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Consecrated Single Life


beatitude

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Second, just to clarify a little here... 

 

 

Consecrated Virgins do not profess vows but are passively consecrated as virgin brides of Christ by a bishop, not unlike the consecration of a church building :like:

 

I do not believe Sr. Laurel is a Consecrated Virgin. She is a Diocesan Hermit. Only in unusual cases, as was learned in the other thread  :proud: could someone be both.

 

Thank you for that clarification. At the time I wrote that I was under the impression that Sr Laurel was like Sr Wendy down in Norfolk. I don't know why.

 

Regarding everything else you write, when I picked the title of this thread I made it as broad as possible so that vocations other than the secular institute could be discussed. The thread was never intended to be some definitive canonical guide to secular institutes, so I think you're splitting hairs a bit by focusing on the title.

 

Secondly, to be honest I don't find these technical discussions about whether to use the word 'single' or not to be helpful to me. I do understand that some people love going into the intricacies of Church vocabulary and canon law, and if you benefit from it, great, but I don't get anything valuable out of it myself. Personally I like the word 'single' - nice and simple - but I'm not going to get fussed if others see it as inaccurate. For the most part I'm too preoccupied with the business of living to overthink the words others might call me by, and I also think there is a danger that such discussion is used to create a hierarchy amongst us. As has been discussed earlier in the thread, 'single' can sometimes be used as a dirty word in the church, and there are people who argue that it isn't a vocation. This is hard for people like Barbara. I think describing myself as single is a good way to counter that.

Edited by beatitude
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Okay, that makes perfect sense! Yes, sometimes these discussions on all the technicalities can be overbearing/annoying.. and seem to have even a competitive motive in them, which would be entirely opposite of the Gospel! I totally agree. Although at the same time, I think it's good to get things straight/make things clear especially on a public phorum like this, so people understand and get the correct information on all of the various vocations within the Church out there.

 

Personally, I am helping someone out who is wanting to learn more about secular institutes/consecrated single life, so I find running into this old thread and the current discussions here on CVs and hermits very timely.

 

Upon researching a little further, this post on Sponsa-Christi's blog I found helpful, http://sponsa-christi.blogspot.com/2010/06/various-forms-of-consecrated-life.html  And it does look to be completely correct to use the term "single" or "single consecrated life" in speaking of someone in a secular institute because of canon 711 (although, yes, thanks for clarifying the meaning of the title of this thread, yes I think i am splitting hairs! lol) edit: although I don't think it would be correct to use this term when referring to a secular institute like the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, http://www.schsrsmary.org/faqs.html So it seems that these terms are really not nailed in stone so to say.

 

another edit to add: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/consecrated-life/forms-of-consecrated-life.cfm  It's written clearly in Canon Law that secular institutes are a form of Consecrated Life just to say again :like:

 

In any case, again, what is truly important in all of this is following the Gospel and what Our Lord said about the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.... I love how Barbara relates this to her vocation in quietly and joyfully embracing the lay state in private vows as she wrote in the other thread; about how Jesus stripped Himself of everything including His entitlement of God.

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Also this.. :like: 

 

Sometimes I think that this right here is the main spiritual fruit of this vocation - what singles it out. Being "a [woman] of constant sorrow" with nowhere to lay your head and everyone secretly pitying you can be a charism in itself. The consecrated single laywoman could arguably be said to approach Christ through Humility the same way Dominicans approach Christ through Teaching/Preaching or Franciscans through Poverty.

 

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There are variations in the way that the life is lived out. People in secular institutes usually live in their own homes, although sometimes they may get together in groups. They retain their ordinary jobs. Each institute has its own particular spirituality, but at the core of each is a desire for a very hidden life in the heart of the world. It requires a deep prayer life, because there is no one else to make sure that you pray - it's just you and God. Then you carry Him out into your everyday life, as Mary did. Members of secular institutes come together regularly for retreats and prayer meetings, in order to encourage one another in the life.

Consecrated virgins do not belong to a group or institute; they make their vows under the bishop of their diocese. You can't become a CV without the bishop's support and approval. Some consecrated virgins are hermits, such as Sister Laurel. Others have ordinary jobs and are indistinguishable from anybody else in the street. They all have a special connection with, and responsibility toward, their home parish and diocese. Here is a blog by a young CV that explains the vocation better than I can.

Then there are those people who have made private vows, like Barbara. Even though I focused on consecrated women in my opening post (because I aspire to be part of a secular institute, and I was rather self-centredly not giving thought to other forms of single life ;) ) I think that her voice is important and I hope that other people in her position will post more.

As for encountering consecrated women who weren't very pleasant, I've encountered some thoroughly nasty nuns. We don't lose our human nature no matter what kind of lives we lead. I think it's right to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they were just having a bad day, as we lose nothing by being kind.

I can see how people leading the single life might come to feel bitter, as it's often treated as a third-class vocation by other Catholics - even by those who hotly disclaim otherwise. For a long time I saw it as dull and dreary and not worth my attention, I admit it. Nothing visible marks you out as consecrated. This life doesn't have the same romance and mystique as religious life. The result is that women living this life are often overlooked and their contributions discounted. You need all the patience and kindness of Christ to deal with the sensation of being unappreciated (and even unwanted) that can accompany this vocation. I don't wonder that sometimes it leads to people turning sour. I pray that if this cross ever comes to me, I will carry it with love.

 

Just  to clarify a slightly ambiguous sentence above: I am a diocesan hermit; I am not a consecrated virgin living in the world who is also a hermit. Another comment about terminology. Despite Baptismal consecration (which, despite making us a new creation, is not the same as what the Church refers to as consecrated life) Lay persons live DEDICATED lives if they make commitments specifiying their Baptismal commitments, not consecrated lives. Consecrated life is a phrase referring to a stable state of life other than lay life. The rights and obligations attached to it come from canon laws that do not apply to everyone and do not come from Baptism alone. One is initiated into it via public (not private) vows or other sacred bonds (possible only in the case of a diocesan hermit) or by public consecration by God in the hands of the diocesan Bishop. This profession/consecration establishes new relationships, rights, and obligations in law. The term consecrated life or consecrated state of life is reserved for this usage. (It should be noted that the more profound change in the person's status comes with Baptism when they are re-created in Christ. Given this theological fact, we should be careful treating vocations to the consecrated state as "higher vocations" than vocations to the lay state.)

 

Vatican II was VERY careful in its use of the term "consecrated". It used it to refer to an act of God alone. Only God is holy and only God can consecrate something or someone. The human part of the equation was always referred to as some form of dedication. Despite our now-common use of the term consecrate as something we do to set something or someone apart for God (as in I consecrate myself to God) this usage is theologically inaccurate and obscures the truth. In a profession of public vows, for instance, the human part of the ceremony involves the making of vows as a form of dedication and life commitment;  in perpetual vows this is followed with a prayer of Solemn Consecration with the Bishop's hands outstretched over the newly-professed. (In temporary vows this long prayer is replaced by a different prayer, or simply left out as is the litany of the Saints and prostration). Again, this understands that God does the consecrating but that this consecration is mediated by legitimate superiors in the Church. We often speak of the whole act, human and divine together as profession or as consecration, but truly the human act is dedication and the Divine is consecration.

 

Sincerely,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

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Also this.. :like:

 

Hm, cannot get your quote-within-the-quote to show up, but that was beautiful, Chiquitunga!

 

I agree that the lay "single" vocation, seeming so ordinary to most (just like Our Lady!) is really one of the most humble vocations, if not the most humble. Wonderful.

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 Barbara relates this to her vocation in quietly and joyfully embracing the lay state in private vows as she wrote in the other thread; about how Jesus stripped Himself of everything including His entitlement of God.

 

I would just like to clarify that my relating to Jesus in His Humanity setting aside all His entitlements and Glory as God, is probably more about my Bipolar condition than my vocation to the lay state in private vows, although it is partly that also in being honoured to be put down to the most less, while in the interests of truth I will speak up that the vocation to the lay state in private vows does exist - anyting else would cancel out completely my existence, my whole existence and challenge my consciousness.  And of course, there are documents here and there that do support such a vocation and I have quoted these in previous threads on the lay state vocation.

   I went through a few stages in my journey with Bipolar and initially it was denial, then came anger that my life was turned upside down in every way.  I was angry and resentful at the rejection of me by others - until I realized two things on a spiritual level.  First, people do become mentally ill and why not me. People do go through major life losses, then why not me.  I was able too to quietly reflect on those suffering far more than me and in all innocence, unlike me.   Then I refleted on the crucifix from a different perspective together with what St Paul said about Jesus stripping Himself of His Rights as God - and this led me to a loving embracing of Bipolar and with a no little sense of honour.  I had a God permitted opportunity perhaps denied to others in such a radical manner -  to do similar.    Hence while I will most often struggle against any kind of stigma as injustice and inaccurate (interests of truth), I really can nowadays embrace all negative factors that can accompany my condition as a privilege in view of what St Paul so beautifully and concisely points out for us about Jesus.  As a human being I am for one entitled to respect for my person and very often sufferers of mental illness are denied this and other things too that 'normal' people in our society take for granted.  Our rights as human beings.

Frankly, I am amazed truly that such as I could have a vocation and the Graces to live it in the first place.  Also, I feel honoured and again truly that Bipolar has put me in a group of people who really are outstanding human beings when you get to know them and human beings who endure almost impossible suffering, marginalization and neglect, rejection. I wasn't long into my journey with Bipolar to realize I was there for a reason - and a positive reason be it because of my sinfulness and need of full repentance with eyes open, for my purification and betterment - or for some other positive reason - or even all of them and at one time or another all reasons applied.  I am no longer that same person that began a journey with Bipolar. I have undergone radical change in a positive direction not yet concluded.  It is the dance of life of one step forward two back etc. Having started out the major portion of my adult life quite financially sound and in good health - and well respected in the communities to which I belonged then and this included my diocesan and parish communities, I did come to realize or perhaps suspect is better why Jesus did seek out the outcasts of His society and had such compassion for them, why He chose to be born among them and as one of them.  Why His LIfe concluded as it did and in total rejection by all, a figure of shame, except for one apostle and his mother and a few women.

 

 We have our laws and definitions in The Church and I respect them totally but how such laws and definitions are sometimes applied can really and truly sadden me.  That those within or aspiring to the highest and most wonderful Graces God offers can seemingly stoop so low as to put others down including fellow Catholics - and on a website that is Catholic and sometimes in a forum for vocations that is open to the whole world.  Whether we desire to or not, aware of it or not, it is going to be the type of persons that we are that will speak the loudest before anything we actually have to say is heard - including what we are writing into these Catholic Discussion forums in an age where most all seeking information will turn to their computer and Google.  I have been amazed, disturbed, at some things that have come up on Google as I searched for Catholic information. 

 

   Sure and for absolutely sure, we need to strive to correct inaccuracies (interests of justice and truth) wherever they may occur - and ideally with absolute loving respect for the other or others and as a beloved child of God so much Jesus died terribly for that person in a very cruel manner.  We need to speak to the subject to my mind, not against the person.   "Whatever you do to one of these tho it be the least of my bretheren, you have done it to Me"  Startling words! Startling Truth!  How totally intimately Jesus identifies with the downtrodden.  How close to Mary's "be it done unto me" reply to the angel at which moment, The Son of The Father is incarnated through the Power of The Holy Spirit.  It reminds me of "we are what we choose".

 It sort of reminds me of what Jesus said "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" - with that I had no choice but to chuck all my stones away.  Who has not put a false step and then followed it with a few others.  Who has not made mistakes and failed.  Who has not gone down a wrong path, and had to turn back.  I have done it all for absolutely sure with a healthy mistrust  of myself for the future.......but ahhh, you see, their offence is more serious than mine always. Mine can stay secret - theirs MUST be exposed.

         There is that beautiful story said to come from the Desert Fathers.  A monk had committed a quite serious offence in the monastery and was banned from choir for a month.  The monks noticed that the abbot was also not in choir and fearing he might be ill, his council went to his cell asking if he was ok.  The abbot replied "But I too am a sinner".

I may not put my words theologically correct and sometimes it can be like walking on glass writing into Catholic forums, fearful that one is putting something theologically incorrect and rather than quietly and gently amending where necessary, the writer's meaning is obscured by what can feel like a ton of bricks coming down upon one and a whole lot of theological statements that the ordinary person in the pew, of whom I am one, cannot grasp in any way.  Sometimes I can almost mutter to myself "blinded by science" and move on.  Sometimes I can almost mutter to myself "what the heck" and jump in with both feet.

 

Off me very rickety and absolutely unqualified pulpit4.gif ...........and in a thread I had resolved not to comment.............St Paul "why is it that I find myself doing the very things I have made up my mind not to do and what can save me? Why, nothing but the Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ".

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Back on my rickety and unqualified pulpit!!! :oops:

 

While I could not find any Catholic  theological definition anywhere of “Single”, the word does exist in the secular dictionary with several definitions.  I think probably all understand what “single” means and to my mind to use the words of another poster in this thread “splitting theological hairs” to dispute over its use, while in the interests of truth, it does not have a Catholic theological per se definition which can be quietly and gently pointed out.  There is no such thing as a single vocation in theological terms.  The common term theologically used by The Church is “vocation to the celibate state” which of course is the single state for Catholics.  It is the state of celibacy.  Those who may use “single state” or “single vocation” are not intending at all to be offensive and gentleness is called for in stating any correction.  The bulk of us are not any sort of highly educated person in various Church schools of thought, theology - whatever is the precise theological term or whatever â€“ we cannot be expected to use precise theological terms and even to wonder why some insist that one does and probably may soon forget once a thread dies its natural death.

New forms of religious living have at times had a struggle to be recognized as “consecrated life” formally by The Church.  Initially, for example, nuns were always enclosed with solemn vows and these were the only forms of religious life per se until the 16th century.  New forms of most anything inside The Church and in society could very well have “painful birth pangs” and nothing new in initially being tolerated only, even held suspect (some supressed at least initially – St Mary of The Cross Sisters of St Joseph), rather than fully accepted and embraced as entirely valid is probably most always painful on the human level anyway. (See New Advent “Religious Life”, sub heading “Institutes with Simple Vows” HERE ).  What applies now for example, may not necessarily apply in the future, how long in the future is unknown nor even if it ever will apply.  One goes on with absolute trust in God and His Will as prevailing finally and overcoming all and any obstacles and one’s investment primarily ideally will be in God and His Will rather than any sort of self-investment or gain and the former will override what one may hope.  When one finds that God’s Will is not as one had hoped, on the human level it is always probably painful to have one’s hopes dashed and an entirely human reaction– on the spiritual level however, darkness can disperse into the light of Peace and Joy……….even as the human level might struggle to journey and embrace lovingly the source of that Peace and Joy.

 

Vita Consecrata – “The Consecrated Life” – Pope John Paul II HERE

 

“Thanksgiving for the Consecrated Life

2. Because the role of consecrated life in the Church is so important, I decided to convene a Synod in order to examine in depth its significance and its future prospects, especially in view of the approaching new millennium. It was my wish that the Synodal Assembly should include, together with the Bishops, a considerable number of consecrated men and women, in order that they too might contribute to the common reflection.

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. Together let us thank God 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, as well as for all those individuals who, in their inmost hearts, dedicate themselves to God by a special consecration.

 

 

It would seem from the above, that those of us who have embraced single celibacy (including perhaps the ev. counsels) can use the term "special consecration" of self dedication to God.   Whether His Holiness is referring by the expression “future prospects” to those dedicating “themselves to God by a special consecration” is probably debatable – some may want to include it, others to speak against it.  Who knows beyond doubt and may God’s Will prevail, which it will. “If God is with us, who then can be against us”.  Certainly a dedication of self privately to God by a “special consecration” is not supressed by Rome, rather affirmed – and it might be that The Lord’s intention is that this way of life continues as a private dedication only and outside of the “consecrated life” per se in strict theological terms and if so, then His Glory will be served.

 

During the time of her excommunication and suppresion of her religious order, Mother Mary of The Cross MacKillop refused to speak against the excommunicating Bishop on a personal level, though she felt he was wrong (he later lifted the excommunication) nor would she allow her sisters to do so.  This spoke to me about speaking to the subject and not personally attacking the initiator of the subect.

 

Sr, Lauren had a beautiful expression offering some hope for the future for those who may be isolated and marginalized re the consecrated life.  She called it a transfiguration of isolation and marginalization into true solitude or similar wording.  And I think of this as the alone with The Alone – but never lonely.  Whether ever embraced by The Church as a new  form of consecrated state of life, one can always aspire to transfiguration of negative factors in life into some aspect of Truth initiating Peace and Joy.  Spiritual direction and reading, prayerful trust and confidence, can certainly help in this journey.  Someone in this thread spoke about “embracing one’s faults” rather than rejecting them.  Certainly, self knowledge is the foundation of humility – and humility is the foundation of all the virtues.  Striving ardently against faults can be a rejection of oneself, like demanding discourteously that an unwanted stranger please leave the premises.   This embracing of faults, it seemed to me, is a journey of transfiguration of something negative into a greater good in the interests of The Kingdom.  The relevant post was worth the read and I will try to link to that post also at a later point.  I think it was nunsense who pointed out well too that we can leave with great confidence the work to God, to The Holy Spirit, if we will only trust Him – and another excellent post.

 

Phatmass is loading exceptionally slowly for me and finally timing right out -  and I have a load of ironing to complete to put bread and butter on the table after the expense of Christmas and I am going to have to cab it to Mass and back tomorrow morning – no buses heading my way and on to our Churches.   I think there is a special collection too this Sunday besides the normal two.   I have written this post into Word during breaks.  I will return at some stage and link also to Sr. Lauren’s actual post on the subject of transfiguration of isolation and marginalization into true solitude. (it would be worth a thread on "true solitude")

Each of the referred to posts have ‘rung a bell’ for me and I am still awaiting the ‘pennies to drop’ completely and this means to reflect prayerfully on what has been said until things do click into place for me.  I will talk things over with my director too.  The Holy Spirit works in a great variety of different ways.  I like to say “you never know who you sit beside on the bus”.  Meaning that we never know just when The Holy Spirit may have something to say – or by what means.  And The Holy Spirit is not at all ‘snobbish’and selective speaking only in some ways, not in others, and many are the most unlikely places, times and people through which He will speak.  I like to think that it is a contemplative type of consciousness that is aware of/hears The Holy Spirit speaking at all times, in all places and through all people.  Like nunsense, when her heart saw into the essence of humility when she asked Mother Teresa’s mother to say Grace over a meal.

 

 

 

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Hm, cannot get your quote-within-the-quote to show up, but that was beautiful, Chiquitunga!

 

I agree that the lay "single" vocation, seeming so ordinary to most (just like Our Lady!) is really one of the most humble vocations, if not the most humble. Wonderful.

 

That was from Theresita Nerita :like: http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/topic/120356-consecrated-single-life/page-2#entry2420340

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Praised be Jesus Christ! Wow, BarbaraTherese I just read both of your posts and they are full of so many deep insights indeed!

 

 

I went through a few stages in my journey with Bipolar and initially it was denial, then came anger that my life was turned upside down in every way.  I was angry and resentful at the rejection of me by others - until I realized two things on a spiritual level.  First, people do become mentally ill and why not me. People do go through major life losses, then why not me.  I was able too to quietly reflect on those suffering far more than me and in all innocence, unlike me. Then I reflected on the crucifix from a different perspective together with what St Paul said about Jesus stripping Himself of His Rights as God - and this led me to a loving embracing of Bipolar and with a no little sense of honour.  I had a God permitted opportunity perhaps denied to others in such a radical manner -  to do similar.    Hence while I will most often struggle against any kind of stigma as injustice and inaccurate (interests of truth), I really can nowadays embrace all negative factors that can accompany my condition as a privilege in view of what St Paul so beautifully and concisely points out for us about Jesus.  As a human being I am for one entitled to respect for my person and very often sufferers of mental illness are denied this and other things too that 'normal' people in our society take for granted.  Our rights as human beings.

Frankly, I am amazed truly that such as I could have a vocation and the Graces to live it in the first place.  Also, I feel honoured and again truly that Bipolar has put me in a group of people who really are outstanding human beings when you get to know them and human beings who endure almost impossible suffering, marginalization and neglect, rejection. I wasn't long into my journey with Bipolar to realize I was there for a reason - and a positive reason be it because of my sinfulness and need of full repentance with eyes open, for my purification and betterment - or for some other positive reason - or even all of them and at one time or another all reasons applied.  I am no longer that same person that began a journey with Bipolar. I have undergone radical change in a positive direction not yet concluded.  It is the dance of life of one step forward two back etc. Having started out the major portion of my adult life quite financially sound and in good health - and well respected in the communities to which I belonged then and this included my diocesan and parish communities, I did come to realize or perhaps suspect is better why Jesus did seek out the outcasts of His society and had such compassion for them, why He chose to be born among them and as one of them.  Why His Life concluded as it did and in total rejection by all, a figure of shame, except for one apostle and his mother and a few women.

 

This is great Barbara.... I can relate to this on so many levels..  major life losses/being marginalized/misunderstood, etc. Thank you for this and all of these reflections... :pray:

 

 

 

Vita Consecrata – “The Consecrated Life” – Pope John Paul II HERE

“Thanksgiving for the Consecrated Life

2. Because the role of consecrated life in the Church is so important, I decided to convene a Synod in order to examine in depth its significance and its future prospects, especially in view of the approaching new millennium. It was my wish that the Synodal Assembly should include, together with the Bishops, a considerable number of consecrated men and women, in order that they too might contribute to the common reflection.

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. Together let us thank God 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, as well as for all those individuals who, in their inmost hearts, dedicate themselves to God by a special consecration.

 

Oooo... awesome find/quote BarbaraTherese! and very wonderful to read that last line... I think this includes not only so many people hidden and unknown in our society, but also so many saints like St. Gemma Galgani or many of the mystics posted about on this blog, http://www.mysticsofthechurch.com

 

Thanks again for all of your reflections! 

 

p.s. also regarding the word "single" I realized while I was at adoration today, my reason for being so technical (and slightly aggressive perhaps in my questioning, aahhh) there with this word is actually more in a secular sense of the word .. as in the term "single" meaning "available" / that you're not taken/committed/given over to anyone ... which someone in public vows in a secular institute or private vows like yourself, certainly is not. But yeah, I realized that's more the secular use of the term if you understand what I mean.. like on Facebook (which I had temporarily for a while, not currently though) but anyway, like how you can change your status to single/in a relationship/engaged/married, etc.

 

Okay, God bless & good night! lol   :sleep2:

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:wave:  May all praise and thanksgiving in all things be where it truly belongs.  Nothing that is good can happen apart from the Grace of God as author of any good small or great:  "[9] Doth he thank that servant, for doing the things which he commanded him? [10] I think not. So you also, when you shall have done all these things that are commanded you, say: We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do "

I am hoping you will not think me ungracious, which you have every right to do.  I just can't unstuck meself from this jolly pulpit! :pope2:

I know what you mean about others and being 'single' - my next door neighbour's friend made a passing 'crack' that I could not find a man and was an old spinster -  and this info was shared with me.  I mean to try to sort people out just may complicated things further.  And so I retained my peace....laughed..........and then 'kicked the cat' - poor Missie :)   One afternoon after a particuarly trying day, I was sitting at the kitchen table reasoning with my anger about how I had it all wrong and how to overcome anger and retain a sense of Peace and of Joy.  Unable to convince myself I suddenly picked up my coffee and shattered the cup on the kitchen wall and coffee went everywhere - and I was minus one more coffee cup.  :hehe2:  The dance of life - one step forward three or four back! :dancer2:  I said to my director one day (religious sister and had been novice mistress in her religious order) "How would you like to try to rein me in in a noviciate?"  She just laughed heartily and shook her head.

About the quote from "Vita Consecrata", I was struggling on some discussion site somewhere in a thread about  the single state or celibate state as vocation, which was in dispute. Someone sent me a PM with "I think this is what you might need".  I too was overjoyed to read what The Holy Father said.  The link you gave to the mystics makes fascinating reading.  I have been to that site a couple of times as there is plenty to read - amazing women and some disturbing reading.  One reads about our saints and what they went through - to empathize and put oneself in their position reveals how much The Grace of God is fruitful in them, but oh my what they endured.

 

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Beautiful posts, Barbara. Off the topic of consecrated single life for a moment, I just wanted to comment that I know a young man who has Bipolar and he manages it beautifully. He's married to a wonderful girl (who has a physical handicap that she doesn't allow to prevent her from living her life, either) and they have a beautiful young family. He's one of the best people I know, and more self-aware than most people are (and we all know that self-knowledge is the path to wisdom and to God).

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Beautiful posts, Barbara. Off the topic of consecrated single life for a moment, I just wanted to comment that I know a young man who has Bipolar and he manages it beautifully. He's married to a wonderful girl (who has a physical handicap that she doesn't allow to prevent her from living her life, either) and they have a beautiful young family. He's one of the best people I know, and more self-aware than most people are (and we all know that self-knowledge is the path to wisdom and to God).

 

 Wonderful to read indeed, petitpelerin (I had to get Google to translate to English for me and a beautiful username). It sounds, petitpelerin, like a wonderful marriage between two wonderful human beings who have had to overcome adversity in life. Deo Gratius! And thank you for sharing and may The Good Lord continue to bless richly them both, their marriage and their children - and you. I would put my money on it that they have some very important stories to share and that he has a wonderful gift in your friendship.  God bless you for sharing some of their story - and with such a happy outcome despite adversity.  Very often it is the path of adversity that can also be at once a path of many blessings, as with your friend and his wife.  Most often, our saints have travelled difficult paths for varying periods in their lifetimes.  Hence adversity in life can be in excellent company, the very best on earth. 

I think children can see a very important part of life and experience it first hand as parents grapple with difficulty and their love continues all through the battle regardless of all things - such is indeed a reflection of and witness to the unconditional Love of God for us all and one of the important functions of marraige in our society.

_________________________

 

Forgive me, please, for this rave on - but I try to grab out at any opportunity I can get.

 

Many mental illnesses can be controlled with medication and following what the doctor says - while some still are able to go off medication and without psychiatric treatment. It all depends on what The Lord has in mind and how The Father's Glory is best served, including where sufferers are still battling with their severe illnesses.   Those who do suffer mental illness and are able to keep things in control either alone or with medication and medical people can be a wonderful 'advertisement' for sufferers, breaking down stereotypes and stigma.  It also is an encouragement to those still battling with their illnesses - and a very severe, and much maligned battle with much suffering on many levels involved for the sufferer.  It is not easy for those around a sufferer either who go through their own unique difficulties and sufferings.  It is a pure delight to me to be in the company of sufferers and sharing their unique bond and real sense of fraternal community in the very best and truest Catholic understanding of "community".  They are a community bonded by active love of each other, with at times the usual squabbles of brothers and sisters always resolved.   By and large they always strike me as outstanding human beings no matter where they may be in their particular journey with mental illness.  The focus of all with much love, care and concern is always on the weakest and suffering most.   I belonged for a while to mental health rehabilitation club.  When the new building was to be named, sufferers (titled by staff as "the consumers" - oh YUKKETY YUK! so politcally correct, barren and deprived of personality) decided on "The Acorn Club" (the nut's club - LOL) with that pervasive sense of humour and the funny, the absurd, sufferers often do have about their illnesses and social attitudes.  Staff however were shocked and insisted on a quite polite and nondescript sort of quite politically neutral, deprived of personality and any creative imagination whatsoever name for the club. 

 

Thank you very much once again, petitpelerin. I think it important that stories of sufferers of mental illness, both negative and positive stories, are able to be shared and freely at all times and in all places, within reason, and without someone or someones trying to shut them up because of the challenge they can present.   I took our Aust. Catholic Bishops to task over a book they published "Good News Stories" and the stories of sufferers of mental illness.  I had been asked to contribute.  Sadly and alarmingly they only wanted good news stories.  When I queried why only good news stories and not the abounding not at all good stories, a representative on the ACBC for sufferers of disabilities said that it was felt that the not so good stories would not be an encouragement to parishes.  And of course maybe not, but it would be a clear challenge to parishes and in the light of The Gospel of Jesus, especially if an Introduction pointed this out clearly, which is of course a witness to The Gospel and its consistent challenges.  A unique opportunity went down the drain insofar as the ACBC and mental health was concerned - in my book, and sufferers who had not so good stories were rejected outright.  Unwanted stories (thus sufferers) - too discouraging to the parishes.

 

Our head of psychiatry in public mental health some years ago was murdered (shot) by a jealous colleague of hers. In her eulogy in our Catholic Cathedral, her brother said that sufferers of mental illness are the most marginalized, abandoned, maligned, neglected and sigmatized group in our communities.

 

 My own fictional not-at-all-good short story submitted anyway (drawn from many experiences of sufferers wound into one character) was published by the ACBC on the internet in their newsletter, but not in the book subsequently published.  I was amazed that it was published at all, amazed and grateful for that much.  Big goals hopefully attained through very small steps, some futile, some successful and the goal perhaps far ahead of one's own lifetime.  My letter on the stigma of mental illness in The Church was published by our South Australian Catholic newspaper and got Letter of The Month and a prize - a book "Walking The Way of The Cross with Jesus".  And at an assembly here in Adelaide ("Women's Role in The Church"), I spoke for half an hour by invitation and as a woman with a then still active mental illness although I had not warned them of how I was going to tackle my address. I had to submit a written copy of the address  - and on the way to the assembly (one hour bus trip) was madly editing, adding and deleting.  It was pretty well useless to me by the time my time arrived.  The assembly and all speakers were videotaped and I, li'l ol mentally ill me, had a predella and a real live honest to goodness microphone with real live honest to goodness live fellow Catholics in the audience, including a panel with all sorts of confusing letters after their names.  Our Archbishop during a break prior to my address said to me very kindly "Dont be afraid will you, Barbara?" "No Your Grace, I am not afraid, but I need a smoke"  "Smoko then!" "Thank you, Your Grace".  At the conclusion there was absolute silence in the auditorium.  I immediately hightailed it for a quick smoke and the nearest bus stop and bus to where I then lived.  A book was subsequently published about Women's Role in The Church based on the various assemblies around Australia.  I received an invitation to attend the official launch in Canberra.  I wrote back that since my airline return ticket together with accommodation and necessary expenses, including meals, while in Canbera had been overlooked, I would not be able to attend. :saint:  I have never been able to afford to buy the book, way down on my toget books priorities. 

 

I may be off topic, and yet not.  Sufferers of mental illness also have a vocation building on their Baptismal consecration and vows in the single/celibate state, some a call to the Sacrament of Marriage, some who have proven track record of stability may be able to enter religious orders.  Not one of us is abandoned, by The Lord anyway.  to 'float in theological spaces between words' as it were.  As yet, an understanding of vocation and call to sufferers of MI is still journeying to a major turning point.    It is very saddening and disheartening( if one permits it) to read threads on religious life when people who are sufferers query why they are rejected from religious life - and the responses that they often get.  Sometimes the best they can get is a response or responses patronizingly and sometimes condescendingly worded.  This is not at all deliberate to my mind most often, rather a reflection of social attitudes especially the fashionable, in vogue, very careful 'tender footed political correctness'.  The Gospel will most always put us in a position of challenging social attitudes if not in direct conflilct, if we are to be truly leaven or salt in the mix, in society and in our communities and this may mean taking risks with no guarantee of a good outcome as we see things.   And what happens if the salt looses its' taste? - " [13] You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more ......."   Our battle or confrontation is not with society really, it is a battle with evil great or small - in all and any form it may care to take and wherever it has found a foothold or worse.   Not only a good can be content to take small steps to a very big goal or objective.

 

I was truly stunned at my interview applying for voluntary work in a Catholic charity office here.  I sat down and said "The first thing you must know is that I suffer Bipolar Disorder".  "Oh that does not concern me at all" was the reply. I sort of piciked myself up off the floor as it were as I had anticipated having to defend something of mental stabilty with accompanying letter from my psychiatrist, which I had. My interviewer did read the letter and talk to me about my Bipolar briefly but more about my office experience - and it went back over 30 years ago!!!  In fact it was only some weeks after I started that I was quietly and gently, yet adult to adult, confidentially approached and asked what was the right procedure to implement should I become ill at work.  And of course, this is always at least a potential ...........always -  and the way in the normal course is put me in a taxi for home and ring my doctor.  Other than that, call an ambulance in extremes.   All that to me, was the Gospel and Catholic Action really acting and living out The Gospel and with risk - and a cause for thanksgiving and praise to The Lord for that organization and another indication in a positive direction. 

 

 

 

Cardinal calls mentally ill 'faithful images of God'
http://cathnews.acu.edu.au/602/doc/10wds2.htm

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"Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan told his World Day of the Sick audience in Adelaide yesterday that while the mentally ill patient "escapes classification as a normal person", he or she remains "an image of God" deserves every normal respect. (geeee thaynks cathnews, and very carefully worded indeed - brackets mine)

Cardinal Barragan, who is President of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, was giving the keynote address at the 14th World Day of the Sick, which commenced yesterday and continues until tomorrow."

_____________

The Cardinal's address was lengthy and rather complex initially - but in the closing he really 'socked it to 'em" in a quite nice sort of way.

 

Here is an excerpt from what Cardinal Barragan had to say:

 

"Therefore, once the mental illness has caused such a disorder as to take away from the mentally ill patient any responsibility for his actions, qualifying them as separation from the divine will —as a sin— the mental patient cannot separate from God. In other words, the image of God in him cannot be distorted. In this case his knowledge or his volitive option are no longer sufficient to motivate any human action that separates him from God. His bodily and psychic conditions do not allow him to commit a grave sin, given that in his state of disequilibrium he does not have that full knowledge and ability of assent required to sin.

If we approach the argument from this point of view, whereby the mentally ill patient does not have the knowledge or the faculty of full consent required to commit a mortal sin, his is not a deformed image of God, since that image can only be deformed by sin. Certainly, it is the suffering image of God, but not a deformed image. He is a reflection of the mystery of the victorious Cross of the Lord. Inspired by the image of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh (Isaiah 53, 1-7) we are drawn to a conscious act of faith in the suffering Christ."................"This is not comprehensible to a secularized mentality; it is only understood within the context of Christian optimism, which stems from a reasoned faith that tells us how in such circumstances our obligations towards a mentally ill person, on one hand satisfy our duty to see the suffering Christ in the poor and less protected; and on the other hand the idea of seeing in the patient the love of God who has indicated him as his chosen one, in the sense that he shall not be separated from Him."


 Onya, Cardina B!

Edited by BarbaraTherese
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We are not going to change the world without Jesus and His Gospel and applying The Gospel in all cirumstances and all of it in context - we just might appear to do so, but it is only the mask of goodness and Goodness indeed knows that evil and the embodiment of evil can wear the mask of goodness in order to create a completely false sense of security and false convictions and concepts (as in a "secularized mentality") and in order to deceive .......................down the track and in a quite major way with the initial evil  objective and goal attained.

 

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I have just finished my private prayer time and something has struck me, after prayer as I made coffee and tried to rustle up motivation to water the garden, and I don't want to 'verge heretical' or anything like that.  It seems to me that the first thing that The Second Person of The Blessed Trinity does in His Incarnation is to set aside all His Glory and His Rights as God - He sets them about as far away as they can be.  Then He takes up His Human Life as a lay person in His Jewish Faith Profession to walk among us in poverty, chastity and obedience and as one who serves, a servant.  I can see a connection here though the most remote and palest of connections, a witness that a lay person gives in setting aside Joyfully and happily, eagerly all the rights and celebrations etc. that come with the consecrated state (and celebration and trappings are rightly so is very obvious since The Church has not spoken against such)  The dedicated lay person sets aside any rights remotely connected to any sort of wordly type of 'glory' whatsoever.  And if we receive negative criticisms and put downs, etc. then it can be a sharing in an aspect of the life of Jesus.

 

And whether we like it or not, Pope John Paul II does give us an ever so brief (and I thank you for this sincerely) mention in Vita Consecrata - and as "a special consecration" using this precise term. It appears under the subheading "Thanksgiving for The Consecrated Life" Perhaps he was tired at the time and entirely possible and slipped up :) and should have used "a special dedication" in a subheading "Thanksgiving for the Dedicated Life" ................. although this is entirely unlikely.  I guess this is something for the theologically educated to ponder about Vita Consecrata (The Consecrated Life) since words used are quite special to them and seem to have particular meanings enclosing 'airtight' quite restrictred definitions which exclude all others.

 

 

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_25031996_vita-consecrata_en.html

 

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. Together let us thank God 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, as well as for all those individuals who, in their inmost hearts, dedicate themselves to God by a special consecration.

 

 

At the time of making my private vows and still at the time when I made them perpetually, there was no written information whatsoever available to me (I had no computer back then).  All I knew was word of mouth from those whom I considered "in the know" about theology etc. and I moved in a spirit of trusting what they said and trustful confidence moreso that The Lord would not allow me to be lead astray radically and permanently since I had absolutely no desire for such.  I had never ever heard of private vows until my priest theologian director confessor titled what I was mumbling and stumbling about most hesitantly "private vows to the evangelical counsels".  I was advised to always mention prior to making my Confession that I had made private vows to the evangelical counsels.  One priest snarled at me "That has nothing whatsoever to do with The Church" I felt like saying "But Father, everything I think say and do is to do with The Church and anyway my Confession is to Jesus, not to The Church" :eek:  But I held my piece and bit my tongue.  Another priest quite alarmed said "What on earth did you do that for!" so we had a rather lengthy discussion in the Confessional.  His parting shot to me was "Well, you seem all together to me" At which point, I wanted to say "Oh and Father I suffer Bipolar Disorder" but I took his words graciously rather than have another lengthy discussion.

Hence, I have defined my vocation in some areas as it unfolded with me.  More and more (and certainly since with discomfort reading some threads and posts) these words of St Paul speak to me in an intimate sort of way: 

 " Philippians Ch2 [2] Fulfill ye my joy, that you may be of one mind, having the same charity, being of one accord, agreeing in sentiment. [3] Let nothing be done through contention, neither by vain glory: but in humility, let each esteem others better than themselves: [4] Each one not considering the things that are his own, but those that are other men's. [5] For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

[6] Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. [Philippians 2:7] [Latin] [8] He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.

 

 

Perhaps it is meant to be the intrinsic nature and the task of a vocation to private vows to the evangelical counsels in the lay state to remain theologically last as it were, last and insignificant in wordly terms anyway(a privileged place in The Lord's Kingdom if not in the terms of a secular mindsset) - except that it is perhaps meant to give something of a very pale and remote witness to an Act of Love and Humility of God so overwhelmingly profound it defies all logic and reason and only the Gift of Faith has access.  And Faith knows that nothing whatsoever is more a witness to Profound Love and Profound Humility.

 

After all, what IS in a noun.  A noun can neither create nor destroy a reality it can only 'tag' a reality.  And perhaps the reality of it all we will only know in Heaven.  Am I single, consecrated, dedicated or speailmiaticated - and does it really matter?  It probably does to the theologically minded - pedantic keeps occuring to me and I keep editing it out and then putting it back in and several times! :sos: The essence of it all seems to me to be not the noun or tag attached on to me for whatever reason with whatever definition, but the manner in which I am living and the interior motivation for living the way I am living. 

 

The essence of it all is a complete shift of all focus on to The Lord.

 

Out to water the garden.  It is quite hot here in Adelaide, Sth Aussie.

 

 

 

Edited by BarbaraTherese
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I can see how people leading the single life might come to feel bitter, as it's often treated as a third-class vocation by other Catholics - even by those who hotly disclaim otherwise. For a long time I saw it as dull and dreary and not worth my attention, I admit it. Nothing visible marks you out as consecrated. This life doesn't have the same romance and mystique as religious life. The result is that women living this life are often overlooked and their contributions discounted. You need all the patience and kindness of Christ to deal with the sensation of being unappreciated (and even unwanted) that can accompany this vocation. I don't wonder that sometimes it leads to people turning sour. I pray that if this cross ever comes to me, I will carry it with love.

 

 Due to various discussions in threads here on Phatmass, I seem to be insighting my own vocation and its particular charism in a deeper manner.

 

I think if one is in private vows it is very important to overcome bitterness if it exists.  I think quite possibly that the charism of private vows may well be to set aside absolutely anything that may seems a sort of 'glory' humanly and to always welcome The Cross and no matter which form it may take. This reflects in a very pale remote manner the Incarnation and The Cross of Jesus through which we are redeemed.   In the interests of justice and truth, perhaps one may need to speak up and about private vows and how they are lived out. This is also the order of Charity and care and concern for those living with private vows.  My thoughts are that perhaps private vows are intrinsically intended by The Lord to have nothing visible about the person vowed - no romance nor mystique at least overtly in appearance.  There is very real romance and mystique and tangibly so in one's actual interior relationship with Jesus - absolutely.  But nothing to appearances.  This means that those in private vows need to develop a lively and intimate friendship with Jesus and this is where spiritual direction can be pure gold.

 

There may, of course, be other expressions of living in private vows to the evangelical counsels.  Reading Christifedeles Laici is a real eye opener with many clarifications and inspirations.  I seem to be reading it with 'new eyes' and this can happen especially (but not only) with Scripture and also Church documents and texts of all kinds, I find.

 

My experiences with 30 years living in a suburb that was extremely poor and beset by every imaginable social problem is that the poor and social outcasts do find their self esteem and self respect through real friendship,  This means that one must put aside any sense at all of 'helper of the less fortunate' (which does 'curdle' something inside of me - it repulses me) and the poor will 'sniff one out' if one does not put it aside.  "Helper of the less fortunate" does have 'the air' of being "a fortunate" and 'above'.  One needs to find oneself, one's ver real and actual existential place, as very much one of them (and Bipolar gifted this to me).  Another thing I noticed about the very poor and socially outcast - they are very astute and insightful!  VERY !  Generally too, I found them outspoken and very honest both about themselves and their opinion of others. In fact, open and honest, outspoken, about anything whatsoever. There is no holding back whatsoever about self nor others nor subjects.   Living in this suburb was a real learning curve for me and I came to truly love each and every one of them without any exceptions whatsoever, no matter their social place, social standing, social offences - whatever!  It was not easy at all to leave and I nearly dropped the phone and went into shock when the Housing Authority rang me and said I was to be shifted mandatorily.

 

I am not going to go on and on as usual - duty calls.  But my own sense of vocation and call and its particular charism seems to be journeying very quickly to a point of new clarity.  Sr Laurel made comment somewhere that the only charism, or she may have said requirement, under Canon 603 is solitude - or similar wording.  Boy, has that comment taken me on a journey very quickly and I dont really know why since I no way identify myself as any sort of hermit.  It was one of those words from somewhere or other that stays in the head like the chorus of song that wont leave one alone.  It was that word "charism" that kept popping into my very often busy Bipolar head.  I began researching including reading once more Christifideles Laici (Pope John Paul II Apostolic Exhortation on the Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in The Church and The World) and making my own notes with a new sense of insight - one hopes it is insight!

 

In studying Modern History (French and Russion Revolutions) we had a whole term on "Researching" alone and related matters as a subject and this has been of immense help to me not only in my studies (now concluded) but in my Catholicism also.  And my career in the past as a private secretary and a relatively fast and accurate typist who 'thinks on her feet' can make me quite a pain to readers.  My skills on the computer too are increasing, thanks to Google and my sons consistent advice to any question of mine "Google it, Mum!" (see "spoiler" below)

The Lord is never wasteful - everything in one's journey has a reason.  That reason may not become apparent for many years, or perhaps never until Heaven. FAITH TRUST CONFIDENCE IN HIM (what I tend to do is pray a quick prayer for guidence and then very often 'go in like a bull at a gate' as if my prayer is answered.  I believe that it is while outcome is always in The Lord's Hands (Psalm Divine Office: "Lord give succes to the work of our hands")who not only works towards one's own salvation and sanctification but very mysteriously at the one and the same time all is in the interests of the whole universe - He is not wasteful!) Faith Trust Confidence in Him.

 

Christifedeles Laici has much to say about "charism" incidentally.

 

                                    [spoiler]    HAPPY 2013 IN EVERY WAY on THE SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD. :dance:[/spoiler]

Edited by BarbaraTherese
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