In the Gospels, Jesus proclaimed, “I am the light of the world.” He also said to his disciples, "You are the light of the world.” Christ calls all Christians to be a light and to bring Him, the Light, to the world. Religious are called to fulfill this mission more specifically, radically and directly. This light-value, or witness, is stressed as the primary work or apostolate of every religious. Their voices and lives affirm with confidence and conviction: “We have seen the Lord. He is risen. We have heard His word.”
There are many ways that religious life attests forcefully to the primacy of God’s love and provides a visible and public witness to Gospel values. Wearing religious garb, living in community, and voluntarily foregoing certain standards of comfort and legitimate conveniences are just a few examples of the means by which religious strive to live out their consecration, deny themselves daily, take up their cross, and seek God with an undivided heart.
As Pope Paul VI noted, without the concrete public witness of religious, “there would be danger that the charity which animates the entire Church would grow cold, that the salvific paradox of the Gospel would be blunted, and that the 'salt' of faith would lose its savor in a world undergoing secularization…They are lights which announce the kingdom of God with a liberty which knows no obstacles and is daily lived by thousands of sons and daughters of the Church” (ET, 3).
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