I am learning about the vocation to consecrated virginity (to live as a consecrated single in the world). I realize that religious life may not work out for everyone, due to health or other circumstances. Yet what if God is still calling a soul to special consecration – to belong only to Him and to a life of prayer and penance. Do you have any insights about other forms of consecrated life? They too, would be a living out of a spousal relationship to Christ, right?
This is a great question!!! Indeed, the Church is so beautiful!! All vocations are so beautiful, because when lived well, they bring great glory to God!
After doing a little bit of research into the life of someone who would live Consecrated Virginity within the world, I was able to really see the beauty of this life!
There are a few points I would like to make about Consecrated Virginity taken from the Code of Canon Law and the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity. According to the Code of Canon Law, one called to a life of Consecrated Virginity is betrothed mystically to Christ and dedicated to the service of the Church. She enters a public state of consecrated life in the Church and she lives her life individually under the direction of the diocesan Bishop. Her time is meant to be spent in works of penance and mercy, apostolic activity, and in prayer in accord with her state of life and spiritual gifts. Once she is consecrated, she has the grace of manifesting the love of the Church, the Bride, for her Bridegroom, Christ, and the grace of foreshadowing the heavenly wedding feast of Christ and the Church.
The virgin does not consecrate herself as the religious does through the profession of the evangelical counsels, rather, she presents herself to be consecrated by the Church. And the Church consecrates her whole person, thus she is set apart as a sacred woman in the Church. There are a few conclusions that can be made regarding the consecration of the virgin:
- Her consecration is a sacramental with the force of conferring the lasting identity of a Bride of Christ
- A living sign of the love of the Church for her Bridegroom
- And is a sign foreshadowing the Heavenly Wedding Feast of Christ and the Church.
These words clearly identify who a consecrated virgin is:
The consecrated virgin offers the gift of her physical virginity to Christ, as a sign of the dedication of her entire being to Him. Through the Rite of Consecration, the Church receives the gift of the virgin and calls down upon her the grace of the Holy Spirit that she may never fail in her resolve to live in perfect continence for the sake of Christ and His Church. [Taken from Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, “Vocations to the Consecrated Life,” St. Louis Review Online, August 13, 2004]
If you would like to read further about this beautiful call to Consecrated Virginity, there are a few resources that you could access. There is a book called: Volume One: An Introduction to the Vocation of Consecrated Virginity Lived in the World which was compiled and published by the United States Association of Consecrated Virgins. I used this resource while writing this blog! There is also a really good website by the United States Association of Consecrated Virgins that I would recommend. Here is the link: www.consecratedvirgins.org
I hope this helps! Thank you for your question!
What is the hardest part of living Religious Life?
Wow!! This is a very interesting question!
We who are Religious have been called to a life of love in imitation of our Spouse Jesus Christ. We are called to live our life as He lived His by living the Evangelical Counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. This is a life of sacrifice…a life that is a total self-gift, a life where we place ourselves completely in the hands of our Heavenly Father. We have accepted the invitation of Christ to follow Him in a special way just as the Apostles did. We live our lives in community where we live a specific Rule of life, and in living this Rule of life that is blessed by the Church through the diocesan Bishop, we believe that living out the Evangelical Counsels and our Rule is our path to holiness.
Having said all of this, what is the hardest part of Religious Life? Self. My sins, my imperfections, my fight with wanting to do my own will, my struggle because I realize that I am not perfect…yes indeed, putting up with my own self is the hardest part of Religious Life. However, with all this said, our struggles, trials and imperfections are not an obstacle to our vocation to our growth in holiness, rather they purify us and humble us in order for us to make a more complete gift of self to God. It is a great mercy from God that He shows us those areas of our life that are holding us back from full union with Him. If we do not know these areas, we cannot grow in union with God. In Religious Life we are striving for holiness, striving to overcome our lives of sin and be united to Christ. This is intense! In order to be united to Christ, we need to be purified of those things that are holding us back from this deep intimacy with the Lord. This is a lifelong journey…yet it is exciting, because we know at the end of our journey, there Jesus will be, with open arms, and we will know how He has been loving us every step of the way. Until that day, he sustains us in the Eucharist, giving us the strength to keep trying everyday.
Thank you so much for all of your questions! I hope that this has helped you understand Religious Life a bit better. In the month of June we are going to be addressing some really exciting topics on the Spiritual Life…you won’t want to miss it!!