A life of consecration prefigures what Christians hope for by calling into question the value of power, sexuality and material possessions. Religious life challenges the idea that these things alone bring happiness and shows that we can be more fulfilled, happier and more whole without being attached to them. Furthermore, detaching ourselves from these desires allows others to live with more dignity and greater ease, as well. Consecrated life, then, is a prophetic witness to the joy of the eschatological call of Christianity. In the words of Pope Francis to religious men and women leading up to the Year of Consecrated Religious, “Wake up the world! Be witnesses of a different way of doing things, of acting, of living!”
Juliet Mousseau, RSCJ, is the vice-president for academic affairs at the Franciscan School of Theology. She is a medieval historical theologian whose work focuses on the twelfth-century Abbey of Saint Victor. She is coeditor, with Sarah Kohles, OSF, of In Our Own Words: Religious Life in a Changing World.