Religious not perfect but ‘trying’ – theologian

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MAKATI City, May 6, 2015—Contrary to the popular view that those living the religious life are necessarily holy, a theologian has declared nothing could be further from the truth, admitting most of them still struggle to live their vows, and pointed out that holiness is something they all strive for.

School of love

“Vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience are not ends in themselves. They are instruments, means to achieve a goal … the perfection of charity. We religious are not yet perfect in charity because we simply enrolled in this school for the perfection of charity,” shared Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III, prior provincial of the Order of Preachers (O.P.) in the Philippines during a talk at the San Carlos Seminary on Saturday, May 2.

Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III, prior provincial of the Order of Preachers (O.P.) (Photo: Raymond A. Sebastián)

According to him, this fact explains why some of them—friars and nuns, religious brothers and sisters—still manifest the weaknesses and vices of ordinary non-consecrated people, appearing grumpy and impatient at times.

Quoting St. Thomas Aquinas, a fellow Dominican and scholastic philosopher known for his “Summa Theologica,” Timoner, who is also a member of the International Theological Commission (ITC), noted that the religious state is the “school for the perfection of charity” (perfectae caritatis).

Lifelong goal

“If we become perfect then we should leave because we are already perfect. But this is a lifelong goal,” he said.

He pointed out he, his confreres, and other religious entered the religious life precisely because they are not yet perfect in charity.

Timoner, however, reminded his audience that the perfection of charity through poverty, chastity, and obedience is not something only the religious are called to.

“These are the counsels for all the baptized,” he stressed. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)


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