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Consecrated Virginity Question


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abrideofChrist

One dimension of spiritual maturity is accepting the possibility that people who are equal in education, intelligence, thoughtfulness, holiness and prayer may nevertheless come to different judgments.   Spiritual maturity also allows a person to accept difference with equanimity and peace, without seeing the vigor of another person's conviction as a threat to their own.

 

Your request for Sponsa Christi to stop putting "vague, unfounded responsibilities on the souls of CVs" seems to me to be coming from a place from insecurity. By your own argument she does not have the power to "impose"  anything on anyone.   Anyone discerning how best to live out their Consecration needs to consider seriously what their relationship will be with their diocese. Such a person would not be remiss to weigh the merit of Sponsa Christi's point of view, search their conscience and find out what  it imposes.  Anyone who allows posts on the internet to "put responsibilities" on their soul is in need of some spiritual maturity themselves. 

 

Lillabett, you miss the point.  Would you stand by if someone claimed that abortion is  not sinful because someone looked to their conscience and decided it wasn't?  Wouldn't you give reasons why it is sinful?  Would you stand by and passively watch if someone claimed that it was sinful to take a walk in the park because people should stay indoors all day?  Maybe people will not accept a difference in opinion because they know that abortion is objectively a sin and a walk in the park in and of itself is not objectively a sin.  Maybe people know that there are objective criteria by which to measure whether something is objectively sinful or not.

 

Lauren suggested one such measurement.  She said that for a moral obligation to exist in this matter (because it would be positive law, not natural law), there would have to be a promulgation of law forbidding the virgin from relocating.  Such a law has not been enacted.  Therefore, one has to conclude that such an obligation does not exist.  If such an obligation is non-existent, then there can be NO SIN if a virgin relocates!  Simple philosophy and logic.

 

I suggested another.  According to Church teaching, natural law rights cannot be restricted on a whim by just anybody.  Somebody with the proper authority has to restrict the natural law right of the freedom to relocate.  Restrictions of NATURAL LAW RIGHTS are taken seriously by the Catholic Church.  There are no restrictions on a virgin's right to relocate that have been proclaimed as law by anyone with the proper authority in the Church (the Pope).  Therefore such an obligation does not exist.  Therefore no one can privately dream up such a restriction and say that it is "morally obligatory" because that goes against the right of people to relocate.  I would go so far as to say that it is at best irresponsible and at worst objectively sinful to claim that CVs are morally obligated to remain in their dioceses because the Church does not restrict the rights of people and not tell them about it!

 

You are free to judge whether I am secure or insecure- that has no bearing on my inner sanctum, and has no affect upon my peace of soul.  But you may want to carefully go over the reasons why I believe and others believe that not only is it NOT sinful for a CV to relocate, but it CANNOT be a moral obligation for her to remain in her diocese based just on the nature of the Consecration itself.  An ad hominem thrust towards me has no bearing on the validity of my line of reasoning.  But it can be distracting to those who have not learned to follow reasoning.

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ETA: This is not aimed at anyone- just to lighten the mood.  :saint2:

I ask one question and this happens.

I mean this as respectfully as possible, but the exact nature and extent of consecrated virgins’ secularity is far from a settled question. I’m saying this not because I want to debate (I truly do

Thank you, Sponsa-Christi. Yes, I was remembering you have a degree in philosophy. But that fact alone doesn't suffice for a penetrating and nuanced analysis. I was trying to give you some feedback in the spirit of charity, but also for the sake of the many others who read this blog, are discerning, and don't have the time and/or background to sift through some of these discussions for themselves.

 

I hope my input has been helpful to you on some level, and at the very least to others discerning or living this vocation. I said we are at an impasse because I find you use words in your own unique ways, habitually, without defining them in accordance with Church teaching or the disciplines of philosophy and theology and/or using them consistently, and then move on to other discussions that you prefer to treat when someone asks for clarification. (For example, you have not yet addressed the relationship of obligation being tied to promulgation, which is the crux of the issue of whether a CV is morally obligated to stay in the diocese she was consecrated in.)

 

I think everything is clear to you in your own mind and that you have very good intentions. But something more substantive is needed in order to have a fruitful dialogue. Certainly, as you point out, you are entitled to your own opinions. But I question whether it is wise to put forward so many opinions, in numerous places online, about this vocation that differ greatly from the way the majority of CVs are living this vocation and differ greatly from the interpretations some noted canon lawyers have given while at the same time not offering a sustained, learned alternative. There is a danger of discouraging/confusing those who google this vocation and don't have the time or background to track down what really is expected by the Church of a CV.

 

I don't say this easily or lightly, but it needs to be said. Perhaps we will meet some day and have coffee or pray a rosary together in Rome. I hope that occurrs and  in the meantime hold you and all of us in prayer!

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To build upon this.  The historic reason why the vow of stability (vow to remain in one abbey) was incorporated into monastic life was because there was a percentage of wandering monks who basically just did their own thing and hopped from one abbey to another.  When monastic life is built on communal interdependence and communal sanctification, the individualistic path these itinerants were following was against the crosses and specific structure of monastic life.  The implicit argument Sponsa Christi is making is that CVs who are not sticking to one diocese are not being faithful to the structure of "diocesan consecrated life".  The Church has not defined consecrated virginity to be diocesan centric.

 

Now, a huge amount of scandal kicked up when a bunch of guys decided to create mendicant orders.  Why?  Because the faithful were conditioned to thinking that it was essential to religious life to have stability (location in one place).  Instead, here were the Dominicans and Franciscans and Carmelites and others running around all over the place.  The concept of the religious family being overarching and place as having minor import was gradually imbibed and eventually people were able to accept the idea of consecrated religious moving about to respond to the needs of the religious family and to the different locations they happened to live in.

 

The Order of Virgins is unique in that a virgin is automatically by the law itself, attached to the diocese she resides in.  If she changes her residence, her new bishop becomes the bishop she reports to.  To my mind, this solves both problems of the "wandering monks syndrome" (she is under the direct care of someone, and of the Church's acknowledgement that there can be a need for consecrated people to travel or relocate to distant lands, transversing dioceses or even continents.  In both modes (staying/stability or relocating/mission work), the virgin or religious is fulfilling the obligation of working out her path of salvation in fear and trembling.  But since she has made no vows, a consecrated virgin may find that for her, the Lord is guiding her to remain in her diocese whereas another may discern that the Lord is calling her to the harvest of souls somewhere else.  Both are good counsels.  But which one is better is going to be subjectively different for each virgin.

 

This is a good point about stability but it is only one sense of the monastic value or vow of stability. There are various senses. Augustine Roberts, OCSO, in his work, Centered on Christ, A Guide to Monastic Profession lists five different forms or senses: 1) stability in cell,(this form was made famous by the Desert Fathers and Mothers) 2) stability under an Abbott (who might be the spiritual Father of several monasteries), and associated with Cistercians of the 12-13th centuries; 3) Stability on the pillar (associated with Simeon the Stylite, certain hermits, anchorites, and recluses who were closed up, walled off, or chained to walls); 4) stability of a traveller, which may seem like an oxymoron, especially given Benedict's comments on gyrovagues, but which allowed temporary movement to another monastery; and 5) stability in (the) community, which is Benedict's interpretation of the value, and which involves stability in the community of profession. Roberts also affirms that stability is an interpersonal value, one which is meant to foster communion or koinonia.

 

It can be argued then that as abrideofchrist notes, one may find moving to another diocese (or working within it) helps build communion or community in ways she is effectively being called to do while another CV is not. In the desert tradition there were Desert Abbas or Ammas who were wanderers; this was not typical but it was not seen of itself to be a transgression of the value of stability and as Roberts notes, was actually understood as a form of stability pointing to its wider wisdom and truth than simply staying in one place. (A part of a vow of stability, by the way, is a commitment to grow in one's vocation and in loving those to whom one is bound by vow. It is, therefore, more than simply a commitment not to leave a particular place. It is for this reason Roberts also notes that stability is an interpersonal value.)

 

It can be argued that mendicancy was actually the recovery of a form of stability dating to the desert Fathers and Mothers but lost from view with the rise of the Benedictine stability. Meanwhile, unless and until the Church requires a specific form of stability of a CV, she is indeed free to move from one diocese to another, especially if some dimension of her call to discipleship makes it important to do so. What each person (hermit, monastic, CV) must be clear about is how stability and movement in discipleship are linked in their own lives. Canon 604 leaves this up to the CV more than Canon 603 leaves it up to the hermit, for instance, because the Bishop is not a legitimate superior (and a new Bishop does not have to accept the obligations attached to this role). Even so the tension between the charge from today's Mass readings (Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Gospel) and the value of physical stability must be worked out by each person.

 

best,

Sister Laurel, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

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Sponsa-Christi

Laurie,

 

First of all, even though it might seem that the majority of CVs agree on a particular interpretation of what this vocation means, it does not therefore follow that that interpretation is automatically the correct or most appropriate one. Also, Cardinal Burke’s interpretation on certain issues are, at this point in time, simply his opinion on the matter.

 

Right now, the Church has given us very, very few official clarifications of the more concrete aspects of consecrated virgins’ way of life. So at the present time, it is completely legitimate to have different opinions on these questions (and I have had several good theologians and canonists encourage me to keep writing down my thoughts on this subject).

 

I do think that anyone who is thinking of becoming a consecrated virgin does need to give serious thought, prayer, and study to the question of how the Church envisions a consecrated virgin’s relationship to her diocese. These questions are truly still questions in the Church, and ones which I think all consecrated virgins will find necessary to engage at at least some point in their consecrated lives. 

 

But to try to try clarify myself again, let me break down my argument:

 

1. I believe that consecrated virgins do indeed have a special bond with the particular local Church for which they were consecrated. I believe this is true on a theological level, given the very nature of the Rite of Consecration itself. I also believe that this is strongly implied in the Church’s existing laws on the subject. And I believe these things are objectively true, even if others might legitimately disagree.

 

2. I believe that it’s also important for consecrated virgins to incarnate their vocation in their exterior lives. That is, I think consecration to a life of virginity—because it is a public state of consecrated life in the Church and not a private devotional commitment—should shape our daily lives in demonstrable ways.

 

3. Therefore, I think that consecrated virgins' special bond with the local Church should have some exterior consequences. To me, it would seem that some level of stability (i.e., as a general principle, without right now proposing any specific rules or procedures, and without trying to comment on exceptional cases) would be the most natural way of manifesting this reality.

 

4. As a said earlier, a legal obligation is one which is unambiguously stated in the Church’s legal documents and which is quantifiable according to legal standards. Other obligations are called moral obligations. (Of course, we are also morally bound to observe legal obligations, but this is a different sense of the term.)

 

Because moral obligations are by definition those which are not mentioned explicitly in the Church’s legal documents, you really can’t speak of moral obligations as being “promulgated,” because the only thing that can be promulgated in the strict sense of the word are the rules of the Church’s man-made legal system. If a moral obligation were to be promulgated in the usual sense of the word--that is, through something like an official papal decree, an edit to the Code, a definitive interpretation from the appropriate dicastery in Rome--then that moral obligation would turn into a legal obligation. 

 

Since moral obligations do not always have the absolute clarity which canon law enjoys, they can sometimes be ambiguous or open for debate regarding the consequences or extent of their demands. For example, we can certainly say that all Catholics have the moral obligation to love God. However, we cannot determine in the external forum whether or not someone is fulfilling this moral obligation, because the degree of a person’s love of God is impossible to determine in a legal context. We can rightly say that it’s a sin to not love God enough, but judging from the outside, we can’t say at what point a specific person’s lack of love for God formally becomes a sin.

 

5. Back to consecrated virgins: if I am correct that consecrated virgins do in fact have a special bond with a particular local Church (a premise which is a debatable theological concept); and if I am also right that consecrated virgins are called to manifest their vocation in their exterior lives (another theological concept, albeit one which has moral implications); and if I am further correct in supposing that the most appropriate way to manifest this bond is through some kind of a commitment to stability; then it would follow that consecrated virgins do have some kind of moral obligation to stability (even if they don’t have a legal one right now).

 

Still, right now I wouldn’t go so far as to say that moving without a serious reason is actually a sin, because people can in good faith disagree on some of the above-mentioned premises. But at the same time, just because some of my premises are ideas which are still open to debate, it doesn't mean that my conclusion is an illogical result of my argument.

 

Finally, even apart from the consideration of obligations strictly speaking, it is also still my opinion that a life of stability is objectively a better, clearer, and fuller embodiment of the charism of consecrated virginity.

 

 

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Because moral obligations are by definition those which are not mentioned explicitly in the Church’s legal documents, you really can’t speak of moral obligations as being “promulgated,” because the only thing that can be promulgated in the strict sense of the word are the rules of the Church’s man-made legal system. If a moral obligation were to be promulgated in the usual sense of the word--that is, through something like an official papal decree, an edit to the Code, a definitive interpretation from the appropriate dicastery in Rome--then that moral obligation would turn into a legal obligation. 

 

Hi Sponsa-Christi,

 

Ok, first, I have no idea how or why you conclude that moral obligations "are by definition those which are not mentioned explicity in Church documents." This is an example of what I mean when I say you make statements that are not rooted in the Church's philosophical/theological tradition. This is not how the Church (or the many philosphers whose wisdom and scholarship She draws upon) defines a moral obligation. Add to that, obligations mentioned in Church documents certainly might be moral obligations. They might very well bind morally (depending on what the obligation is).

 

Second, the quote above is an excellent example of the point I have been trying to make. Respectfully, you DO need to study philosophy in greater depth. The idea of promulgation tied to moral obligiation is key to ethics. Absolutely key. That's exactly why the natural law binds! Human persons, through their intellects, have a natural capacity to discern certain moral truths (without divine revelation) and know that they are morally obligated to do X, Y, or Z. This very process of intellectually knowing is considered, by the Church, in Her teaching, to be a beautiful and primary promulgation. The moral law is made known (promulgated--to promulgate means "to make known"--I'm not making this up here--this comes from 2,000 years of the Western intellectual tradition) by God to the human person through that person's intellect.  There is no arguing around that. Promulgation is by no means limited to positive laws. I am frankly aghast that you think it is. Simply aghast!

 

Any future canon lawyer absolutely must be grounded in the Church's general understanding of law (and this encompasses ethics). It's crucial.

 

I understand that you are entitled to your opinions and you've mentioned a number of times that some experts encourage you in your investigations. I agree with that. I encourage you, too. That's why I've taken the time here to give some sustained input.

 

I do thank you for the time you've taken to write other things that I haven't responded to, but I haven't responded to your other points because I've observed that your foundation is not structured well and that in turn impacts many of your other points.

 

 

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If anyone is interested, here are excerpts from one of the books I recommend. It's a bit old fashioned in the writing but you get used to it, you'll see that the author, Fr. Thomas J. Higgins, SJ, has a lucid, penetrating mind. He was a canon lawyer and a philosopher. He drawing on the Judeo-Christian, Greco-Roman intellectual tradition that is the bedrock of the Church's teaching in many areas.

 

I have added no emphasis. Italics are as found in the original text.

 

Man as Man: The Science and the Art of Ethics, by Fr. Thomas J. Higgins, S.J.

 

Book 1: General Principles of Morality

Chapter 5: Law

 

Section I: The Source of Moral Obligation

 

Whence does obligation arise? [Fr. Higgins then outlines various philosophers, Hobbes, Kant, Dewey, etc., and points out the flaws in their theories.]

 

B. The Eternal Law

 

162. …St. Augustine defines the Eternal Law as the mind and the will of God commanding the natural order of the universe to be observed, forbidding it to be disturbed (Contra Faust., Lib. XXII, cap. 27)

 

…There exists in God an Eternal Law. It is not enough that God create, giving creatures their substantial being; by suitable providence, He must lead them to their final end and supreme good. It would be a glaring defect in God not to care for His creatures. Unless He directs them to their destiny by law God fails to make suitable provisions for them. Therefore (a) in God’s mind there must exist the over-all purpose of creation and the pattern of action required of creatures for the attainment of these purposes….

 

This act of the divine intellect and will constitutes a law for it is the norm whereby creatures are properly directed to act toward the common end of the universe and are forbidden from acting contrary to it. It is an Eternal Law because whatever is in God must be eternal.

 

165. In accordance with the nature of each, God wills the supreme good of all classes of beings and ordains that all things act according to their kind. Hence, man is obliged by God to seek the last end. Moral obligation exists and is unconditional. A natural compulsion is imposed on man to co-operate with the divine purposes by seeking his end and choosing the necessary means to attain it.

 

 

 

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Man as Man: The Science and the Art of Ethics, by Fr. Thomas J. Higgins, S.J.

 

Book 1: General Principles of Morality

Chapter 5: Law

 

Section II: Where Moral Obligation is Found

 

What the Natural Law is

 

171. The Eternal Law as it pertains to man, constituting the law of his nature and existing in his reason, is the Natural Law. What exactly is this?

 

The Natural Law consists in practical universal judgments which man himself elicits. These express necessary and obligatory rules of human conduct which have been established by the Author of human nature as essential to the divine purposes in the universe and have been promulgated by God solely through human reason.

 

When we say the Natural Law consists in universal judgments, we do not mean that it is just a psychological act of man. Obviously our emphasis is upon the content of these judgments as revelatory of the Eternal Law.

 

Just as man formulates principles of knowledge, such as the principle of contradiction, and mathematical and physical formulae, so also he forms judgments concerning his moral behavior. Reflecting upon the world about him, he arrives at general conclusions regarding human action, such as, Children must obey their parents. These judgments express two things: (a) a norm of human conduct; (b) an obligation to follow the norm.

 

Those judgments, then, are a law because they convey to man a pattern of action and an obligation to conform thereto, both of which originate in a Supreme Legislator, the author of his nature….

 

175. How has God Promulgated this Law? God must manifest it so that man recognizes it as the authentic pattern of behavior demanding his conformity. Rhetoricians say that God inscribes the law in the heart of man. This metaphor means that God enunciates His law through our nature, that is, the sole instrument of promulgation is human reason…

 

177. …The Eternal Law naturally promulgated is called by men the Natural Law. Therefore we define the Natural Law as right reason reflecting the divine command that man do certain good acts and avoid certain evil acts.

 

 

 

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Some back ground info on the author:

 

Rev. Thomas J. Higgins, S.J., former president of what is now St. Joseph University in Philadelphia, later served as philosophy department chairman at Loyola College.

 

He taught ethics at Loyola and was chairman of the Philosophy Department from 1959 until 1966.

 

He served as a judge of the marriage tribunal of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and was professor emeritus at Loyola from 1972 until he retired to Philadelphia in 1987.

 

Father Higgins was awarded the President's medal at Loyola College and in 1990 received the papal honor Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice for his work for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

 

He was a member of the Canon Law Society of America, the Jesuit Philosophical Association and the American Catholic Philosophical Association.

 

 

 

 

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Perhaps I should point out ahead of time that it doesn't hold water to object that the word "promulgation" really applies to positive law and only "kind of" applies to natural/moral law. That's not how the mind of the Church works. Essentially, the deeper and fuller the truth, i.e., the deeper and fuller the nature of the thing that is being examined is, the more claim it has in our hierarchy of definitions

 

Law, in the fullest, and highest sense, is the Eternal Law. Next comes the Natural Law. Next comes positive law. We speak of positive law (canon law, civil law, etc.) as being promulgated precisely because there is a prior existing, higher reality in which that word is rooted. It we wanted to rank types of promulgation, the promulgation of the Natural Law to man by God through reason is a higher and deeper kind of promulgation. It the basis from which we derive the notion of promulgation in relation to positive laws. That's exactly what separates us as Catholics who hold a specific view of the human person from all the other legal theorists out there who ground law and promulgation and obligation in something other than God and His relationship to His creatures.

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Sponsa-Christi

Dear Laurie,

 

I still think our problem is that we’re coming from slightly different paradigms. The two disciplines of Catholic Philosophy in general on the one hand and Canon Law on the other often approach the same kinds of questions, but approach them in different ways and emphasize different aspects of the issue at hand.

 

Just as the Code of Canon Law by itself wouldn’t be adequate as the sole point of reference in a discussion of larger philosophical questions, we cannot really use St. Thomas’ writings by themselves as a way to resolve questions that are primarily canonical in nature (even though certainly his concepts—when appropriately understood, taken in context, and “translated” so as to apply to the situation—can often quite important background information in these cases).

 

Also, each discipline tends to use some of its own terminology. Even though Philosophy and Canon Law might use a lot of the same words, they can at times mean slightly different things. Within a Canon Law-based discussion, individual terms often have a much narrower and more specific meaning than they would in other contexts.

 

In all the Canon Law classes I’ve had, moral obligations were contrasted to legal obligations in the way I explained above. That is, legal obligations are ONLY what are written in black-and-white in the Church’s legal texts. Other obligations are considered moral obligations, and naturally this is a much more general category.

 

While we are morally bound to observe legal obligations, not all moral obligations are legal ones. This is why a certain act might be blatantly unethical and immoral, but still not be technically a canonical crime. (For example, there’s no canonical prohibition against worshiping a golden calf that a person sets up in his or her basement.)

 

Also, from a canonical perspective, “promulgated” really does indicate an explicit and visible action from the appropriate ecclesiastical authority figure. For obvious reasons, Canon Law can’t be promulgated in the same was as Divine or Natural law.

 

Relating this discussion back to consecrated virginity, from a canonical perspective, strictly speaking you can’t say it’s a legal obligation for a CV to maintain a commitment to some level of stability, since the Church’s legal documents don’t directly mention this. However, just because the Code (and the other pertinent documents) don’t strictly demand stability verbatim, it could still be that a consecrated virgin nevertheless “should” strive for this. (Just like how, while virginal consecration isn’t technically listed as an impediment to marriage, consecrated virgins still “should” persevere in a life of perpetual virginity.)

 

My thought is that if you wanted to have a purely theological/philosophical discussion of what consecrated virgins’ obligations were in light of Natural and Divine Law as opposed to Canon Law, you would have to start from considerations and principles that were not only independent of Canon Law, but also antecedent to it. For example, I’m thinking such a discussion would have to be based around questions like: what did I explicitly and implicitly promise to do? What do I in justice owe to those who have helped me or whom now have a special, particular need of my charism? What is the objective nature of my consecration and how does this nature demand to be manifested?

 

(Ironically, if anything, I would think that a purely theological/philosophical consideration of what consecrated virgins’ obligations might actually make this vocation more demanding!)

 

 

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The gross problem, Sponsa Christ, is that you habitually venture into philosphy and you get into trouble in that realm. There isn't one solely canon law argument that I have made in any of my posts. I have only responded to you on the level of philosophy of law (which undergirds canon law) and you habitually respond in a manner that demonstrates you don't understand the key principles of a Catholic philosophy of law. You can't possibly delve into canon law in any real depth if you don't grasp those principles. I understand the concept of promulgation in canon law. I'm the one who clarified that here, for everyone, a few posts ago when you said a CV was obligated to stay in her diocese of consecration when, in fact, she is not, neither canonically, nor morally.

 

I started my discussion with canonical promulgation as a necessary predecessor to moral obligation in that specific instance. You then ventured into discussions of moral obligation, here and there, as you saw fit, and were in error in your conclusions. You then said, loud and clear, that promulgation only involves positive law and that I couldn't, strictly speaking, use it in another sense. That's counter to everything the Church teaches about law, from which she then draws forth her principles of canon law. Of course there is more to canon law than just these bare principles. That's the whole point. We need canon law, and all positive law, for a reason. It fulfills a need that the natural law and divine revelation on its own does not.

 

It's not simply a matter of two different paradigms and two different sets of vocabulary. If it was, you'd have been able to accurately respond to my original posts. You would have been able to see, immediately, "Oh, I see, she's using promulgated in this sense." But you didn't. You didn't understand what I was talking about, at all. Which is my main point.

 

It's not a matter of different paradigms. Its a matter of not understanding how the paradigm of canon law fits into the greater paradigm of the Church's philosophy of law at large. That's not to say canon doesn't have its own language and aspects. Of course it does. But if you are going to say that a CV has X moral obligation, you've got to know what a moral obligation means. There's no way around it.

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Sponsa-Christi

 

I started my discussion with canonical promulgation as a necessary predecessor to moral obligation in that specific instance.

 

 

Dear Laurie,

 

In an honest attempt at understanding here...if canonical promulgation is a necessary predecessor to moral obligation in general (and I sincerely don't see why this particular question would be a special case), then that would mean that we are ONLY morally obligated to do just those things that are in Canon Law. And to me, this seems obviously false, since Canon Law wasn't intended to cover the entire moral life of Christians, and doesn't even include all of the Ten Commandments. 

 

Basically, what I've been trying to say is: Do consecrated virgins have a strict canonical obligation to some kind of stability toward their home dioceses? No. Is it possible that they might still have some kind of obligation on some other level? Perhaps. 

 

I'm not even trying to get into the details of what situations would justify a move, exactly how serious an obligation this might be. I'm just suggesting this as a very general principle.

 

I'm also not trying to get into the issue of whether or not a lack of stability is a sin, or at what point it might become a sin, because there is so much with is still unclear. However, even if stability is an obligation in some sense objectively, obviously someone who was sincerely unaware that this obligation existed (or in conscience truly believed that there wasn't one) wouldn't subjectively be committing a sin.

 

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abrideofChrist
Before I post my comment, I am going to quote from Sr. Sharon Holland's article published in the Congregation for Religious's official periodical.  I think I've linked to it before, but if people are like me and seldom click on links, it is important for this discussion that I include what I take to be a relevant quote.  Sr. Sharon Holland was THE woman in the Congregation who was the head of the section in that Congregation that dealt with CVs.  Questions that involved consecrated virginity went to her.  You could say that she was not only an "authoritative" source of information, but also official since this was the nature of her work.  The original is linked > here.
 

Earlier in the same Introduction, when speaking of the principal duties of such women, it is noted that their consecration of their chastity in this vocation is for the sake of a more fervent love of Christ and “of greater freedom in the service of their brothers and sisters.” To this end they spend their lives in works of penance and mercy, in apostolic activity and in prayer “according to their state of life and spiritual gifts.” The one specific note added here is a strong exhortation to celebrate the liturgy of
the hours daily, especially morning and evening prayer.

 

In the primitive Church, surely some of the early consecrated virgins were women of Christian households which provided their support. While today, some may have personal funds at their disposal both for their own support and for works of charity among the poor, the normal situation is that a consecrated virgin must earn her living, secure provision for her medical care in ways available to other individuals, and provide, at least modestly, for her own future. If an individual is in the service of the local Church in a full time work, she would need to receive the salary or stipend another person would receive. If she earns her living through a secular job, she will probably volunteer her free time in the service of the diocese or parish according to her gifts and the needs of the Church.

Practical questions regarding the finances of a consecrated virgin and the diocese’s responsibility for her in that area, find a response in the fact that this is an individual vocation to consecration, and, as distinct from religious, is a secular one. There is no religious community of goods into which they put all that they receive and from which they receive what is needed. In a
way more similar to members of a secular institute, the consecrated virgins earn their living and spend themselves in the service of the local Church. One is reminded of St. Paul who wished to earn his own way while bringing the Good News.

Through consecration there is a particular bond with the bishop and with the particular Church. It is, however, less juridically specified than the bond referred to as the incardination of a diocesan priest. The latter has an obligation of obedience to his bishop in being assigned to priestly duties, and in turn, he has a right to be supported in his material, as well as spiritual, needs, through the local Church. This is not the situation of the consecrated virgin.

How each consecrated virgin will exercise her responsibility of service in works of mercy,
prayer, sacrifice and apostolic activity, and how she will earn her living, are elements of the conversation which must take place prior to being admitted to consecration. Consecrated virgins may be working as university professors, parish secretaries, nurses or pastoral ministers; they may be working in purely secular jobs during the day and volunteering their services in a variety
of charitable works on behalf of the sick, elderly, handicapped or homeless in their time off. Wherever they are, they will be present as one consecrated, bearing witness to the love of God for all, made visible and mirrored in Christ’s love for the Church.

All of this does not suggest, however, that after admitting a candidate and presiding at the Rite of Consecration the bishop has no further responsibility toward the consecrated virgin. As pastor of the local Church he is concerned for the promotion of vocations of all kinds, for the spiritual well-being of all members of his flock. For those who have been received by him for consecration at the service of the Church, he must express special pastoral and spiritual concern. Many encourage that the bishop have a regular, perhaps annual, conversation with each consecrated virgin, regarding her life of consecration and her areas of service in the Church.

A bishop will most probably call upon the more mature to participate in the formation and preparation of other consecrated virgins. He may discover areas of service in the diocese for which they are particularly apt, and call upon them for their assistance. While it is presumed that a consecrated virgin will have another spiritual director, not all regular contact with the diocesan bishop should be delegated to others, such as a vicar for consecrated life. A well prepared colloquium can be of benefit to both the bishop and the individual consecrated virgin.

Several years of experience have given rise to further practical questions about this relationship with the local Church. A woman is admitted and consecrated by the bishop of the place, but it can happen that she must move to another place. The law does not provide details, but since this is a public state of consecration in the Church, it would seem right to request of the consecrating bishop a letter introducing her to the new bishop. In some dioceses, it is the practice to give a certificate or letter testifying to the fact, on the occasion of her consecration. This would include the date, diocese and consecrating bishop. Providing this at the time of the Rite would avoid future problems if that bishop is no longer there when the need of a document arises. Likewise, notification of the Church of Baptism would be appropriate.

 

All bolded sections were bolded by me to make a point.

Edited by abrideofChrist
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abrideofChrist

Sponsa Christi, I am finding myself increasingly confused by your use of the term "moral obligation".  It does not seem to me we share the same definition.  The Church understands it as the obligation to do good and to avoid evil.  Hence a moral obligation is binding under pain of sin.  It would be helpful if you would give us your definition of the term "moral obligation" because you have said that you believe CVs are morally obligated to remain in their diocese.  Elsewhere, you have said you were unsure if this would be binding under pain of sin.  While I'm not trying to derail the conversation you are having with Laurie about the nature of moral obligations, I would like to point out my simplistic boiled down version of how this conversation has been going thus far.

 

Pro Relocation

 

Argument of example-  The Blessed Virgin Mary (Egypt and possibly Ephesus; both locations far from the place of consecration of Nazareth).  If the Blessed Virgin can relocate, why can't others?

Argument of example-   The CVs who relocated from Rome to Palestine.  Again, at a great distance from original site of consecration.

Argument of authority-  Cardinal Burke (in his writings and talks to the USACV)

Argument of authority- Sr. Sharon Holland, in charge of CV affairs (at the time of writing the article)at the  Congregation for Religious

Canonical argument-  Restrictions of rights cannot take place without due promulgation by competent authority (cf. canon 18).

Philosophical argument-  Laws that are binding upon the consciences of humans must be promulgated.  Nothing contrary to relocation has been promulgated (you only partially agree by saying that there is no "canonical" obligation).

Argument of praxis-  CVs all over the world have relocated and continue to do so for obvious reasons.

Theological argument- The CV has the charism of the Universal Church.  Thus she has the ability to move out of one diocese to fulfill the needs of the Universal Church in another diocese.

Theological argument-  Stability has different senses, including the one of mendicant and missionary orders whose members can move all over the globe.  The stability required of the CV pertains more to personal maturity than to staying in one physical location.

 

Contra Relocation

Argument of fitness and appeal to conscience-   The CV is in a public state; it is fiting that she manifest this in a visible way; the best concrete visible way is to stay anchored in her diocese.

Gratuitous assertion-  This is how the Church sees the vocation.  No evidence for this assertion.

Edited by abrideofChrist
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Dear Laurie,

 

In an honest attempt at understanding here...if canonical promulgation is a necessary predecessor to moral obligation in general (and I sincerely don't see why this particular question would be a special case), then that would mean that we are ONLY morally obligated to do just those things that are in Canon Law. And to me, this seems obviously false, since Canon Law wasn't intended to cover the entire moral life of Christians, and doesn't even include all of the Ten Commandments. 

 

Basically, what I've been trying to say is: Do consecrated virgins have a strict canonical obligation to some kind of stability toward their home dioceses? No. Is it possible that they might still have some kind of obligation on some other level? Perhaps.

 

Canonical promulgation is not a necessary predecessor to moral obligation. Obviously, we are not only morally obligated to do things that are in Canon Law. (These kinds of clarifications are very basic in the discussion of law. I'm surprised we are spending so much time on these very rudimentary principles.)

 

That means that if you are going to discuss moral obligations a CV might have that are not in Canon Law, you have got to understand what a moral obligation entails. Understanding what moral obligation entails means understanding Church teaching in ethics and moral theology. To understand ethics and moral theology you MUST understand her teaching on philosophy of law.

 

There can be no discussion of obligation of any kind separate from the root of Catholic teaching. That root teaching centers on the Eternal Law and the Divine Law and then the other types of law, all of which are designed to lead to our perfection.

 

We can't ground obligations in our own personal preferences and argue backwards towards a "reason" for that preference.

 

 

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