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November 1, 2006

All Saints Day


Object: Consecration and Consecrations of the Vocationists

Dearest Confreres,

May God the Holy Spirit unite us ever more with the Son to the Father.

“Oh my progressive consecrations! Living waves of light that form my own rainbow. Rings of gems in  my precious necklace of love, which  attract me to heaven while still on earth and bind me to God’s heart!

Oh my consecrations! Fasten  my body to the cross, introduce my heart more deeply into an hermitage, expand my spirit and fill it with zeal for the glory, love and will of God!” (Asc. n. 184,185). Me totum tibi soli, me totum tibi semper, offero, sacro et despondeo – I offer, consecrate and espouse all myself to you alone, to you forever - (Formula of profession of vows, Const. 1948, n. 70).


1. Premise

The present letter was inspired by His Holiness Benedict XVI during the audience given  to all General Superiors on May 22, 2006; he affirmed, among others, that: “The service of authority requires a constant presence, capable to animate and to propose, to remind others about the reason and essence of consecrated life, to help others to correspond with ever new fidelity to the call of the Spirit”.

In that same talk the Holy Father said: “To belong to the Lord means to be burned by his incandescent love, to be transformed by the splendour of its beauty; our littleness is offered to Him as sweet-smelling sacrifice, so that it may become testimony of the greatness of his presence in our time, which indeed needs to be inebriated by the richness of his grace.

To belong to the Lord: this is indeed the mission of men and women who have chosen to follow Jesus in his chaste, poor and obedient way of life, so that the world may believe and be saved.

We cannot ignore – Pope Benedict XVI affirms – that the secularized culture has infiltrated already the mind and heart of many religious, who consider it as form of getting access to modernity and a way to approach the contemporary world. The consequence, however, is that together with a generous effort, capable of witnessing and of totally offering oneself, consecrated life today faces the deception of mediocrity, of worldly and consumerist mentality”.

I have taken these words as specifically directed to me and to my religious family. These gave me indeed the possibility to meditate on the meaning and value of my vocationist consecration, and they help me understand better the almost obsession (May God forgive me!) of Fr. Justin on the consecration, the consecrations and the ways of consecrations.

I am really convinced that in order to grow in quality, in my life and in my religious family, it is necessary to understand our consecration, and to live and develop it to its fullness through our consecrations in various periods of formation and in the numerous celebrations throughout the liturgical year.

“The consecration! What a glory to belong to God! To be for God! Among all creatures, we alone have this glory; what a joy to belong ever  more to Jesus Christ! We belong already to him for many titles. What more does he expect from us? We can add a title to his dominion over us: our self-offering. He made us free, not in order to leave us alone for ourselves, but in order that we might give ourselves to him out of love. This indeed is the glory of the divine goodness to have souls that offer  themselves spontaneously! We feel the need to offer ourselves; we cannot live alone!” (Op. Vol 6, pp. 212-213).

2. Consecration

The Catholic Encyclopaedia defines consecration as a legally valid and stable passage of a person or thing from the profane order (ius humanum) to the sacred one (ius divinum). Consecration is the action that renders a person or a thing sacred. Consecration  implies also the effect of the consecratory act. In the consecration, the main consecrating agent is always and only God who, setting aside for himself and for his cult a person or an object, renders him/it holy. Every person that is or will be consecrated does not belong anymore neither to himself, nor to the world, but to God alone. The word to consecrate in the Bible acquires also the meaning of engagement or marriage.  Should we intend in this context our old formula of vows: “I offer, consecrate and espouse all myself to you alone, all myself to you forever”?

In the Old Testament, the consecration appears in specified context – that of election, of elevation and covenant: “You shall be my own possession among all peoples … you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex 19:5-6). “You are a people consecrated to the Lord your God; of all the peoples on earth the Lord your God chose you to be his treasured people” (Dt 7:6, 14:2).

In the New Testament, the same word Christian, implies consecration; in fact, Christ means consecration with the Holy Spirit and with power (cf. Acts 10:38). In force of the spirit of consecration, the Church has deemed it proper to substitute the old nomenclature religious life, or state of perfection with the present terminology consecrated life.

Consecration, by its nature, is permanent. Temporary consecration is  unconceivable. Religious vows can be temporary, but the consecration is always perpetual. When we speak of consecrated life, we speak of a state of life. For a Christian, the first and the most important consecration is baptism; every other consecration is considered as a strengthening, a development or  out-growth of baptismal consecration.

In the past, religious consecration was often considered as a new baptism, that is why aside from the change of external habit and, often times, of  the place where one used to live, it entailed also a change of name, of a new identity. Today, more correctly, religious consecration is considered as a way to live more intimately and exclusively the baptismal consecration, (theologically it is more correct to add another religious name to our baptismal name, rather than to change it, when we make our religious profession). The consecration is the vertex of the personalization of the relation between a divine person and the human person.

Every consecration involves four elements:

a) Purification (exorcisms, ablutions, aspersions, confessions, fasting etc…),
b) the separation or detachment from the profane world (living in a religious house, segregation from the world, seclusion);
c) the immersion into the sacred world (the assimilation of the divine spirit, contact and union with the divine, affiliation to God alone);
d) the dedication of the person to the service of God (to be an interpreter of the divine will for others, mediator between God and the community). To be consecrated means to be chosen by God in order to belong to him totally and to be instrument of his particular loving presence” (Vita Consecrata, n. 2).

The highest form of consecration (which becomes symbol and model of every other form of consecration) is the Eucharistic consecration during the celebration of the holy Mass. Other forms of consecration in the Book of Rites are those used for  churches, cemeteries, altars, chalices and patens. The consecration that we are interested in, and on which I ask your consideration, is the consecration of the person.

3. The consecration of a person

Fr. Justin in Faciamus Hominem repeats often that in the process of creating us to his image and likeness, God simultaneously elevates us to the supernatural order. Creation and elevation to the supernatural order are intimately connected. It is unimaginable to be image and likeness of God and yet remaining in the profane, or only natural order.

The elevation to the supernatural order is reinforced and manifested externally through baptismal consecration, incorporating the baptized person to Christ and to the Church. This first consecration has in itself the indelible character or seal of affiliation to Christ and to the Church. In the rite of baptism, especially in the pouring of water over the head of the baptized (or in the bathing), we can see the element of purification; in the white garment, the element of separation; in the unction with the holy oil, the real and proper consecration which introduces us in the sacred world; and in the candle lighted from that Easter candle  we see our dedication to the service of God.

The baptismal consecration will be later confirmed by the individual when, conscious and grateful for his incorporation to Christ and to the Church, the baptized person unites his will to the consecrating will of God, and practically declares: Lord, you wanted me to be yours, now I want you to be mine; I want to belong to you and I invoke your Holy Spirit to be the indestructible bond that will unite me to you. The Church renders visible this ulterior consecration with the unction of the holy chrism (a sign of consecration) and the imposition of the hands (sign of the transmission of the sacred powers).

Among those who were baptized and confirmed, there are some who will be later consecrated again through the holy orders and thus share the ministerial priesthood of Christ, they are separated for the Lord and are destined to minister for the sanctification of the people of God. Each one of the three levels of holy orders – diaconate, priesthood and episcopate – is a real and proper consecration.

Still others among those who are baptized and confirmed, are called to religious life through the profession of vows of the evangelical counsels, in order to conform their lives more intimately to that of Christ, poor, chaste and obedient; they are destined to be witnesses of the wonderful things that the Lord does in us, and of those yet to come, of the eschatological realities.

“O My God and my all! I glorify and ratify the baptismal consecration which placed me in the state of love which is that of being a Christian. I glorify and ratify the consecration of Confirmation which elevated me to a higher state of love, that of a perfect Christian… I glorify and ratify the consecration of Holy Orders which elevated me once again to a much higher state of love, that of catholic priesthood. I glorify and ratify the consecration of the religious profession which elevated me to the sublime and supreme state of love, the nuptial relationship with you, O my God and my all! The accumulated grace, capitalized in all these consecrations and the state of the resulting consecration from all these sanctifying states will  bring me always and unceasingly to a  more sublime act of consecration which will sanctify and glorify me always more” (Op. vol 4, n. 380-382).

Every new consecration, more than a consecration ex novo, can be considered as a strengthening and redefinition of the previous consecration, focalizing some of its particular aspects and pointing out its particular missions, thus rendering the consecrated person an intermediary between God and humanity.  

It is necessary to always keep in mind that the consecrated person does not belong anymore to himself but to God; no more does he work for himself but for God, and he must not live anymore in the service of oneself but of God; even though he lives in the world, he is no more of the world and does not live anymore of the world.

4. The consecration of religious life

The Church declares that consecrated life is founded in the words and teachings of the Lord, and that it is a gift of God which the Church has received from the Lord and which by his grace she always safeguards (cf. LG 43). The doctrine of the magisterium of the Church regarding consecration has experienced a special progress.  The emphasis is placed not so much on the response of the person who wants to consecrate himself, but on the initiative of God who consecrates.

The Second Vatican Council in the apostolic exhortation Evangelica Testificatio affirmed that the consecrated person disposes himself wholly in the hand of God making a total gift of one’s life, and is ordained to his service and love by a new and special title (see also LG 44).

Consecration is a response to a divine calling (cf. LG 5); God calls some so that they may dedicate their lives wholly to his service and honor. In the consecration, God bestows on the elect the grace so that his response may be made through a deep and free committment of one’s whole self (cf. EE 5). The essential elements of consecration that the Magisterium of the Church points out are the following: the calling of God, the gifts that God bestow upon the baptized person in order that he may be able to respond accordingly, and the free response of the baptized person to dedicate himself totally to God.

As in Fr. Justin’s teaching, the exhortation Vita Consecrata collocates these elements of consecration in their Trinitarian context: God the Father calls the baptized person to follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ through the consecration of the Holy Spirit (cf. VC 17-19).

The main constitutive element of religious life is the profession of the evangelical counsels (VC 21), which according to our Constitutions, expresses the consecration of the individual to God and his incorporation to the Congregation (Const. 93). Through the consecration, the baptized person responds to the calling of God giving himself totally to him above all other things.

The religious consecration, by its nature, is institutional which means that we religious are consecrated through the institution of the Church who accepts our consecration  and presents it to God as a religious act and cult. Jesus Christ, the first consecrated person, is the model of this particular consecration. In his way of life which is poor, chaste and obedient, he expresses his total openness ready to do always and everywhere the will of the Father in a life of self-denial and chastity.  

The consecration automatically leads to the following of the divine Master, leaving everything in order to seek only what is necessary, and in order to listen and to live his words.

The Lineamenta of the Synod of the year 1994 synthesize religious life in this way (n. 3): “The consecration and the profession of public vows of chastity, poverty and obedience require adequate style of life, authentic in its supernatural motivations, real in its ascetic demands, rich in its divine complementary aspects, lived within the community in a rightful communion and emulation”.

5. Consecration in Fr. Justin

According to Fr. Justin, every form of consecration is a new bond which unites us ever more with God. It is a new right that we give to God extending his dominion over us. It is a new way of belonging to him. It is a new commitment to promote his glory, love and will. It is the living of the highest relationship of soul-spouse of the Trinity.

“The Christian consecration are not just mere formulas of prayers!” exclaimes Fr. Justin. “As it happens very often, and especially in this case, one would surely be mistaken if he would try to evaluate these matters on the basis of the quantity and variety of words” (Asc. n. 592). “As there is difference between a poor who begs for something  and the rich who acquires something by paying its price; as there is difference between one putting his signature on a greeting card and the one who putts his signature on a contract; or in likely manner, there is difference between encountering a person and encountering a family member, in the same way, every forms of prayer, regardless of how long or beautiful it may  be, or every other form of devotion, no matter how complicated it may be, every offertory of the most precious blood and every consecration differs in their value and efficiency; in reality, all these (devotional practices and consecrations) shall be inspired, signed and rendered precious solely by the blood of Jesus” (Asc. n. 593-593). The offerings of the blood of Jesus and the consecrations are properly priestly acts and can be offered only by a person who, at least in a broader sense, participates in the priesthood of Christ.

To the question: What is good? – Fr. Justin replies – It is the exercise of effective and affective charity. It is the love that reaches its supreme degrees. It is the prayer that becomes consecration. It is  the penetrating glance, the visit and the gift of Jesus. It  is oblation and consecration and immolation. It is the divine union” (Op, vol. 6, p. 416). This definition practically tells us that consecration is the good, the elevation that brings to a sense of belonging and to the divine union. Consecration is the good that immerges us into the supreme Good, the Trinity!  
 
“To our heart (Jesus) has come, since our heart he wanted. By the way of the heart he has come. To his heart he calls us. Let us go to him by the ways of the heart! The ways of the heart are also the roads towards consecration, towards commitment. They are not the ways of violence nor of fear, nor of deception or falsity, but of consecration! He has called us by these ways!… the consecration! How glorious it is to be with God! To be for God!... What a joy to be more intimately  of Jesus Christ! We belong already to him for so many reasons. What more does he want from us? We can add another  title of his dominion over us: our self-offering. He made us free. Oh! Not in order to leave us alone for ourselves, but in order to give ourselves to him out of love. This indeed is the glory of the divine goodness, that the souls offer themselves spontaneously to him! We feel the necessity to donate ourselves; we cannot just live only for ourselves” (Op. Vol 6, pp. 212-213). Consecration is the joy of giving ourselves to the Lord; it is a new entitlement we give to the Lord over ourselves; it is a necessity of the heart that loves and which cannot live alone without giving himself to his beloved.

Consecration is indeed a requirement of love, and as such, it must be completely free; it cannot be forced on anyone by others. Fr. Justin in fact retains that freedom has been granted to us only because it is necessary for the consecration. “I believe that you have given me freedom so that I may be able to love you for my greater merit and for your greater glory. You made me free so that I may be able to consecrate myself to you and to belong to you, giving me the honor of donating myself to you out of love, which is dearer to you than any other title; for this I am totally yours” (Op. vol. 2, p. 235).

Fr. Justin, in Spiritus Orationis, asks pardon for all the abuses in the use of freedom, and he thanks the Lord because in the catholic teachings, he learned to use freedom in a better way. “I really believe that you ask me the gift of my freedom, and you receive it only in order to give yourself to my soul; or better, in order to render myself more worthy of your love. I believe, O Lord, that in making me yours in my new consecration, and in force of my free act, you give it an indissoluble character of divine rights that should never be endangered by me. May every soul understand the holy vow of charity, and may express it in your charity, respect it in your authority and observe it in your faithfulness, for your greater glory and its happiness” (Op. Vol 6, 235¬-236).

Indeed, in order to emphasize the indissoluble character annexed to every commitment of consecration, in order to prevent any possible regrets or retraction, he writes: “I intend to write with fire and blood, this consecration of mine, with the fire of the Holy Spirit and with the Blood of Jesus Christ, and all the witnesses may sign it also with the same fire and blood” (Ibid., pp. 237-238). How beautiful is this vision of the components of the celestial court participating as witnesses to my consecration, uniting themselves to each consecration of mine, rendering it more precious with their Amen and their gladness!” (cf. Ibid., p. 237).

The consecration, the sense of belonging, and the commitment of oneself to God is progressive by its nature. The first consecration is against mortal sin; the second, against venial sin, and all the rest, a commitment to the good works and finally the consecration to the greater complacence of God! (cf. Op. vol. 6, p. 217). Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist are not enough; there is a need to give oneself, to consecrate oneself to Him in the same way as He gave himself for us infinitely and perpetually (cf. Ibid., 213).

“Every consecration is, at same time,  a new step forward or impulse upward towards the Lord and a commitment to persevere in it. There are  partial consecrations which are good in some ways. And there are also total consecrations which are really the ones that are needed. The first one must prepare the others. One begins by consecrating to Jesus this or that virtuous act, and committing oneself to this or that holy work; but one should not stop at that level. Instead, in order to reach the level of giving oneself totally, ready to do any thing, to the point that the object and the goal of all our acts and days should be  to think of him, to love him, to please him, to imitate him, to enjoy him. May it be the dilating content of our every effort. May it be the fullness of our life. Behold the consecration” (Op. Vol. 6, p. 338). For Fr. Justin and for all of us, our life finds its highest expansion and realization in the consecration, not as if a separate act, but as consummation of divine union with Him.

In the Banquet of the Pharisee, Fr. Justin writes: “the grief tells you that the soul is already full, that it can no longer contain the fullness of his love; it explodes, but this explosion opens it to a greater capacity, further expanding  its limits (so to say) and in that expansion, the soul senses that it can give itself more to the Lord; the soul feels to be something more than what was previously ¬– and this something new must also be offered to the Lord;  behold then the kiss.

The kiss is the most simple way, most candid, and the warmest way of consecrating oneself to the Lord. We think of having the need of a lot of preparation and ceremonies in order to consecrate ourselves to the Lord; but in reality, the simplest consecration, the one more likely those of Mary, and to the acts accomplished by the Divine Word  is the kiss. But this, as it can be understood, is good only for those who reserve the kiss exclusively for the Lord (Op. vol. 5, p. 135-136). Every consecration is an act of pure love, which is direct, exclusive and disinterested love for which the soul does not expect any recompense, not even that of being loved in return. That is why in order to put ourselves completely and in a most effective manner on the pathway of consecration, the soul must have reached the third level of charity; the level in which one wants in all and for all, the highest and maximum delight for the Lord; the soul wants only and always what renders to the Lord the greatest joy (Cfr. Introduction to the Devotional of 1938).

6. Favourite prayers of the Vocationists

All our devotional exercises “must include acts of praise and adoration, thanksgiving and love, reparation and satisfaction, hatred and sorrow for evil, intercession, the offering of the Most Precious Blood, oblation and consecration of self, and end in union” (Asc. n. 460). Oblation and consecration are the essential elements in every acts of devotion. There is no elevation and union with God without having the desire to offer and dedicate oneself to Him.

“Major devotions par excellence are our devotional consecrations …the consecrations of the soul are its song and ascension to the divine holiness with Jesus, Crucified and Sacrament. (Asc. n. 481).

The favourite prayers of the Vocationists remain always and everywhere those that are more priestly: the offerings of the Most Precious Blood and the consecrations. As favorite prayers, they are not rare or good only for special occasions, but they are part of and permeate  all prayers, acts of love and holy works of the Vocationists.



7. Ways of Consecrations

Consecration is not an end to itself; it is a partial delight of a partially reached end within the same consecration. Consecration is indeed a real demand of love which at the beginning gives always something as expressions of one’s love; as love grows, the need to offer something more precious and more worthy of the beloved also grows, till it reaches to the point of donating oneself totally. Fr. Justin speaks of pathways of consecration in order to indicate the path to follow from where we are to God Trinity, our ultimate end. Our soul therefore puts itself generously on the pathway of consecrations in order to draw more and more grace to be sustained in its commitments. On this road, the soul discovers and also enjoy all the ways and means as well as all the titles that enable the soul to belong more to the Lord. Through all these ways, means and titles, the soul offers itself and wants to be of God ever more gradually and progressively. That is how the consecration takes place. Every consecration entails a new and holy commitment; at each consecration the soul becomes more sacred in a new way and through a new title. The individual receives inspiration from all the saints in order to offer himself totally with them to the Lord. From the examples of the saints, the soul receives encouragement and impulse to take other new commitments for God (cf. Asc. n. 580).

Let us then listen to the words of Fr. Justin as always: “It begins with consecrating to Jesus this or that virtuous act, and committing oneself to this or that holy work; but one should not stop only to that level. Instead, one wants to reach the level of giving oneself totally, ready for all, to the point that the object and the goal of all our acts and days should be to think of him, to love him, to please him, to imitate him, to enjoy him. May it be the dilating content of our every effort. May it be the fullness of our life. Behold our consecration! We want to belong to Him for every title available to our free choice, i. e. to belong to him with the title of fidelity¬; behold, all the series of promises which will constitute one big promise: the engagement! ” (Op. Vol. 6, p. 338).

The celebrations of the various feasts and solemnities throughout the year remain void of sense and value if they are not made precious through the joy of a consecration. “As every feast, on the part of the God-Man, reaches the summit in Mass, so it requires a consecration on the part of the devout soul. Without consecration – as without Mass – every feast is like a stem without a flower” (Asc. n. 180).

In Faciamus Hominem, Fr. Justin speaks of consecrations only when God dominates in the life of man; when God leads man through works of conversion, ascension and transfiguration until he reaches perfection, or (as it can also be termed) deification. For this, he does not speak of consecration, but rather of the path of consecrations. If we long to unite ourselves perfectly to God, we must live an endless series of consecrations, a state of consecration. “Consecration  is not enough therefore. A  pathway and a life of consecration is really needed” (Op. vol. 4, n. 376).

It is not necessary to have a formula for every consecration. The soul-lover becomes creative and finds immediately suitable words to express its sentiments and its  offering. Every consecration, which must also be properly and comprehensively prepared, may be also expressed spontaneously with the voice of the heart. Fr. Justin gives us these suggestions: “Take from every mystery the element of sacrifice to honor the Trinity directly, the element of the apostolate to directly benefit souls, and merge them into one bond, and continue them in the pledge of consecration” (Asc. n. 181).

Even though our consecrations should be numerous as the beatings of our heart, as  the atoms of our body, even though every breath, prayer and devotional act should be consecration, and even though every period of formation and ministry begins and ends with an act of consecration, even though we have a consecration for every solemnity, feast or commemoration, all these must always be “events and phenomena that are almost or totally extraordinary, at least even only internally” (cf. FH 2, n. 1055). Without the element of novelty, or rather progressivity, there is no consecration! In every consecration, there is a need to consecrate something of ourselves or of our activities, in a level which is always new, and with a stronger intensity and greater impulse.

The desire to belong ever more to the Lord, the consciousness of being assigned always and exclusively to the service of God and of the souls, the commitments taken in every consecration, and the determination and will to maintain them, become our wings  that enable us to ascend towards the mountains of the divine perfections.

The pathway of consecrations leads us to the divine union consummated in the supreme relation of soul-spouse: “O divine pathway to the ascension! O pathway of divine consecration! O pathway to the mystic nuptials! Through you, o life of ascension, consecration and engagement, one lives and grows in a life of supernatural relation of soul-spouse between the soul and God Trinity (Op. vol. 3, n. 970). It is important to note that from a progressive pathway of consecrations, one passes to a life of consecration; from repeating the acts of consecration, one arrives to the state or life of consecration.

According to Fr. Justin, (and it is better to repeat it again) the “holy commitments of consecrations, as far as obligation of conscience, have no other force or value than that of more solemn resolutions (Asc. n. 581).

Before every possible discouragement or temptation, Fr. Justin exhorts: “You are not the only one, nor the first one, to bind yourself, to embark on this pathway of love and of progressive consecrations. It is the good Lord-Trinity that anticipates you, that gives himself to you, and, through his infinite goodness binds himself to you” (Asc. n. 183).

“We speak of consecrations very often (I wish it were true amongst us!); in truth, we should talk about it continually; I fear that this word used very frequently, may loose its meaning in our comprehension. If we use it less frequently, in the most solemn circumstances, in the most sacred acts,  we might be able to grasp this concept in its more correct way. That is why instead of using the term consecration, we often use oblation” (Op. vol. 6, p. 159).  In fact, Fr. Justin uses often the word oblation almost as synonymous of consecration, even though the word oblation seems to be more of an active consecration, in the sense that man seems to take the initiative, while in the proper and true consecration, it is God who takes the initiative.

8. Transforming value of consecration

As in every Eucharistic consecration there is always a transubstantiation – a change from the substance of bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, so in every devotional consecration there is a change, a transformation of role, of service, of destination and affiliation. The consecration realizes what it signifies, and with its transforming power, it assimilates us ever more to the divine exemplar, render us ever more perfect and complete images of God.

The second Vatican Council reminds all religious that it is not so much the person that consecrates himself to God; it is rather God that consecrates the person. It is he who orients the person to the project that he has prepared for him. The constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 44, declares: A religious is consecrated in a more thoroughgoing way to the service of God. The passive verb (consacratur) leads us to this interpretation. Our consecration therefore is not primarily a mere fruit of our decisions and of our choices; it is the fruit of God’s love of predilection. Consecration is above all work of God, gift of God, and sign of his predilection of love. As a work of God, the consecration cannot be inefficient, and therefore, it cannot but realize what it contains and expresses. While the sacramental consecrations (baptismal, Eucharistic and priestly consecrations) are efficient ex opere operato (in force of that action or of the administered sacrament), the efficiency  of our progressive consecrations depends largely also ex opere operantis, that is, from the dispositions, intentions and intensity of the one who does the consecration. Our progressive consecrations lead us from elevation to union, and from union to complete assimilation or deification.

There are two types of consecration according to Fr. Justin: the first one which is very accessible and can be even learned through books or spiritual directories, can be called oblation, and as such is part of Christian asceticism; the second one instead depends wholly from the Lord, when the soul is completely carried on the wings of the Holy Spirit; it can be called mystical consecration. “A soul that loves God, may wish immediately the second one, not in order to avoid doing its part, but because the soul understands that, what God does is more perfect, more efficient, infinitely more perfect and infinitely more effective. But let us console ourselves; to every consecration that we do, there is a correspondent consecration from the Lord to his creature, in the very  acceptance of his consecration. As always, God precedes the creature by giving himself in a new way to the soul. Would we think of giving ourselves to him if he first had not given himself to us? Thus, these two types of consecrations (which we could call active and passive) do follow each other but they are always united one to the other, in the work of sanctification” (Op. Vol. 6, p. 337-338).

“With this bond, ever more strong and sweet, with this pledge, ever more sacred and holy, we gradually advance in the human cooperation with divine action, always richer from the experience of the past, always better prepared for the future” (Asc, n. 182).

“O my consecrations! Fasten my body to the cross, direct my heart ever more toward the hermitage, inflame my spirit even more with zeal for God’s glory, love and will!” (Ibid., n. 185).

9. Conclusion

Even though I know to be repetitive in the concluding part, I cannot and I don’t want to skip the following citation because of its simplicity and completeness: “Love wants to give without ceasing, most of all it wants to give itself always. But, it is necessary that love receives something from the loved one, and above all, wants the loved one.

This is indeed the beginning and the end of the holy law of consecrations between the soul and God.

There is no other love- story more sweet and more beautiful than that of the story of the consecrations of the saints; I want to know this love-story, I want to repeat it, making mine these consecrations.

There is no way more sublime than that of the one traced by our S.D.V. (Society of Divine Vocations), which can be called indeed pathway of consecrations, which leads us from one feast to another, from consecration to consecration till the feast of the divine union.

I want to walk this divine pathway in its entirety; I will begin to consider more seriously my  previous and future consecrations (Op. Vol. 5, p. 164).

We have said that every consecration must be free and spontaneous; this, however, does not dispense us from doing spontaneously, freely and in a communitarian way, all the consecrations prescribed or counselled to us by Fr. Justin as means to reach our ultimate end.

“Let us go, my soul, to the consecration for every feast of my dear saints, for every solemnity of a mystery, for every ministerial function, for every teaching service, for every new phase of life and for every new impulse of love that you experience for every truth and beauty, for every form of sanctity and greatness, for every act of charity and sweetness” (FH 2, n. 401).

Fr. Justin affirms that every consecration properly done produces its effects, which must be seen and felt; if these were not felt nor seen, it is a sign that the consecration is not perfect. Cause and effect of consecrations are the divine inspiration and the spiritual direction which is strictly connected to them. Every consecration is fruit of an inspiration, and undoubtedly, it still causes other consecrations, which should be welcomed joyfully and be executed with maximum docility and generosity, after being approved by the spiritual director.

“Every divine inspiration that is well-received, corresponded and executed is a new communication of consecrating light and fire of the Holy Spirit in the soul; it attracts new effusion of divine light and fire, new consecrating baptism of the soul to the blessed Trinity, by fire and by the Holy Spirit”.

My dear ones, let us not deceive ourselves; even though we are called to the highest form of sanctity and must promote universal sanctification, holiness does not shine in us nor it can be seen or felt amongst us as it  should be! May it be because we don’t take into consideration seriously the pathway of consecration, the holy inspirations   and spiritual direction?

Our 1948 Constitution articulates clearly that: “Every periodic retreat, every beginning and every end of years of religious formation, and every principal feast of our Lord, of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, of the patron saints is solemnized with an act of consecration to a virtue that better corresponds to that occasion, or that shines most in that feast, or that is most inculcated in that celebration” (Appendix chap. 3).

“In the spirit of love, the Vocationists must seek always to unite himself and to be part of the Holy Trinity in force of every possible title, in every way, and in all possible degrees, proposing for himself the entire pathway of consecrations of the saints in the sacred Heart of Jesus and of Mary” (1R c. 18, n. 51).

“The perfect consecration to God’s charity is for us the summit of this sacred pathway of consecrations, which every year, everyone begins to follow anew from the beginning, in his interior life, in order to reach ever more perfectly that summit, and from that aiming once more to something much higher” (1R c. 18, n. 53).

“Every consecration must always culminate with a spiritual commitment chosen among the observances, relative to the virtue or work which shines more in that liturgical season, that mystery, in that particular saint, in such a way that all our religious observances may be sealed with a consecration” (Ibid. n. 58).

May God free us from underestimating the importance and the effectiveness of these means on which Fr. Justin insists so much, and have been practiced and embraced by many saints before us.

May the Lord grant us the spirit of the holy consecrations and may it keep us always on the pathway of holy consecrations. Amen! May the Lord bless us and may he make us really saints and sanctifiers!


       United in prayer,


                      Fr. Louis M. Caputo, S.D.V.

P.S.

1. Allow me to remind you that according to the Vocationist spirituality we should always live within the Communion of the Saints. We are always surrounded by the angels and saints! Fr. Justin teaches us that wherever God is, there must also be all the celestial court. God can never be alone! That is why all our community  prayers must start with the invocations:

Angels and saints of God
Intercede for us.

Queen of all saints, mediatrix of all graces, mother of divine love,
Pray for us.

Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, unite us perfectly to your adoration, thanksgiving,  reparation and intercession, make us with you a host of sacrifice to the  divinity and sacrament to the souls.

2. After the reading of the Martyrology  and often during the day we should pray with Fr. Justin:
All angels and saints of God, grant to each and everyone of us the daily charity of  a spiritual gift, with which we may better glorify our God.
Unite us to you and offer us with you to the Lord in all your perfect consecrations to the Lord.

3. For our spiritual growth, in order to walk at a brisk pace toward the divine union, let us try to be faithful in doing all the consecrations that are either prescribed or recommended by Fr. Justin. When there is no special formula for a specific consecration, let us not hesitate to make our own, as it comes from our heart.

4. Since there is no consecration for All Saints Day in the Devotional, I am adding here for you, the one written by Fr. Justin and published in Spiritus Domini of Christmas 1929, with the invitation to make it with the entire community, and when it is not possible to do it with the community, it should be done privately.


Consecration for All Saints Day

Our dear saints, as we celebrate today on earth the feast of paradise, come to us! Come to our world, where you were created, redeemed and sanctified! Amongst us there are some generous and faithful souls, who want to be like you. Jesus is still present among us! Please, recognise us and accept us as your brothers, since Jesus wants to count us in your number.

Your exile is over and your dwelling place is now forever in heaven. But here on earth there are temples dedicated to you, and we venerate your relics in view of the resurrection!

You have a special place in our heart, come to us! We are your servants and we want to be worthy to be your brothers. We expect from you the grace of being your religious! Come to us and inebriate us with the fragrance and harmony of heaven and lift us in the splendour and fervor of heaven! Come to us, and one by one bring to us a celestial gift, taken from the treasure of God placed at your disposal.

We know that your perfections are a reflex  of the attributes of God. We recognise the fact that Jesus lived in you. We contemplate the divine Trinity indwelling in you as in the most enjoyable heaven. Today we happily consecrate ourselves to you and commit ourselves to recognise God in you! And we solemnly promise:

• To recall your names every day in the presence of the Lord;
• To lovingly honor your memory, your images and your relics;
• To read your biographies and use them for our own edification and for the edification of the souls;
• To unite ourselves to you every day in your adorations, thanksgivings, reparations and intercessions;
• To raise from our lowly status by imitating your sublime examples;
• To raise with you from consecration to consecration to perfect union with God;
• To constantly send to you from purgatory many new companions of glory;
• To join you in glorifying the Lord for the great things he has done in you;
• And finally to cooperate with God the Sanctifier to raise always among the people new saints.

And you, grant us something of your spirit that was filled with the Holy Spirit, with the prophet Elisha   we dare to ask: grant us double your spirit so that God may be more glorified!
O Holy Hermits grant us your spirit of penance of love!
O Holy Confessors grant us your spirit of prayer of love!
O Holy Virgins grant us your spirit of purity of love!
O Holy Martyrs grant us your spirit of fortitude of love!
O Holy Apostles grant us your spirit of zeal of love!
O Holy Doctors grant us your spirit of wisdom of love!
O Holy Prophets grant us your spirit of hope of love!
O Holy Patriarchs grant us your spirit of faith of love!
O Holy Angels grant us some of your power, wisdom and correspondence of divine love!
O Mary, o Mary grants us your spirit of servant and mother of the Lord! Only then we shall really be your children and you will be our mother, when we will have become saints.

O Virgin only by the power of the Holy Spirit you became mother of Jesus in the Annunciation and mother of saints at Pentecost, obtain to us the spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, the sanctifier: Welcome us to your cenacle, so that we may be admitted to the baptism of fire and of the Holy Spirit who alone can transform us from unworthy Christians that we are into your beloved children, and dear brothers of the saints, so that the Holy Trinity may be pleased with us and live within us. Amen.




 
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