centuries into the various forms of consecrated life.
Therefore, the deepest meaning of the Evangelical Counsels is revealed when they are viewed in relation to the Holy Trinity, which is the source of holiness. They are in fact an expression of the love of the Son for the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit.  Thus, Chastity “constitutes a reflection of the infinite love that binds the three Divine Persons in the mysterious depths of the Trinitarian life; a love witnessed to be the incarnate Word even to the gift of his life.”  It is the love poured out into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit (Rm. 5:5), which elicits a response of total love for God and for the brethren.
Poverty becomes an expression of the complete gift of self which the three Divine Persons reciprocally make of themselves. It is a gift which overflows into creation and manifests itself fully in the incarnation of the Word and in his redemptive death. And obedience manifests the liberating beauty of a filial and not servile dependence. And this is the reflection in history of the loving correspondence of the Divine Persons.  And in the synthesis, Pope John Paul II, states: “With such a ‘conformative’ identification to the Mystery of Christ, consecrated life carries out by a special title that confession of the Blessed Trinity which characterizes the entire Christian life.
The Perfectae Caritatis has several implications for the consecrated life, all of which are evident in Pope John Paul II’s Vita Consecrata. For example, there is an elaboration on how the consecrated life is a fuller expression of baptism. It is through the living of the Evangelical Counsels that the baptized Christians shares in a special way in an “expression of the love of the Son for the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit.”
The starting point for understanding and living our missionary experience according to our spirit is Christ. With his words and his life, Christ left us the witness of his celibacy and meaning of it. Therefore, we feel called to imitate Him, by living our emotional and sexual life in the same way as He did. Chastity or consecrate life is not simply a virtuous reality but it is the imitation of Christ which gives meaning to our renunciations, and it is not a kind of disapproving of the things of this world. But it s a life situation by which we express and bear witness to Christ.
Therefore, Consecrated life finds its meaning in Christ, and through Him, in the Holy Trinity itself. It is the expression of complete loves to the Holy Trinity and it a gift of oneself to God. It is also the manifestation of primacy of God above all and over all things, even the strongest bonds in this world, those of family. Not only that, our consecration reflects the infinite love that unites the three Divine Persons in the mysterious depths of the life of the Trinity. Therefore, the Evangelical Counsels makes the consecrated person, to love Christ and manifest Him before the world like the only begotten Son, one with the Father (cf. Jn. 10:30; 14:11).
The relation between the evangelical counsels and the mission
In the light of mission and evangelizing activity, the evangelical counsels recover all their significance as “sequela Christi”. For example, the vow of obedience appears as the deep essence of the entire economy of the Redemption (RD 13; cf. Phil 2:6-8). Life becomes as unconditional self-giving on the altar of the salvific will of the God the Father.
Thus, the evangelical counsels is a gift which God has given to the church by the means of the Holy Spirit so that in faithfulness to the gospel, the most characteristic qualities of the life of his Son Jesus Christ, the chaste, poor and obedient one (cf. Mt. 8:20, Phil. 2:8), and the profound riches of his Mystery (cf. Eph. 3:8), might be present in the world and might draw everyone toward the kingdom of God.
We can say the spousal meaning of the following of Christ, is hidden signs of the Church and those of our brothers and sisters is stressed in the vow of chastity. Therefore, spousal character of this love as an expression of spousal love for the Redeemer Christ himself (RD 11), which becomes a determinative factor in the consecrated person’s dedication to the work of evangelization and mission as charity without limit. Evangelical chastity or virginity as a good of the whole person becomes a good for the whole Church and for all humanity, as a sign of the spousal love of Christ for all people.
The preferential love the poor (poor can also mean in spirit not only material) has led many to make a generous choices in life. Such a choice has been a constant note of the apostolic charisms, often inspired by the words and example of the Lord, who was sent to “preach the good news to the poor” (cf. Lk. 4:18) and who invites others to practice the work of mercy towards the “little ones,” as Himself did (cf. Mt. 25:40).
Evangelical poverty thus, reveals to us the attitude of Christ who sacrificed himself in order to show a reality beyond human creatures. Christ’s poverty has this salvific meaning and it a source for enriching us with his divine life (RD 12). Christ become poor for our sake, to us rich out of His poverty (cf. 2Cor 8:9).  Through the sign of poverty, He manifests his divine and human love in His self-giving. Thus, we can say poverty has a value that evangelizes human realities.
Therefore, the fact of belonging to an Order, and religious congregation or secular Institute means that we are at the disposal of the universal church. And following an apostolic life implies the availability of the consecrated person and not only that; it is the consequence of the evangelical generosity that we leave everything for the sake of the gospel. The announcement of the kingdom is not credible if the values of the fellowship and solidarity with the poor are not practiced. Christ incarnation means a respond to the cry of the poor, and He went far as to identify Himself with them. Therefore, action in behalf of Justice and participation in the transformation of the world are clearly part of preaching the good news of Jesus Christ.

Fr. Phillip Andruga Kenyi, mccj
Rome-Italy