Pedro Arrupe SJ
RELIGIOUS LIFE IN THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL
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The religious is one who as he went along encountered Christ, felt himself drawn (Jn 12,33) and followed him. The seen of the bansk of the sea of the Galilee (Mt 1, 16-20), the "come follow me" (Mt. 19-21) and the "leaving of everything" to follow him (Lc, 5, 11)has been reenacted att the centre of the world's stage, without interruption, for two thusand years.
And the fact of the matter is that wherever you find a true Christian you also find such an encounter, such a "following" and "staying with him".
The ways of "following" and "being with" him are, however, choises the Lord himself makes: "You ahave not chosen me, but I have chosen you" (Jn. 15, 16). And they are ways that colour the essential quality of the personal following-adhering, the personal renunciation-liberation.
The 2nd Vatican Council speaks of a "greater liberty" and a "greater closeness" (PC. 1), which, of course, do not imply human authorities, but, rather, signify outstanding generosity and the duty to exercise it. To bring to reality, but a free profession and by a complete and public dedication, the ideals of the Kingdom, as Christ himself lived them, and with that emphasis of total commitment that marks the Gospel summons - that is the challenge for every religious.
All religious (and all forms of the religious life that there have been and always will be in the Church) have this basic element in common - that of imitating Christ in this way. And they have a limitation in common too: no one of them can imitate him fully, for there is no end to the inexhaustible ways in which Christ may be imitated. It is precisely here that we find the source of the unity and the diversity of the religious families within the fold of the Church. All are drawn to the imitation of the same Christ from diverse and myriad angels , by grace, carism, that ultimately take there origin from the Spirit of the same Lord, and are recognized as such by the Church.
From: Pedro Arrupe SJ THE LIFE OF CHRIST, Madrid 1976.