They are "the challenge of the spirituality of communion; of vigilant and laborious attention to the plurality of cultures; and the appreciation of woman's genius," said Salesian Sister Enrica Rosanna, undersecretary of the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
She offered her reflections Feb. 11 at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, in the context of the Day of Reflection and Study on "The Church, Vital Area of Consecrated Life."
The event was held to observe the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's decree on the renewal of religious life, "Perfectae Caritatis."
Expounding on her point about women's genius, Sister Rosanna said: "We have been invited to propose a concept and an experience of maternity 'beyond the stereotype,' an emotional, cultural and spiritual maternity; to propose symbols of maternity as a paradigm in order to read in-depth and translate into commitment the relationship with nature, with others, and with God."
"How many times have I thought that if women went on strike the world would stop!" she said.
"Our life as religious, and especially as women, should be that of thirsting with Jesus and of taking upon ourselves the thirst of our people and of all those, entrusted to our care, for whose love Jesus himself continues to thirst," the woman religious continued.
"To be able to be genuine consecrated women, we must be ever more enamored of Jesus. We must put love in the first place of our life," she added.
This love becomes a luminous testimony in the various religious institutes, through education, charity, service to the poor, parish leadership, and the world of culture, Sister Rosanna said.
"Fruitful and intelligent cooperation to rescue the human person" is the basis for "peace, democracy and the development of peoples," she continued.
"To our dehumanized society, which does not respect woman's dignity, especially of the weakest, we consecrated women wish to offer the gift of our personal dignity through the word and testimony of our life and the riches inherent to our feminine vocation," said the Vatican undersecretary.
"The vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, rediscovered and lived in this key of relationship, which puts love of the Lord in the first place, are a privileged way to build a healthy society, to the measure of the human person," she explained.
Sister Rosanna added that the key to being a consecrated woman is to make room for the "genius of one's relationship with the Lord, source and reason of all love."