If you have unanswered questions about the vocation of consecrated virginity, please feel free to ask them on this blog. You can leave them in the comment box at the bottom of this page, or in the comment box after any post.
I answer all questions to the best of my ability and as accurately as possible. However, since many readers’ questions pertain to “gray areas,” (i.e., to theological or canonical issues which have yet to be authoritatively defined or clarified by the institutional Church) be aware that I often include my own educated opinions as part of my answers. In other words, keep in mind that this blog is emphatically NOT the last word on Catholic doctrine!
Usually, I give substantial questions their own full-length post. Therefore, please know that by leaving a question in the comment box, you are giving me permission to reprint and comment on it at length.
Because blogging is a public form of communication, for the sake of modesty I will delete any question which I deem to be overly personal in its disclosures. If you have comments or questions which you would like to discuss in a non-public forum, you can write to me at: sponsa.christi.author (at) gmail (dot) com. I keep all email correspondence private unless you give me explicit permission to quote or reprint a passage.
My life is very full, so unfortunately I can’t always answer questions or emails in as timely a fashion as I would like. So, if I haven’t answered your question or replied to an email, please do be patient with me!
Some questions previously asked by “Sponsa Christi” readers:
Should consecrated virgins have a dress code?
Is consecrated virginity a viable form of consecrated life?
What kind of rings do consecrated virgins wear?
Is consecrated life compatible with studying theology?
Is consecrated virginity the same thing as “the single life?”
I'd be interested in a blog post about "the spirit of poverty and obedience" that you mention a lot, some of your thoughts about how these are lived out practically.
I think I understand the spirit of poverty better, like discerning for instance that for you personally watching tv isn't a normative part of your day to day life and living simply. But how would this concretely differ from how all Christians are called to live simply and with appropriate detachment to material things?
And how does the "spirit of obedience" differ from straight up "obedience". I mean if your bishop or "your" Vicar for Religious told you to do or not do something wouldn't you just do it? How is the vow of obedience of a professed religious different from the "spirit of obedience"?
Speaking of obedience, perhaps another point you could touch upon would be submitting to superiors in trust while you sense this very specific calling from God to a particular mission that is gravely important and giving up some "control" of that (perhaps relating to consecrated virginity as compared to religious life ). You are aware of my personal struggle and discernment in this area, but it may be helpful to reflect on this for other people as I think that obedience is the most challenging evangelical council and one that I personally and the culture have a hard time grasping.
Another topic I'd be interested to see you write more on would be the relationship between a consecrated virgin and the diocese she is consecrated in. What sort of commitment does this involve in your opinion and why?
Thank you so much for your insightful blog. I would like to know if it is possible to be a consecrated virgin and a member of a Third Order, or if the two are separate vocations. I've read that that members of Third Orders take a vow of chastity, but I don't know that it is of the same nature as the vow of consecrated virginity.
I know this probably isn't the type of question you expect to get, but what do consecrated virgins wear? Are they still allowed to wear make-up and spend time of their physical appearence or is that considered too "wordly?" This is something I have been wondering about but can't seem to find an answer for. Thank you so much for your time and God bless!
Hi - I am a consecrated virgin in NJ. I've been reading some of the posts - and have some thoughts -
yes it is possble to be a third order member and also received the Rite - all things of course being at the discretion of the local bishop and one's spiritual director. I know of two consecrated virgins who are third order Franciscans in the Philadelphia Archdiocese and two consecrated virgins who are also in the Trenton Diocese - one is an Augustinian Recollect and the other has some sort of affiliation with the Benedictines in Newark. Hope that helps some of the questions.
Also - obedience - the Virgins who receive the Rite also make a promise of allegiance/fidelity to their diocese and this is a signed document - it s something like the document completed by the Deacons and the priests who are incardinated (attached) to a particular diocese. Since consecrated virgins' community is their diocese and their parish, and then the whole Church, our obedience is also to be deeply committed to the directives of our legitimate pastors/bishops, and of course the magisterium expressed through the Holy Father and the Vatican - As to poverty - it is of spirit - first and foremost the humility of Our Lady and then also unlike a vowed religious the consecrated virgins do not have a religious community to rely on for such things as helping with care when there is a long illness, or support of a parish, diocese, catholic school, hospital, etc, unless the virgin also happens to be an employee of a Catholic institution. Unlike the vowed religious congreations, the individual consecrated virgins must be able to supply her own financial support, including health care, retirement, housing, etc. This is also part of the Oath/pledge signed with the diocese which specifically says we cannot rely on the diocese for financial remuneration (although I truly believe if a virgin was in desperate financial straights the diocese would not totally ignore her).
Finally I have a question - a while back there was a blog that someone wrote to the Sacred Congregation for Consecrated Life regarding the use of "sister" for the consecrated virgin and I believe the response from the Congreation was that it was at the discretion of the local bishop. I am wondering which was the diocese and the formal answer - the written response as my diocese wants to know! I also contacted the USACV and the "discretion of the bishop" response from the Congregation - seems to be also the case in other circumstances too. I under that congregation, the Supreme Tribunal, and the Congregation for Liturgy are also working on consistency between countries and diocese regarding consecrated virgins and a document is being formulated.
By the way Jenna - we've met - at ICSST, Seton Hall - briefly at lunch in the Seminary dinning room! shortly before you graduated.
Please keep up your grace filled work - Prayers
Marie - (internet name)
In regard to whether consecrated virgins should wear a particular style of type of dress?
The Beguines in Europe were not part of religious communities and did not even take vows, however they did wear a very distinctive mode of dress that set them apart fromt he rest of society.
The more I read about these women the more impressed I am with not only how they lived but also with what they accomplished!
I have a question.
I realise that consecrated virginity is only open to women, but I am a man who has taken my own private vow of perpetual virginity.I took this vow on my 18th birthday I am now 49. I have never broken this vow and never will. Is there any way the church could recognise this as I have no vocation to either be a priest or enter the monastic life?
Are Nuns literally married to Christ? Or is it just a way to describe their closeness like Mary is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit? Two Priest I know said it is not a literal marriage. I'm sure Nuns want to be Jesus is perfect but please forget all self seeking when giving me the true answer.
With respect to secular institutes, they do take vows, according to Vision magazine. 9the vocation directory of the church). with permission, here is the link:
What do you do for fun? I am asking this with all respect intended. Even religious have recreation, so since you don't really go out to eat, to movies, don't watch television, don't live in a community, and believe in a spirit of retirement, how do you recharge yourself? Do you read for pleasure? Draw or paint? Etc...
Your blog is very nicely done!
Pace e bene,
Your Blog is so resourceful. Some one has approached me to seek answers and your blog served a great deal.
Keep up the good work in the Lord's vineyard.
I love your blog its amazing and so are you!I find the vocation of consagrated virgins facinating and I like to learn more about it.I just have a question, what happens once a consagrated virgin is retired and of old age who would be able to take care of her if she suffers from a disease like parkinson or Alzheimer if her own relatives are not around?
I'm interested in the psychological issue of the underlying point of religious celibacy as it relates to pet keeping. What I mean is that among those who "give up marriage for the sake of the love for which it is the sign" (Rite of Consecration), or as I think it is often put, do not have a family for the sake of offering the love which would in the vocation of marriage be offered to the face of Christ in serving husband and children to Him directly, do people find that it applies to pet-keeping as well, at least when it comes to the more emotionally demanding pets? Or does the opposite often apply in finding it necessary to keep pets for the sake of having some sort of earthly company, and something that needs your consideration and service, without actually having requirements on the same level that another human being would have?
If you don't mind a less abstract way of putting it, do you, or does anyone you know, keep or not keep a dog or a cat for reasons relating to your vocation to be a consecrated virgin (as opposed to things like it being necessary for security or impossible in the sort of housing you occupy) and what sort of vocation-related reasons would be involved?
And religious orders there is quite an extensive formation process befor one makes her valves. Knowing that consecrated virginity doesn't have as much of a formation process what type of process is there before becoming a consecrated virgin what does that look like? Is there a type of formation that takes place?
When or what is the moment you knew what your vocation was? How did you know that you were called to be a single consecrated virgin?
Hi Paige, as people have probably noticed, I've been having a hard time keeping up with the question box! But if you're discerning and have questions, I'd be happy to be in touch more directly via email: sponsa.christi.author[at]gmail.com. If you're interested, this blog also has a facebook page that's updated more often, where you can often "meet" other consecrated virgins and women discerning: https://www.facebook.com/sponsachristiblog/
To try to answer Paige's recent questions quickly, though--formation for consecrated virgins is determined by each individual diocese, though consecrated virginity formation programs in general are sort of a "work in progress" throughout the universal Church.
Speaking for myself personally, I knew I was called to be a bride of Christ when I was twelve. I was always attracted to the spirituality of the Church's early virgin-martyr saints, but it first "clicked" for me that I could live the same vocation as they did when I read the Code of Canon Law for the first time when I was nineteen and saw canon 604! (Yes, I was a major geek when I was a teenager! :) ) A few weeks later I had a chance to read the Rite of Consecration, and that felt like it matched perfectly everything that had been in my heart since I was twelve. So that's the short version of the story of how I first "knew."
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