VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 30, 2005 ( Benedict XVI says the witness of people who live a life totally dedicated to Christ, and prefer nothing to his love, is the key to rejuvenate consecrated life.

The Pope expressed this message in a letter sent to participants in the plenary assembly of the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, held last Monday and Tuesday.

The letter is the new Pontiff's first specific address to consecrated members of the Church.

The assembly, presided over by Archbishop Franc Rodé, the congregation's prefect, served to mark the 40th anniversary of "Perfectae Caritatis," the Second Vatican Council's decree on the renewal of religious life.

In his letter, the Holy Father echoed three fundamental points of the conciliar document.

First, the Pope said, "there can be no genuine relaunching of religious life without trying to lead a fully evangelical life, without preferring anything to the one love, but finding in Christ and his word the most profound essence of every founder's charism."

It is what the council described as "the supreme norm of religious life," namely, "the following of Christ."

Second, the Bishop of Rome encouraged those who are consecrated to a "generous and creative gift of self to brothers, without ever giving in to the temptation to withdraw into oneself, without being satisfied with what one has already done, without falling into pessimism or exhaustion."

"The fire of love, which the spirit infuses in hearts, leads to asking oneself constantly about the needs of humanity and how to respond to them, knowing that only the one who acknowledges and lives the primacy of God can really respond to the genuine needs of man, image of God," he said.

Third, Benedict XVI recommended a "sincere life of communion, not only within the different fraternities, but with the whole Church."