CONSECRATION - VOCATION
To live means to be desired and loved by God, moment after moment. If this is true of all of life, how much more so should consecrated persons be aware of the meaning of life as a gift from God, called to live according to the logic of the divine Love revealed to us in Christ! "In the different forms of life inspired by the Spirit throughout history, consecrated persons discover that the more they stand at the foot of the Cross of Christ, the more immediately and profoundly they experience the truth of God who is love" (VC, 24). By virtue of their baptism, and even more so by their radical self-giving to God and neighbour, consecrated persons are a manifestation of the Love of the triune God who wants to be in communion with men and women: "The consecrated life reflects the splendour of this love because, by its fidelity to the mystery of the Cross, it confesses that it believes and lives by the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit" (Ibid.).
1. The Great Jubilee that we are celebrating finds in the consecrated life a wonderful concrete historical and existential expression of the mystery of the Love of God made manifest in the person of Jesus Christ. The Great Jubilee, in fact, represents a solemn celebration of the 2000 years of the Incarnation of the Word of the Father and of his Paschal Mystery, bringing it to fulfilment anew through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a question of the greatest concentration of the Mystery of God-communion, God-Love: the Father, who proceeds from himself creating, enters into communion with his creatures through the Son Jesus Christ, who, as an event in history, represents full communion between God and the human person. This manifestation-communion of the Father through his Son Jesus throughout history, is completed through the progressive outpouring of the Spirit, an indispensable prerequisite for the intimate realisation of communion between God and people.
God's eternal plan is to make people sharers in his trinitarian life through Jesus Christ; in the Holy Spirit they have access to the Father. God's Fatherhood does not represent some sentimental fact; rather, it is a reality that transfigures the person, inserting him or her into the intimacy of the trinitarian family. Christians "share in the divine nature" (2 Pt 1:4) because, as the Letter to the Ephesians says, "Through [Christ] we have access to the Father in the one Spirit" (Eph 2:18). Being holy means sharing in the nature of God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Thus Christians become "fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God" (cf. Eph 2:19). God's eternal plan, therefore, is to "sum up in Christ all things"; from all eternity "he has called" men and women to be in communion with him, incorporating them into the mystery of his incarnate Son: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favour of his will... He has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favour that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth" (Eph 1:3-6. 9-10).
2. We have been called from all eternity "in" and "through" Christ to be "holy", that is, to share in the "holy life" of God, in his infinite transcendence. This is the "consecration" of every baptised person; indeed, one can say that in God's plan every person has this vocation. Consecration is identified with the divinisation of the person and the latter in turn with his or her "Christification", which takes place through the outpouring of the Spirit.
The vocation of the consecrated person is to make this "consecration" even more visible. The consecrated life is a "Christ-like existence" that can be achieved "only on the basis of a special vocation and in virtue of a particular gift of the Spirit. For in such a life baptismal consecration develops into a radical response in the following of Christ through acceptance of the evangelical counsels" (VC, 14). In this way the consecrated person is called to become, even in his frail humanity, a living, transparent image of the Jubilee mystery of Christ. In fact, "in the consecrated life, then, it is not only a matter of following Christ with one's whole heart, of loving him more than father or mother, more than son or daughter (cf. Mt 10:37) - for this is required of every disciple - but of living and expressing this by conforming one's whole existence to Christ in an all-encompassing commitment which foreshadows the eschatological perfection, to the extent that this is possible in time and in accordance with the different charisms" (VC, 16).
Christ is the "image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15), and the human person in turn is the image of Christ: "We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified" (Rom 8:28-30).
In a radical and even more evident way consecrated persons are called to become living icons of Christ: their "special consecration" (VC, 30) is nothing other than the call to becoming progressively like Christ, to be like a living sacrament of Christ's presence in the midst of men. Indeed, "by allowing themselves to be guided by the Spirit on an endless journey of purification, [consecrated persons] become, day after day, conformed to Christ, the prolongation in history of a special presence of the Risen Lord" (VC, 19).
3. The Jubilee is not a mere commemoration of some past event. It is a reality that, in a certain sense, recurs every day because Jesus of Nazareth is truly risen and is alive among us and within us. Rather, the man Christ Jesus, who lived twenty centuries ago, died and is risen, is the "Beginning and the End" (Rev 21:6), "the Alpha and the Omega" (Rev 1:8; 21,6) of all of creation; everything was made through him and for him and in him all things hold together (Col 1:16). He is the watershed of history, the figure of cosmic magnetism, the fulfilment and the sense of every event, and of the whole universe.
The consecrated person is humbly aware of being called to make this mystery of Christ visible today. If "the religion founded upon Jesus Christ is a religion of glory; it is a newness of life for the praise of the glory of God (cf. Eph 1:12)", and if "man (vivens homo) is the epiphany of God's glory, man who is called to live by the fullness of life in God" (TMA, 6), all the more so is the consecrated person who is called to bear witness more radically in the midst of the world to the mystery of Christ.
If the Holy Year is to be "one unceasing hymn of praise to the Trinity, the Most High God" (Incarnationis mysterium, 3), consecrated persons have even greater reason to praise and thank God: they have been called by God, through their religious consecration, to help the men and women of today experience this ineffable mystery of God who, in the person of Christ, has entered into our history.
Contemporary man and woman need to see that God's promises, fulfilled in the person of Christ 2000 years ago, are still being fulfilled today. The contemporary person, swamped by thousands of messages, by an infinite amount of words, is in greater need than ever of the "Good News", of the "Word" that has become flesh of his flesh. The man and woman of today are tired of false promises of happiness; they need the fulfilment of these promises, they are in desperate need of Salvation. Today's man and woman thirst and hunger for Love, friendship, understanding; they need someone who will help them to overcome their anxieties, fears, uncertainty; they need someone who can give meaning to the apparent absurdity that surrounds them.
Rediscovering the face of Christ: this is the first scope of the Jubilee. It depends on the consecrated persons too if this goal is to be achieved.
COMMUNION - ECUMENISM
In this jubilee year marking the beginning of the third Christian millennium and commemorating the incarnation of the Lord, the Church is called to discover anew her role as the mystery of communion. The predetermined plan of the Father for the world is that men and women are, and are to live as, sons in the one Son (cf. Eph 1:4,f.) and "that God may be all in all" (1 Cor 15:28). The mystery of communion, founded in Christ the Word who became flesh, died and is risen, and made possible for us by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, is the very mystery of the Church itself. The consecrated life, that special gift of the Spirit, has the task of making communion visible among the people of God by means of a genuine, lasting fraternal life, in such a way that the world can find in communion the response to its deep desire for an authentic relationship with God and others.
1. Before giving himself up for the salvation of the world, Jesus prayed to the Father that all may be one, indicating as a paradigm of this unity his eternal filial relationship: "that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me" (Jn 17:21.23). All of God's involvement in the world ultimately has this goal: that men and women may share in the divine life that is perfect love, the perfect reciprocal dedication between the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. The Father created every person, sent his only-begotten Son and has poured out the Spirit so that every person may be introduced into the divine life and live in communion with everyone.
The Church, which is born of Christ's sacrifice and of the outpouring of the Spirit, has no other purpose than of making possible "communion" among people, opening the trinitarian life to all humanity and, since divine life is trinitarian (communal) life, the Church is the "sacrament" wherein it becomes possible for people to be saved as members of the one family of God.
St. Paul writes: "For in one Spirit we were all baptised into one body" (1 Cor 12:13; cf. Eph 4:4). Indeed, the Spirit is the principle of communion because he is the personified expression of the divine Agapé (Love) that by its very nature unites: "The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us" (Rom 5:5). He is the principle of unity and communion because the unity of the Church is a grace and gift of God: becoming one with Christ, the Church is constituted, the Church that is the fulfilment of God's eternal plan. Jesus became man, died and rose so that this unity may be brought about, in order to to restore humanity, wounded by sin, to unity with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (cf. Eph 2:11-22).
2. If this is the mystery of the Church as communion, consecrated persons are called to a special radicality in the following of Christ and to a special visibility of conformity to him; they are also called to make visible to the world the Church as a mystery of communion. The communal life that should characterise consecrated persons, according to their own spirituality, becomes the "locus" in which the ecclesial mystery is offered in the visibility of persons who recognise that they are all members in Christ. If the consecrated person is to fulfil the radicality of his or her baptismal vocation, that means that his or her vocation as a consecrated person is a vocation to ecclesiality, to communion. From this point of view the theological justification of the consecrated life is found in becoming increasingly, within the Church, an element fostering life in communion. A person is consecrated to the Lord in order to live as radically as possible his or her own ecclesiality, that is, the nature of communion, whose origin, model and end is the Trinity: "A great task also belongs to the consecrated life in the light of the teaching about the Church as communion, so strongly proposed by the Second Vatican Council. Consecrated persons are asked to be true experts of communion and to practise the spirituality of communion" (VC, 46).
The fraternal life in which consecrated persons are called to live out their own vocation becomes the expressive form of an authentically ecclesial life: "The Church is essentially a mystery of communion, 'a people made one with the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit' (S. Cyprian, De oratione Dominica, 23: PL 4, 553). The fraternal life seeks to reflect the depth and richness of this mystery, taking shape as a human community in which the Trinity dwells, in order to extend in history the gifts of communion proper to the three divine Persons" (VC, 41).
The communion in which consecrated persons live out their belonging to the Lord cannot be reduced to a purely sociological or psychological dynamic: it must ultimately be rediscovered and understood in its theological nature as a gift and mystery: "In community life, then, it should in some way be evident that, more than an instrument for carrying out a specific mission, fraternal communion is a God-enlightened space in which to experience the hidden presence of the Risen Lord (cf. Mt 18:20)" (VC, 42).
In the celebration of the great Jubilee it is more meaningful than ever to recall how throughout two thousand years of Church history, consecrated persons have been a prophetic and inspirational sign of communion for the whole ecclesial community: "The consecrated life can certainly be credited with having effectively helped to keep alive in the Church the obligation of fraternity as a form of witness to the Trinity" (VC, 41). This prophetic thrust of consecrated persons must not be lost; rather, it is necessary to continually nourish and restore it in this third Christian millennium.
3. Through this special vocation to "ecclesiality" that is proper to consecrated persons, the community life in common must be nourished every day through faithful personal and communal prayer, through a constant listening to the Word of God, a sincere "review of life" that draws from the sacrament of Reconciliation the strength for a continuous rebirth; through persevering prayer for unity, "a special gift of the Spirit for those who place themselves in an attitude of obediently listening to the Gospel". In fact, "it is the Spirit himself who leads the soul to the experience of communion with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ (cfr. 1 Jn 1:3)" (VC, 42). Only if the Spirit takes possession of our humanity, of our heart, of our need for love and tenderness, will religious communities be the "churches in miniature", a sign of the Spirit's presence.
In this dynamic of fraternal life that expresses for the Church and for the world a sign of authentic communion with God and with others, an absolutely central place must be given to the sacrament of communion par excellence, the Eucharist: "This is the heart of the Church's life, and also of the consecrated life. How can those who are called, through the profession of the evangelical counsels, to choose Christ as the only meaning of their lives, not desire to establish an ever more profound communion with him by sharing daily in the Sacrament which makes him present, in the sacrifice which actualises the gift of his love on Golgotha, the banquet which nourishes and sustains God's pilgrim people?" (VC, 95). It is impossible for consecrated persons to be witnesses of communion unless their own life finds its centre in the Memorial of Christ's Paschal Mystery: "By its very nature the Eucharist is at the centre of the consecrated life, both for individuals and for communities. [...] By means of the Eucharist all consecrated persons are called to live Christ's Paschal Mystery, uniting themselves to him by offering their own lives to the Father through the Holy Spirit" (VC, 95).
4. In this great jubilee celebration the consecrated life, rediscovering its role as a sign of life in communion, shows the contemporary world the response that God himself gives to the person who yearns for an authentic relationship with him and others. In fact, the human person needs communion and total happiness. In Christ alone is a person open to the grace of fulfilment.
In our age, so painfully marked by extremes of individualism that pit one person against another and, at the same time, by forms of collectivism in which the person is sacrificed for the assertion of one ethnic group or nation over another, the great Jubilee recalls to everyone the mystery of the communion revealed to us in Christ and offered to all, a mystery that flows out of the very depths of the Triune God. Here, in the image of the ineffable divine mystery, persons are called to forget themselves in order to find their own true identity in giving themselves to others. Hence the life in communion lived by consecrated persons assumes a particularly urgent role: "By constantly promoting fraternal love, also in the form of common life, the consecrated life has shown that sharing in the Trinitarian communion can change human relationships and create a new type of solidarity. In this way it speaks to people both of the beauty of fraternal communion and of the ways which actually lead to it. Consecrated persons live 'for' God and 'from' God, and precisely for this reason they are able to bear witness to the reconciling power of grace, which overcomes the divisive tendencies present in the human heart and in society" (VC, 41).
At this beginning of the third millennium the consecrated life, with its two-thousand-year experience of fraternal life, is called more than ever to bear witness to communion as a reality in which persons truly find themselves, letting themselves be loved and learning to make a genuine gift of themselves, with respect for and appreciation of all the differences that, in the mystery of communion, become riches and factors of unity and no longer of division: "Placed as they are within the world's different societies - societies frequently marked by conflicting passions and interests, seeking unity but uncertain about the ways to attain it - communities of consecrated life, where persons of different ages, languages and cultures meet as brothers and sisters, are signs that dialogue is always possible and that communion can bring differences into harmony" (VC, 51).
Therefore all those whom God has called to a special conformity to Christ should be aware that "the Church entrusts to communities of consecrated life the particular task of spreading the spirituality of communion, first of all in their internal life and then in the ecclesial community, and even beyond its boundaries, by opening or continuing a dialogue in charity, especially where today's world is torn apart by ethnic hatred or senseless violence" (VC, 51).
However, precisely in the face of this task of being promoters of unity among all humankind, how can we not feel anew the pain of the internal divisions within the People of God and, therefore, the urgent need for full communion among all Christians? For this reason, in the whole of the consecrated life pride of place should be given to yearning and engagement for unity among all who believe in Christ. This means first and foremost making one's own the prayer of Christ himself: "may they be perfect in unity" (Jn 17:23) This unity, we must be well aware, "after all, is a gift of the Holy Spirit (TMA, 34), because the whole Church is imploring the Lord "that unity among all Christians of the various confessions will increase until they reach full communion" (TMA, 16). As a result we can see the urgency of the task of consecrated persons in this regard: "Since the soul of ecumenism is prayer and conversion, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life certainly have a special duty to foster this commitment. There is an urgent need for consecrated persons to give more space in their lives to ecumenical prayer and genuine evangelical witness, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit the walls of division and prejudice between Christians can be broken down" (VC, 100).
MISSION - WITNESS - MARTYRDOM
The sole purpose of the Great Jubilee, "the year of favour", is to create the most favourable conditions for the Church, the body of Christ, so that the Spirit may once again renew and purify it, completing anew in the Jubilee period the work of liberation and healing that he accomplished in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth twenty centuries ago: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord" ("a year of Jubilee") (Lk 4:18-19).
1. If the charism of the consecrated life consists mainly in being more closely conformed to Christ, then the religious too, in a certain way, has been anointed by the Spirit in order to be sent into the world. The religious life as a charism is given for the good of the Body of Christ, that is the Church. The document Vita Consecrata states: "The same Spirit, far from removing from the life of humanity those whom the Father has called, puts them at the service of their brothers and sisters in accordance with their particular state of life, and inspires them to undertake special tasks in response to the needs of the Church and the world, by means of the charisms proper to the various Institutes. Hence many different forms of the consecrated life have arisen, whereby the Church is 'adorned by the various gifts of her children... like a bride made beautiful for her spouse (cf. Rev 21:2)' and is enriched by the means necessary for carrying out her mission in the world" (VC, 19).
In this jubilee year consecrated persons, in that they are made Christ-like ("anointed" by baptism and their religious consecration), will let themselves be penetrated even more by the power of the Spirit in order to effectively fulfil their mission in the world: "In the image of Jesus, the beloved Son 'whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world' (Jn 10:36), those whom God calls to follow him are also consecrated and sent into the world to imitate his example and to continue his mission. Basically, this is true of every disciple. In a special way, however, it is true of those who, in the manner that characterises the consecrated life, are called to follow Christ 'more closely', and to make him the 'all' of their lives. The task of devoting themselves wholly to 'mission' is therefore included in their call; indeed, by the action of the Holy Spirit who is at the origin of every vocation and charism, consecrated life itself is a mission, as was the whole of Jesus' life" (VC, 72).
Indeed, Jesus Christ, the one upon whom the Spirit descends and rests, lived his whole life as a mission from the Father: he is the one whom the Father has sent; he does not come of his own accord but he is sent by the Father (Jn 8:42) to do his will; his will is that none of those given to him should be lost, but that they should all be raised up on the last day (Jn 6:38-39). Thus consecrated men and women, called to be visibly conformed to Christ, should live their own life as a mission and particularly make their own the expression of the Risen Christ": "As the Father has sent me, so I send you" (Jn 20:21)! The concrete existence of consecrated persons, therefore, with all its specific gifts, is called to be expressed totally in the mission for the salvation of the world.
2. Today in the Church there is an increasing sense of the urgent demand to unite to the work of evangelisation that of the "new evangelisation" and there is also an awareness of the decisive role that consecrated men and women will have to play in the latter. This extremely important demand requires, before any organisational or strategic effort, a greater docility to the action of the Holy Spirit, without which there is a risk of "labouring in vain". In fact, "evangelisation will never be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit", said Paul VI (EN, 75) and John Paul II, taking up the teaching of his predecessor, emphasises: "In our own day too, the Spirit is the principal agent of the new evangelisation. Hence it will be important to gain a renewed appreciation of the Spirit as the one who builds the Kingdom of God within the course of history and prepares its full manifestation in Jesus Christ, stirring people's hearts and quickening in our world the seeds of the full salvation which will come at the end of time" (TMA, 45).
In regard to the consecrated persons called to evangelise, the document Vita Consecrata states: "The specific contribution of consecrated persons, both men and women, to evangelisation is first of all the witness of a life given totally to God and to their brothers and sisters, in imitation of the Saviour who, out of love for humanity, made himself a servant. In the work of salvation, in fact, everything comes from sharing in the divine agape. Consecrated persons make visible, in their consecration and total dedication, the loving and saving presence of Christ, the One consecrated by the Father, sent in mission. Allowing themselves to be won over by him (cf. Phil 3:12), they prepare to become, in a certain way, a prolongation of his humanity. The consecrated life eloquently shows that the more one lives in Christ, the better one can serve him in others, going even to the furthest missionary outposts and facing the greatest dangers" (VC, 76).
Evangelisation, therefore, is nothing other than the consecrated person's spreading among others that life of Christ which he or she first experiences in the Holy Spirit. The greatest work of evangelisation that the consecrated person can give is that of living seriously his or her being Church, his or her "being-in-communion", a reality that constitutes the definitive proof of the presence and action of the Spirit within the person.
If we really want to see our own consecrated communities renewed and vocations flourish, it is necessary for the Spirit to truly become the agent, at the personal and community level, of the consecrated life in an authentic missionary dynamism. The consecrated life must truly become "life in the Spirit". That means conversion from the "I" (including the "I" of one's own congregation or province) to the "we" of communion and ecclesial mission: it means overcoming the forces that lead to death and an openness to life, it means overcoming a false attachment to the past and a prophetic openness, nourished by authentic Tradition, towards the future in seeking God's will; it means overcoming our petty provincialism and an openness to the horizons of universality; it means overcoming the logic of the world and an openness to the logic of the Gospel and the paschal mystery, which is a logic of the cross and resurrection. Ultimately it means continuously renewing our option for God, who is loved above all else, in the following of Christ, comforted and guided by the power of the Spirit.
3. The mission of consecrated persons must always be, but especially in this "year of grace", like that of Christ: "proclaim the good news to the poor". Our brothers and sisters today are suffering not only from material poverty (hunger, uprooting from their own land, persecution, war, unemployment, sickness, abandonment...), but also from spiritual poverty (loneliness, despair, moral degradation, loss of values, exploitation...). To all of these, consecrated persons are sent to proclaim the "good news" of salvation, of liberation. Monks and contemplative nuns and the various men and women religious of the active life will proclaim to those who suffer that one can still hope, one can still love. Those who have experienced Christ's liberating action in their own life can bear witness to all people of the fruits of redemption. Those who, by their vocation, have entered into the "year of favour", will proclaim by their life, by their words and works, that the Kingdom of God inaugurated by Jesus Christ twenty centuries ago is powerful and efficacious for all, that it can and must penetrate into the fabric of our society, that it can and must change the hearts of people and social structures; that it can change injustice into justice, despair into hope, and hatred into love.
In consecrated persons Christ will continue today as well to go about "doing good to all", he will continue to dry tears, to console the afflicted, to give the hungry something to eat, to caress children, to free prisoners. It remains, however, profoundly true for all religious that "more than in external works, the mission consists in making Christ present to the world through personal witness. This is the challenge, this is the primary task of the consecrated life! The more consecrated persons allow themselves to be conformed to Christ, the more Christ is made present and active in the world for the salvation of all" (VC, 72).
At the dawn of the third Christian millennium, recalling our task as consecrated persons to make Christ's mission our own, it is our duty, last of all, to call to mind those who, consecrated to God, remained faithful to the Gospel to the point of pouring out their blood.
Christ, the "faithful witness" (Rev 1:5), fulfilled his mission, loving "to the end" (Jn 13:1) in obedience, even to death on the cross; in the Church, his Body and his Bride, consecrated persons are called to give the same witness of the truth of God, ready to give an explanation of the reason for their hope (1 Pt 3:15).
How much, then, should we give thanks to God for the gift of so many consecrated persons who have given their life to witness to Christ's love for every person! In this regard the Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata, recalling the more recent situations, states: "Consecrated men and women have borne witness to Christ the Lord with the gift of their own lives. Thousands of them have been forced into the catacombs by the persecution of totalitarian regimes or of violent groups, or have been harassed while engaged in missionary activity, in action on behalf of the poor, in assisting the sick and the marginalised; yet they lived and continue to live their consecration in prolonged and heroic suffering, and often with the shedding of their blood, being perfectly configured to the Crucified Lord. The Church has already officially recognised the holiness of some of these men and women, honouring them as martyrs for Christ. They enlighten us by their example, they intercede that we may be faithful, and they await us in glory" (VC, 86).
A PROPHETIC GESTURE OF COMMUNION
The Commission, which was formed by the USG (The Union of General Superiors), the UISG (the International Union of General Superiors) and the World Conference of Secular Institutes (CMSI), collaborated with the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CIVCSVA) in the preparation of the way in which the Consecrated Life is called to live the Jubilee. The Commission has thought it both positive and effective to respond to the desire expressed by many to underscore the aspect of forgiveness, of solidarity and of reciprocal hospitality, as is suggested by the spirit of the Jubilee. This can be done by performing a prophetic gesture of communion on the part of all consecrated persons in aid of those who are particularly needy. The Commission is now studying the various proposals which it has received.
Moved by this desire for communion, therefore, we are asking every community - even the poorest - to make a contribution, according to their possibility, which will demonstrate on the part of consecrated life, an awareness of the poverty which, under every form, wounds humanity.
We wish to make this gesture of love during the time of Advent, a time of waiting and supplication so that commemorating - after 2000 years - the birth of Jesus, Savior and Redeemer, our hearts may be renewed by His love and by a new strength of charity, the necessary requisite for obtaining the gift of peace between people and nations.
The collection will be presented to the Holy Father by the Presidents of the Unions, during the Eucharistic Celebration which will take place in St Peter's Basilica on February 2, 2000. All of the Institutes of Consecrated Life resident in Rome will be present, and through the gift which is offered, every community in the world. The gift is intended to manifest the communion lived in faith and hope and sustained by sacrifice which we all wish to strengthen in ourselves, in our communities, in our countries and in the entire world.
Every community may send its offering through the Conference of their country or through the superior general of their own institute. These, in turn, will forward them to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, which will see that they are turned over to the Presidents of the Unions for presentation to the Holy Father.