I hope to be able to contribute to post-conciliar theology of Religious Life by demonstrating the thought of Pope John Paul II in Redemptionis Donum. In particular, I show the role of his philosophy, his study and discipleship of St John of the Cross, and the fundamental importance of his reflections on redemption. I present this in the context of the orientation and contribution to Religious Life of the Second Vatican Council.
The picture which emerges is of an encounter with Jesus, the Redeemer, who was sent into the world by the Father because He so loved the world, (Jn 3:16). This is a profoundly intimate encounter with the unique inalienable human person. In consequence the grace of baptism flowers in a specific way through the evangelical counsels by which the Religious is consecrated into the economy of redemption. The transformation effected by this ongoing encounter becomes, and inserts in the Church, a specific identity with the redemptive Way of Christ journeying to the telos of restoration of the fullness of humanity in union with God.
My thesis researches the Apostolic Exhortation Redemptionis Donum of Pope John Paul II in order to see if it offers an original theology of Consecrated Life. It is in two main sections. After providing a Sitz im Leben on the present author in her contact with Redemptionis Donum the first section prepares for the analysis of the Exhortation through presentation of the biography of Pope John Paul II and introductions to the influence on him of St John of the Cross, his theological anthropology and his soteriology, each of which are contributory perspectives informing Redemptionis Donum. Each of these elements is analysed and presented in such a way as to show its connection with the themes and insights which emerge in the Exhortation.
The second section introduces the theological context of Redemptionis Donum through a presentation of the theology of Consecrated Life in the documents of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council and some post-conciliar material, with particular reference to the connections which will be made with the later text. This text is then introduced through the rhetorical category of epideictic with which it is identified.
The Exhortation is then examined in detail, using the insights gained through the presentation of the previous chapters and the rhetorical analysis of the text as epideictic prose. Conclusions about its theological originality are drawn up and its relevance glimpsed through references to the reception of this theology when it has been presented to practitioners of the Consecrated Life by the present author.
© Mary Stevens July 2018