Way of Life

“…They are virgins, and these are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” 
(Revelation 14:4)

***
“Those who consecrate their chastity under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit do so for the sake of more fervent love of Christ and of greater freedom in the service of their brothers and sisters. 

They are to spend their time in works of penance and of mercy, in apostolic activity, and in prayer, according to their state of life and spiritual gifts.” 

Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity 

***

Although the Church has a rich and ancient tradition of commentary on the theological and spiritual significance of consecrated virginity, at this time we have very few authoritative directives from the magisterium regarding the more practical aspects of this vocation. Consequently, many of the concrete elements in consecrated virgins’ way of life presently remain open to interpretation.

After several years of prayerful discernment, academic and personal study, discussions with knowledgeable people, and actually living this life, here is my own understanding of what it means to live out a vocation to consecrated virginity most fully.

However, please note that this list should not be taken as a personal criticism of other consecrated virgins who, in following their consciences, may have come to different conclusions on certain points. Even in cases of honest disagreement, I have the greatest respect for the sincerity and generosity of all my sisters in Christ.

***

1. Because consecrated virginity is a call to live as a spouse of Christ, this vocation by its very nature demands a complete, sacrificial gift of our whole selves. Therefore, I believe that we as consecrated virgins are called to order every area of our lives around our vocation in demonstrable ways, even when this becomes burdensome or seriously inconvenient.

2. Christ is worth the offering of one’s entire life. Therefore, I feel that those of us who hear the call to become a bride of Christ as young adult women should hasten to answer it, with a fervent eagerness to give Him even the gift of our youth.

3. Consecrated virgins are, as the Rite of Consecration states: “…chosen from other women to be dedicated to the service of Christ, and His body, the Church.” Because of this, I believe that under ordinary circumstances, we as consecrated virgins should be personally and explicitly committed to advancing the mission of the visible, institutional Church. I also feel that this dedication to service means that we should seek to serve that Church in a direct and even full-time capacity whenever this is possible.

4. Because consecrated virginity is an intrinsically liturgical vocation, and because consecrated virgins receive a commission to pray the Divine Office, I feel that we have a special call and responsibility to participate in the Church’s public prayer. On a concrete level, I believe this means that consecrated virgins should attend daily Mass wherever this is at all possible, and that we are also called to pray the full Liturgy of the Hours.

5. Since consecrated virgins are consecrated at the hands of the diocesan bishop, I believe that we acquire a particular link with the local Church for which we were consecrated. As a consequence of this special bond, I feel that we as consecrated virgins are called to a certain level of stability—or in other words, that we should not permanently leave our home dioceses without an appropriately serious reason.

6. As consecrated persons, I believe that our public profession of life-long virginity also calls us to live in a spirit of evangelical poverty and obedience in a more radical way than would be proper or possible for the vast majority of the baptized faithful. On our part, I feel that evangelical obedience should be lived out through a deep and sincere docility towards the direction of our bishop, and through a manifested willingness to prioritize the needs of the Church over our own personal desires and preferences. Likewise, evangelical poverty should be expressed through a demonstrably simple lifestyle, a generosity in serving the Church, and a profound attitude of detachment from even the good things of this world.

7. Consecrated virginity is a public state of consecrated life recognized by the Church, and consecrated virgins are called to bear public witness to the coming of the Kingdom of heaven. Therefore, barring truly exceptional circumstances, I feel that we as consecrated virgins have a responsibility toward the people of God be open about our vocation at all times.

No comments: