Channels of Grace through Communion


‘Vita Consecrata’ series Part 6 of 12

from Vita Consecrata #41-58

“The root of the human being’s wretchedness is loneliness, is the absence of love – is the fact that my existence is not embraced by a love that makes it necessary…What man needs is a communion that goes beyond [everything and] reaches deep into the heart of man.” ~Benedict XVI in The Principles of Catholic Theology

This month’s meditation looks at the section in Vita Consecrata on “Consecrated Life as a Sign of Communion in the Church.” By its very essence the Church is a mystery of communion, “a people made one with the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” says St. Cyprian. In the living of community life, Blessed John Paul II says that Consecrated Religious are called to “reflect the depth and richness of this mystery, taking shape as a human community in which the Trinity dwells…” (VC #41). God’s Presence extends through history in a very real way through the communion of Consecrated Religious. They are called to become channels of grace to the world.

In a culture that glorifies individualism and tends to equate dependence on anyone or anything as weakness, the Consecrated Religious becomes a counter-witness by her dependence on God and others. When a woman experiences the love of the Lord, and discerns with the assistance of the Community that she is called to Consecrated Religious Life, she is impelled to make a total gift of herself to God and others. With every gift of self there is a dying to self in order for Christ to rise within to bring about new life. “Love led Christ to the gift of self, even to the supreme sacrifice of the cross. So too, among his disciples, there can be no true unity without that unconditional mutual love which demands a readiness to serve others generously, a willingness to welcome them as they are without “judging” them, and an ability to forgive up to “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22)” (VC#42). The Eucharistic Christ is the source of every community.

Our Founder, John Cardinal O’Connor spoke of Community and the Eucharist in this way, “Community depends on the Eucharist. It is the Eucharistic Christ who makes community. As purely human beings, all of us are distinct from one another, unique. But in divinity there are no separations. When we are swept into the divinity of the Eucharistic Christ, we become one with Him and one with one another.” To the Sisters he would later share that: “My vision is that you will be as numerous as the flowers of the field — each a unique flower, but all one, huge, virtually worldwide, bouquet of flowers, intimately interlocked with one another, each with your own beauty, your own coloring, if you will, your own size and shape, with your own mind, your own reasoning, your own heart, your own emotions, each of you not distracting from the beauty of this magnificent flower or flowers, but giving it its beauty. St. Thomas defines beauty as unity in variety. Unity without variety is dull and boring. You can look at it for only so long. But unity in endless variety which mean the endless emergence and developing of the uniqueness of every Sister of Life. This is an extraordinary beauty, an extraordinary beauty.” ~ John Cardinal O’Connor

Responding to the call of the New Evangelization, Consecrated Religious that live community life vibrantly radiate to the world the Presence of Jesus, whose mercy and love penetrate the wretchedness of loneliness. “Communion in fact becomes a sign for all the world and a compelling force that leads people to faith in Christ…In this way communion leads to mission and itself becomes mission”; indeed, “communion begets communion: in essence it is a communion that is missionary.” (VC #46) May this communion in God be a channel of grace that dispels the absence of love in the hearts of men and women and embraces them with a love that makes their existence necessary.

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This meditation is part 6 of 12 in our series on Blessed John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata.  You can download a copy of this document from the Vatican’s website: www.vatican.va