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beatitude

Consecrated Single Life

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Sister Marie
Beatitude, if you could share anything more about what part of this stage you are at right now and what secular institute you are interested in or a part of already, I would love to hear. I do understand however keeping some things private, so whatever you feel comfortable sharing will be greatly appreciated!

This is something as a sister I'm ashamed to say that I don't really know anything about. I would certainly love to hear more so that I can share this other type of vocation with the students I teach. It really is mysterious to many of us because it isn't something that is spoken about or experienced often.

Thanks for your beautiful post. I'm looking forward to learning more!

Prayers!

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beatitude
From my early teens I was quite convinced that I was going to be a nun one day, perhaps because I had never even heard of consecrated single life at this stage. When I did learn about it, I rejected it outright because it seemed so bare and boring. There was also a deeper fear there: loneliness. I'm naturally content with my own company, but I had a terrible worry of living alone and not being able to cope with life's problems by myself. I felt that I needed a religious community to support me spiritually and practically. I was underestimating myself - or more accurately, underestimating the gentle power of Christ in me. When a priest who knows me very well suggested that I consider the single life, I recoiled - perhaps because on some level the suggestion made sense. I was twenty-one at the time. Disregarding Father's advice, I decided to just go my own way and continue looking into religious life. I visited several communities and even did a live-in with one monastery, but it didn't work out. So I decided to stop forcing it, relax, concentrate on the humdrum minutiae of my day-to-day life, and see where that led me.

Giving myself patiently and whole-heartedly to my everyday occupations helped me to appreciate the gifts that my single state brings to me. I was working with profoundly disabled teenagers at the time, and over time I began to see that living alone and not having any children of my own added a unique and important dimension to my work. Gradually I felt a call to live more and more simply. One day, nearly a year ago now, it clicked: what if this is it? What if this is my vocation?

I remembered what my priest friend had said about secular institutes, and I looked them up online. When I was looking into religious life, I spent hours reading about different communities on the Internet (and instantly feeling called to each one!). I would agonise over the sheer number and wonder how I was supposed to work out where I belonged. This didn't happen here. It was a very simple and matter-of-fact process. I found a list of secular institutes, and identified two that I wanted to learn more about: one Carmelite secular institute and the Jesus Caritas Fraternity (founded in the spirit of Blessed Charles de Foucauld). I chose these two because their spirituality resonated with me. I no longer see vocation as having to find a very specific needle in a very specific haystack: it is possible that I could fulfill God's purpose for me in either institute or neither. My options are finite, and God who is infinite can bring good out of any choice I make, if my intention is right. My intention is to love him.

Based on our correspondence, I felt most drawn to the Jesus Caritas Fraternity. But there is a snag: there are no members where I live. While the Fraternity is international, most of its members are concentrated in France or America. This would make it a lot tougher for me to receive formation in the life, but not impossible. Right now we are discussing the best way to manage it. If it can't be done, I will look back to the Carmelite institute, which does have a presence in this country.

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marigold
beatitude, wow, this is so interesting and unusual (in a very... usual way, if that makes sense.) ! I will be reading avidly! Praying too.

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Quaesivi Vultuum Tuum
Dear Beatitude,
Thank you for you testimony. As many people i dont know wery well consecrated single life, and i consider this like a under-religious way.
But i have many exchange whith a friend about discerning, and she discerning for consecrated life. Thanks to our exchange I have discover the beauty of this call and that is a entire and beautiful vocation (but not mine!).
So thanks to partage your experience, because i think if many person don't like consecrated life it is because he doesn't know him!

(Sorry for grammar, but english is not my native language...I hope my post is comprehensible)

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somethingfishy
[quote name='beatitude' timestamp='1334002966' post='2415062']
I no longer see vocation as having to find a very specific needle in a very specific haystack: it is possible that I could fulfill God's purpose for me in either institute or neither. My options are finite, and God who is infinite can bring good out of any choice I make, if my intention is right. My intention is to love him.
[/quote]

This, many times over.

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BarbaraTherese
I have looked into Secular Institutes, but otherthan the Schoenstatt Sisters (habited) there is no presence here in Australia. I did make enquiries with "The Leaven", an O.Carm (Carmelite) Secular Institute with a presence in Ireland and the UK, but they would like me to make at least one visit and all that money ($3000) at least return seemed an awful lot of money to me on my tight budget. I have other 'irons in the fire' but I must admit that I have no real attraction other than a desire 'to belong', while recognizing that through my Baptism I am already consecrated and belong. Also there is an attraction to a formation process that would be ongoing.
So at this point, I am concentrating on the lifestyle I have lived for over 30 years now and experience it as a call and vocation - and with formation through my spiritual director and an ex novice mistress in her religious order. The honesty of my situation is that while there are attractions towards secular institutes (belonging and formation) and to some degree towards my 'irons in the fire' I have no sense whatsoever of God calling me to anything but my current way of life under private vows and with spiritual direction. This can leave me at times with a sense of being on the fringes and on the outside, a lack of real and actual belonging anywhere; however I am able to reason that this is a 'feeling matter' (sense perception) and not the theological reality at all which is a matter of Faith and therefore transcends all sense perceptions. Sense and sense perceptions can come and go, while Faith is stable.

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marigold
[quote name='BarbaraTherese' timestamp='1334037147' post='2415314']
I have looked into Secular Institutes, but otherthan the Schoenstatt Sisters (habited) there is no presence here in Australia. I did make enquiries with "The Leaven", an O.Carm (Carmelite) Secular Institute with a presence in Ireland and the UK, but they would like me to make at least one visit and all that money ($3000) at least return seemed an awful lot of money to me on my tight budget. I have other 'irons in the fire' but I must admit that I have no real attraction other than a desire 'to belong', while recognizing that through my Baptism I am already consecrated and belong. Also there is an attraction to a formation process that would be ongoing.
So at this point, I am concentrating on the lifestyle I have lived for over 30 years now and experience it as a call and vocation - and with formation through my spiritual director and an ex novice mistress in her religious order. The honesty of my situation is that while there are attractions towards secular institutes (belonging and formation) and to some degree towards my 'irons in the fire' I have no sense whatsoever of God calling me to anything but my current way of life under private vows and with spiritual direction. This can leave me at times with a sense of being on the fringes and on the outside, a lack of real and actual belonging anywhere; however I am able to reason that this is a 'feeling matter' (sense perception) and not the theological reality at all which is a matter of Faith and therefore transcends all sense perceptions. Sense and sense perceptions can come and go, while Faith is stable.
[/quote]

BarbaraTherese I sympathise. Are you involved at your parish? That's what has saved me, first in the time between leaving uni and visiting the monastery, when I was working and living alone, and especially in the last couple of years after I was accepted to enter. Singing in the choir for a year has been one of the best things I've done (though check that with me again after Holy Week) and definitely helped with the 'belonging' thing on a closer level than the entire Church.

I'm fascinated by this thing of private vows and consecrated single life because it seems to [i]look[/i] a lot like what I - and a lot of others on here - have lived and do live. But I guess you believe it is transformed somehow, by being under vows? Can't wait to see where this goes for beatitude. :sailing:

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Guest smyerks
Hi everyone -- this is my first post on the phorum. I have been in formation since January of this year with the SOLT to become a consecrated widow. My husband died almost 15 years ago; at the time I was 40. During that time, I dated once seriously, but it ended up feeling like a rather empty relationship. I was looking for more -- and I guess I was looking for what only God can give. After much discernment, I decided to give the rest of my life over to Christ. I wanted to do this without actually entering an order (my aging dad may need my help, and my 24-yo daughter is expecting her first child in July) as I feel strongly that I am supposed to be in the world, living a quiet life dedicated to God, much as Beatitude has described. At the end of formation (about a year), I, too, will take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, although these vows (promises) are renewed every year. I know I will have the support of other consecrated widows in the SOLT, even though I am the only one so far from my state of Virginia. I am involved in the music ministry of my parish, and have found a few other younger widows, who -- although not wanting to become consecrated -- have been very helpful and supportive.

This is what I am being called to do, of that I am positive. And the journey has been lovely. It has been delightful to be studying the rules, to be able to use them and my prayer life to focus my heart on Jesus while in the hustle and bustle of the world (which is sometimes a painful place to live in). Not many people know I am doing this, nor will many people probably ever know.

It IS all about faith, about knowing what God is calling one to do, about our love for HIM, and most importantly, HIS love for us. I am very happy to find that this thread has been started here, and I am interested - VERY - to read what others have to say about the single consecrated life.

Thank you!
AMDG,
Suzanne

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MarysLittleFlower
I'm interested in this thread.. as I'm not yet sure about my vocation, I'm trying to stay open. That means considering single life also, not just religious life or marriage. I have to say that - like you, my first reaction to it was that it's bare, boring, and lonely. But then I thought about it more and realized I'm wrong to think so, - how can life with Christ, be bare boring and lonely? I've read about some Saints and people who lived holy lives who maybe had this vocation - like St Rose of Lima, she lived at home and was a third order Dominican, - she was not called to be a nun. In those times though, they did wear a habit so maybe there are still differences. But she made a private vow of virginity. Also, before there were nuns, in the early Church - women made vows of virginity and basically lived the single consecrated life. If you've ever heard of the book 'He and I' by Gabrielle Bossis, - her vocation was to the single life: she didn't feel called to either marriage or religious life. [url="http://www.mysticsofthechurch.com/2009/11/gabrielle-bossis-he-and-i.html"]http://www.mysticsof...s-he-and-i.html[/url] Also, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, did not marry and yet was not a priest or a monk. :)

I remember a thread in another forum where people were debating if this is a vocation, and some were saying it's not... does anyone know what the Church teaches on this? We can see that there were people in Church history who were called to this life. Edited by MarysLittleFlower

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beatitude
[quote name='marigold' timestamp='1334054126' post='2415325']
I'm fascinated by this thing of private vows and consecrated single life because it seems to [i]look[/i] a lot like what I - and a lot of others on here - have lived and do live. But I guess you believe it is transformed somehow, by being under vows?[/quote]

People in secular institutes make public vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, as do members of religious communities. While the vows are identical, the manner of living them out is not. I associate these vows with nuns and monks, and at this early stage I don't know much about what it means to live them as a consecrated single woman in my own home. I think this is something I can only find out through experience, but I already have some sense of how they transform single life. They hallow it in the same way that consecration hallows a church: they make it a dwelling-place for God. For most people, single life isn't a permanent dwelling - it's just a part of the journey, which will culminate in marriage, priesthood, or religious life. Accepting to live in this state forever, as your vocation, is different from accepting it as a natural part of your life that will one day end.

MarysLittleFlower, consecrated virginity and membership in a secular institute are certainly recognised as vocations by the Church - these vocations are enshrined in canon law, and they are both discussed in [i]Vita Consecrata[/i]. I think the debate on whether single life is a real vocation is focused on people who lead this life without making vows. That is a separate issue and I'd rather not get into it here - I don't want this thread to become a debate. ;)

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beatitude
For those who are interested to know more about the Jesus Caritas Fraternity itself, here is a webpage in English: http://www.secularinstitutes.org/jcf.htm

And if you read French, here is the main website:
http://www.fraternitejesuscaritas.org/fjc/

(There is meant to be an English version of that site, but only little parts have been translated, and badly. If anyone is really interested I can translate more and put it on here.)

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BarbaraTherese
I have had to write this very quickly as other matters call :

[quote]
BarbaraTherese I sympathise. Are you involved at your parish? That's what has saved me, first in the time between leaving uni and visiting the monastery, when I was working and living alone, and especially in the last couple of years after I was accepted to enter. Singing in the choir for a year has been one of the best things I've done (though check that with me again after Holy Week) and definitely helped with the 'belonging' thing on a closer level than the entire Church.

I'm fascinated by this thing of private vows and consecrated single life because it seems to look a lot like what I - and a lot of others on here - have lived and do live. But I guess you believe it is transformed somehow, by being under vows? [/quote]
Mine has been a long journey for probably over 35 years now and about all I can do is touch on some only highpoints. I entered religious life in my teens and again in my forties. I do not have a vocation to religious life. I suffer Bipolar Disorder and after my marriage of 15 years collapsed due to my then husband’s inability to handle the illness (and it wasn’t easy by far) I began to live alone. My children taken from me due to the illness. Rather than pursuing a deliberate way of life, a way of life just began to unfold in my path and it was a Gospel way of life. Prior to Bipolar and for some years after, I was under direction by an Order priest who was also my confessor and a theologian. After his death and in my forties, I entered monastic life but left by my own choice. To put it in a nutshell and without realizing that one could make private vows, I suggested to Father that I could live out the evangelical counsels and promise The Lord to do so and as I defined them. Father approved and later explained to me about private vows and I did write my rule of life. Father pointed out to me that I had already begun to live a religious way of life.
I have a long history of rejection by The Church as I experienced it because of Bipolar and until 10 years ago roughly, I was in and out of a psychiatric ward regularly - numerous times each year. Prior to Bipolar I was a respected voice on diocesan and parish level. I changed my name to protect my sons from the implications of mental illness and dropped out of sight for many years. And if you heard my singing, you would understand why I don’t join our choir. I was working in our parish office here but after Father was shifted elsewhere and having told our parish secretary I suffered Bipolar, I was rather quickly put off almost immediately after Father left and I suspect because I suffer Bipolar without knowing, I must stress, the actual reason. Hence, since being put off from our parish office, at this point, I am quite happy to just be another ’face in the pew’. But I always ’keep an ear open’ for indications of direction i.e. opportunities in the parish and elsewhere. I now work two days each week on a voluntary basis for a charity in their offices. Three days weekly I take in ironing. This extra income enables me to support the two Sunday collections, Caritas and other charitable causes. I have a quite intensive daily schedule of prayer including the Divine Office. I have some other apostolates, duties, causes - whatever! - as well. The single state vocation by its very nature is open to wherever The Lord may lead in each day. Sometimes, this can be a one off commitment of some kind, at other times it has been much much longer. Prior to Bipolar, I trained as a counsellor.
[quote]I'm interested in this thread.. as I'm not yet sure about my vocation, I'm trying to stay open. That means considering single life also, not just religious life or marriage. I have to say that - like you, my first reaction to it was that it's bare, boring, and lonely. But then I thought about it more and realized I'm wrong to think so, - how can life with Christ, be bare boring and lonely?[/quote]
Smiling! Ohhhh anything BUT bare, boring and lonely. Can very honestly state I have never everhad such a day and that 5pm arrives daily with me wondering where on earth the time has gone. My life to date at 66years has been rich and full - often quite challenging too. But I do think that one needs some sort of a schedule as to how the week and weeks are going to unfold. I don’t think the single state as one’s vocation should be embraced without spiritual direction and on a regular ongoing basis.
[quote]I've read about some Saints and people who lived holy lives who maybe had this vocation - like St Rose of Lima, she lived at home and was a third order Dominican, - she was not called to be a nun. [/quote]
I think that it does need to be considered that some people have impediments to religious life or any other formal vocation within The Church and perhaps specifically those who suffer some sort of mental problems who still can experience rejection and stigma. The Lord does not leave these (who share so intimately His Cross and Sufferings) without a call and vocation in life and It may well be to the single state. Nor does He leave those who have no sense of being called to some particular state in life without a call to a path of holiness as a follower of His Gospel.
Our Baptism calls all of us to holiness and to The Gospel. How we are to attain holiness and a following of The Gospel is up to the individual and God’s invitations. Certainly, I experience a very strong and very clear invitation from God to live as I do. Now and then I have patches of feeling rejected and on the outside, on the fringe, but I regard such times as part and parcel of my way of life. A small suffering. It is a sense perception only as I said in my previous post and not the theological reality at all. And our senses and their perceptions can come and go often quite rapidly and without invitation in any direction. They can seem to have a mind of their own. But what our Faith tells us is stable and constant.
[quote]but I already have some sense of how they transform single life. They hallow it in the same way that consecration hallows a church: they make it a dwelling-place for God. For most people, single life isn't a permanent dwelling - it's just a part of the journey, which will culminate in marriage, priesthood, or religious life. Accepting to live in this state forever, as your vocation, is different from accepting it as a natural part of your life that will one day end. [/quote]
Precisely, one gifts one’s day to The Lord and very often, as I do, there are apostolates, duties, calls - what’s in a name! - within each day. But I really do feel that one should not embrace the single state as one’s call and vocation in life without spiritual direction and on an ongoing and regular basis.
The very nature of the single state as one’s vocation is an openness to a further call from God, should this occur. Some experience this or think of it as a too insecure way of living, but if one is called to it the Grace is abundant to live happily totally open to God’s Will at all times and to wherever He may lead - and one finds one’s sense of security in such total and ready openness to God as a constant disposition.

[quote]consecrated virginity and membership in a secular institute are certainly recognised as vocations by the Church - these vocations are enshrined in canon law, and they are both discussed in Vita Consecrata. I think the debate on whether single life is a real vocation is focused on people who lead this life without making vows. That is a separate issue and I'd rather not get into it here - I don't want this thread to become a debate. [/quote]
Not many realize that the privately vowed or consecrated life is mentioned in Vita Consecrata and in the same breath, as it were, as Religious Orders and Institutes, Secular Institutes, Societies of Apostolic Life - and other groups of formally consecrated persons.
Vita Consecrata:
[url="http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_25031996_vita-consecrata_en.html"][u][color=#0000ff]http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_25031996_vita-consecrata_en.html[/color][/u][/url]
[quote]We are all aware of the treasure which the gift of the consecrated life in the variety of its charisms and institutions represents for the ecclesial community. [i]Together let us thank God [/i]for the Religious Orders and Institutes devoted to contemplation or the works of the apostolate, for Societies of Apostolic Life, for Secular Institutes and for other groups of consecrated persons, [b][u]as well as for all those individuals who, in their inmost hearts, dedicate themselves to God by a special consecration.[/u][/b]
[/quote]
Happy Easter Season all!

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beatitude
I didn't know that, Barbara. It looks pretty conclusive. :)

I have also done something akin to a 'private dedication'. I didn't plan it out. As I was kneeling to pray in a little chapel, the prayer I was saying took on the feeling of a dedication, and I left the chapel knowing that something unique had just happened. It was on a feast day that is important to me. I don't want to share too much about it here, because it felt so personal. I think that I will keep that day as a kind of anniversary.

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Theresita Nerita
[quote name='MarysLittleFlower' timestamp='1334083011' post='2415431']
If you've ever heard of the book 'He and I' by Gabrielle Bossis, - her vocation was to the single life: she didn't feel called to either marriage or religious life. [url="http://www.mysticsofthechurch.com/2009/11/gabrielle-bossis-he-and-i.html"]http://www.mysticsof...s-he-and-i.html[/url]
[/quote]

Wow this is like looking in a (beautifying) mirror. I've been growing in certitude lately that the single life with private vows is the way to go for me. But as this is a very common and yet very scary vocation, it's so nice to know other people have done this!

So thanks for the link! Very interesting!


[quote name='beatitude' timestamp='1334147735' post='2415705']
I have also done something akin to a 'private dedication'. I didn't plan it out. As I was kneeling to pray in a little chapel, the prayer I was saying took on the feeling of a dedication, and I left the chapel knowing that something unique had just happened. It was on a feast day that is important to me. I don't want to share too much about it here, because it felt so personal. I think that I will keep that day as a kind of anniversary.
[/quote]

I've had an experience that you're describing perfectly here. And since then, things have been palpably different. God is so good! Edited by Theresita Nerita

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