Conferees Hear of a New Interest in Holiness

Conclusions of International Congress on Consecrated Life

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ROME, DEC. 23, 2003 ( A new interest in holiness and a «thirst for truth» were among the ideas aired at the annual Congress on Consecrated Life, held at the Augustinianum Patristic Institute.

The congress, organized by the Claretianum Institute for Consecrated Life, attracted consecrated people and lay people to reflect on holiness. Participants emphasized the «need to stress holiness» as the pivot of the identity and mission of consecrated life.

Claretian Matthias Auge referred to holiness as «reality incarnated in the life of the believer» and added that «the holiness of the Church, even though sinners are included within her, is already marked by holiness here on earth, although in an imperfect way.»

Professor Auge of the Claretianum Institute alluded to the liturgical year as «pedagogy of holiness,» given that every day «the principal figures of consecrated life appear in the liturgical celebration.»

Paola Bignardi, president of Italian Catholic Action, contended: «Our time is expressing a new interest in holiness.» There is «thirst for truth,» she said, adding that «the example of the laity proves how holiness is multiple: professional, familial and social.»

Bignardi mentioned saintly figures such as Maximilian Kolbe, Blessed Mother Teresa, and the Blessed Beltrame-Quattrocchi spouses, saying that «the saints are witnesses of a life beyond.»

Discalced Carmelite Father Francois Lethel, professor at the Teresianum Theological Faculty, referred to «the theology of the saints,» as the «teacher of the science of love.» Father Lethel gave the example of St. Francis and St. Clare «who saw in charity the synthesis of all divine and human relations.»

The Carmelite dedicated part of his address to Thérèse of Lisieux, whom he described as «the theologian of the heart par excellence.»

Michel Vandeleene, of the Focolare Movement, proposed that the Church be made «the home and school of communion.» This means to «start from charity,» he said.

Comboni missionary Alex Zanotelli focused on an incarnated view of mysticism. «There is no genuine mysticism if it is not incarnated in human situations,» he said. True spirituality, he added, inspires a Christian to do everything possible so that the poor «will have a more dignified life.»

Marco Gnavi, of the Community of Sant’Egidio, gave the example of the martyrs. The «martyrs of our time are all close to us, they are like us and pose challenges to us,» he said.

Antonio Maria Sicari of the Carmelite Ecclesial Movement spoke about the new forms of consecrated life following the Second Vatican Council.

«Holiness is born from communion, it is celebrated in the liturgy, verified in the mystery of each day, and lives from the ecumenical opening,» Sicari said.

Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, attended the congress. The minutes of the congress will be published in the near future at

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