Antonio Rosmini among the Inspiring Figures of Vatican II
We already mentioned an expression used in the Constitution Lumen
Gentium which corresponded to n. 1 of the Maxims of Christian
Perfection. With more careful reading we can find other
statements in text derived from Rosmini. We set them about below in
Noticing this is enormously important for us, at this time when we
feel that the time for the beatification of Father Founder is getting
close. In this way he will be seen as a saint through his virtuous
life and a great teacher of holiness for every one. In fact
recording that holiness within everyone's reach is acknowledged as
one of the great gains of the Council. Rosmini had written about it
130 years previously.
Let me mention a passage from the Conference given by Mgr Edward
Nowak, Secretary of the Congregation of the Saints, in September 2001
at El Escorial in Spain at the end of a week of studies on the Causes
of the Saints. "The evangelist of the third millennium is a witness
which is synonymous with saint. Beatifications and canonisation's in
the pastoral field of new evangelization".
"Vatican II has stressed, with renewed energy, the universal call to
holiness in chapter V of the dogmatic constitution Lumen
Gentium. In its conclusion we read a definite and bold statement:
"All of Christ's followers are therefore invited and bound to
pursue holiness and their perfect fulfilment of their proper
"The conciliar text reacts strenuously in the face of a theory which
appeared to make sanctity consist in sensational deeds and
extraordinary ways of acting, beyond the lives of ordinary mortals.
So it could be considered to be the sole exclusive heritage of the
few and an object of admiration and not as model to be imitated and
practised. The Constitution Lumen Gentium responds to this
"Thus it is evident to everyone that all the faithful of Christ of
whatever rank or status are called to the fullness of the Christian
life and to the perfection of charity" n. 40).
Following the Council, John Paul II states:
"The Second Vatican Council has significantly spoken on the
universal call to holiness. It is possible to say that this call to
holiness is precisely the basic charge entrusted to all the sons and
daughters of the Church by a Council which intended to bring a
renewal of Christian life based on the gospel"
See how the Pope indicates holiness to be the heart of the Church's
mission" (Page of the supplement to the Osservatore Romano,
"Significantly spoken"; "the basic charge".
At this point it is certain that Rosmini's spiritual teaching is that
of the Church.
I am convinced that the approaching recognition of the holiness of
Rosmini will be a great stimulus to each of us to live our vocation
to holiness with greater commitment.
The Maxims of Christian Perfection echoed
in Vatican II.
The corresponding words are underlined.
Constitution Lumen Gentium with certain expressions in Chapter
The corresponding words are underlined.
All Christians, all disciples of Jesus Christ, whatever may
be their state and condition, are called to perfection; for all are
called to the Gospel, which is a law of perfection (Introd. n.1).
Thus it is evident to everyone that all the faithful of Christ
of whatever rank or status are called to the fullness of the Christian
life and to the perfection of charity (n. 40b).
All of Christ's followers, therefore, are invited and bound to pursue
holiness and the perfect fulfilment of their proper state (n.
If Christians, following the teaching of their Divine Master, would put
into practice all that has set forth in this book, they would form a
peaceful and happy society, not only in the lifer to come, but even in
the present life (Sixth Maxim, n. 25)
By this holiness a more human way of life is promoted even
in this earthly society n. 40b
And to all alike was said by our Divine Master, "Be ye
perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48) (Introd.
The Lord Jesus, the Divine Teacher and model of perfection,
preached holiness of life to each and everyone of his
disciples, regardless of their situation: "Be ye perfect, as
your heavenly Father is perfect (Mt 5: 48) (n. 40a).
The perfection of the Gospel consists in the exact fulfilment of the
two precepts of charity, the love of God and of our neighbour. Hence
the desire which the Christian feels, and the effort which he makes, to
be united wholly to God, as much as is possible in this world, with all
his affections and in all the actions of his life, in obedience to the
command which is laid upon him: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God
with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole
mind;" and "though shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Mt
22: 37, 39) (n. 2)
For he sent the Holy Spirit among all men that he might
inspire them from within to love God with their whole heart and
their whole soul, with all their mind and all their strength (cf. Mk
12: 30) and that they might love one another as Christ loved
them(cf. Jn 13: 34; 15: 12) (n. 40a)
To attain this perfection of love, which the disciple of Jesus Christ
ought always to aim at, there are three very useful means, namely the
profession of actual poverty, chastity and obedience. But these are not
precepts for every Christian; they are only counsels which the
Gospel gives, as being of a nature to remove from the mind and
heart, and life of the Christian, whatever obstacle there may be to his
devoting himself wholly to the love of God and of his neighbour (n. 3).
Now, this holiness of the Church in a particularly appropriate
way shines out in the practice of the counsels, customarily called
evangelical. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, the practice
of these counsels is undertaken by many Christians, either privately or
in some Church - approved situation or state, and produces in the
world, as produce it should, a shining witness and model of holiness (n.
Perfect charity, in which consists the perfection of all Christians,
brings the whole person into union his Creator. It may be defined as
the total consecration or sacrifice which the person makes of
himself to God, in imitation of that sacrifice which was made by
his only begotten , our redeemer Jesus Christ. By this consecration
a person intends to have no other ultimate end in all his
actions than the service of God; and to have no object, and to seek for
no good or happiness on earth, except that of pleasing God and of
serving him (n. 7).
In order that the faithful may reach this perfection,
they must use their strength according as they have received it, as a
gift from Christ. In this way, following his footsteps and moulding
themselves in his image, in total obedience to the will of the
Father, they should consecrate themselves to the
glory of God and the service of their neighbour (n. 40b)
If then the Christian who intends to follow his vocation, and to attain
perfection, is determibned to seek only in all things the glory of
Jesus Christ, he ought to employ all his powers in the service of the
Church; to her he ought, in every way that he can, to devote his
thoughts; in her service he should wish to wear out his strength, and,
after the example of Jesus Christ and of the martyrs, to shed his blood
(Second Maxim, n. 4
Since, Jesus, the Son of God, manifested his charity by laying down his
life for us, no one has greater love that he who lays down his life for
Christ and his brothers and sisters (cf. 1 Jn 2: 16; Jn
15: 13) From the earliest times, then, some Christians have been called
upon and some will always be called upon to give this supreme testimony
to all men, but especially to persecutors
By martyrdom a disciple is transformed into an image of his
Master, who freely accepted death on behalf of the world's
salvation; he perfects that image even to the shedding of his blood,
is esteemed by the Church as an exceptional gift and the highest proof
of love. (n. 42b).
Edited by Vito Nardin.
Charitas August September 2004.