We live in times of enormous human possibilities. Even 50 years ago, the current lifestyle of people was unattainable for those times, even in the wildest dreams. Today, thanks to technical inventions and the ever-developing globalization in many areas of our lives, one has the impression that the world is at our fingertips, open to every human being, and what we will do with our lives depends only on our decision. In such a situation, choosing a simple, poor life in a monastery may seem completely absurd to contemporaries. For many people, religious life is losing its value today, becoming a kind of “religious folklore” or a medieval relic. Other roles of consecrated persons are perceived mainly in terms of social activity, which at present, with well-developed social institutions, does not play such importance as before. So, you get the impression that the time of religious orders is slowly coming to an end. In such thinking, the fact of the decreasing number of vocations to consecrated life in Europe can also confirm.
However, are we really dealing with a crisis of religious life today, which has become obsolete in the modern world, or is there a world around us in which basic and natural values, such as faith in God, love as a gift of self, truth, goodness and beauty? began to be a misunderstanding?
There is no doubt that in today’s world, spirituality has become one of the most stunted areas of life for many Christians. On the one hand, the weakening of faith, and on the other hand, the more and more felt, though perhaps not realized, desire of God the Creator – this is the drama of contemporary man. The witness of consecrated life has never been so necessary in history as it is today. It does not lose its sense, but it is much more difficult, because it is to fulfill its role in a culture that has chosen individualism as its hallmark. Consecrated life as a path of service, love, self-giving for the sake of often neglected, difficult and needy people stands in complete opposition to today’s mentality.
The essence of the vocation to consecrated life is not the activity, but the identity of the consecrated person. A vocation to religious life is a vocation to a unique bond with Christ that cannot become obsolete. Religious community is to show the passion of life for God – this is its task in the world. Of course, this does not mean that religious life would be the best path for all people. However, this life, which some Christians choose by God’s grace, helps others not to get lost in the variety of ways and offers that exist in the modern world.
Consecrated life should convince you that it is God who gives the experience of happiness that the world seeks and cannot find anywhere else. Money, power, or feelings will not give it unless it is integrated into the experience of faith. It is God who is the Lord of everything, it is up to us to fulfill the task entrusted to us.
S.M. Sybilla Kołtan