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abrideofChrist

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[quote name='Sponsa-Christi' timestamp='1344720157' post='2466216']
Hi—I’m a consecrated virgin who lurks here occasionally, though I’ve never posted before. I write the blog “Sponsa Christi,” and I first found Phatmass through the various links to my blog over the years!

This has been a great thread—the historical inter-relationship between the [i]Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity[/i] and the development of religious institutes is really fascinating.

About the mendicant Orders and the [i]Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity[/i]:

I believe that [u]one[/u] reason why the nuns of the “new” mendicant Orders (like the Dominicans and Poor Clares) have never had a tradition of using the [i]Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity[/i] is because at the time they were founded, they were considered less institutionally stable than the older Orders. For example, even though Benedictines live in personal poverty, in the Middle Ages their monasteries could still be quite wealthy—often, they would have had many lucrative sources of regular income, like land endowments or the substantial dowries of noblewomen who entered.

But in contrast to this, the mendicant Orders by definition wanted to live a life of even corporate poverty, depending on alms and on the labor of their own hands for their sustenance. My guess is that the Church at the time thought that since a “begging” community was more likely to fall victim to severe economic circumstances, having the nuns NOT receive the consecration of virgins would make the individual nuns’ situations easier to resolve in the unfortunate event of one of their monasteries having to close. (Similar to the reasons why the members of the first “active” women’s religious communities weren’t permitted to profess solemn vows—i.e., because their vocational situation seemed more precarious than that of their cloistered, purely contemplative counterparts.)

I think that the reason why some Carmelite monasteries were given permission to use the [i]Rite of Consecration [/i]in modern times is because, even though we consider them a part of the medieval mendicant movement, the Carmelite spiritual heritage (if not the actual Discalced Carmelite Order itself, which dates from the Counter-Reformation) claims a more ancient affinity with the early desert hermits.
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Sponsa-Christi, hi! I meant to post here before.. thank you so much for this!! I really appreciated that you took the time to sign on here and share your knowledge with us. Very interesting! Also, I read your blog from time to time, and it is great! I love your vocation!!! :heart:

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  • 10 months later...

Just thought I would answer this from the dating thread here instead.

 

 

I think I remember the discussion about the difference between religious life and consecrated virginity. Unfortunately I have a very poor memory for these things. Am I remembering correctly that contemplative religious do sometimes have a consecration of virginity as well, or could also be considered to have a more spousal approach to the vocation? (I mean nuns rather than Sisters, who are active or active contemplative). Chiquitunga mentioned how in the past many nuns had this consecration as well, I don't remember if now it's like this or not? I remember asking how it is in the communities with the Latin Mass but I don't remember the answer  :o

 

Yes, it is true that in the past many cloistered religious received the Rite of Consecration of Virgins. And after it fell into disuse during a certain period (I am not sure exactly when) it was again encouraged for cloistered religious in the Apostolic Constitution Sponsa Christi in 1950 (not available online in English) It says so here in A Few Lines to Tell You (written by Iron Mountain Carmel in 1957) and it also goes on to describe how this Rite was received in Carmel, which was done simultaneously with the Veiling. In the OCD Nuns' Manual (different book from the Ceremonial) from 1932 there are two different ceremonies for Solemn Profession and Veiling (receiving the black veil) and it says the Veiling can be done at the time of Solemn Profession or some other day chosen by the community.

 

As a side note, in the Veiling ceremony from 1932 it does have the Celebrant (which is normally a bishop) addressing the newly professed Nun "Veni Sponsa Christi"

 

However, now for some reason this practice of female cloistered religious receiving the Rite of Consecration of Virgins has fallen into disuse by the majority of the Orders, including Discalced Carmelite Nuns, except perhaps some/one in Spain, which abrideofChrist made reference to earlier in this thread, though they may be O.Carm.

 

 

The only communities that come to mind that do still receive it today are ~ St Cecilia’s Abbey, Ryde ~ Regina Laudis & Carthusian Nuns. Mostly likely there must be a few others out there that I have never heard of, and again there is that Carmel/s in Spain that abrideofChrist mentioned earlier. But I do not know of a community that receives it that also uses the 1962 Liturgy exclusively.

 

In answer to the second part I bolded in your post, yes, it is true that female cloistered contemplative religious do have a more spousal approach to their vocation, which is why it really makes sense that they receive the Consecration of Virgins. In Verbi Sponsa [Spouse of the Word] Instruction on the Contemplative Life and on the Enclosure of Nuns the language used to describe their vocation is indeed very spousal. 

Edited by BG45
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linking this old thread here too for a few different perspectives ~ http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/topic/67654-bride-of-christ-polygamy/

 

Yes, it is true that in the past many cloistered religious received the Rite of Consecration of Virgins. And after it fell into disuse during a certain period (I am not sure exactly when) it was again encouraged for cloistered religious in the Apostolic Constitution Sponsa Christi in 1950 (not available online in English) It says so here in A Few Lines to Tell You (written by Iron Mountain Carmel in 1957)

 

As a side note, Sponsa Christi also restored to them Solemn Vows, which were not taken for a period of time by cloistered religious (not sure exactly when) I remember reading somewhere that this had to do with the French Revolution, at least for cloistered religious in France and that neither St. Therese nor Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity took Solemn Vows actually.

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also, I linked this blog post above as Regina Laudis, as it mentions them and I cannot find reference to this Consecration on their actual site. in case you missed it, here it is again ~ http://sponsa-christi.blogspot.com/2009/02/st-scholastica-rite-of-consecration-and.html

 

question, does anyone happen to know if the Benedictine Nuns in Westfield, VT receive the Consecration of Virgins? http://www.ihmwestfield.com/

 

 

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Thanks for the info! :)

 

I'm trying to understand this... because I would always think of nuns as brides of Christ. Then I found out that they don't have the consecration of Virgins. Maybe this makes the spousal element less obvious in the rite, compared to Consecrated Virginity where it's very obvious. However, can they still be brides of Christ? I'm thinking of how some orders have the wedding dresses or the rings - and these are symbolic things that not every order has - but these things suggest a bridal sort of approach/understanding don't they? I know so little about the rites etc.

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Thanks for the info! :)

 

I'm trying to understand this... because I would always think of nuns as brides of Christ. Then I found out that they don't have the consecration of Virgins. Maybe this makes the spousal element less obvious in the rite, compared to Consecrated Virginity where it's very obvious. However, can they still be brides of Christ? I'm thinking of how some orders have the wedding dresses or the rings - and these are symbolic things that not every order has - but these things suggest a bridal sort of approach/understanding don't they? I know so little about the rites etc.

 

I believe they can still be called brides of Christ, as for instance the two Church documents I linked to above written specifically about Nuns are titled Sponsa Christi and Verbi Sponsa

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although to add a few more thoughts, it is true that Consecrated Virgins are very specifically consecrated as brides of Christ, and this is indeed something special which they receive. to quote abride from the other thread...

 

Because religious life is not strictly bridal, it is open to men.  Because consecrated virginity is strictly bridal, it is only open to women.

 

I love this fact, by the way, because it really illustrates the the Church's view on the difference between men and women. Women are not called to/cannot be ordained priests, but men cannot receive the Rite of Consecration of Virgins, different roles in the Mystical Body.

 

But going back to your post, yes with these two vocations so intertwined (CV and female religious) with their history as well, I don't believe it would be improper to refer to a female religious as a bride of Christ, and yes, it only makes sense that many of their customs, like rings and bridal dresses, reflect this feminine spirituality. 

 

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The biggest clue that the Church sees the vocations as intertwined but different is that she gives the Consecration to a Life of Virginity over and above the Solemn Profession of vows for certain Orders of cloistered nuns.  That is why Sponsa Christi - the document - refers to the Consecration and says only enclosed nuns can receive it (this was the document that suppressed the Rite for women living in the world; note that officially this suppression was for a span of only 20 years, a drop in the bucket for a history of women receiving it starting with Our Lady at the Annunciation).  Sponsa Christi is an interesting Apostolic Constitution because it is the first one to my knowledge that restricts the Solemn Consecration to Virginity to cloistered nuns.  It also says that all "cloistered" orders are "heirs" of the first virgins... and yet it clearly makes the distinction between the consecration due to profession of vows and the consecration to a life of virginity.  Therefore, I have concluded that nuns who are not given the consecration to a life of virginity are "heirs" in the sense that they are in the consecrated state and have a "bridal spirituality".  The A.C. was also written in the era of the old Rite, in which the virgin had to attest to physical virginity before the bishop, which meant that it was a lot more clear than today's verbiage that not all nuns were eligible to receive the consecration of virginity. 

 

In a fascinating move, just 20 years after Sponsa Christi was written, the new Rite was promulgated in 1970 and it is split into two versions.  One is for cloistered nuns who by tradition or by special permission possess the privilege of the consecration, and the other is a resurrection of the Rite for women living in the world.  Everything that smacked of religious life was stripped from both Rites (except for the profession of vows for religious because it is supposed to be done in a vow and consecration ceremony) to make it clear that this was a form of consecration in its own right.  What's even more fascinating is that two groups of vowed women are eligible for the consecration, but a vast group of vowed women are not permitted to receive it.  Cloistered nuns can receive it in the form written for religious.  Vowed members of secular institutes can also receive it under the form for women living in the world.  This is significant because the Church is saying that the life of consecrated virginity is its own vocation and totally compatible with strict religious life (nuns) and with completely hidden secular life (secular institutes).  Notice, though, that religious sisters are excluded.  I suspect this is because they are further removed from the theology and praxis of being a bride of Christ and are seen as more apostolic disciples of Christ. 

 

Let me clarify.  All nuns were originally consecrated virgins.  It was the consecrated virgins who grouped together and formed monasteries.  They were really and truly brides of Christ because of their consecration to virginity to begin with.  Religious life and vows were a separate reality.  However, in the early centuries, women had to be virgins to become nuns.  Therefore, the concept of nuns being brides of Christ had its roots in the reality of the nuns being consecrated virgins.  This ended in the 12th century when mendicants and others started enclosed communities without the consecration to virginity.  By the time you get to active religious communities, the emphasis was on vows and not on virginity.  I think this is appropriate, because as I've said earlier in the thread, religious life is open to men and women precisely because it is not essentially spousal.  Apostolic religious make it very clear that their primary charism after prayer is for a specific mission.  This is vastly different from the emphasis of virgin nuns and virgins living in the world whose primary identity is bridal. 

 

13 years after women living in the world were able to receive the Consecration to virginity again, the Pope raised those who received it into the consecrated state by inserting it as such in the Code of Canon Law.  For those thirteen years, women living in the world were truly consecrated (like secular institute members) but were lay (like secular institute members).  Canon 604 put an end to anomaly in which women who were consecrated in the most ancient form of consecrated life in the Church (started with Our Lady) were lay and effectively ended the monopoly of the consecrated state for the relative late comer (religious life).  Canon 603 did the same thing for eremitical life, which was appropriate since consecrated virginity and eremitical life pre-dated religious life by a few centuries.

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I was given a ring at Final Profession inscribed with the words 'Jesus is my Spouse'.

 

As most of you know, this was an enclosed contemplative community. We didn't have Consecration of Virgins but we did have Solemn Vows. The whole of my noviciate the spousal aspect, of us all being Brides of Christ, was emphasised.

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I was given a ring at Final Profession inscribed with the words 'Jesus is my Spouse'.

 

As most of you know, this was an enclosed contemplative community. We didn't have Consecration of Virgins but we did have Solemn Vows. The whole of my noviciate the spousal aspect, of us all being Brides of Christ, was emphasised.

 

Beautiful!  I was just reading some writings from a contemplative community and it is a nice tradition to emphasize bridal spirituality.  The reason I wrote the original post of this thread was certainly not to detract from those who consider themselves to be brides of Christ, but to point out that those who receive the Consecration are most properly brides and fully represent the Church in their new identity.  As Bugnini observed, the Rite of Consecration promulgated in 1970 under the two forms for religious and women in the world was a treasure the Church highly values because it is an act of complete and perpetual spousal self-giving to God and neighbor.  Had the Church thought that Solemn Vows of enclosed women religious were complete and perpetual spousal self giving, I feel the Commission would have recommended that the Consecration be suppressed.  Here's what I wrote in my OP:

 

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 spousal 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).

 

Virginity is certainly baffling.  It is much easier to appreciate the vow of chastity than it is to understand the value of consecrated virginity.  I have been told that a Benedictine nun wrote a book that really helps explain why the Consecration of Virginity is a precious reality in the Church and why it is done even for religious who have religious consecration.  It's called One Bride.

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Thank you so much, abrideofChrist, for writing out all that history and interesting insights!! It is really very good to learn!

 

This also clarifies things for me in a certain debate that is out there that goes something like this.... why should women religious be referred to as brides of Christ (again, I understand they are not necessarily specifically consecrated as such today as CVs are) if men religious are not? almost in a sense that it is not fair/& that the theology of religious life does not include this so this term "bride of Christ" should not be used/they should stop emphasizing it and/or people not being able to understand some who emphasis this more. I am referring specifically to a discussion on this I remember from years past in the Catholic Answers forum (which I rarely visit now) made by an O.Carm. Friar.

 

But if they would look at the history that the first nuns were Consecrated Virgins, and that the spirituality of Consecrated Virgins is entirely spousal and that they are specifically consecrated by the Church, without any ambiguity, as brides of Christ, they would understand it... and also to reflect on the fact that this rite is not allowed for men. 

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The biggest clue that the Church sees the vocations as intertwined but different is that she gives the Consecration to a Life of Virginity over and above the Solemn Profession of vows for certain Orders of cloistered nuns.  That is why Sponsa Christi - the document - refers to the Consecration and says only enclosed nuns can receive it (this was the document that suppressed the Rite for women living in the world; note that officially this suppression was for a span of only 20 years, a drop in the bucket for a history of women receiving it starting with Our Lady at the Annunciation).  Sponsa Christi is an interesting Apostolic Constitution because it is the first one to my knowledge that restricts the Solemn Consecration to Virginity to cloistered nuns.  It also says that all "cloistered" orders are "heirs" of the first virgins... and yet it clearly makes the distinction between the consecration due to profession of vows and the consecration to a life of virginity.  Therefore, I have concluded that nuns who are not given the consecration to a life of virginity are "heirs" in the sense that they are in the consecrated state and have a "bridal spirituality".  The A.C. was also written in the era of the old Rite, in which the virgin had to attest to physical virginity before the bishop, which meant that it was a lot more clear than today's verbiage that not all nuns were eligible to receive the consecration of virginity. 

 

In a fascinating move, just 20 years after Sponsa Christi was written, the new Rite was promulgated in 1970 and it is split into two versions.  One is for cloistered nuns who by tradition or by special permission possess the privilege of the consecration, and the other is a resurrection of the Rite for women living in the world.  Everything that smacked of religious life was stripped from both Rites (except for the profession of vows for religious because it is supposed to be done in a vow and consecration ceremony) to make it clear that this was a form of consecration in its own right.  What's even more fascinating is that two groups of vowed women are eligible for the consecration, but a vast group of vowed women are not permitted to receive it.  Cloistered nuns can receive it in the form written for religious.  Vowed members of secular institutes can also receive it under the form for women living in the world.  This is significant because the Church is saying that the life of consecrated virginity is its own vocation and totally compatible with strict religious life (nuns) and with completely hidden secular life (secular institutes).  Notice, though, that religious sisters are excluded.  I suspect this is because they are further removed from the theology and praxis of being a bride of Christ and are seen as more apostolic disciples of Christ. 

 

Let me clarify.  All nuns were originally consecrated virgins.  It was the consecrated virgins who grouped together and formed monasteries.  They were really and truly brides of Christ because of their consecration to virginity to begin with.  Religious life and vows were a separate reality.  However, in the early centuries, women had to be virgins to become nuns.  Therefore, the concept of nuns being brides of Christ had its roots in the reality of the nuns being consecrated virgins.  This ended in the 12th century when mendicants and others started enclosed communities without the consecration to virginity.  By the time you get to active religious communities, the emphasis was on vows and not on virginity.  I think this is appropriate, because as I've said earlier in the thread, religious life is open to men and women precisely because it is not essentially spousal.  Apostolic religious make it very clear that their primary charism after prayer is for a specific mission.  This is vastly different from the emphasis of virgin nuns and virgins living in the world whose primary identity is bridal. 

 

13 years after women living in the world were able to receive the Consecration to virginity again, the Pope raised those who received it into the consecrated state by inserting it as such in the Code of Canon Law.  For those thirteen years, women living in the world were truly consecrated (like secular institute members) but were lay (like secular institute members).  Canon 604 put an end to anomaly in which women who were consecrated in the most ancient form of consecrated life in the Church (started with Our Lady) were lay and effectively ended the monopoly of the consecrated state for the relative late comer (religious life).  Canon 603 did the same thing for eremitical life, which was appropriate since consecrated virginity and eremitical life pre-dated religious life by a few centuries.

 

Thank you for the information! :) there's so much new for me here. I'm wondering a few things.. I'm having a bit of trouble understanding how the 1970 Rites became different: I understand they became 2 different rites, one for religious and one for women in the world. How did the religious rite change, compared to before 1970? thirdly are there orders that use the pre-1970 Rite? I see what you mean about consecrated virginity having such a bridal emphasis, I hope that this is still an element in religious life today ? Sorry I'm having a bit of trouble understanding the history of it all :) I think what's unclear to me is how at first, religious were also consecrated virgins, and now they are not, so how does this affect their identity as brides of Christ. Then there's the difference between nuns and Sisters too.

 

I was given a ring at Final Profession inscribed with the words 'Jesus is my Spouse'.

 

As most of you know, this was an enclosed contemplative community. We didn't have Consecration of Virgins but we did have Solemn Vows. The whole of my noviciate the spousal aspect, of us all being Brides of Christ, was emphasised.

 

That's beautiful :)

Edited by MarysLittleFlower
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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. 


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 Rite for Religious says in the prayer said by the bishop/priest:

Father... you make the human family your bride 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 disciples 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 as their mother and love the whole world as God's creation, teaching all people to look forward in joy and hope to the good things of heaven...

 

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 anoints you with a new grace and consecrates you to God by a new title. He gives each one of you the dignity of being a bride of Christ and binds you to the Son of God in a covenant to last forever. The Church is the Bride of Christ. This title 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 bride of Christ. Keep unstained your fidelity to your Bridegroom, that you may be one day admitted to the wedding feast of everlasting joy.

 

Please correct me if I am wrong, but by emphasizing the importance of CVs as brides of Christ, it seems to me that you are, maybe unintentionally, condemning everyone else claiming to be a bride of Christ because he/she does not have the same fullness as CVs:

 

If any communities have even a smidgen of a right to call themselves Brides of Christ

Of course there's differences between CVs and religious, but both have bridal imagery in the quotes you posted. Both claim Jesus as "your Bridegroom." If an individual soul is a bride of Christ, then it seems that religious communities have more than "a smidgen of a right to call themselves Brides of Christ." Would it be more acceptable in your eyes for religious to say that they are espoused to Christ since that is what the generic rite says or that they are spouses of Christ? (I think that could be read in a negative way, so I feel the need to say here that that's an honest question, no malice intended.) If you think so, does the difference really matter because isn't it the same thing really?

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Pax et Bonum, I share your thoughts here. There is definitely spousal language in the Rite of Religious Profession also, and since as Fr. Dubay points out that the individual soul can be called a bride of Christ, it wouldn't be incorrect for a female religious to be referred to as this also (although at the same time I acknowledge that it is not the same as being Consecrated as a Virgin and given that title, as Fr. Dubay also points out)

 

In St. Alphonsus' work, The True Spouse of Jesus Christ, he includes includes both Consecrated Virginity and Religious Life, and especially addresses how religious ought to live out their vows (though this may have been a time when most cloistered religious were CVs, though I don't think he is only addressing cloistered religious here), http://www.scribd.com/doc/4560772/The-True-Spouse-of-Jesus-Christ

 

Oh.  And any private revelation is just that.  We can call things - an Our Lord and Lady can- all kinds of stuff for a bridal spirituality.  I honestly don't know if there are any apparitions that are approved where God is saying this is a bridal dress.  And I would take it with a grain of salt.

 

 

I have never heard of any either. I have read many private revelations where Our Lord refers to religious as His brides/spouses for sure (including non-cloistered religious life St. Faustina & Sr. Josefa Menendez) but not specifically their religious Habit being a wedding dress. Personally, I've never really thought of the Habit as a wedding dress, but think that's a beautiful concept for some to have (especially if their Habit is white! :smile3:) 

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Thank you for the information!  :) there's so much new for me here. I'm wondering a few things.. I'm having a bit of trouble understanding how the 1970 Rites became different: I understand they became 2 different rites, one for religious and one for women in the world. How did the religious rite change, compared to before 1970? thirdly are there orders that use the pre-1970 Rite? I see what you mean about consecrated virginity having such a bridal emphasis, I hope that this is still an element in religious life today ? Sorry I'm having a bit of trouble understanding the history of it all  :) I think what's unclear to me is how at first, religious were also consecrated virgins, and now they are not, so how does this affect their identity as brides of Christ. Then there's the difference between nuns and Sisters too.

 

As I see, the changes to the 1970 revision of the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity was really more a matter of style than substance. The central consecratory prayer and most of the major antiphons were retained, but the major elements of the revised Rite were re-arranged in such a way so as to fit into the post-Vatican II order of the Mass.

 

A few non-essential elements were also dropped, like the singing of the “Te Deum” at the end of the ceremony (though I suppose even today you could still work in a “Te Deum” if you used a version of it as a recessional hymn). There also used to be a solemn anathema pronounced against anyone who would dare harm the newly-consecrated virgins!

 

Of course, the “splitting” of the two versions of the Rite was very significant, since it explicitly allowed women who weren’t cloistered nuns to become consecrated virgins. But the two versions of the Rite are still nearly identical to each other. The big difference is that the version for nuns allows for solemn profession of religious vows to be made during the Rite, and the version for women living in the world provides a formula for the candidate to state publicly her resolve to persevere in a life of virginity.

 

I don’t think that the revision of the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity was intended to change how we understood women’s religious life, although I think it did draw attention to the fact that consecrated virginity per se religious life properly so-called are actually two district—if at times overlapping—vocations.

 

Personally, I don’t think it’s wrong for nuns or Sisters who aren’t consecrated virgins to regard Jesus as their spouse.  And in many cases, I think that the bridal imagery used by some women’s communities (like the Poor Clares) can a beautifully appropriate reflection of their charism. But I think that this “spousal” dimension is more a matter of their personal spirituality rather than it is an identity or title conferred formally by the Church. Canonically, religious life as such is not the exact same thing as the call to be a bride of Christ, even though it can harmonize exceptionally well with a woman’s personal experience of feeling called to give herself to Christ as to a spouse. The upshot of this is that a Sister can still be a very faithful religious even if she doesn’t see her relationship to Christ in spousal terms.

 

On the other hand, the call to be a consecrated virgin is in and of itself a call to be as a bride of Christ, and the Church does officially expect all CV’s to identify themselves this way.

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