Jump to content

Bride Of Christ


abrideofChrist

Recommended Posts

MarysLittleFlower, I learned long ago that seeking the truth can be a very painful process.  This is particularly true when we are emotionally grounded in something that we learn is not true or only a half truth.  In my discussions with CVs, we have talked about some of the people we mentor for our vocation (maintaining their privacy though).  It is interesting that many are attracted by religious life but are even more attracted to being a bride of Christ and not finding a religious order that is compatible both by charism and by consecration, many have to take a hard look as to whether the call to discipleship according to a specific charism is stronger in their hearts or a call to being a bride Christ in the world.  You are in my prayers as you seek to know more about your vocational options in the Church.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess I am blessed I am just a normal Christian and I don't have to be too concerned about my vocation.  Seems like it makes it easier to actually focus on Christ.

 

I have never been one to find it appealing when people quibble about vocation and what is "better" or "higher" and now whether or not "bride of Christ" applies to any but a certain elite number...I am the Lord's and that is enough for me.  

You are a bride of Christ as a member of His Church too :)

 

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.

 
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Getting a ring and being told they are espoused to Christ means that the Church does not mind that community having more of a bridal spirituality.  it doesn't mean that they are in fact brides of Christ per se.  Again, the key is whether or not they actually receive the Consecration according to the Rite laid out in the Roman Pontifical. 

 

Yes.  It is hard emotionally.  I struggled with it and many others have when discerning.  It's easier to discern for women who are not virgins because they then do not qualify for the Consecration.  That is why I talked about homosexual "marriage" earlier.  A person exposed to it for forever and who may even be a child of a gay couple is going to be emotionally kicked in the stomach when they start understanding why gay marriage is not marriage.
 

 

The comparison with gay "marriage" has some difficulties for me, to be honest (since it's something objectively wrong, whereas the call to religious life is holy, though I'm confident we all agree on those points :))... but I see the point that you're trying to make with it.

MarysLittleFlower, I learned long ago that seeking the truth can be a very painful process.  This is particularly true when we are emotionally grounded in something that we learn is not true or only a half truth.  In my discussions with CVs, we have talked about some of the people we mentor for our vocation (maintaining their privacy though).  It is interesting that many are attracted by religious life but are even more attracted to being a bride of Christ and not finding a religious order that is compatible both by charism and by consecration, many have to take a hard look as to whether the call to discipleship according to a specific charism is stronger in their hearts or a call to being a bride Christ in the world.  You are in my prayers as you seek to know more about your vocational options in the Church.

Thank you for the prayers :) I agree that seeking the truth is painful. I'll see where God leads me.. God bless!

Edited by MarysLittleFlower
Link to comment
Share on other sites

From what I understand, are you saying that nuns (without the Consecration of virginity) share in the bridal spirituality, but CVs are called brides by the Church? I'd need to do some more reading about this, and pray about it all too. :) Thanks for the posts! God bless

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From what I understand, are you saying that nuns (without the Consecration of virginity) share in the bridal spirituality, but CVs are called brides by the Church? I'd need to do some more reading about this, and pray about it all too.  :) Thanks for the posts! God bless

 

Well, sort of.  It's not that CVs are merely "called" brides, they "are" brides.  MarysLittleFlower, could I ask you something in turn since you have asked me numerous questions?  Can you articulate for me your understanding of what the similarities and dissimilarities of the common priesthood and ordained priesthood are?  This would help me understand your questions better.  Thank you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

St. Thomas says that Solemn Profession is a total holocaust, a total consecration. Even the Holy Father cannot dispense with the effects of this total consecration. He dispenses the person from the obligations. The consecration remains. Perpetual profession and solemn profession THEOLOGICALLY are different (and slightly different in canon law although the differences is so slight as to be almost non-existent) but that does not mean that the perpetual professed religious isn't totally consecrated as well. It's a matter of participation.

 

Solemn profession is according to St. Thomas an ontological change in the person. I don't think this as been emphasized as much today but we Dominicans have always held this in our theology of religious profession. (There was no such thing as perpetual profession in his time, only solemn profession.) During St. Thomas' time a professed religious could be dispensed from everything but the vow of chastity. This was held up until the 1917 code of canon law. I think this is significant. (This was for religious in solemn profession.)

 

While a professed woman religious is NOT a consecrated virgin (well, most aren't) that does NOT mean she is not a spouse of Christ or that she may be not be called as such. The nature of a woman's total self-gift is spousal and a woman religious images this spousal gift of the Church to Christ her head. Not in the same way as a Consecrated Virgin for whom this is the very nature of her vocation but still she does by participation. To say that a consecrated woman religious does not have a spousal relationship with Christ because she is not a consecrated virgin is an insult and totally not in accord with the Church. If this were not so I am absolutely positive that the Church would not have approved the profession ceremonies of all the religious congregations--each one has to submit their ceremonials to the Holy See for approval and let me tell you, they really go over it with a fine tooth comb!

 

While the Dominican Order, following the Cistercians, has never had the consecration of virgins still the bridal spirituality has been there from the very beginning. Throughout all the letters of Bl. Jordan to Bl. Diana he constantly, in nearly every letter, talks to her as the bride of the one true Bridegroom, the Bridegroom of your soul, etc. The Order did not have consecration of virgins for the nuns because the first nuns were converts from the Cathar heresy that saw the material as "evil" and marriage as "evil". Consecrated virginity would have been seen as a good because marriage and the body were evil not because they were such great goods as to be given totally to God.

 

Theologically obedience is "higher" because by virtue of the vow a person totally consecrates herself to God. It is in obedience--which is about the whole person---that we come to the goal of our religious profession, which is perfect love.

 

And it is LOVE OF GOD that is the whole point of one's consecration: the consecration of Baptism, the consecration of a Consecrated Virgin, the consecration of a Professed Religious.

 

BTW, in the Dominican Order we MAKE SOLEMN PROFESSION but we ARE CONSECRATED. It's something received. Similiar to the Consecration of Virgins and Ordination. We do not have any consecratory prayer, though. In our tradition the making of profession (which has a wider understanding than just professing vows) itself is consecratory. For awhile we had to use the generic Roman formula and had to use the consecration prayers which are very beautiful but it wasn't in our tradition. Now we have our ritual back.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

St. Thomas says that Solemn Profession is a total holocaust, a total consecration. Even the Holy Father cannot dispense with the effects of this total consecration. He dispenses the person from the obligations. The consecration remains. Perpetual profession and solemn profession THEOLOGICALLY are different (and slightly different in canon law although the differences is so slight as to be almost non-existent) but that does not mean that the perpetual professed religious isn't totally consecrated as well. It's a matter of participation.

 

Solemn profession is according to St. Thomas an ontological change in the person. I don't think this as been emphasized as much today but we Dominicans have always held this in our theology of religious profession. (There was no such thing as perpetual profession in his time, only solemn profession.) During St. Thomas' time a professed religious could be dispensed from everything but the vow of chastity. This was held up until the 1917 code of canon law. I think this is significant. (This was for religious in solemn profession.)

 

While a professed woman religious is NOT a consecrated virgin (well, most aren't) that does NOT mean she is not a spouse of Christ or that she may be not be called as such. The nature of a woman's total self-gift is spousal and a woman religious images this spousal gift of the Church to Christ her head. Not in the same way as a Consecrated Virgin for whom this is the very nature of her vocation but still she does by participation. To say that a consecrated woman religious does not have a spousal relationship with Christ because she is not a consecrated virgin is an insult and totally not in accord with the Church. If this were not so I am absolutely positive that the Church would not have approved the profession ceremonies of all the religious congregations--each one has to submit their ceremonials to the Holy See for approval and let me tell you, they really go over it with a fine tooth comb!

 

While the Dominican Order, following the Cistercians, has never had the consecration of virgins still the bridal spirituality has been there from the very beginning. Throughout all the letters of Bl. Jordan to Bl. Diana he constantly, in nearly every letter, talks to her as the bride of the one true Bridegroom, the Bridegroom of your soul, etc. The Order did not have consecration of virgins for the nuns because the first nuns were converts from the Cathar heresy that saw the material as "evil" and marriage as "evil". Consecrated virginity would have been seen as a good because marriage and the body were evil not because they were such great goods as to be given totally to God.

 

Theologically obedience is "higher" because by virtue of the vow a person totally consecrates herself to God. It is in obedience--which is about the whole person---that we come to the goal of our religious profession, which is perfect love.

 

And it is LOVE OF GOD that is the whole point of one's consecration: the consecration of Baptism, the consecration of a Consecrated Virgin, the consecration of a Professed Religious.

 

BTW, in the Dominican Order we MAKE SOLEMN PROFESSION but we ARE CONSECRATED. It's something received. Similiar to the Consecration of Virgins and Ordination. We do not have any consecratory prayer, though. In our tradition the making of profession (which has a wider understanding than just professing vows) itself is consecratory. For awhile we had to use the generic Roman formula and had to use the consecration prayers which are very beautiful but it wasn't in our tradition. Now we have our ritual back.

 

Sister, may I suggest you look up what St. Thomas says regarding consecrated virginity in his different works?  Then return to the discussion?  You may be surprised at his distinctions.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with Sr. Mary Catharine in that saying that a woman religious' interior relationship with Jesus isn't spousal is insulting and not in accordance with the mind of the Church. I was reading a lot about Consecrated Virgins last night, particularly here: http://consecratedvirgins.org/ and was understanding more what you and Laurie in particular were saying. However, when I read this comment, I felt this was going too far. 

 

If by "The interior relationship of these women with Christ is a spousal relationship" you mean that it IS a spousal relationship, I wouldn't agree.  I would say it shares or participates in in the Church's spousal relationship.  Again, this is because those of us who are unordained share in the priesthood of Christ but we are not priests.  Consecrated virgins ARE spouses and Have a spousal relationship.  Religious reflect that to a certain extent but only to a certain extent.

 

I don't think it is correct to say this about the interior relationship any woman religious would have with Jesus. 

 

Regarding nuns in particular though, what about Verbi Sponsa? This document is filled with spousal language (only quoting from a couple places below) in describing the vocation of Nuns. From this I do not think one could conclude that it is only a bridal spirituality that cloistered nuns have, but an essential part of their identity. I am not trying to say it is on par or the same as Consecrated Virgins. I am not comparing them here. I am just speaking specifically of Nuns.

 

"The nuptial dimension belongs to the whole Church, but consecrated life is a vivid image of it, since it more clearly expresses the impulse towards the Bridegroom.(17)

 

In a still more significant and radical way, the mystery of the exclusive union of the Church as Bride with the Lord is expressed in the vocation of cloistered nuns, precisely because their life is entirely dedicated to God, loved above all else, in a ceaseless straining towards the heavenly Jerusalem and in anticipation of the eschatological Church confirmed in the possession and contemplation of God. (18) Their life is a reminder to all Christian people of the fundamental vocation of everyone to come to God; (19) and it is a foreshadowing of the goal towards which the entire community of the Church journeys, (20) in order to live for ever as the Bride of the Lamb."

 

"The solitary cell, the closed cloister, are the place where the nun, bride of the Incarnate Word, lives wholly concentrated with Christ in God."

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sr. Mary Catherine,

 

You make some good points.  However, you do not address why certain Dominican nuns historically received the Consecration of Virginity. 

 

I never said that religious do not participate in the spousal nature of the Church.  We all do.  And, consecrated persons (both men and women) share or participate in this more than a layperson by virtue of their consecration.   I just said that unless they are also CVs, they are not brides of Christ properly speaking.  I never denied that religious don't give themselves completely to God.  They do.  Primarily as disciples.  Remember, you can give yourself completely to God in different ways.  It's not the Church's fault that the way to do it in a spousal way is via the consecration of virgins.  That fact doesn't denigrate religious life any more than the existence of the consecrated state denigrates marriage.

 

Sure, the point of any consecration is the love of God.  But, the essence of consecration and what it effects is different for each form of consecration.  That is why I'm asking that we come to the table with a common understanding of what consecrated virginity is.  You quote St. Thomas about religious profession.  I think it is only fair for you to also quote from him about consecrated virginity, particularly since he has many references to it.  As an aside, don't you think it is interesting that he would discuss the consecration of virgins even though the female branch of his own order did not allow for it?

 

Obedience may be a higher vow than vows of chastity and poverty.  But seriously, that's not under discussion and merely a tangent.  Remember, CVs do not make vows or promises of any kind unless they are also religious.  A religious vow of obedience does not make a man or woman a bride of Christ any more than a promise of obedience makes a man a priest. 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with Sr. Mary Catharine in that saying that a woman religious' interior relationship with Jesus isn't spousal is insulting and not in accordance with the mind of the Church. I was reading a lot about Consecrated Virgins last night, particularly here: http://consecratedvirgins.org/ and was understanding more what you and Laurie in particular were saying. However, when I read this comment, I felt this was going too far. 

 

 

I don't think it is correct to say this about the interior relationship any woman religious would have with Jesus. 

 

Regarding nuns in particular though, what about Verbi Sponsa? This document is filled with spousal language (only quoting from a couple places below) in describing the vocation of Nuns. From this I do not think one could conclude that it is only a bridal spirituality that cloistered nuns have, but an essential part of their identity. I am not trying to say it is on par or the same as Consecrated Virgins. I am not comparing them here. I am just speaking specifically of Nuns.

 

"The nuptial dimension belongs to the whole Church, but consecrated life is a vivid image of it, since it more clearly expresses the impulse towards the Bridegroom.(17)

 

In a still more significant and radical way, the mystery of the exclusive union of the Church as Bride with the Lord is expressed in the vocation of cloistered nuns, precisely because their life is entirely dedicated to God, loved above all else, in a ceaseless straining towards the heavenly Jerusalem and in anticipation of the eschatological Church confirmed in the possession and contemplation of God. (18) Their life is a reminder to all Christian people of the fundamental vocation of everyone to come to God; (19) and it is a foreshadowing of the goal towards which the entire community of the Church journeys, (20) in order to live for ever as the Bride of the Lamb."

 

"The solitary cell, the closed cloister, are the place where the nun, bride of the Incarnate Word, lives wholly concentrated with Christ in God."

 

I have stated over and over again that religious participate more in the spousal bridal nature of the Church than laypersons.  Nuns participate in it MORE than religious sisters.  CVs are brides and don't just partially participate in it. 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, but then I also do not think it is correct to say that those women who are virgins who feel especially called to become brides of Christ, must either discern Consecrated Virginity lived out in the world or chose from the very few religious communities out there that provide for the Rite of CV. And that if someone is called to something other than that, they must not feel this particular call to be a bride of Christ, but more to be His disciple. I really disagree with this. For centuries young women have felt the call to become brides of Christ and have answered that call by becoming Nuns. There are too many Saints that could be quoted here, but this just comes off the top of my mind. 

 

"Jesus, my soul desires You. I want to be Your bride soon. With You I want to suffer, and to find You, die" ~ Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, but then I also do not think it is correct to say that those women who are virgins who feel especially called to become brides of Christ, must either discern Consecrated Virginity lived out in the world or chose from the very few religious communities out there that provide for the Rite of CV. And that if someone is called to something other than that, they must not feel this particular call to be a bride of Christ, but more to be His disciple. I really disagree with this. For centuries young women have felt the call to become brides of Christ and have answered that call by becoming Nuns. There are too many Saints that could be quoted here, but this just comes off the top of my mind. 

 

"Jesus, my soul desires You. I want to be Your bride soon. With You I want to suffer, and to find You, die" ~ Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

 

This is like saying you don't think it is correct that men who are eligible who feel especially called to be priests must either discern priesthood lived in the world (diocesan priesthood) or choose from the percentage of religious communities out there that provide for ordination.  I have made the distinction between spirituality and reality many times before in this thread and I will not repeat myself.  Do you understand the distinction between common priesthood and ordained priesthood?  It seems like you don't because you keep on making points which point to a lack of understanding between common spousal participation and consecrated spousality.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I understand that difference. However, I do not think that is the best comparison, regarding a young man feeling called to be a priest because there are many more options for him in religious life to become a priest also, than religious communities that have the Rite of CV.

 

So if a woman is called to an Order that does not have the Rite of CV, it must be that she feels more called to be a disciple of Christ than His bride?

For instance, women who are called to the Poor Clares are going to feel especially called to give themselves to Jesus as brides, not disciples. And yet they have never had the Rite of CV. When you are called to the cloistered contemplative life, that is essentially a call to become a bride of Christ. Their lives are totally taken up in this as is written of them in Verbi Sponsa.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I understand that difference. However, I do not think that is the best comparison, regarding a young man feeling called to be a priest because there are many more options for him in religious life to become a priest also, than religious communities that have the Rite of CV.

 

So if a woman is called to an Order that does not have the Rite of CV, it must be that she feels more called to be a disciple of Christ than His bride?

For instance, women who are called to the Poor Clares are going to feel especially called to give themselves to Jesus as brides, not disciples. And yet they have never had the Rite of CV. When you are called to the cloistered contemplative life, that is essentially a call to become a bride of Christ. Their lives are totally taken up in this as is written of them in Verbi Sponsa.

 

No.  You don't get the point.  The ordained priesthood and consecrated virignity has to do with essential differences not with degrees or availability.  Key word here is essence.  If you do not understand the concept of essence, this is a good time to look it up, because it underlies what I am going to say next.

 

IF ordained priesthood were essentially the same thing as the common priesthood (which it isn't), then there would be nothing to prevent a nun from becoming a priest.

 

IF consecrated virginity were essentially the same thing as the common spousality (which it isn't), then there would be nothing to prevent the enclosed male religious from becoming a consecrated virgin.

 

The Priesthood is essentially different from religious life.  A man receives Holy Orders.  He represents Christ as Priest.  He IS a priest.  The priesthood may be lived in ordinary life (diocesan priesthood) or with the additional structure and vows of religious life.  It is compatible with religious life.  But it isn't religious life.

 

Consecrated virginity is essentially different from religious life.  A woman receives the Consecration to a Life of virginity.  She represents the Church as Bride.  She IS a bride.  Consecrated virginity may be lived in ordinary life (consecrated virginity lived in the world) or with the additional structure and vows of religious life.  It is compatible with religious life.  But it isn't religious life.
 

Let's continue with logic here.  IF being a bride of Christ per se is the same as religious consecration per se, then religious priests are both images of Christ as Priest and Church as Bride.  Absurd.  One is forced to conclude that of itself, religious life is NEITHER the priesthood nor is it consecrated virginity although it is compatible with both.  That brings the next question.  What makes religious life different then, from the priesthood and consecrated virginity?  Well, what essentially constitutes religious life will make it essentially different from the priesthood and consecrated virginity.  Vowed discipleship according to the vows. A specific charism.  A particular community.  These are things proper/essential to religious life that is NOT essential to the priesthood or consecrated virginity.  So when a man discerns the priesthood, he is discerning it as lived in the world (no matter how few or many dioceses there are) or in a religious community (or other forms of consecrated life).  Why?  Because the priesthood is a separate and different thing essentially from religious life.  It is conferred by a bishop.  The same goes for women wishing to be brides of Christ.  Consecrated virginity- the fullness of being a bride of Christ- must be discerned in two modes.  It doesn't go against the essence of the vocation if only a few orders offer it. 

Edited by abrideofChrist
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, sort of.  It's not that CVs are merely "called" brides, they "are" brides.  MarysLittleFlower, could I ask you something in turn since you have asked me numerous questions?  Can you articulate for me your understanding of what the similarities and dissimilarities of the common priesthood and ordained priesthood are?  This would help me understand your questions better.  Thank you.

 

Sure! The common (universal) priesthood refers to all in the Church, and it means that we can offer intercessory prayer, spiritual sacrifice, etc. Simply by being in the Church, we are part of this universal priesthood. (and of course we enter the Church through Baptism). Ordained priesthood is different cause an actual ordination needs to take place - like the laying on of hands, intention to do what the Church does etc. The ordained priests are called by God for this, they act "in persona Christi", can offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and can forgive sin in His name. 

 

I think what you are saying, is relating this to the Consecration of Virgins, and how a CV is a bride like a priest is a priest, and a religious is a bride like we are all priests in the universal priesthood. However I think you would also agree with me that all in the Church are brides in the sense of being in the Church (each soul is meant to be united with God in Heaven) - so religious share more in this than others, as you said. I hope I haven't misunderstood what you were saying.

 

In this case, it would mean that there are levels of how much one can participate in the Church being a bride, and then there is being a bride. It would be helpful if there was something authoritative from the Church on this that makes it clear, because otherwise it's like we're talking about possible interpretations. (I'm not saying the explanation isn't out there...I need to maybe look up St Thomas and see if he says anything).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
×
×
  • Create New...