Radiating Divine Beauty

‘Vita Consecrata’ series Part 2 of 12

Over the course of these next 12 months, we will be meditating on short sections of 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. We hope you enjoy them!

I received a call from a young woman who had attended one of our Young Women’s Retreats several months ago.  She wanted to thank us for hosting these retreats, and began sharing how much it changed her life.  As she spoke, I could hear her smile!  The joy in her heart literally radiated over the phone lines.  The biggest healing grace she experienced was a renewed understanding of her own dignity as a woman.  A deep knowledge of her own goodness and God’s mercy permeated her soul like never before.  Her excitement increased as she told me three words she could never say before.  These three words flowed from the Eucharist into her heart and mind like rivers of living water, reviving the desert of her heart…I Am Beautiful.

In Vita Consecrata #20, Blessed John Paul II reveals “the first duty of the consecrated life is to make visible the marvels wrought by God in the frail humanity of those who are called.  They bear witness to these marvels not so much in words as by the eloquent language of a transfigured life, capable of amazing the world.”  It is God who captures our broken and frail hearts, and it is the Holy Spirit who molds our hearts transforming them into the likeness of Jesus.  This transformation begins with the knowledge of the Father’s love for us. 

In 2002, Blessed John Paul II addressed the crowds at World Youth Day in Toronto saying, “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.”  This is the reason why each of us can say in humility and truth, “I Am Beautiful.”  When we draw close to Jesus and allow Him to live in us through a life of prayer and the reception of the sacraments, we are transformed into His likeness.  The gaze of Jesus restores our beauty.  All that is needed is for us to remain in this gaze. 

Blessed John Paul II continues in Vita Consecrata #20, that the consecrated religious, whose witness of a transfigured life has amazed the world, “respond by proclaiming the wonders of grace accomplished by the Lord in those whom he loves.”  The radiation of divine beauty in the souls of those who have let themselves be captivated by God always point back to His glory.  As the psalmist says in psalm 115:1, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!”

“To the degree that consecrated persons let themselves be guided by the Spirit to the heights of perfection they can exclaim with Symeon the New Theologian, ‘I see the beauty of your grace, I contemplate its radiance, I reflect its light; I am caught up in its ineffable splendor; I am taken outside myself as I think of myself; I see how I was and what I have become.  O wonder!  I am vigilant, I am full of respect for myself, of reverence and of fear, as I would be were I before you; I do not know what to do, I am seized by fear, I do not know where to sit, where to go, where to put these members which are yours; in what deeds, in what works shall I use them, these amazing divine marvels!’” ~VC #20

Our Founder, John Cardinal O’Connor, echoes these thoughts when speaking of the vow of chastity.  “You have to have that reverence for yourself.  You have to see that ‘pearl of great price’ of which our Lord speaks, that you are made in His Image and Likeness…Christ brought you into being because He loves you for you. Not for your talents, not for your potential, not for any money you may have, not for your educational experience; He loves you for you.  And if you love yourself as Christ loves you, then you have fulfilled the first requisite of taking the vow of chastity because you are not afraid to put yourself into the hands of the One who made you…” This is our prayer for you, that you receive the grace to ‘not be afraid to put yourself into the hands of the One who made you.’