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abrideofChrist

Bride Of Christ

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abrideofChrist
I was asked in the Habit thread why I said only CVs specifically share the title of Bride of Christ with the Church. After all, aren't all religious women, all souls (to Christ), all who have achieved a high degree of prayer the Brides of Christ?

After working on a response to this, my browser ate it up. So, I'm going to give a considerably shortened, simplified, and different answer.

In a footnote, Fr. Thomas Dubay wrote: "Consecrated virginity is the highest form of perfect chastity, but virginity is not the object of the religious vow of chastity. One can take the religious vows even though she may have lost virginity." Elsewhere he writes, "Because the religious vow of chastity is not a vow of virginity, a non-virgin can become a religious and can even share by her complete self-donation in the sign character of the virgin. He says somewhere else that the image of bride of Christ is attributed to 1) the Church 2) the individual soul 3) those who have attained the transforming union of mystical prayer and 4) the consecrated virgin who alone is able to share in all four aspects.

The Commission that revised the Liturgical Rite of the Consecration noted to those who were baffled at the thought of keeping this Rite with its exaltation of virginity (rather than chastity) that they could not "be allowed to give the impression that the Church has less esteem today than in the past for consecrated virginity as an act of complete and perpetual [b]spousal [/b]self-giving to God and neighbor and an escatological sign of the kingdom of heaven and the presence of God's love for the world and of Christ's love for the Church" (Bugnini).

What is really intriguing is how the Rites of Perpetual Profession for Religious and the Rite of Consecration of Virgins (whether Religious or Living in the World) differ when it comes to the idea of Bride of Christ.

This is part of what the generic [b]Rite for Religious [/b]says in the prayer said by the bishop/priest:

Father... you make the [b]human family your bride[/b] radiant with your own likeness, adorned with the gifts of everlasting life... Father, in your loving wisdom you have singled out many of your daughters to be [b]disciples [/b]espoused to Christ and to receive the honor of his love. Holy Church shines with their rich variety, a bride adorned with jewels, a queen robed in grace, a mother rejoicing in her children... Strengthened by the vows of their consecration, may they be always one with you in loving fidelity to Christ, their only Bridegroom. May they cherish the Church [b]as their mother and love the whole world as God's creation[/b], teaching all people to look forward in joy and hope to the good things of heaven... Edited by abrideofChrist

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abrideofChrist
The presentation of the ring for religious goes like this:

Receive this ring, for you are betrothed to the eternal King; keep faith with your Bridegroom so that you may come to the wedding feast of eternal joy.


Now, when you look at the homily for the consecration of virgins, you see this:

He [Our Lord] brought His Church into being. He desired it to be a virgin, a bride, and a mother: a virgin to keep the faith whole and entire; a bride to be one with him forever; and a mother, to raise up the family of the Church... The Holy Spirit... [today], through our ministry, He [b]anoints you with a new grace [/b]and consecrates you to God by a [b]new title[/b]. He gives each one of you the dignity of being a [b]bride of Christ [/b]and binds you to the Son of God in a covenant to last forever. The Church is the Bride of Christ. [b]This title[/b] of the Church was given by the fathers and doctors of the Church to those like you who speak to us of the world to come, where there is no marrying or giving in marriage... Through you the Church's motherhood of grace bears its abundant fruit... Your motherhood will be a motherhood of the spirit... Your joy and your crown, even here on earth, will be Christ, the Son of the Virgin and the Bridegroom of virgins.

The presentation of the ring goes like this:

Receive the ring that marks you as a[b] bride of Christ[/b]. Keep unstained your fidelity to your Bridegroom, that you may be one day admitted to the wedding feast of everlasting joy. Edited by abrideofChrist

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abrideofChrist
As you can see, there are some significant differences here. In the profession of religious, the women (just as the men) are called [b]disciples[/b]. They are to "cherish the Church as their mother" and to love the whole world as God's creation. They are presented with a ring that "betrothes" them to Christ.

In the consecration of a virgin, the virgin is called to share the title of the Church as [b]bride of Christ[/b] (no mention anywhere of discipleship... actually, in the consecration prayer itself, the virgin is told to be an apostle in the Church and in the world). She doesn't merely cherish the Church as her mother, she IS a mother ("your motherhood will be..."). She doesn't wait in joyful anticipation of the eternal wedding feast like religious, she is told that her joy and her crown [b]even here on earth[/b] is her Spouse, Jesus Christ. She is presented with a ring that marks her as a bride of Christ, not merely betrothed to Christ.

Although I omitted most of the prayers of consecration for religious and that of virgins, a significant difference is the one for religious speaks of being faithful to what is vowed, and the one for consecrated virgins speaks about Christ being "spousal" to them ("be Yourself their glory, their joy, their whole desire... be their comfort in sorrow, their wisdom in perplexity....").

To my knowledge, the Church does not confer the title "Bride of Christ" to anyone who has not received the consecration of virgins. Yes, religious women and others loosely share in it (just as they are loosely labeled consecrated virgins along with priests and other celibates), but I have not seen any document that confers this title upon non-nuns and non-consecrated virgins.

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ToJesusMyHeart
I'm not trying to be perverse, but I do have a question: can a "biological virgin" (a woman who has [u]not had intercourse[/u], but has engaged in oral sex) receive the consecration? It's just something I've wondered because there are quite a few women in that boat.

After all, consider Mary Magdalene, who was very close to Jesus. It is clear that Christ chose to have repentant sexual sinners [b]very [/b]close to Him (she, with John and Mama Mary were the only 3 at the crucifixion!).

I was researching this question and came across this opinion: "I hesitate to emphasize this point, since it can be really easy for women to become scrupulous about chastity; however, there are a lot of “gray areas” and it’s next to impossible to “draw the line” in the abstract. Practically speaking, I think it would be easier to discern eligible vocations to consecrated virginity in real life with actual candidates, since women tend to know for themselves whether or not they are [b]really[/b] virgins (i.e., [b]whether or not they still have their whole heart, so that they can give themselves whole-heartedly to someone[/b])."

And what about kissing (and not just the innocent pecks, either...)? Kissing can form strong emotional ties, which may cause a woman to give her heart away in much the same way that non-intercourse sexual relations can. Sorry if this is sort of off topic, but inquiring minds want to know!

I hope I haven't scandalized anyone with this. That's certainly not my intention. If this is too "adult" for this thread, please don't hesitate to say so and I'll remove it.

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abrideofChrist
[quote name='ToJesusMyHeart' timestamp='1344179187' post='2462949']
I'm not trying to be perverse, but I do have a question: can a "biological virgin" (a woman who has [u]not had intercourse[/u], but has engaged in oral sex) receive the consecration? It's just something I've wondered because there are quite a few women in that boat.

After all, consider Mary Magdalene, who was very close to Jesus. It is clear that Christ chose to have repentant sexual sinners [b]very [/b]close to Him (she, with John and Mama Mary were the only 3 at the crucifixion!).

I was researching this question and came across this opinion: "I hesitate to emphasize this point, since it can be really easy for women to become scrupulous about chastity; however, there are a lot of “gray areas” and it’s next to impossible to “draw the line” in the abstract. Practically speaking, I think it would be easier to discern eligible vocations to consecrated virginity in real life with actual candidates, since women tend to know for themselves whether or not they are [b]really[/b] virgins (i.e., [b]whether or not they still have their whole heart, so that they can give themselves whole-heartedly to someone[/b])."

And what about kissing (and not just the innocent pecks, either...)? Kissing can form strong emotional ties, which may cause a woman to give her heart away in much the same way that non-intercourse sexual relations can. Sorry if this is sort of off topic, but inquiring minds want to know!

I hope I haven't scandalized anyone with this. That's certainly not my intention. If this is too "adult" for this thread, please don't hesitate to say so and I'll remove it.
[/quote]

Very good question, and certainly not scandalous. Oral sex is done with another person. It is therefore... a flagrant violation of chastity and for this reason the woman is ineligible for the consecration. (Remember, here, there is at least one other person involved who knows that this happened.) The non innocent kisses- well, if they cause willed arousal and perhaps even orgasm (not sure if this is medically possible)... would also render the woman ineligible. Again, not because the hymen is disturbed but because there is a flagrant violation of chastity that involved another person. Regular kisses, obviously, do not destroy virginity. Basically, a lot goes into determining whether a person is still eligible for the consecration. A serious sexual sin cannot have been committed between the woman and another person (male or female). Being civilly married makes the woman ineligible. Ditto for church marriage. Ditto for the divorced and those who have received annulments. The virtue of virginity has stricter requirements than the consecration of virginity. For those who have interest in this vocation and need to know about their specific situations, the USACV has CVs who can answer these questions. Bishop Boyea is also there to help women discern. There are articles in serious journals on the subject of virginity. Lastly, the consecration of virgins is a spousal relationship in which the virgin most perfectly represents the Church as virgin-bride-mother. The mystical union of souls is an entirely different (but related) thing in which the soul is "wedded" to Christ in the highest form of prayer. Thus great sinners have been able to have this mystical union. These are separate realities. All are called to mystical union. Few are called to be consecrated virgins who represent the Church. Edited by abrideofChrist

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VeniJesuAmorMi
This is a very beautiful life, but I've never thought of it before. I would love to give myself to Our Lord in the religious life but its nice to know more about this. The information you've posted is helpful. I was also wondering if one has done things in the past without the knowledge that things they were doing were wrong but later after a conversion whey saw that things they experienced in were sinful; does this mean that one couldn't become a Consecrated Virgin even though things were done against chastity, but still has never been with a man? Edited by VeniJesuAmorMi

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MarysLittleFlower
Interesting thread...

"What is really intriguing is how the Rites of Perpetual Profession for Religious and the Rite of Consecration of Virgins (whether Religious or Living in the World) differ when it comes to the idea of Bride of Christ."

Does this mean that there are Consecrated Virgins who are also Religious? Can you give an example? :)

I'd be interested in seeing the traditional Rite for Religious and whether it uses similar or different language... does anyone know? I mean one that might be used in an order that's associated with the FSSP or another Latin Mass community (such as the ICKSP) - if they use the traditional Rite, that is. :)

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nunsense
The nuns of Regina Laudis also go through the consecration of virgins. I can't give you any details since it has been awhile since I read Mother Benedicta's biography but their efforts to get permission for this are detailed in the book.

[url="http://abbeyofreginalaudis.org/sitelive/index.htm"]http://abbeyofreginalaudis.org/sitelive/index.htm[/url]

[url="http://www.ignatius.com/PressRelease/MotherBenedictPressKitBundle.pdf"]http://www.ignatius.com/PressRelease/MotherBenedictPressKitBundle.pdf[/url]

Here is a bio of one of their nuns that states she was consecrated a virgin - there is more on the website [url="http://abbeyofreginalaudis.org/sitelive/community/mstephen/mstephen.htm"]http://abbeyofreginalaudis.org/sitelive/community/mstephen/mstephen.htm[/url]

[center]
[center]
[img]http://abbeyofreginalaudis.org/mstephen.gif[/img][/center]
[/center][indent]
[/indent]
[left] [img]http://abbeyofreginalaudis.org/mstephen.jpg[/img] [font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"]Reverend Mother Stephen Prokes, OSB, 83, a Benedictine nun of the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut, died on Wednesday, July 7, 2010, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury.[/size][/font]

[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="1"][i][b]Calling hours will be at the Abbey Church of Jesu Fili Mariae, on Robert Leather Road in Bethlehem, Thursday, July 8, from 3 to 9 p.m. and Friday, July 9, following the conventual Mass, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Requiem Mass will take place at 10 a.m., Saturday, July 10, at the Abbey church, followed by burial in the Abbey cemetery.[/b][/i][/size][/font] [/left]


[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"][img]http://abbeyofreginalaudis.org/sitelive/capletgrm/m.gif[/img]other Stephen was born Mary Louise Prokes on February 25, 1927 in Jackson, Minnesota to Wenceslaus and Ludmilla Dostal Prokes, the fifth of six children in a devout Catholic family. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree at Mount Marty College and her Master’s degree in Education at Mankato State Teachers College, becoming a teacher of English and physical education. She taught at Marycliff High School in Spokane, Washington, and at the Academy of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Mankato, Minnesota. [/size][/font]
[font="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="2"]She also taught with the Benedictine Sisters at Mount Marty College in Yankton, South Dakota for two years, before entering Regina Laudis in September 1953. She was clothed as Sister Stephen in September 1954, and made her Perpetual Vows and received the Consecration of a Virgin on March 12, 1959; she celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2006. [/size][/font]

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MarysLittleFlower
Does anyone know if the Sisters who become CVs - if this is something that any Sister can do even if her community doesn't, how would this be discerned, or is it just a few communities that do this?

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ToJesusMyHeart
Thank you for your answer, brideofChrist. :)

In regards to Regina Laudis, it is interesting to note that Mother Benedict wanted to retain the ceremony of the Consecration of a Virgin, something very important to her because of what it meant, that a woman is promising that she will now totally give herself to God, that she will be "sealed for God", but in a "spousal relationship" that will be continually fertile and life-giving, bringing Christ's love to all. This is from her biography:

"In Jouarre, on the day a nun was professed perpetually (Mother was previously at Jouarre prior to founding the Abbey), the rite of consecration immediately followed. At Regina Laudis, in 1970, Mother Benedict returned to the earlier, long held monastic tradition of separating the two rites, in order to increase appreciation for both as 'two stages' in a nun's life. The two rites were seen[i] 'to call forth and complete'[/i] each other. Following the cermeony of perpetual profession, a nun should have the time to be assured that she can, with a newconsciousness and fruitfulness, live the life of virginity that she has promised in her profession. When the Abbess sees that this promise of spousal fidelity hasbeen stabilized, she may determine a candidate is apt for the blessing of the Church in the Consecration of a Virgin.

[i]"In Rome they had a problem with the [rite of Consecrated Virgins] and said it was out of fashion, that not many today are interested in virginity. [b]But I never ask them if they are virgins.[/b] That question belongs in the Confessional.", Mother Benedict noted. "The promise being made is to a life of virginity, FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, because the nun is now entering her new life of a 'spousal relationship' with Christ, pledging fidelity to Him forever. I was determined to keep this ceremony in out Constitution". -Mother Benedict[/i]

Mother Benedict goes on:

"...The archaic idea of of religious life was that a monastery was after the inexperienced girl, who had a bodily purity that came from ignorance. But (I live this) an ignorant life is an untested life, and the would-be nun was often unprepared by life to grow in the intensely difficult path of religious life....This sometimes led to immature development of the person, resulting in personality, psychological or emotional disorders. Regina Laudis could not settle for immaturity. I readily welcomed professional women who, not finding substance and body-soul nourishment in the world, came here to find what it means to live in a state of purity and innocence, linked to God. The purity they sought was not the kind that comes from ignorance, but choice. After much awareness for what the world held, its sin and pain and ugliness, its false promises and shallow pleasures--and its beauty and love, too, but incomplete--they made a conscious choice for Christ and came to Regina Laudis."

"...Strongly attracting them was the enclosure. These women had learned the importance of boundaries. From personal experience or otherwise, they had seen how letting down boundaries could make them vulnerable to the negative and destructive forces of the world. Therefore, without boundaries, there is no freedom, and without freedom the path to Christ is blocked. After all, He was the one who said, 'I have come that you might be free.'"

Seems like Mother Benedict had a different notion of Consecrated Virgins than the current notion. Just an interesting note.

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OnlySunshine
Being a Consecrated Virgin is something that appeals to me very much. But I still feel called to discern religious life -- even more so than consecrated virginity. However, I know in my heart that I have a very strong conviction to belong to Jesus alone with no mortal spouse. As much as I love marriage and children, I just cannot fathom any distractions that would keep me from fully loving and serving Christ with my whole being.

That being said, I would definitely consider discerning a vocation to Consecrated Virginity if I knew that I was not called to religious life -- i.e. not being accepted to any convents but still feeling that strong urge to live a life fully for God.

As St. Clare of Assisi said, "He has set a seal on my countenance, that I may admit no other lover but Him."

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VeniJesuAmorMi
Another question aside from what I asked earlier; if one knew that they wanted to give themselves to Our Lord and decided on becoming a consecrated virgin because they didn't know yet if they had the grace of a religious vocation; then they started looking into the religious life sometime after the consecration if they believed that Our Lord was calling them, how would that work if they decided to enter a religious order?

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OnlySunshine
[quote name='VeniJesuAmorMi' timestamp='1344205117' post='2463110']
Another question aside from what I asked earlier; if one knew that they wanted to give themselves to Our Lord and decided on becoming a consecrated virgin because they didn't know yet if they had the grace of a religious vocation; then they started looking into the religious life sometime after the consecration if they believed that Our Lord was calling them, how would that work if they decided to enter a religious order?
[/quote]

It depends on the order but I have heard of a case where a Consecrated Virgin desired to enter religious life and was accepted. Unfortunately, I cannot find the link but I will continue to look.

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mantellata
I wish I had read this before I last posted in the other thread. Thank you so much brideofChrist for your reference to what you meant by a specific title as is mentioned in the rite. It was certainly a beautiful read and well expounded upon.

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