Quote of the day, 29 October: St. John Paul II


On the consecrated life and its mission in the Church and in the world

New possibilities of presence and action

Having received from Christ a message of liberation, the Church has the mission to proclaim this message prophetically, promoting ways of thinking and acting that correspond to the mind of the Lord. In this context the consecrated woman, on the basis of her experience of the Church and as a woman in the Church, can help eliminate certain one-sided perspectives which do not fully recognize her dignity and her specific contribution to the Church’s life and pastoral and missionary activity.

Consecrated women therefore rightly aspire to have their identity, ability, mission, and responsibility more clearly recognized, both in the awareness of the Church and in everyday life. Likewise, the future of the new evangelization, as [with] all other forms of missionary activity, is unthinkable without a renewed contribution from women, especially consecrated women.

It is therefore urgently necessary to take certain concrete steps, beginning by providing room for women to participate in different fields and at all levels, including decision-making processes, above all in matters which concern women themselves.

Moreover, the formation of consecrated women, no less than that of men, should be adapted to modern needs and should provide sufficient time and suitable institutional opportunities for a systematic education, extending to all areas, from the theological-pastoral to the professional.

Pastoral and catechetical formation, always important, is particularly relevant in view of the new evangelization, which calls for new forms of participation also on the part of women. Clearly, a more solid formation, while helping consecrated women to understand better their own gifts, cannot but encourage within the Church the reciprocity which is needed.

In the field of theological, cultural, and spiritual studies, much can be expected from the genius of women, not only in relation to specific aspects of feminine consecrated life but also in understanding the faith in all its expressions.

In this regard, the history of spirituality owes much to Saints like Teresa of Jesus and Catherine of Siena, the first two women to be given the title “Doctor of the Church,” and to so many other mystics for their exploration of the mystery of God and their analysis of his action in believers!

The Church depends a great deal on consecrated women for new efforts in fostering Christian doctrine and morals, family and social life, and especially in everything that affects the dignity of women and respect for human life.

In fact, “women occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and decisive. It depends on them to promote a ‘new feminism’ which rejects the temptation of imitating models of ‘male domination’, in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation.”

There is reason to hope that a fuller acknowledgment of the mission of women will provide feminine consecrated life with a heightened awareness of its specific role and increased dedication to the cause of the Kingdom of God.

This will be expressed in many different works, such as involvement in evangelization, educational activities, participation in the formation of future priests and consecrated persons, animating Christian communities, giving spiritual support, and promoting the fundamental values of life and peace.

To consecrated women and their extraordinary capacity for dedication, I once again express the gratitude and admiration of the whole Church, which supports them so that they will live their vocation fully and joyfully, and feel called to the great task of helping to educate the woman of today.

Saint John Paul II

Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation
Vita Consecrata, 57–58
25 March 1996

Extraordinary Definitory India February 2015
Discalced Carmelite formators from the St. Teresa Association in North America meet for inspiration and mutual encouragement in March 2022 | Photo credit: Discalced Carmelites

Father Jesús Castellano Cervera, O.C.D. was among the group of religious who served as experts and auditors at the 1994 Ninth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that convened in Rome from 2–29 October 1994. The topic of discussion among the synod members was “The Consecrated Life and Its Role in the Church and in the World”.

In 1995 at the international Encuentro for the Familia Teresiana of Saint Enrique de Ossó, Father Jesús Castellano shared a few of his impressions of the 1994 Synod from the Carmelite perspective. We are grateful to Father Iván de Jesús Mora Pernía, O.C.D. for transcribing Father Castellano’s remarks so that we might share them with our readers.

From within [the Synod], we have been able to witness the presence of Carmel in the Church through the impact of its most famous saints, who often have become exemplary witnesses and models of consecrated life throughout history. In this context, Thérèse of Lisieux has been at the top of the list of the most remembered saints. There have been those who have officially requested in the synod hall that she be declared a Doctor of the Church. Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross and other saints of ours have been named very frequently. The Patriarchs of the Eastern Churches expressed their gratitude for the history of Carmel and its patient presence that is still very much alive in the regions of the Middle East, such as Iraq, Lebanon, and Egypt.

The General Secretary of the Synod concluded with a very special remembrance of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, “that woman who was an excellent witness of consecrated life in the mission of the Church,” and he made her famous text resound in the hall: “In the heart of the Church I will be love.” John Paul II in the concluding homily of the Synod wanted to recall how in the history of the holiness of the Church written by religious, our three most famous saints are present: Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross at the time of the Protestant Reformation and Thérèse of Lisieux, who is closest to us.

Translation from the Spanish text is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.

Featured image: Discalced Carmelite nuns gathered at the Monastery of the Incarnation in Avila on All Saints Day in 1982 for an address by Saint John Paul II. As he concluded his discourse, he said: “Daughters of Carmel: May you be living images of your Mother Teresa, of her spirituality and humanism. May you truly be as she was and wanted to be called—and as I desire her to be called—Teresa of Jesus.”

2 thoughts on “Quote of the day, 29 October: St. John Paul II

Add yours

  1. My CONFIRMATION Saint, THERESE de Lisieux, was one I wanted to emulate. I always thought I would be a Carmelite. Instead now I am a Felician- Franciscan. I still love the Little Flower. Thank you for this meditation.

    Sister Maria Magdalena, CSSF

    1. Although it’s been nearly 30 years, there is still so much to ponder in this document. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! Please keep coming back and bring your friends 🙏🏽

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