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Love, friendship, and beauty: on the twenty-fifth anniversary of a magisterial document about religious life and the apostolate.

IN THE 2007 FESTSCHRIFT ESSAY that I offered to Fr. Matthew Lamb, I made reference to the commission of American prelates that was appointed almost twenty-five years ago to inquire into the sharp decline of vocations to religious life in our country after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). (1) It was within the context of the Extraordinary Holy Year in honor of the Redemption, on Easter Sunday, April 3, 1983, that Pope John Paul II sent a message on this matter to the bishops in the United States. In this letter, the Pope expressed "grave concern" over the "the marked decline in recent years in the numbers of young people seeking to enter religious life." To address this "grave concern," John Paul, in the spring of 1983, appointed the Quinn Commission. This circumstance forms the proximate background for a document that affords the occasion for this article. It was on May 31, 1983, that the Holy See issued the document whose twenty-fifth anniversary we observe in zoos: "Essential Elements in the Church's Teaching on Religious Life As Applied to Institutes Dedicated to Works of the Apostolate." Whereas the findings and the recommendations of the Quinn Commission have come and gone, the work of institutes and organizations that took seriously the recommendations of "Essential Elements" continues to bear fruit. (2)

Within this same time frame (1983-2008), John Paul began to speak frequently about a "new evangelization." The original mention of this phrase may date from his first apostolic visit to Poland on June 9, 1979, when John Paul in Nowa Huta vehemently lifted the Cross and, deeply moved, proclaimed, "A new evangelization has begun!" From the early 1980s, the "new evangelization" became a leitmotiv of the rhetoric that we have come to associate with John Paul's papacy. This history may explain why Pope Benedict XVI chose the ad limina visit of the Polish hierarchy in 2005 to express his conviction that the secret of the new evangelization lies in sound collaboration among bishops, priests, religious, and laity. (3) In the teachings of the post-conciliar popes, we discover that the new evangelization is intended to enact the sanctification of culture. For John Paul, post-Communist European culture; for Benedict, post-Christian Western culture. Both popes however have emphasized the actual urgency of the renewal task, of promoting the new evangelization, even though it must be acknowledged that the Church has always been faced with the daunting challenge to transform the secular culture of a given period.

Take, for example, the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. Within the church and the cloister walks, one still sees fading frescoes that depict Dominican priests encouraging early Renaissance Florentines to look beyond the richly material world of the capitalist-humanist period we call the Quattrocento. These Dominican friars urged the citizens of Florence to consider instead the spiritual values of eternal life. Fifteenth-century humanism constituted what one might call a distraction for Christian believers; certain figures of the period give evidence of espousing misplaced values and of pursuing exaggerated directions. By contrast, the new evangelization of the late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century encounters a culture that has been deformed by the ideologies generated out of the philosophical errors of the modern period. In short, we find ourselves in a more disadvantageous position than did the contemporaries of artists such as Donatello, Fra Angelico, and Botticelli. Today, the Church asks Catholics to persuade a people wedded to technocracy and committed to expediency of the truth that Christ alone reveals to us our high destiny and that the Church alone provides what is required to pursue this destiny. To put it differently, to a world of technocratic utilitarians, the Church announces the way to the highest wisdom; and to a culture dominated by the allure of the expedient, the Church insists on the life of virtuous excellence.

While bishops and diocesan priests enjoy their specific roles in transforming culture, the consecrated person stands at the center of this work as a living icon of the transformed life. He or she claims by divine right a place on Mount Tabor, the biblically warranted venue of transformation. (4) To discover the source of this mission for consecrated religious, we must return to the beginning of Western monastic history. St. Benedict stands at the origin of the unique contribution that religious persons make to the transformation of culture. For more than 1,500 years, it has been the prerogative of Western monks to show that the great heritage of classical Christian culture recognizes that on the one hand, learning is necessary if one is to approach God and to express what is discovered about him, while on the other hand, secular literature must be continually transcended and elevated in the striving to attain eternal life. In his classic study on monastic culture, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God, Dom Jean Leclercq speaks about "devotion to heaven" as the dominant disposition that guided the educational work of the medieval monks. (5)

The interpretation of the document issued by the Sacred Congregation for Religious and for Secular Institutes, "Essential Elements in the Church's Teaching on Religious Life," should be undertaken with reference to the later and perhaps weightier 1996 Post-Synodal Exhortation of John Paul, Vita consecrata. There we read that "the deepest meaning of the evangelical counsels is revealed when they are viewed in relation to the Holy Trinity." (6) The original model for combining consecration and mission is found within the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity. "Sheer joy is God's," writes St. Thomas Aquinas, "and this demands companionship.... But creatures cannot be loved above all; they are not attractive enough. Therefore in the divine begetting is there perfect lover and perfect beloved, distinct, but of one nature." (7) In other words, the foundational model for religious apostolic life is discovered in the way that the Father and the Son exist within the divine nature. This means that only a theological hermeneutic guarantees an authentic interpretation of religious and other forms of consecrated life. Sociological, psychological, and entrepreneurial analyses of religious life are necessarily self- limiting. They remain unable to reach up to the Trinity.

As important as institutes dedicated to works of the apostolate are, men and women hermits set the gold standard for consecrated life. They invite us, says John Paul, "never to lose sight of the supreme vocation, which is to be always with the Lord." (8) Thomas reflects this view when he writes that "solitude befits those already perfect." (9) While it is true that the hermit belongs to societies of hermits, the vocation to live alone with the Lord offers an outstanding example of the copenetration of communio and missio. Consider Philip Groning's 2006 film, Into the Great Silence. (10) The Carthusian vocation, which essentially is eremitic, exemplifies the perichoretic ideal that stands at the apex of religious consecration: mission co-inhering in communion. (11) "Solitude befits those already perfect," repeats Thomas. Whatever flows from consecrated life, whatever rightly may be called mission is to be interpreted within this trinitarian model of mutual interpenetration. To put it otherwise, communio and missio go together in a way that is theologically controlled by the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. "Consecration inevitably implies mission. These are two facets of one reality." (12) Vita consecrata further develops this element of trinitarian doctrine when it reminds us that "the consecrated life proclaims what the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit, brings about by his love, his goodness, and his beauty." (13) In order to assist common reflection on the theme of consecration as the foundation of mission, I would like to enlist the help of Thomas to explain the significance for religious life of this trinitarian triad: love, goodness, and beauty.

First, love. When Thomas sets about to investigate the virtue of charity at the beginning of the second part of the second part (secunda-secundae) of the Summa Theologiae, he reminds his readers that charity looks to God as the Highest Good. "Now divine good, according as it is the object of man's beatitude, possesses a special aspect, and on this account the love of charity, which is the love of this divine good, is of a special kind." (14) In order to explain how charity works, Thomas like St. John turns to the notion of friendship. "Charity signifies not only the love of God, but also a certain friendship with him. This implies, besides love, a certain mutual return of love, together with mutual communion, as described in [Aristotle's] Ethics." (15) Thomas describes charity as a friendship not because of his esteem for Aristotle, but because Aristotle's explanation of friendship elucidates what the New Testament calls koinonia or, in Latin, communicatio. For example, in the text of 1 Corinthians 1:9, we read: "God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with the Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." The Thomist tradition adopts the view that the best human analogy for the fellowship or communion of charity is to be found in the human family. The reasons given by the sixteenth-century commentator Cardinal Cajetan for this choice are as follows: the fellowship of the family is rooted in nature; it is one of reverence, and of inequality; it is a proportionate relationship of justice and love, and embodies a kind of excellence that arises from people loving each other. (16)

It is possible to adapt this analogy to suit the requirements of religious life. Of course, there is nothing natural about religious life. Indeed if it were not for the communion of charity that the New Testament announces as a distinct and supernatural reality, there would be no reason why a group of people would constitute themselves as a communion of friendship based solely on achieving the perfection of charity. "Essential Elements" endorses this estimate of the reason for religious life: "Religious consecration establishes a particular communion between religious and God and, in Him, between the members of the same institute." (17) So religious life finds its expression in a communion that is rooted in supernature, but which enjoys nonetheless the ontological density that belongs properly to the order of grace. We see this ontological density manifested, for instance, in the long-term traditions that adorn the Church, such as monasticism, the friars, and other institutes that may lay claim to the expectation of permanence in the Church. The Order of St. Dominic does not form a constitutive part of the Church, but it is hard (at least for me) to envisage the Church without the Dominicans. It may be easier for some Christians to see this assertion verified in the Franciscans. It is also easy to discover this ontological density in any authentic experience of religious life. As far as I am able to discern, it is a result of the encounter with this incarnate supernatural communion that first attracts new members to join religious life. In any case, it is not the spiffiness of the philanthropic works that engages a designated group of professional people.

Religious life cannot proceed without the expression of reverence on the part of the members of a religious institute. There is of course the reverence that exists between superiors and subjects, but there also is the reverence that should obtain among the members. As anyone who has lived in a properly ordered religious community recognizes, this reverence expresses itself differently according to the circumstances of a community's life, just as occurs in a natural family. Thus every Rule that stipulates for religious communities is bound to make provision for the care of the sick, for the formation of new recruits, for the disciplining of wayward members, and the like. In other words, just as there exists an infinite inequality between the human creature and the God who calls us into fellowship with himself, so in religious life there exists necessarily an inequality among the members. Inequality does not result in subordination. Contrary to what is commonly held, it is possible to overcome inequality by means other than the exercise of brute power. Reverence in religious life develops to the extent that the members love one another, whereas when they do not, another figure of the Quattrocento emerges. He is the political theorist and realist Machiavelli. (18) It is my suspicion that many communities of religious life suffered the loss of their driving, charity-inspired dynamism when the dynamics of politics and power (for which the immigrant culture of the first half of the twentieth century afforded many, picturesque even, examples) subtly transformed the reverence of charity and covenant that had made religious communities so attractive to earlier generations.

The religious family like the natural family enacts justice differently from other cultural bodies. Because the family is considered as the basic cell of society, one does not find within the family that alterity--the otherness--required for the exercise of justice. So the demands of justice are relativized, and the exercise of charity is given a freer reign than one might expect to discover within, for example, political societies. Take the case of forgiveness. Forgiveness occurs more readily, or at least it should, within families than it does in law courts. So also, forgiveness should manifest itself more readily within religious communities than within other associations of like-minded persons.

Finally, the natural family affords the venue for people to love one another and so to show the excellence that the human race is capable of achieving. Something similar occurs within the supernatural family that is religious life. Religious institutes should become places where it is evident that people love one another with excellence. In fact, it may be possible to argue that the decline in young people seeking admission to religious life exists in direct proportion to the decline in the manifestation of love among vowed religious. When one considers the contentiousness of the late '60s and the '70s, it is not difficult to imagine that there grew up a climate that was not conducive to caritative loving. Instead, religious combated one another along predictable ideological lines, with the proponents of exaggerated liberal positions oftentimes gaining the ascendance in the struggle. Ann Carey has documented one aspect of this history in her revealing Sisters in Crisis: The Tragic Unraveling of Women's Religious Communities. (19)

Second, goodness. In what does the goodness of friendship consist? We find an answer in another work that Thomas composed for use by Dominican missionaries, the Summa contra Gentiles. In Book Four, the Common Doctor sets downs some of the activities that are characteristic of friends. In other words, he describes the goodness that is shared among friends who are bound together within a communicatio of benevolent love, that is, of a love that wishes well to the other. (20) There are six characteristics that Thomas identifies as proper to friends. The first characteristic is openness, or the exchange of personal knowledge. Thomas reflects on the classical notion of the friend as the other half of one's soul, and suggests that when we reveal something to a friend it is as if the revealer has taken it out of his friend's own heart. From this mutual exchange follows the effective sharing of goods. Since the friend is looked upon as another self, the sharing of material goods serves to succor the friend. A further activity to consider is pardon among friends. Within the fellowship of divine charity one expects to find the pardon of every offense. Why? Friendship is opposed to every offense.

A fourth consideration is contemplation of truth. Contemplation forms the foundational activity of friends. Even the ancient philosophers glimpsed the necessity of this activity for grounding friendship not so much in the friends themselves but in something other than the friends. As C. S. Lewis observes, he is a pathetic individual who wants only a friend. (21) Friendship must be about something. And for the highest friendship, the something required is the highest activity, which is contemplation. Interior joy follows upon contemplation. Friends delight in each other's presence and turn to each other in times of sorrow; one expects to discover harmony of wills among friends. Friends consent to the will of the other. It is characteristic of friends to get along, to find in each other not a source of division of wills but of unity of wills. For Thomas and the Christian tradition, the fullest achievement of the friendship described in the above six points is to be found within the graced communion of the Church. For this reason, religious life may be thought of as embodying an intensification of ecclesial charity. Or, as "Essential Elements" notes, religious life "is itself a part of the Church as mystery and as social reality." (22)

It should not be difficult to adapt the description of what friends do with each other to the everyday life of religious communities. Members remain open to one another within the bounds of discretion in order to create the kind of psychological atmosphere that supports common life and fellowship. There is nothing less appealing than to try to share one's life with strangers. In order to ensure that he remains connected to the other members of the Charterhouse, even the Carthusian enjoys the famous three-hour walk on Sundays with fellow Carthusians. For religious, the effective sharing of goods is in fact institutionalized by the vow of poverty. When religious aim to replicate the sharing of goods that was practiced in the apostolic community, they introduce into the order of charity one of the requirements that even the ancient philosophers considered indispensable for friends. Friendship depends on a pooling of resources. Given the achievements of Christian monks throughout Western history, there is every reason to question whether the Weberian thesis that Calvinism jump-starts mainstream Western economies is verifiable. Pardon of every offense follows upon the religious community's commitment to pray together the "Our Father." Classical religious institutes that draw upon the monastic practice of the chapter of faults have made this feature of friendship a formalized part of their weekly routine. Members of the community accused themselves, and sometimes other members, of faults that disrupted the smooth running of the daily community life. For example, "I broke the simple silence five times and the solemn silence twice." At the end of this exercise, the superior would administer a symbolic penance and the members of the community would leave without the burden of hiding or rationalizing their own or others' faults. One effect of this practice is that the growth of widespread cynicism was checked.

The three remaining characteristics of friends should find unique and peculiar expression in religious life. For instance, contemplation. Inasmuch as individual, communal, and liturgical prayer form a necessary activity for each religious, contemplation becomes the occupation of all religious, and not only of those institutes that are dedicated fully to contemplation. When we speak about contemplation and friendship, we point to the fundamental necessity for each religious to look at the same truth and to behold it lovingly. Within this contemplative action, the religious embraces lovingly the unifying principle of friendship that establishes a community and enables the apostolate. As C. S. Lewis again has observed, travelers without a common destination will not be found walking along the same road. (23) When religious achieve this contemplative unity, they experience interior joy. As St. Therese of Lisieux reminds us, interior joy can coexist with sorrow, though never with sadness. Dolor sed non tristitia. This distinction was lost however on the secular readers of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta's private correspondence with her spiritual fathers. "It also belongs to friendship," writes Thomas, "that a man consent to the things which his friend wills." (24) If harmony of wills does not exist within religious communities, then it will unlikely be found anywhere. It is also unlikely that a religious community can survive without a harmony of wills. "Essential Elements" devotes five numbers to "communion in community." The Rule of St. Augustine has impressed on the Western Church the importance of living together with one will: "The chief motivation for your sharing life together is to live harmoniously in the house and to have one heart and one soul seeking God." (25) We find ourselves confronting another expression of the trinitarian principle that communio and missio copenetrate each other. The reason is found in the overarching capacity of charity to unite ad intra and ad extra love.

The third feature of the trinitarian triad, love, goodness, beauty, follows from the second: "The good and the beautiful are the same in substance," says Thomas, "for they are established on a single real form; but they are different in meaning, for the good answers to appetite and acts like a final cause, while the beautiful answers to knowledge and acts like a formal cause. Things are called beautiful which give delight on being seen." (26) The category of the beautiful has entered into discussions of divinity especially through the theological aesthetics developed by Hans Urs von Balthasar. Popularized versions of his views may be found in books such as Richard Viladesau's Theological Aesthetics: God in Imagination, Beauty, and Art. (27) By and large, proponents of theological aesthetics blur the formal distinction that Thomas makes between the good that elicits desire and the beautiful that informs knowledge. However, there is no reason to abandon the knowledge character of beauty in order to adapt what Thomas sets down as the conditions for beauty to religious life.

If one takes Thomas's distinction seriously about the beautiful and knowledge, then one is led to reflect on what in the Summa Theologiae he identifies as the three conditions of beauty. Thomas puts it this way: "Three conditions of beauty--first, integrity or completeness, for broken things are ugly; second, due proportion and harmony; third, brightness and color." (28) It is possible to argue that John Paul issued "Essential Elements" in order to restore to religious life its own proper theological aesthetic. In other words, the Pope wanted to make religious life beautiful again. We consider each condition for the beautiful in turn.

Integrity or completeness. The very name of the document that we commemorate during 2008 points to this condition for the beautiful. The text lists the essential elements. "Broken things are ugly," says Thomas. It is easy to break up religious life. There are various conjectures to explain what happened to the great number of apostolic sisters in the United States who shouldered the burden of creating and sustaining the largest private school system, health care system, and social work network since the Enlightenment. Today it is too late to worry about defining the causes. The unhappy effects are too far advanced. The Quinn Commission, in retrospect, was too optimistic or benign. The lesson that we can draw from the disappearance of the great mother houses once found in our country--to speak only about women religious for the moment is the one that "Essential Elements" was written to illustrate. Beautiful religious life requires all of its parts. The document addresses directly the question of integrity or completeness: "The nature, end, spirit and character of the institute, as established by the founder or foundress and approved by the Church, should be preserved by all, together with the institute's sound traditions." (29) Broken things are ugly. What lacks essential elements is broken. No one is drawn by the ugly. So "Essential Elements" warns: In order to preserve the identity of a religious institute, it is necessary to make following Christ "the supreme rule of life." (30)

Due proportion and harmony. If there is a theme that runs through "Essential Elements," it is the theme of reconciling that which comprises the classical with the reality of diversity, whether of gifts or of persons. Just as the broken is ugly, so is the distended. During the past forty years or so, many classical forms of religious consecration lost all sense of the proportionate and the harmonious. Consider the requirement of living together. It would be impossible to estimate the number of arrangements that have been established either to accommodate diverse commitments of apostolic activity or to facilitate the felt needs of personal preference. If we read "Essential Elements" as a prescription to avoid a diversification that results in a loss of identity, then it is possible to single out the several areas of religious life that have evaporated into what honestly must be called lay forms of living. I would place religious attire in this category. (31)

Brightness and color. Finally, there is the condition for beauty that is brightness and color. "Spiritual beauty," says Thomas, "which is the same as the honorable good, [consists] in fair dealing according to the candor of reason." (32) The world has lost the sense of spiritual beauty. There is no need to substantiate this assertion. It should be self-evident to anyone who opens his eyes. "Clearness and proportion are both rooted in mind," says Thomas, "whose function is to order and light up a symmetry." (33) Religious life proceeds as an exercise in sanctified reason. Although there is a sense in which one may experience religious life, the fact of the matter is that religious life is transmitted by learning. Misplaced efforts to manufacture experience result more often than not in producing the distractions that fog the light of intelligence. This is why Thomas goes on to affirm that "beauty, pure and essential, dwells in the contemplative life, wherefore it is said of the contemplation of wisdom: 'and I shall become a lover of her beauty' (Wis 8: 2)." The Church in fact recognizes that in explaining the special value of the consecrated life, which enjoys "an objective superiority" among vocations in the Church, "men and women religious completely devoted to contemplation are in a special way an image of Christ praying on the mountain." (34)

There is another way that clearness and proportion are rooted in mind. Thomas points to the moral virtues. "Beauty is shed on the moral virtues in so far as they shine with the order of reason, especially on temperateness, which clears the lusts that fog the light of intelligence." (35) Moral virtue creates beauty; moral vice destroys it. "There cannot be a public witness to Christ poor, chaste and obedient without asceticism," says "Essential Elements." (36) The perfect continence in celibacy that the evangelical counsel of chastity requires serves both communio and missio. Obviously when unchastity takes over the fraternal life in communion, the results are destructive. It bears saying that unchastity is not the sin reserved for the left wing and the unorthodox. Unchastity can also emerge within communities dedicated to reform and orthodoxy. It would require another lecture to outline the threats that contemporary culture poses to the life of chastity, especially for young religious men and women. The threats come from the outside, so to speak, that is, from the culture that is sex-saturated, but they also come from within the person, especially from within those persons whose affective development has been short-circuited for one reason or another. On the other hand, when unchastity takes over missio, the results are equally disturbing. Leave aside the risks involved in allowing an unchaste religious access to other people who are wont to trust them as ministers of religion. Rather consider the energy-sapping that unchastity causes in the person in whom it has reached the status of a vicious personal habit, or what I prefer to call habitas. Put otherwise, what happens when unchastity so consumes a person that the religious finds himself or herself unable to concentrate or to engage in the contemplative act from which all missio or apostolic activity flows? When this circumstance is allowed to dominate, both the religious and the religious community lose the brightness and color that is the third characteristic of beauty. Instead, there emerges a "yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, / The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes," to cite T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."

This meditation on the Trinitarian features of religious communio and missio draws upon the insights of St. Thomas Aquinas on friendship, friends, and beauty. The effort is meant to encourage institutes of consecrated life devoted to works of the apostolate to preserve in their fidelity to the directions set down by the magisterium for the ongoing renewal and support of consecrated and especially active religious life. What Thomas helps to illustrate is a principle that "Essential Elements" endorses by referring to the conciliar document Perfectae Caritatis: "The entire religious life ... should be imbued with an apostolic spirit, and all their apostolic activity with a religious spirit." (37)


(1.) "Tanquam spiritualis pulchritudinis amatores. The Consecrated Vocation of Matthew Lamb" in Wisdom and Holiness, Science and Scholarship. Essays in Honor of Matthew L. Lamb, ed. Michael Dauphinais and Matthew Levering (Naples, FL: Sapientia Press, 2007), 17-45.

(2.) The substance of this essay was delivered to a regional meeting of the Institute on Religious Life held in Boston, Massachusetts in fall 2007.

(3.) See "Benedict XVI Tells 'Secret' of New Evangelization," Zenit (December 5, 2005), available at (accessed August 12, 2008).

(4.) Vita consecrata, no. 40: "This is particularly true whenever one descends from the 'mountain' with the Master and sets off on the road which leads from Tabor to Calvary."

(5.) Jean Leclercq, OSB, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God. A Study of Monastic Culture, trans. Catherine Misrahi (New York: Fordham University Press, 1974), chap. 4.

(6.) Vita consecrata, no. 21.

(7.) Writings on the First Book of the Sentences, II, 1, 4, trans. Thomas Gilby, St. Thomas Aquinas, Theological Texts (Durham, NC: The Labyrinth Press, 1982), 43-44.

(8.) Vita consecrata, no. 7.

(9.) Summa Theologiae IIa-IIae q. 188, a. 8.

(10.) "Nestled deep in the postcard-perfect French Alps, the Grande Chartreuse is considered one of the world's most ascetic monasteries. In 1984, German filmmaker Philip Groning wrote to the Carthusian order for permission to make a documentary about them. They said they would get back to him. Sixteen years later, they were ready. Groning, sans crew or artificial lighting, lived in the monks' quarters for six months--filming their daily prayers, tasks, rituals and rare outdoor excursions. This transcendent, closely observed film seeks to embody a monastery, rather than simply depict one-it has no score, no voiceover, and no archival footage. What remains is stunningly elemental: time, space, and light. One of the most mesmerizing and poetic chronicles of spirituality ever created, Into Great Silence dissolves the border between screen and audience with a total immersion into the hush of monastic life. More meditation than documentary, it's a rare, transformative theatrical experience for all." See http: // (accessed August 12, 2008).

(11.) The view does not necessarily prejudice the position of Thomas which holds that the so-called mixed life of contemplative and active religious holds the place of prominence in the Church since "it is better to illumine than merely to shine" (Summa Theologiae IIa-IIae q. 188, a. 6). Thomas, who does not comment moreover on the difficulty of achieving this ideal of the Dominicans, makes his comparison on the basis of the end or objective that the religious institute achieves.

(12.) "Essential Elements," no. 23.

(13.) Vita consecrata, no. 20.

(14.) Summa Theologiae IIa-IIae q. 23, a. 4.

(15.) Ibid., IIa-IIae, q. 23, a. 1.

(16.) See the commentary on the Summa Theologiae IIa-IIae q. 23, a. 1, no. 1 of Thomas de Vio Cardinal Cajetan, which is printed in the Leonine edition of the Summa.

(17.) "Essential Elements," no. 18.

(18.) Niccolo di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (May 3, 1469 June 21, 1527) was an Italian diplomat, political philosopher, musician, poet, and playwright. He is a figure of the Italian Renaissance and a central figure of its political component, most widely known for his treatises on realist political theory (The Prince) on the one hand and republicanism (Discourses on Livy) on the other.

(19.) Ann Carey, Sisters in Crisis: The Tragic Unraveling of Women's Religious Communities (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 1997).

(20.) The following observations are drawn from Summa contra Gentiles, bk. IV, c. 21, 22.

(21.) C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (London: Collins, 1965), 63: "That is why those pathetic people who simply 'want friends' can never make any. The very condition of having Friends is that we should want something else besides Friends."

(22.) "Essential Elements," no. 3 8.

(23.) Lewis, Four Loves: "Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow-travelers."

(24.) Summa contra Gentiles, bk. IV, chap. 22.

(25.) Augustine of Hippo and his Monastic Rule, trans. George Lawless, OSA (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), no. 2.

(26.) Summa Theologiae la q. 5, a. 4, ad I (Gilby translation).

(27.) Richard Viladesau, Theological Aesthetics: God in Imagination, Beauty, and Art (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999)

(28.) Summa Theologiae, q. 39, a. 8 (Gilby translation).

(29.) "Essential Elements," no. 14, citing CIC 578.

(30.) Ibid., no. 13, citing CIC 662.

(31.) Let me give an example of proportion and harmony adapted to the specific ends of contemplative life. I know a small community of Dominican nuns that is the first Dominican contemplative community since World War II to undertake a large-scale construction project. The new monastery stands on a hilltop in Linden, Virginia, surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. The nuns of St. Dominic's Monastery are also among the few in the world to begin the day together at 3:30 A.M. with the recitation of the Night Office. They have one novice and several aspirants seeking admission to a small community of professed nuns. Before these nuns left their temporary monastery in Washington, D. C., they restored the monastic grille in the main parlor, and the nuns now have returned to wearing the traditional habit of the contemplative nuns, the wimple and veil. This is one example of what is meant by maintaining due proportion and harmony within religious life. To borrow a phrase, the nuns are doing something beautiful for God.

(32.) Summa Theologiae IIa-IIae q. 114, a. 2 (Gilby translation).

(33.) Ibid., IIa-IIae q. 180, a. 2, ad 3 (Gilby translation).

(34.) Vita consecrata, no. 32, citing the Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, no. 46.

(35.) Summa Theologiae IIa-IIae q. 180, a. 2, ad 3 (Gilby translation).

(36.) "Essential Elements," no. 31.

(37.) Ibid., no. 12 citing Perfectae Caritatis, no. 8.

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Author:Cessario, Romanus
Publication:Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture
Date:Sep 22, 2008
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