|St. Catherine of Siena's Mystical Marriage|
To you, young people, I say: if you hear the Lord's call, do not reject it! Dare to become part of the great movements of holiness which renowned saints have launched in their following of Christ. Cultivate the ideals proper to your age, but readily accept God's plan for you if he invites you to seek holiness in the consecrated life. Admire all God's works in the world, but be ready to fix your eyes on the things destined never to pass away.
The Third Millennium awaits the contribution of the faith and creativity of great numbers of young consecrated persons, that the world may be made more peaceful and able to welcome God and, in him, all his sons and daughters. Blessed John Paul II
This quotation is from the Apostolic Letter Vita Consecrata explained below.
I write this for my English friends, and some young people in Malta, who had not heard of the life of the Consecrated Virgin. Starting with this excellent website, I shall merely list a few points on the vocation. Personally, I know two and both woman work for the Church in various capacities. Both are professional women and wonderful lights in the world. I highly suggest that some of the single persons who are women look into this as a possible call from God. The beauty of this life involves several levels of holiness-poverty, celibacy and obedience. One becomes a "sign of contradiction in the world".
Let me start with the Vatican document on the consecrated life. On March 25th, 1996, Blessed John Paul II promulgated the apostolic letter Vita Consecrata. Blessed John Paul II began this letter referring to love and the Mystery of the Transfiguration. His description of the call of virgins to this rule is sublime. One can click on the name and follow the text. Here are a few sections from this beautiful letter:
Consecrated persons, who embrace the evangelical counsels, receive a new and special consecration which, without being sacramental, commits them to making their own — in chastity, poverty and obedience — the way of life practised personally by Jesus and proposed by him to his disciples. Although these different categories are a manifestation of the one mystery of Christ, the lay faithful have as their specific but not exclusive characteristic, activity in the world; the clergy, ministry; consecrated men and women, special conformity to Christ, chaste, poor and obedient.
The Institutes of Consecrated Life, through the profession of the evangelical counsels, must be conscious of their special mission in today's Church, and we must encourage them in that mission".The Fathers of the Ninth Assembly of the Synod of Bishops echoed this conviction: "Throughout the Church's history, consecrated life has been a living presence of the Spirit's work, a kind of privileged milieu for absolute love of God and of neighbour, for witness to the divine plan of gathering all humanity into the civilization of love, the great family of the children of God".The Church has always seen in the profession of the evangelical counsels a special path to holiness. The very expressions used to describe it — the school of the Lord's service, the school of love and holiness, the way or state of perfection — indicate the effectiveness and the wealth of means which are proper to this form of evangelical life, and the particular commitment made by those who embrace it.It is not by chance that there have been so many consecrated persons down the centuries who have left behind eloquent testimonies of holiness and have undertaken particularly generous and demanding works of evangelization and service.
Consecrated persons are asked to be true experts of communion and to practise the spirituality of communionas "witnesses and architects of the plan for unity which is the crowning point of human history in God's design".The sense of ecclesial communion, developing into aspirituality of communion, promotes a way of thinking, speaking and acting which enables the Church to grow in depth and extension. The life of communion in fact "becomes a signfor all the world and a compelling force that leads people to faith in Christ ... In this way communion leads to mission, and itself becomes mission"; indeed, "communion begets communion: in essence it is a communion that is missionary". In founders and foundresseswe see a constant and lively sense of the Church, which they manifest by their full participation in all aspects of the Church's life, and in their ready obedience to the Bishops and especially to the Roman Pontiff. Against this background of love towards Holy Church, "the pillar and bulwark of the truth" (1 Tim 3:15), we readily understand the devotion of Saint Francis of Assisi for "the Lord Pope",the daughterly outspokenness of Saint Catherine of Siena towards the one whom she called "sweet Christ on earth",the apostolic obedience and the sentire cum Ecclesia of Saint Ignatius Loyola,and the joyful profession of faith made by Saint Teresa of Avila: "I am a daughter of the Church".We can also understand the deep desire of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus: "In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love".These testimonies are representative of the full ecclesial communion which the Saints, founders and foundresses, have shared in diverse and often difficult times and circumstances. They are examples which consecrated persons need constantly to recall if they are to resist the particularly strong centrifugal and disruptive forces at work today.
The prophetic task of the consecrated life is brought into play by three major challenges addressed to the Church herself: they are the same challenges as ever, posed in new ways, and perhaps more radically, by contemporary society, at least in some parts of the world. These challenges relate directly to the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience, impelling the Church, and consecrated persons in particular, to clarify and testify to the profound anthropological significance of the counsels. The decision to follow the counsels, far from involving an impoverishment of truly human values, leads instead to their transformation. The evangelical counsels should not be considered as a denial of the values inherent in sexuality, in the legitimate desire to possess material goods or to make decisions for oneself. Insofar as these inclinations are based on nature, they are good in themselves. Human beings, however, weakened as they are by original sin, run the risk of acting on them in a way which transgresses the moral norms. The profession of chastity, poverty and obedience is a warning not to underestimate the wound of original sin and, while affirming the value of created goods, it relativizes them by pointing to God as the absolute good. Thus, while those who follow the evangelical counsels seek holiness for themselves, they propose, so to speak, a spiritual "therapy" for humanity, because they reject the idolatry of anything created and in a certain way they make visible the living God. The consecrated life, especially in difficult times, is a blessing for human life and for the life of the Church.
Realizing this is a long post already, I would like to add the following from the website above. This list will help clarify the call. This call involves a commitment, and is a vocation. These women do not, obviously, belong to those groups of singles who do not commit themselves to anything. I would read and ponder this lovely detailed examination. I am so happy Blessed John Paul II re-organized this life-style. I hope readers understand that to make a decision for Christ should involve a relationship with the Church in a formal way, as we were not meant to be alone in the world, tossed and turned by circumstances, without focus.
From the Code of Canon Law:
• The virgin is consecrated to God by the diocesan Bishop according to a rite approved by the church. [Catechism of the Catholic Church, 922-924]
• She is betrothed mystically to Christ and dedicated to the service of the church.
• She enters a public state of consecrated life in the Church.
• She lives her life individually, under the direction of the diocesan Bishop.
From the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity:
• The consecrated virgin is constituted a sacred person in the Church. [Introduction, No. 1]
• No particular service or spirituality is imposed; the consecrated virgin's time is spent in works of penance and of mercy, in apostolic activity, and in prayer, in accord with her state of life and spiritual gifts. [No. 2]
• She is strongly advised to recite the Liturgy of the Hours daily, and is committed to praying Morning and Evening Prayer. [No.2]
• Her life is one of perpetual virginity. [No.5]
The consecrated virgin remains in the secular state, providing completely for her own material needs, medical care, and retirement. At no time is the diocese financially responsible for her. [Sr. Sharon Holland, Consecrated Virgins for Today's Church, 1998, as printed in Consecrated Life, Vol. 24, No.2, pp. 257-75]
The consecrated virgin does not wear habit or veil, nor use the title "Sister," nor write "OCV" after her name. She witnesses subtly, but publicly and powerfully, by her virginal life given exclusively to Jesus Christ. Consecrated virgins today wear their ring, but their comportment, modesty in dress, simplicity in lifestyle all betoken their living of the evangelical counsels. [from Archbishop Burke, Questions and Answers in "Preparation Process," USACV Information Packet, revised August 2009]
I was going to post this tomorrow, but some readers wanted to know more about this. God bless you all. Tomorrow I shall write on the Order of Widows, which does not exist at this time, but did. There are some in Europe and the Vatican is working on a Rite.