Caritas Christi is a secular institute approved by the Church for women aged 20-50 (single or widowed) who want to give their lives totally to God in the world. Laywomen of many nationalities have been called to this vocation. Among us there are differences of culture, mentality and outlook. What unites us is the love of God. This love has been personally addressed to each one of us. God has called us into life with Him, and for Him, in the world. We have responded to this love by a freely chosen decision to live our baptism to the full, for the Church, in the world. God loves us profoundly as we are. The mission of CC is to ignite that love in the world, to love others as God loves them and to enable them to love God too.
How can this be done?
We are laywomen and we live as other laywomen, one among others, with nothing to separate us from them. Our everyday life is the place where we meet God. Whatever we may be called to do, great or small, what matters is the degree of love we put into it. Being is more important than doing.
We are open to people wherever we live and work, in our jobs, in family surroundings, with friends, in trade unions, in politics, in the village, in the parish, in the service of the Church.
We love this world, for the world is loved by God. The world is a divine place, the place in which God expects my collaboration. We are in solidarity with the world in its hopes, joys and sorrows.
We are committed to build a society that respects every human being and that is based on justice and peace. When we have to make decisions about great questions such as globalization and the environment and about smaller questions, we try to embrace the same purpose for which the Son of God came into the world. We are challenged by every injustice and every search for truth, beauty and goodness. This is not because we can come up with the solution to all problems; rather it is because every circumstance in which human beings live and die is an opportunity for us to give witness to God’s saving work.
Through our life we want to Be a message of God; we want to be witnesses to God’s love, to become a mirror and light of his love in our own environment.
We want to be yeast, salt and light in order to enable the world to be changed from within and transformed into a good dwelling place for all people. We want to be witnesses to resurrection and to give expression to God’s “Yes” to life, by living in hope and confidence.
We consider ourselves to be a bridge between the Church and the world. We want those around us to experience the love of Christ and to know that He is near them. We want them to see that the Church was born out of love, and we want the love of the Church to grow. We also share in what may be the difficult and painful work of the Church’s renewal and development.
Our vocation takes us into the heart of the Church, which is a sign and the means of the intimate union of all humankind with God. By our donation we give ourselves to God, for the Church. Our daily life unites us with the Church and daily prayer for the Church is vital to our vocation.
How does our Caritas Christi vocation help us to do this?
We respond to God’s call by choosing freely to live totally with and for God. We come together with others who have received the same call and are following the same way of life. From them we receive support and encouragement to live out this demanding vocation. We make an option for God that requires of us absolute trust in Him. We live surrounded by his love and desire to please Him in everything.
We make a gift (donation) of our whole self to God, promising to live in celibacy chosen out of love, so that in us the love of God will grow. Christ living in us is present to his people; Christ living in us helps us to know ourselves and to become the person he wants us to be. We rejoice in discovering the riches of our human personality. We accept our weakness and limits, trusting in the love of God who accepts us as we are and is always ready to forgive.
We live in openness and gratitude, aware of receiving everything from God. We recognize the responsibility this imposes on us to be aware of the needs of the world, and to take our part in changing what needs to be changed.
God calls us where we are, and wants us not just to live there, but to be deeply involved there, to be attentive to the people we meet and to daily events and problems. We take care to develop our competence, skills and talents to respond to the needs of our world.
In a world where the role of women, ideas of sexuality and social realities are constantly changing, we must be creative and discerning in the way we lead our celibate life.
Each member of Caritas Christi takes responsibility for her own life and its decisions. In the light of the Gospel, and following the example of Christ she sees all that she has as a gift from the Father, to be used according to his will.
The keynote of our life is love. We live deeply rooted in God. The more closely we are united to Christ, the more we can express the gospel by the witness of our lives, lives offered to God in the midst of the world. In prayer we come to see the world as God sees it. More and more we are seized by the spirit of Christ and bring all things to the Father; joy, hope suffering, poverty, restrictions, problems, pain. Our life becomes prayer. Prayer is love. Action is love. There is no separation. Our life is love.
With all members of CC we deepen our life of prayer:
- in solitude and communion
- in personal prayer and prayer together in praise and thanksgiving
- in silence and listening and in dialogue with God’s word in Scripture
- in meditation and in adoration
- in the sacraments of healing and forgiveness.
Daily we unite ourselves to the Church’s great act of thanksgiving in the Eucharist, so that we can be transformed by God’s word and drawn into the perfect sacrifice by which Christ redeemed the world.
Frequently we renew the “Yes” to God that we made on the day of our Dedication (Donation). We join with Mary. Her “Yes” was filled with faith and lived to the end with courage and joy. From Mary we learn how to live, how to love Jesus and how to follow Him. From Catherine of Siena we learn how to live deeply united to Christ in the reality of our daily life and how to live with courage as an active and discerning member of the Church.
What are the stages of advancement in Caritas Christi?
- Three years of initial formation enable a new member to study the vocation of Caritas Christi and to decide whether it corresponds to the call she has received.
- She undertakes this formation in her normal place through dialog. It is always adapted to the real-life conditions and to the personal vocation of each one.
- Annual commitments mark the advance toward the final commitment (final dedication) recognized by Church.