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Posted October 10, 2015

Book: God Has Begun a Great Work in Us: Embodied Love in Consecrated Life and Ecclesial Movements
Editors: Jason King and Shannon Schrein, OSF
Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY. 2015. Pp. 217

An Excerpt from the Introduction:

This volume tells a different story. It comes out of the College Theological Society's (CTS) annual meeting at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, which is sponsored by Saint Vincent Archabbey, the largest abbey in the northern hemisphere, with over 160 monks. Moreover, the conference (whose theme was on consecrated life) was one of the best attended in recent CTS history, with over 250 participants. The only conference to have more attendees was held at Notre Dame in 2009, one of the universities of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, a ministry of one form of consecrated life.

The story that emerges in the keynote addresses and the papers from this conference is the story of different ways that religious have embodied love in the modern world, and in so doing, have come to serve both church and world. It is the story of how religious orders have opened up their ministries and, in so doing, enabled people to carry out their work. It is the story of how religious embodied the love called for in Perfectae Caritatis, and how, from the beginning of this great work, the love spread out in unexpected and diverse ways. It is a story of the expansion of love, rather than the decline of numbers. To tell this story, we have organized these papers along three main themes. We explore how consecrated life 1. Created alternative worlds, 2. Adapted to the world, and 3. Influenced ecclesial movements.

An Excerpt from the book:

There are many Gospel ways to construct "world," to live and to promote the Reign of God. For example, one can found a family or choose to live a committed single life, earn and responsibly handle possessions of all kinds, hold political office or run a company or found a non-profit or become a teacher or doctor or poet. And one can combine one's choices in regard to relationships, material goods, and power in a variety of Gospel-promoting ways. What distinguishes Religious Life --- not making it superior but simply distinctive in the Church --- is that a particular way of handling each of these constitutive coordinates is combined into a specific institutionalized public lifeform to which a number of people commit themselves together by public vows made according to a shared Rule of life, and out of this shared lifeform they exercise a coordinated ministry expressing a shared, common view of mission. The fact that this active and exclusive commitment to the subversion of evil and promotion of the Reign of God is lifelong, total and exclusive, communal, and public differentiates it from other forms of Gospel commitment, just as the exclusive monogamous, sexually expressed, and generative relationship differentiates matrimony from other lifeforms.

Table of Contents

Introduction: God Has Begun a Great Work in Us

Part I

Creating Alternative Worlds

Women religious in a renewing church: development or dimise?

The risen Christ: present and embodied in consecrated life today

"Contemplatively prophetic and prophetically contemplative": analyzing the LCWR's response to the CDF"s doctrinal assessment

Prophecy and contemporary consecrated life: raising some ethical questions

Ora et labora: a Benedictine motto born in America?

Part II

Challenges Faced in Adapting to the World

A great history still to be accomplished? Prospects for consecrated life in the Church

The sisters' remains: ministry as identity for Catholic Health Care organizations

Women and men for others: embodying love through nonviolence in Arrupe, Berrigan, and Sobrino

Moral imagination and prophetic witness: women religious congregations in a world of globalization

Part III

The Influence on Ecclesial Movements

Extraordinary love in the lives of lay people

"Come away to a deserted place": the depiction of rest, solitude and prayer in the Gospel of Mark as a model for the missional life of Lay Ecclesial Movements

Ti Legliz, love and justice, and the political mission of the Catholic Church

The "quietly erupting" lay associate movement in post-conciliar religious life: two Iowa Communities compared

"A little rule for beginners": Benedictine spirituality and the "new monasticism" movement