Saturday, January 19, 2008

Some Thoughts on the Question "Why This?"

Oddly enough, I find it much more difficult to explain why I am becoming a consecrated virgin specifically than I do trying to explain why I wish to embrace the consecrated life in general.

In many ways it would seem to make much more sense for me to join a religious order. Many, if not most, religious orders need more young women to join if their community is to continue its service to the Church. In all likelihood, if I entered the convent I would be helping to fulfill an established need. Further, if I became a religious I would undoubtedly find much more support and guidance as I strive to live as a spouse of Christ. So on the surface at least, opting for membership in a religious institute would seem to be a more prudent decision.

The only real response I have to these valid concerns is that I am trying to do what I sincerely think God wants me to do. At the end of the day, I'm of the opinion that the "why" of a person's vocation is something only God understands. However, there are some aspects of consecrated virginity in the world which particularly resonated with my sense of a call.

One of the qualities of this vocation which I found most attractive was its universality. One difficulty I encountered in discerning religious life was my disinclination to adopt any particular spirituality or mode of prayer.

While I wholeheartedly agree that the spiritualities of the various religious families are a great gift to the Church, I never really felt that I was meant to be a Benedictine, a Franciscan, an Augustinian, a Dominican, or a sister of anything else. I wanted to be consecrated, but just as a Catholic! As I see it, the spiritual heritage of a consecrated virgin is the spiritual heritage of the universal Church.

Similarly, in my own personal situation I felt that my identity as a consecrated woman should be based essentially on my spousal relationship with Christ, independent of any sort of specific work or apostolate. Religious institutes by their very nature reflect a particular mission; that is, they arise in order to fulfill a certain need. Yet I felt that my "mission" was simply to participate in the general mission of the Catholic Church.

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