Mary, Model and Mother of Consecrated Life:
A Marian Synthesis of the Theology of Consecrated Life Based on the Teachings of John Paul II
Fidelis Stöckl, ORC
Significant ecclesial reflection on the nature of religious life in the Church (also known as the consecrated life) occurred ten years ago at the 1994 Synod of Bishops. Two years later, the synodal recommendations were published in the Apostolic Letter, The Consecrated Life, a milestone document in the history of the religious life. The consecrated life was placed within a much larger context: the Trinitarian and the ecclesial life of communion and community. The mission of the individual religious and of religious institutes flowed from consecration. The Virgin Mary as the model of the consecrated life is integrated into the life and mission of the institutes. (Some of these themes had already been anticipated in the documents from the post-Vatican II general chapters of religious institutes, especially the Servites.)
Fr. Stöckl's book is a synthesis of the themes from The Consecrated Life and from the many letters of John Paul II, especially those addressed to religious institutes. The consecrated life is rooted in the mystery of the Church--which is virginal, spousal, and maternal. These three dimensions of the Church are Mary's core identity, and they are represented in the consecrated life. "The history of the consecrated life reflects the maternal presence of Mary in the mystery of the Church in a unique way." Mary's mission is continued in the consecrated life through the ministry of prayer, witness, and service.
These ideas are slowly entering our religious consciousness, but they are still embedded in works frequently inaccessible to those interested in the religious life. The great value of this study is its clear, intelligible, and attractive synthesis of these new insights on the religious life from the synod and the papal addresses.
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