The Joy of Consecrated Life
Edited by George Augustin
Published by St Paul's, 2021, Pages: 134, MRP: ₹ 180, ISBN: 978-93-5015-363-5
Available at Pauline Book Centres in Mumbai and on their online store
St Pope John Paul II said that a consecrated person is not only the living memorial of the Lord Jesus, but the very mind and heart of the Lord Jesus to the people they serve and witness. Rev. George Augustin edits this collection of essays on consecrated life.
The book reveals that, indeed, it is a challenge to be a consecrated religious. Every baptised Catholic is consecrated to the Lord. Therefore, the aspirant should take utmost care and love to make one's vocation steeped in the Gospel, and be a joy in the lives of others and their fellow religious. The book makes us realise that consecrated men and women are not exotic beings, who live far removed from the humdrum of daily life. They must be immersed in the world, without belonging to it. They should commune the most, and build up communities dedicated to proper Christian living.
From the time of the Desert Fathers and Mothers to the monastics and then the Mendicant orders of the Christian Church, we notice that God has been calling men and women to seek Him more profoundly through a novel way of living. Indeed, as St Augustine says, a consecrated individual is 'a person consecrated to God in God's own name'. The novel way of living is a deeper way of living out our humanity in the light of the Gospel. The more humane a consecrated person is, the more divine and loving Divine Providence is revealed to be.
The book also brings out how consecrated men should be more careful during the novitiate period of formation. It emphasises how consecrated women should play a more significant role in the Catholic Church and key positions in various Church Committees and centres of learning. Pope Francis' writings, especially his role in declaring the Year 2014-2016 to be the Year of Consecrated Life, play an integral role in this book. For Pope Francis, consecrated women especially are called to be more than 'encouraging' and 'affirming' role players. He is quoted, "Where there are religious, there is joy." One is encouraged to dwell upon this and more.
The book is concise, well-edited and engaging. It can be an excellent introduction to anyone wishing to enter religious life, the priesthood, or in some way to become truly and wholly consecrated to the Lord Jesus. I found the last essay most revealing, because it speaks briefly on the issues affecting the various religious communities of our present era. St Francis of Assisi, St Anthony of the Desert, Amma Syncletica, and other consecrated Christian Saints and historical figures are briefly dwelt upon in this book. The book is also recommended reading for Confirmation students, especially those their animators recognise as inclined to the religious life. Lastly, if you find a prospective religious or aspirant to the consecrated life in your homes, gift them this little tome so meticulously worked upon by Rev. George Augustin.