From the very infancy of the Church, there have existed men and women who strove to follow Christ more freely and imitate Him more nearly by the practice of the evangelical counsels; the perfection of charity through the practice and profession of chastity in celibacy, poverty and obedience.Each one, in his or her own way, led a life dedicated to God. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, some pursued a solitary life or founded religious families to which the Church willingly gave welcome and approval.
And so it happened by divine plan that a wonderful variety of religious communities grew up. The variety contributed toward making the Church experienced in every good deed and ready for a ministry of service. A life consecrated by a profession of the counsels is of surpassing value and has a necessary role to play in the present age.
- Decree on the Appropriate Renewal of Religious Life
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