Commitment is an act of the will by which a person orients the total personality in response to a reality deemed absolute. Christian faith asserts God’s self communication in Jesus Christ as an absolute invitation to humanity addressed to the totality of human existence.
This self-communication brings an actual sharing of divine life. Commitment, then, as the free and full acceptance of and witness to God’s Revelation, forms an essential and characteristic element of Christian faith.
Itis both affirmation and activity appropriate to the recognition of the call to participate in the creative and redemptive plan of God.
The Christian engages in communal participation in this divine plan through the mission of the Church. Sacramental life concretizes the call that all receive to associate themselves with Christ in his saving mission and also elicits the response inspired by grace. The documents of VATICAN COUNCIL II, stressing the Church as the Sacrament of salvation, essentially state that the commitment that the Church signifies is one of perfect charity.
The individual willingly accepts the fact that love of God and love of neighbor cannot be separated. The Christian, in faith, recognizes the call to holiness that is only achieved through self-giving love. This recognition is the beginning of the actualization of the Church’s mission to be a sign of the unity of humankind and of the Kingdom of God.
Individuals are to enact this faith commitment as social beings. With hope and confident freedom, the Christian is a realist regarding life in the world and seeks to bring the meaning of God’s revealed promises to the variety of social situations and responsibilities in which he or she is involved.
Human existence, in its varied forms and contexts, is neither denied nor tolerated, but is the basis of an obedient faith. In both single and married life choices, each person thus recognizes the historical character of his or her vocation in light of the Gospel.
All vocation is essentially the historical responsibility undertaken in openness to God’s presence in human existence.
The public profession of religious states of life specifically signifies commitment as an essential element of Christian faith. Here the person accepts a particular ecclesial structure as the chosen form of commitment to God.
This structure is not the object of religious commitment, but is vital to the historical efficacy of that commitment.
Public by nature, the commitment is asserted as an intensification of the baptismal commitment of Christian life.
Ordinarily, the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity,and obedience are vowed perpetually to God through theChurch. The perpetual nature of the vows stresses the totality more than the temporality of this commitment of men and women religious. In contemporary expression, this commitment is directed to the liberation of persons from all forms of oppression. This accounts for the plurality of forms of religious life within the Church today.
Bibliography: M. FARLEY and D. GOTTEMOELLER, ‘‘Commitment in a Changing World.’’ Reviews in Religion and Theology 34 (1975) 846–867. K. RAHNER, Foundations of Christian Faith.