VATICAN CITY, FEB. 4, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI highlighted the Apostle Paul as a model for those consecrated to God, on the day the Church dedicates to celebrate those who follow this vocation.
Monday night in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pope addressed a crowd of consecrated men and women during a Mass presided over by Cardinal Franc Rodé, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
Presenting the example of St. Paul, born 2,000 years ago and recalled in this year dedicated to him, the Holy Father noted how his missionary life was inspired by the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience.
He spoke of St. Paul’s living of these three vows that religious pronounce in the moment in which they publicly consecrate their lives to God.
The Pontiff said, “In the life of poverty he saw the guarantee of an announcement of the Gospel fulfilled in a totally gratuitous way, that expresses at the same time his concrete solidarity with needy brothers.”
He continued: “Welcoming the call of God to chastity, the Apostle to the Gentiles donated his entire heart to the Lord in order to be able to serve with even greater freedom and dedication to his brothers; Moreover, in a world in which the values of Christian chastity had a scarce following, he offers a reference of dependable conduct.”
Regarding the third evangelical counsel, obedience, the Holy Father stated: “The fulfillment of the will of God and his daily responsibility, the vigilance for all the Churches he gave life to, molded and consumed his existence, [and was] offered as a pleasing sacrifice to God.”
The Pope also presented to the consecrated the figure of St. Paul as a missionary. He pointed out, “In him, so intimately united to the person of Christ, we recognize a profound capacity of joining spiritual life and missionary action; in him, both dimensions lay reciprocal claim.”