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Secular Institutes

Pope Francis told us: "From the time Pius XII thought about this, and then with the Provida Mater Ecclesia, it was a revolutionary act in the Church. Secular Institutes are just a courageous action taken by the Church at that time, to give structure, to give institutionalism to Secular Institutes. Thus, since then, you give a great good to the Church, with courage because we need courage to live in the world. Many of you alone in your apartment come and go; others in small communities. Every day, you live the life of a person in the world, and at the same time seek to preserve contemplation; this contemplative dimension to the Lord and also to the world. To contemplate the reality, like contemplating the beauty of the world, and even with the big sins of society, with the deviations, and the rest, and always in spiritual attention... That is why your vocation is fascinating, because it is a vocation staying right there, where salvation is on game not only for individuals, but also for the institutions, for many secular institutions necessary in the world. This is why I think that with the Provida Mater Ecclesia, the Church has made something truly revolutionary!

I wish you always keep this attitude to go further, not only further, but further and in between, there where everything is on game: in Politics, Economics, Education, Family ... just there! Perhaps you could have the temptation of thinking: "But, what can I do?”. When you have this temptation remember that the Lord has spoken of the seed of wheat! Moreover, your life is like the seed of wheat... just there; is like yeast... just there. It is to do everything possible so that the Kingdom comes, grows and becomes huge and gives shelter to so many people, like the tree of mustard. Think about this. Small life, small gestures; normal life, but yeast, seed that grows. In addition, this gives you the consolation. The results in this budget on the Kingdom of God cannot be seen. Only the Lord makes us perceive something... We will see the results in heaven".

Audience with Pope Francis during the meeting promoted

by the Italian Conference of Secular Institutes CIIS, May 2014

Arisen at the beginning of the last century, Secular Institutes are a new and original form of consecration, suggested by the Holy Spirit within the Church in our time. They had official recognition in 1947 and entered fully into the new Code of Canon Law in 1983.

They are divided in lay (male and female) and priestly (priests). Their members seek to live out their consecration to God in the world through the profession of the evangelical counsels in the midst of temporal situations. Through the synthesis, of consecration staying in the world, which is their specific asset, they seek to promote the newness and the power of Christ's Kingdom in society, striving to transfigure the world from within by the power of the Beatitudes. In this way, while they belong completely to God through their fully consecration to His service, their activity in the ordinary life contributes, by the action of the Spirit, to foster the Gospel on temporal realities. Secular Institutes, thus help to ensure to the Church, according to the specific nature of each, an effective presence in society. (JPII Apostolic Exhortation on Consecrated Life n. 10)

If we ask, which was the soul that inspired the birth and development of every Secular Institute, we have to answer: it was the deep anxiety of a synthesis. It was the yearning for simultaneous affirmation of two characteristics: 1) the full consecration of life according to the evangelical counsels and 2) the responsibility of a presence and of a transforming action from the core of the world, to shape it, improve it and keep it holy. (Paul VI in the XXV anniversary of Provida Mater Ecclesia, February 2, 1972)

Consecration and secularity are the indivisible building bricks that characterize the proper vocation and specificity of Secular Institutes.

"Secularity" means your involvement in the world. [...] Being in the world, that is to be engaged in secular values, is your way of being Church and to make it be present, to save you and to proclaim salvation. (Paul VI To the SI General leaders, September 20, 1972)

To render your total involvement in human events a theological place is, in fact, the mystery of the Incarnation. (Benedict XVI to the attendants to the World Conference of Secular Institutes, February 3, 2007)

"Consecration" indicates the intimate and secret structure of your being and your action. [...] The baptismal consecration has been further been radicalized in response to an increased need for love, aroused in you by the Holy Spirit [...] (Paul VI To the SI General leaders, September 20, 1972)

Living in the world as consecrated through the profession of the evangelical counsels, the members of the SI tend to the perfection of charity and work for the sanctification of the world, especially from within it (Can. 710).

Their poverty tells the world that it is possible to live among temporal goods and to use the means of civilization and progress, without being in bondage to any of them. Their chastity tells the world that it is possible to love with disinterestedness and inexhaustibility that draws from the heart of God, and that one can devote to all joyously without binding on anyone, especially taking care of the most abandoned. Their obedience tells the world that one can be happy without stopping in a convenient personal choice, but remaining fully available to the will of God, as appears from everyday life, from the signs of the times and from the needs of the salvation of the world today. (Paul VI in the XXV anniversary of Provida Mater Ecclesia, February 2, 1972)

Consecrated secularity, asset specific to SI, commits its members

• to live in their own environment, both in the Church and society, to be the ferment, modest but effective, that acting everywhere and always, and immersed in all classes of citizens, from the most modest to the most high, strives to reach them and permeate all and each with the example and in every way to inform the whole mass so that it is all fermented and transformed in Christ. (Motu Proprio Primo Feliciter, Introduction).

• to be present in the world, responsible for knowing how to serve it, to set it up according to God in a more just, more human order, to sanctify it from within; (Paul VI in the XXV anniversary of Provida Mater Ecclesia, February 2, 1972)

• to take seriously the natural order, its "ontological" essence, trying to read in it the project freely pursued by God;

• to seek, in the light of faith, appropriate solutions to practical problems that emerge gradually, being aware that often are not achieved if one do not run the risk of solutions only probable (John Paul II Speech addressed during the II International Congress of Secular Institutes, August 28, 1980)

Their own field of evangelizing activity is the vast and complicated world of Politics, Economics and Society; so also the culture, the sciences and the arts, international life, media and of social communication. (Paul VI A living Presence to serve the world and the Church, August 25, 1976).

Precisely because of the specificity of their vocation, in general, members of the SI do not live in religious communities, but remain inserted in their home and ecclesial environment, normally doing their professions and "secular" activities. However, despite not living in the community, feed in their spirit a deep sense of communion, which makes them feel together with their brothers and sisters belonging to the ideal same, to a real community.

Each Institute promotes the growth of its members in the spirit of the gospel fraternity through a rich diversity of forms and according to their own spirituality.