On March 25, 1996 John Paul II wrote the Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata – on the consecrated life and it’s mission in the world. Here are some excerpts.
This proposal is significant, especially when we consider that the term “brother” suggests a rich spirituality. “These Religious are called to be brothers of Christ, deeply united with him, the firstborn among many brothers’ (Rom 8:29); brothers to one another, in mutual love and working together in the Church in the same service of what is good; brothers to everyone, in their witness to Christ’s love for all, especially the lowliest, the neediest; brothers for a greater brotherhood in the Church”. By living in a special way this aspect of Christian and consecrated life, Religious Brothers are an effective reminder to Religious Priests themselves of the fundamental dimension of brotherhood in Christ, to be lived among themselves and with every man and woman, and they proclaim to all the Lord’s words: “And you are all brothers” (Mt 23:8).
On the cloistered life:
Rooted in this profound spiritual aspiration, the cloister is not only an ascetic practice of very great value but also a way of living Christ’s Passover. From being an experience of “death”, it becomes a superabundance of life, representing a joyful proclamation and prophetic anticipation of the possibility offered to every person and to the whole of humanity to live solely for God in Christ Jesus (cf. Rom 6:11). The cloister brings to mind that space in the heart where every person is called to union with the Lord. Accepted as a gift and chosen as a free response of love, the cloister is the place of spiritual communion with God and with the brethren, where the limitation of space and contacts works to the advantage of interiorizing Gospel values (cf. Jn 13:34; Mt 5:3, 8).Even in the simplicity of their life, cloistered communities, set like cities on a hilltop or lights on a lampstand (cf. Mt 5:14-15), visibly represent the goal towards which the entire community of the Church travels. “Eager to act and yet devoted to contemplation”, the Church advances down the paths of time with her eyes fixed on the future restoration of all things in Christ, when she will appear “in glory with her Spouse (cf. Col 3:1-4)”, and Christ will deliver “the Kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power … that God may be everything to everyone” (1 Cor 15:24, 28).
Read the full document: Vita Consecrata: Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Saint John Paul II
Church Documents on Religious Life
As Cistercians of Kopua Monastery, we seek to live our religious life as sons of the Church.
As such, we draw inspiration for the living of our religious vows from the teachings of the Church, including some of the documents below.
Starting Afresh From Christ – written 5 years after Vita Consecrata.
Perfectae Caritatis: A Decree on the Adaption and renewal of Religious Life – by Pope Paul VI after Vatican II.
Essential Elements in the Church’s Teaching on Religious Life Fraternal Life in Community
Fraternal Life in Community