Litterae Encyclicae

Letter to All Consecrated Persons Belonging to Religious Communities and Secular Institutes
on the Occasion of the Marian Year
Pope John Paul II
Pentecost, May 22, 1988

Brief History
Outline
Link to Complete Document
Source

Brief History
During the Marian Year, 1987/88, many initiatives were undertaken to sponsor Marian thought. This encyclical, addressed specifically to one segment of the People of God, could be hoped to have far-reaching consequences in the light of the many teaching communities within the Church. The letter is pastoral in focus and a personal invitation to members of the consecrated life to take Mary as a model, especially as she is presented in Redemptoris Mater. The letter places Mary within the Church, totally dedicated to the faithful, as are members of the Consecrated Life. Pope John Paul II states that his purpose with the encyclical is to renew the awareness of the link: "between the Mother of God and your own specific vocation in the Church ... At the same time ... express the love which the Church has for consecrated persons." (LE In)
There are three main parts to the text:
a meditation on the mystery of vocation,
a meditation on the mystery of consecration, and
a meditation on the specific apostolate of the consecrated life.

Each of the meditations is to take place "together with Mary."

The meditations focus on Mary and Jesus Christ, particularly with respect to the Paschal Mystery. The consecrated person stands together with Mary under the Cross, and becomes a sharer in the death of Christ which brought forth new life. Mary was part of the divine plan (LG 58) from the Annunciation onward. However, it was at the foot of the Cross where she rediscovers her soul which she in turn loses painfully in the Golgatha experience. Hers was "an incomparable 'kenosis of faith'; (RM 18) where Mary perceived completely the full truth about her motherhood." (LE 17) Lumen Gentium 52-69, especially regarding Mary in the mystery of Christ and of the Church, is the basis for the letter's discussion on love for and service of the Church. Lumen Gentium speaks of "the Mother of God as the one who 'precedes' the People of God in the pilgrimage of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ." (LG 58, 63; LE 1) The vocation to the consecrated life finds a model in Mary's gift of self to Christ. Mary's vocation brought with it a new motherhood. The document states: "Mary brings to the Upper Room at Pentecost the 'new motherhood' which became her 'part' at the foot of the Cross." This motherhood remains hers, but on Pentecost is also "transferred from her as a 'model' to the whole Church." (LE 21)

We are called to be blessed because we believe, as she was blessed because she believed. We are asked to: "constantly return, with our vocation, with our consecration, to the depths of the Paschal Mystery... [to] present ourselves at Christ's Cross next to his Mother ... [to] learn our vocation from her." (LE 19)

As stated above, the document is pastoral in focus. The theological content above was immediately linked to pastoral application. There is also rich content regarding forms of Marian piety. For example, each vocation can discover its own Marian aspects.

The document also points out Marian shrines national, continental, the individual Christian's "interior" shrine as places of faith, hope and loving union with Christ. (LG 63, 68) (LE 37) So, too, the shrines of orders, congregations and institutes many of which have their own specific spiritualities and missions for the Church. The document states: "These places recall the particular mysteries of the Virgin Mother, the qualities, the events of her life, the testimonies of the spiritual experiences of the founders or the manifestations of their charism which has then passed to the whole community." (LE 38) The pope asks: "try to be particularly present in the 'places', in the 'shrines'. Look to them for new strength, for the paths to an authentic renewal of your consecrated life, to the right direction and form for your apostolate. Seek in them your identity, like that householder, that wise man, who "brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old." (cf. Mt 13:52) (LE 39)

Pope John Paul II asks those belonging to consecrated life to do as Mary asks and in this context to make: "a community act of dedication, which is precisely 'the response to the love of a Mother." (RM 45) The Holy Father, for his part, entrusts each one and each community to her during the Marian Year. (LE 39)

Outline
I. Introduction1-2
II. Together with Mary Let Us Meditate upon the Mystery of Our Vocation 3- 9
III. Together with Mary Let Us Meditate upon the Mystery of Our Consecration 10-19
IV. Together with Mary Let Us Meditate upon Your Specific Apostolate 20-35
Link to complete document
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Source
AAS 80 (1988): 1638-1652
Origins 24 (13 June 1988): 1-3

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