We cannot venture far down the monastic path without encountering the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. These are cornerstones of consecrated life.
But as a layperson in the midst of the world and a busy family, why should these have anything at all to do with me?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives the answer. “Christ proposes the evangelical counsels, in their great variety, to every disciple…” (Catechism # 915, emphasis mine).
God’s intention for those embracing spiritual poverty is not that all property be dispensed with and renounced. His will for the married is not the practice of celibacy. But to each of us He offers the spirit of the counsels in ways appropriate to our individual lives and calls. If we wish to embrace the essence of monasticism while living in the midst of the world, we can (and must!) embrace the essence of the evangelical counsels as well.
“Monastic vows are meant to lift a person out of the struggle for money, position, and power,” writes Daniel Rees, “…into a freedom for the Kingdom of God.” (from A THEOLOGY OF MONASTIC LIFE TODAY, Cistercian Publications, 1980, p. 176).
I read the above words and think of St. Therese of Lisieux praying for God to give her a “lift” - an elevator - to boost her into holiness. If the spirit of the evangelical counsels can lift us out of bondage to our clamorings for money, position, and power - then oh, what a grace!
Over the next few days, we'll take a look at a few of the blessings available to us through the evangelical counsels. It is my prayer that we can look at these as aides (perhaps "cables"?) to lift us toward closer union with God.
For prayer and meditation:
(public domain photo)
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