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It seems like all the conversations about consecrated virgins have providentially erupted while I’m on Christmas break! I’m glad that it gives the chance to join in.

 

A few points in response to abrideofChrist:

 

1. First of all, with regards to the question of changing dioceses, I don’t think you can compare consecrated virgins and apostolic religious Sisters. Although apostolic Sisters can move around quite a bit, they ordinarily remain members of the same religious community. I think that a consecrated virgin moving permanently out of her home diocese would be more like a Sister who decided to transfer to a different congregation.

 

2. Speaking for myself, one of the very first things I learned in my Canon Law program is that, as tremendously important as the Church’s legal system is, it’s not the totality of Christian life. Canon law reflects, protects, and supports the truths of our faith—it doesn’t determine them. Additionally, the law is a living reality that can grow and adapt with the Church’s deepening understanding of certain theological realities.

 

Applying this principle to our discussion on consecrated virginity, I think it’s good to remember that consecrated virginity as a vocation and charism does have an objective nature (even if not everyone agrees on what precisely this nature is), which the law merely follows. For example, consecrated virgins need to be literal virgins not because the law arbitrarily says so, but because virginity is an essential aspect of this charism. The law only reflects and safeguards this essential reality.

 

Likewise, I don’t think that the law’s silence on a particular point can be used as a definitive argument (even if it might lend strong support to a particular interpretation).

 

I.e., while the law doesn’t say anything specific about whether or not CVs should ordinarily live out their consecrated lives in their home dioceses (although I do think this is the logical implication of a lot of things which the Rite does say specifically), this silence does not automatically mean—and most certainly does not definitely determine—that a strong connection to one particular local Church isn’t an important element in the vocation of a consecrated virgin.

 

3. It is true that right now consecrated virgins don’t have a strict legal obligation to remain in their home dioceses. But I think it might still be possible to suggest that consecrated virgins could still have something akin to, or have some level of, moral obligation. At the very least, it’s completely legitimate to argue that this kind of stability is what is most fitting and appropriate to the vocation of consecrated virginity.

 

The current Code of Canon Law tends to take kind of a “bare bones” approach when it comes to consecrated life, preferring to exhort and recommend rather than to make absolute commands, and leaving lots of “room” for the Holy Spirit, local needs and traditions, and the proper law of institutes. In other words, the Church’s universal law by itself is not intended as a step-by-step blueprint for holiness.

 

Because of this, acting in accord with Canon Law is merely a basic starting point. Especially for consecrated virgins, who at the present time have so few concrete directives, I don’t think we can live a truly fervent consecrated life or be an effective evangelical witness if we only hold ourselves responsible for observing the mere letter of the law.

 

4. I’m obviously not a part of the magisterium, so I can’t really put “false obligations” upon other people, even if I wanted to. (I can’t even force people to read my blog! ;) )

 

However, I think I’m totally within my rights to prayerful study and discern what it means on a concrete level to live out the charism of consecrated virginity most fully, to express my conclusions to other people, and to do whatever I can to help encourage a more fervent and radical commitment among those who are called to this vocation (which of course includes myself).

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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

It seems like all the conversations about consecrated virgins have providentially erupted while I’m on Christmas break! I’m glad that it gives the chance to join in.

 

A few points in response to abrideofChrist:

 

1. First of all, with regards to the question of changing dioceses, I don’t think you can compare consecrated virgins and apostolic religious Sisters. Although apostolic Sisters can move around quite a bit, they ordinarily remain members of the same religious community. I think that a consecrated virgin moving permanently out of her home diocese would be more like a Sister who decided to transfer to a different congregation.

 

2. Speaking for myself, one of the very first things I learned in my Canon Law program is that, as tremendously important as the Church’s legal system is, it’s not the totality of Christian life. Canon law reflects, protects, and supports the truths of our faith—it doesn’t determine them. Additionally, the law is a living reality that can grow and adapt with the Church’s deepening understanding of certain theological realities.

 

Applying this principle to our discussion on consecrated virginity, I think it’s good to remember that consecrated virginity as a vocation and charism does have an objective nature (even if not everyone agrees on what precisely this nature is), which the law merely follows. For example, consecrated virgins need to be literal virgins not because the law arbitrarily says so, but because virginity is an essential aspect of this charism. The law only reflects and safeguards this essential reality.

 

Likewise, I don’t think that the law’s silence on a particular point can be used as a definitive argument (even if it might lend strong support to a particular interpretation).

 

I.e., while the law doesn’t say anything specific about whether or not CVs should ordinarily live out their consecrated lives in their home dioceses (although I do think this is the logical implication of a lot of things which the Rite does say specifically), this silence does not automatically mean—and most certainly does not definitely determine—that a strong connection to one particular local Church isn’t an important element in the vocation of a consecrated virgin.

 

3. It is true that right now consecrated virgins don’t have a strict legal obligation to remain in their home dioceses. But I think it might still be possible to suggest that consecrated virgins could still have something akin to, or have some level of, moral obligation. At the very least, it’s completely legitimate to argue that this kind of stability is what is most fitting and appropriate to the vocation of consecrated virginity.

 

The current Code of Canon Law tends to take kind of a “bare bones” approach when it comes to consecrated life, preferring to exhort and recommend rather than to make absolute commands, and leaving lots of “room” for the Holy Spirit, local needs and traditions, and the proper law of institutes. In other words, the Church’s universal law by itself is not intended as a step-by-step blueprint for holiness.

 

Because of this, acting in accord with Canon Law is merely a basic starting point. Especially for consecrated virgins, who at the present time have so few concrete directives, I don’t think we can live a truly fervent consecrated life or be an effective evangelical witness if we only hold ourselves responsible for observing the mere letter of the law.

 

4. I’m obviously not a part of the magisterium, so I can’t really put “false obligations” upon other people, even if I wanted to. (I can’t even force people to read my blog!  ;) )

 

However, I think I’m totally within my rights to prayerful study and discern what it means on a concrete level to live out the charism of consecrated virginity most fully, to express my conclusions to other people, and to do whatever I can to help encourage a more fervent and radical commitment among those who are called to this vocation (which of course includes myself).

 

Sponsa Christi, I do not want to turn this into a debate.  I would like to point out for the benefit of those who are following this conversation that 4 canonist CVs, degreed theologians, and Cardinal Burke (cf. USACV materials) disagree with your views.  Many of these experts have actually read materials in more than one language on the vocation.  Other CVs have read and disagreed with your writings but told me they didn't think other people would take your writings seriously, so why bother respond?  You are totally within your rights (along with your bishop) to prayerfully discern how you personally are going to live your vocation most fully and express your conclusions to other people, but to claim that your personal ideals are a more fervent (radical is not always synonymous with more fervent) commitment is not a given.  Harder is not always better.  Further, as others reading this thread may realize, you have not specifically responded to what I said about the revision of the Rite.  The biggest argument against the Church's intention for CVs to have "distinctive" garb is the simple fact that the Fathers dropped the distinctive garb from the Rite quite deliberately (since it was already in the Rite they were revising) for virgins living in the world.  If the Church so greatly desires this separation from the world, why would She drop the most public sign of such separation?  You say that we need to read authoritative texts to know more about the vocation.  To my mind, the change from one authoritative text (the previous Rite) to the new Rite is quite telling of the Church's position on distinctive garb.

 

And you're right.  You cannot compare consecrated virgins to religious sisters.  CVs have the charism of the Universal Church herself.  Hence should be free to follow the Lamb wherever He calleth- include mission territories.  If you wanted to be consistent, you could make the same arguments you do for lay married people to stay in their home diocese (read the texts describing membership in the local and universal Church for all the faithful) and never move.  Lastly, if movement has been granted to Bishops, why not CVs?  Bishops were "wedded" to the local Church in primitive theology.  But CVs are wedded to the King of the World

Edited by abrideofChrist
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"First, Jenna Cooper =- Sponsa Christi - is very much in the minority when it comes to questions like yours.  In communicating with several CV canonists around the world plus Cardinal Burke, plus others of repute, I have come to realize that hers is an extreme position favoring a nun-like existence for CVs living in the world.  While she is correct in saying that the magisterium has not ruled on several practical questions (like veils, moving from diocese to diocese, etc.), she should also realize as a budding canon lawyer that the Rite itself leaves it up to the individual Bishop as to the parameters of the CVs living arrangements.  Also, as my canonists remind me, a private individual cannot put false obligations where none are imposed by the (canon or liturgical) law.  She wishes to be more rigorous than the law.  If her personal spirituality calls for it, that's for her and for her spiritual director to follow, not the rest of the CVs. "

 

Hello !  I've just registered on this site and into some trial and error  regarding HOW to  pick up a quote and reply to it. So please forgive me if there is an accident !

 

Personally  I don't think Jenna  is in the minority. Various reasons for saying this. The number of followers on her site , the references to her site  , appreciation by catholics of all walks of life  around the world ,  does seem to indicate something of the Sensus Fidelium on  her  perspective of the vocation of CV. Putting myself in her shoes--I don't think hers is a nun-like or regimented approach. If one reads without  coloured glasses , one can  appreciate  her  views  as rather mature for her age and also perhaps applicable to  many  CVs  in their 20s and 30s. I shall write more on this later. The 200 CVs in USA might be a minority when compared to the perspecive of non-english speaking / all CVs around the world.

 

My reason for disagreeing is that 500 virgins gathered in Rome in 2008 and a good number in 1995.  They happened to be in the majority.  In a photo I have that a French speaking CV sent me of the 2008 convocation in Rome, of the 500 present, a handful wore habits.  I was told these sisters with habits were religious sisters who had received the Consecration.  500 is a significant portion of the estimated 2000-3000 total CVs.  If you read the numbers of CVs and read their literature, the biggest concentration happens to be in Paris, where there are at least 600.  Interestingly enough, they don't appear to share your views or that of Sponsa Christi.  Ditto for the Italians. The last time I checked, they had over 100 in one city alone and they were very clear in their non-quasi religious life vocation.  The Spanish speaking CVs for the most part do not wear a habit as part of their daily life and if you look at their pictures (and those of other nationalities) you will notice that a very significant number wear slacks.  Did you go to the 2008 international gathering of CVs?  If you didn't, did you listen to the first hand accounts of the participants? I would say that the Sensus Fidelium is really with these hundreds of CVs rather than two virgin English speaking bloggers (you and Sponsa Christi).

 

The statistics collected  during International pilgrimage of CV in Rome 4 yrs ago mentions around 3000 CVs around the world. This number has surely increased since then.  USA is only  1 of the English speaking countries. A google search  leads immediately to the site of USACV  and  many people around the world  seem to be taking the material posted on  the American site as authoritative  for the whole world. I think USACV should put a statement  on the site that   it is THEIR  perspective  of CV and not binding on  other countries . I'm saying this because CV is not understood around the world. The  USACV approach may not be suitable for the Asian/ African cultures/dioceses  . No- i'm not saying that CVs should dress in habits or  have a  convent like community/ lifestyle. But it becomes almost impossible to be innovative/  inculturate on other continents when  the clergy and religious land on the USACV site  and take the perspective as Rule of Law. The implications are horrible in a context where religious life  is flourishing. 

 

Canon law does not allow any particular country to subtly put obligaton on CVs around  the world  to live  the vocation according to their Post-Religious-life context. I shall write more after this gets posted. I don't mean to offend anyone. This is just my personal perspective.

 

You appear both here and in your blog to be under the impression that the USACV and most CVs around the world are post-religious life or in other words, ex-sisters.  The fact is that for most CVs, it is their first vocation.  This is why the reports at the 2008 Convocation indicated that the average age for CVs is dropping fast.  70+ year olds were consecrated at first because these virgins were finally able to be admitted to their vocation.  Certainly, there were some who left religious life and became CVs.  But, the majority of CVs are first vocation CVs.  I suspect that most 20 and 30 year olds who are seriously questioning whether to agree with Sponsa Christi on the whole "distinctive garb" idea are English speakers (particularly Americans) who question any consecrated life form that does not mandate habits.  If you listen closely to the vocation stories of many members of secular institutes, you will find a lot of them had disdain for secular institutes and CVs and other forms because they don't wear habits.  Only when they started to understand the vocation to consecrated secularity or to consecrated virginity did they realize that habits were not and are not appropriate. What I am saying about habits applies to a lot of other things which you and SC have a radical stance on. 

http://ocvnewevangelisation.blogspot.in/

 

 

The ideas expressed in the posts are my own and based on prayer and searching for the truth . We need to reflect on them with discernment and possibly with sharing of opinions , healthy debate if necessary. This will help to refine the ideas and conform them to God’s will in the ongoing search.

 

We are all basing these things on prayer and a search for the truth. 

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Dear abrideofChrist ,

 

This thread is not primarily discussing about "distinctive garb " .

 

In my response to you  I was discussing your interpretation of Jenna's writings in GENERAL.  I wrote ,"No- i'm not saying that CVs should dress in habits or  have a  convent like community/ lifestyle. But it becomes almost impossible to be innovative/  inculturate on other continents when  the clergy and religious land on the USACV site  and take the perspective as Rule of Law. The implications are horrible in a context where religious life  is flourishing." Read my own position regarding garb http://ocvnewevangelisation.blogspot.in/2011/08/diocesan-spirituality-and-dress-of.html

 

It is true that most members of the Order of Consecrated Virgins are in Western countries. Very few in Asia and Africa. Hence  even if Cardinal Burke and CV canonists / theologians with  a Western mindset  discuss , it may not indicate the practicality in  other parts of the world , the younger churches who are developing  their own inter-culturated theology. Think of St. Tekakwitha !!!

 

The CVs who attended the gatherings in Rome  I guess were from the upper strata of society unless their trip was sponsored. So you really have no idea how the poorer CVs live. A creamy layer of CVs from around the world  may not  determine the Sensus Fidelium of the Church as a Whole!  The Holy Spirit does not depend on power positions, educational qualifications etc.  God often speaks through simple, uneducated, poor, marginalised persons like Mother Mary. In His eyes maybe all of us theologians speak nonsense.

 

Please take these discussions in a sporting spirit ! I admire you as a person and have some idea  of the context from which your thinking emerges.

 

Regarding the actual thread of this post ,  I think according to  official ecclesiology , the Universal Church is present in the Local Church and the Local Church is present in the Universal Church.  Every human being needs to be rooted. Youth in today's world need a point of reference/sense of belonging even more . Yes , the ideal portrait of a CV is one who is rooted in her home diocese but is 'Sent' by  God  to move beyond its limits spiritually or physically  to be an Evangelizer wherever He may desire. But the Ideal is not always the Reality. Many CVs  do not receive the desired encouragement and support to live their vocation or promote it freely in their home-diocese and  have to take the bitter decision to move elsewhere. Its okay to do so for the Greater glory of God and ones own happiness.

 

 

 

 

Edited by God's Beloved
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Sponsa Christi, I do not want to turn this into a debate. I would like to point out for the benefit of those who are following this conversation that 4 canonist CVs, degreed theologians, and Cardinal Burke (cf. USACV materials) disagree with your views. Many of these experts have actually read materials in more than one language on the vocation. Other CVs have read and disagreed with your writings but told me they didn't think other people would take your writings seriously, so why bother respond? You are totally within your rights (along with your bishop) to prayerfully discern how you personally are going to live your vocation most fully and express your conclusions to other people, but to claim that your personal ideals are a more fervent (radical is not always synonymous with more fervent) commitment is not a given. Harder is not always better. Further, as others reading this thread may realize, you have not specifically responded to what I said about the revision of the Rite. The biggest argument against the Church's intention for CVs to have "distinctive" garb is the simple fact that the Fathers dropped the distinctive garb from the Rite quite deliberately (since it was already in the Rite they were revising) for virgins living in the world. If the Church so greatly desires this separation from the world, why would She drop the most public sign of such separation? You say that we need to read authoritative texts to know more about the vocation. To my mind, the change from one authoritative text (the previous Rite) to the new Rite is quite telling of the Church's position on distinctive garb.

 

And you're right. You cannot compare consecrated virgins to religious sisters. CVs have the charism of the Universal Church herself. Hence should be free to follow the Lamb wherever He calleth- include mission territories. If you wanted to be consistent, you could make the same arguments you do for lay married people to stay in their home diocese (read the texts describing membership in the local and universal Church for all the faithful) and never move. Lastly, if movement has been granted to Bishops, why not CVs? Bishops were "wedded" to the local Church in primitive theology. But CVs are wedded to the King of the World.

 

 

A few more points in response to abrideofChrist:

 

1. I myself also have talked with a number of canonists and theologians who have been supportive of my interpretation of canon 604. (And I also have personally have read materials on consecrated virgins in more than one language.) But even so, we need to keep in mind that just because a number of qualified experts state professional opinions agreeing or disagreeing with someone’s point of view on consecrated virgins, this does not automatically make that view right or wrong.

 

2. Naturally, I do believe that my understanding of how consecrated virgins should live out their vocation is objectively a more fervent one—otherwise, I wouldn’t be trying to live this way, much less spending so much time trying to explain it! But at the same time, I’ve never intended any of my writings to be a personal judgment on other consecrated virgins, including those who disagree with me.

 

While I believe that those who would argue that consecrated virgins are called a more secular lifestyle are objectively wrong, I respect consecrated virgins who choose to live this way insofar as they are sincerely following their consciences (and I’m very aware of the possibility that many of these CVs might be altogether much holier than I am).

 

3. I also didn’t think this thread was really about what consecrated virgins should wear. But since you mentioned it again…I don’t think that the mere fact that the giving of the habit was not retained in either version of the post-Vatican II Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity necessarily means that the Council Fathers believed consecrated virgins should never wear any kind of distinctive garb. (For example, one reason for this could be that they dropped the giving of the habit because they had the contemplative nuns in mind—that is, since nuns only receive virginal consecration during or after their solemn profession, it’s very likely that they would have already received the habit several years earlier.)

 

On the other hand, it’s at least as notable that the giving of the veil was retained, even for women living in the world. I know many people interpret this to mean that a consecrated virgin wears a veil for the ceremony only (or else only on other very special occasions). But the Rite and the law themselves don’t actually say this; once again, the magisterium is silent when it comes to how often or in what contexts CVs can or should wear veils in their daily lives. Because of this, right now I think it would be perfectly legitimate for a bishop to allow or even require the CVs in his diocese to wear a veil as part of their every-day attire.

 

I agree with you that that the most important thing for CVs to keep in mind when deciding how to dress is modesty (and, I would also add, simplicity). But ultimately, modesty is an abstract principle that needs to find a concrete expression if it’s going to be anything meaningful. My point in writing the post on a “dress code” wasn’t so much to outline a strict set of rules as much as it was to discuss what modesty and simplicity in dress might look like on a practical level for consecrated virgins.

 

4. I don’t actually think that consecrated virgins should be physically separated from the world in the same way as cloistered nuns, or even apostolic religious, are. But I do believe that consecrated virgins should live in a spirit of radical detachment from the things of this world. To me, this is the only thing that makes sense in light of a consecrated virgin’s explicitly stated call to be an eschatological witness—that it, a witness to the passing nature of this world, to the immanence of Christ’s second coming, and to the surpassing value of eternal things and of the life of the world to come.

 

5. In the question of whether consecrated virgins should ordinarily remain in the diocese where they were consecrated, I also don’t think it’s appropriate to compare CVs to married laypeople. Yes, marriage is a public state of life, but it’s not consecrated life.

 

Consecrated life by its very nature implies a deeper connection with, and more obligations towards, the institutional Church. If consecrated virgins, who are unattached to any institute or association, were also truly unattached to a local Church, then I think this would be an anomaly in the Church’s entire experience of consecrated life.

 

And while consecrated virgins, as brides of Christ, do share the vocation of the universal Church, I think this concept is distinct from the questions regarding the nature of a consecrated virgin’s relationship to the Church as a visible institution.

 

Nevertheless, of course consecrated virgins—like all the faithful—have a relationship with the universal Church. However, I think that the way that consecrated virgins ordinarily relate to the universal Church is through the Church on a diocesan level.

 

Similarly, it gets tricky when we try to make direct comparisons between consecrated virgins and bishops in discussions of this issue. The theology of bishops being “married” to their dioceses is complex and nuanced, and not all of it is readily applicable to consecrated virgins. But with that being said, it’s worth noting that while modern bishops are often transferred from one diocese to another, this is always done for serious reasons, and it’s at the Pope’s discretion (not the individual bishop’s).

Edited by Sponsa-Christi
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3. I also didn’t think this thread was really about what consecrated virgins should wear. But since you mentioned it again…I don’t think that the mere fact that the giving of the habit was not retained in either version of the post-Vatican II Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity necessarily means that the Council Fathers believed consecrated virgins should never wear any kind of distinctive garb. (For example, one reason for this could be that they dropped the giving of the habit because they had the contemplative nuns in mind—that is, since nuns only receive virginal consecration during or after their solemn profession, it’s very likely that they would have already received the habit several years earlier.)

 

I am glad to see BrideofChrist posting here. I believe it is quite significant that the requirement of distinctive garb was dropped. As a theologian I have disagreed with Sponsachristi at other points (I have no intention of doing that here at any length) regarding her take on the vocation of the CV living in the world; specifically, I believe it is clear that CV's consecrated under canon 604 are not called to be quasi-religious, nor to distinctive garb which indicates some separation from the world (for that IS what religious habits of any sort indicate). A call to sacred secularity however cannot really function as it ought if the person separates herself from the very world she is supposed to be an integral part of. The absence of vows and habits of any sort indicate the integral secularity of the vocation and underscores the call to assist the world recognize the sacramentality to which it is called. In any case, dropping the requirement marks a clear distinction from nuns receiving the consecration and I don't think it can be treated as insignificant, especially when this is combined with the other factors which underscore the integral secularity of the vocation.

 

Since I don't intend to dispute this further (I have neither the time nor the inclination), interested readers can check out my blog under the labels attached to consecrated virginity and sacred secularity (cf right column). A couple of those posts are detailed responses to Jenna's own position so perhaps they will be helpful.

 

Sincerely,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

 

 

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Okay.  I'll take the bait and debate.

A few more points in response to abrideofChrist:

 

1. I myself also have talked with a number of canonists and theologians who have been supportive of my interpretation of canon 604. (And I also have personally have read materials on consecrated virgins in more than one language.) But even so, we need to keep in mind that just because a number of qualified experts state professional opinions agreeing or disagreeing with someone’s point of view on consecrated virgins, this does not automatically make that view right or wrong.

Right now the "authoritative" authorities are the bishops who have consecrated the 2000+ virgins, 99.9% of whom obviously disagree with you as the lived lives of the virgins can attest.

2. Naturally, I do believe that my understanding of how consecrated virgins should live out their vocation is objectively a more fervent one—otherwise, I wouldn’t be trying to live this way, much less spending so much time trying to explain it! But at the same time, I’ve never intended any of my writings to be a personal judgment on other consecrated virgins, including those who disagree with me.

Naturally.  And what I suggest is what I wrote elsewhere in response to Sr. Catherine, which is that a CV religious is higher than a secular CV at least in the profession of vows if not in life.  A secular virgin has her vocation.  You appear to want a religious vocation for virgins.  Why don't you become a nun?

While I believe that those who would argue that consecrated virgins are called a more secular lifestyle are objectively wrong, I respect consecrated virgins who choose to live this way insofar as they are sincerely following their consciences (and I’m very aware of the possibility that many of these CVs might be altogether much holier than I am).

 

3. I also didn’t think this thread was really about what consecrated virgins should wear. But since you mentioned it again…

 

I don’t think that the mere fact that the giving of the habit was not retained in either version of the post-Vatican II Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity necessarily means that the Council Fathers believed consecrated virgins should never wear any kind of distinctive garb. (For example, one reason for this could be that they dropped the giving of the habit because they had the contemplative nuns in mind—that is, since nuns only receive virginal consecration during or after their solemn profession, it’s very likely that they would have already received the habit several years earlier.)

Why not?  Have you read the discussions that led to the formation of the second version of the Rite for virgins living in the world as opposed to those who were nuns?  Isn't it rather insulting to the intelligence of the fathers who revised the Rite and took the bold step of splitting it into two and of supressing certain items and adding others that they would be merely considering the "contemplative nun" in their vision of women living in the world?  Seriously?  How many women in the world do you know and that they would know follow the lifestyle of a contemplative nun? 

 

You may not be aware of this, but it is safe to say that women who are or have been religious in a habit respect the canonical gifting of the habit and do not go around wearing one of their own will (unlike certain laywomen who do not understand this point and think they can just don one).  Thus it is unlikely you would have former religious wearing a habit and it is unlikely that you would have a woman the bishop would seriously consider as a candidate wear a habit (bishops don't like it when laywomen wear it and see it as a serious red flag).  Therefore, one would have to conclude that the Fathers did not have a habit wearing laywoman in mind when they wrote the distinct Rite for women living in the world.  Further, since they spent a lot of time revising the Rite and did some serious changes to it, one should respect the fact that they did very deliberately drop the distinctive garb from the Rite. 

On the other hand, it’s at least as notable that the giving of the veil was retained, even for women living in the world. I know many people interpret this to mean that a consecrated virgin wears a veil for the ceremony only (or else only on other very special occasions). But the Rite and the law themselves don’t actually say this; once again, the magisterium is silent when it comes to how often or in what contexts CVs can or should wear veils in their daily lives. Because of this, right now I think it would be perfectly legitimate for a bishop to allow or even require the CVs in his diocese to wear a veil as part of their every-day attire.

Many a bishop, including a certain Cardinal Ratzinger himself did not and do not think it is wise to require wearing veils as part of their daily attire.  His Holiness strikes me as a person who would go for a traditional approach to things if he felt it was appropriate.  That he does not require it for his own diocese and never has appears to me an indication of the current magisterium's view towards this point.

I agree with you that that the most important thing for CVs to keep in mind when deciding how to dress is modesty (and, I would also add, simplicity). But ultimately, modesty is an abstract principle that needs to find a concrete expression if it’s going to be anything meaningful. My point in writing the post on a “dress code” wasn’t so much to outline a strict set of rules as much as it was to discuss what modesty and simplicity in dress might look like on a practical level for consecrated virgins.

 

4. I don’t actually think that consecrated virgins should be physically separated from the world in the same way as cloistered nuns, or even apostolic religious, are. But I do believe that consecrated virgins should live in a spirit of radical detachment from the things of this world. To me, this is the only thing that makes sense in light of a consecrated virgin’s explicitly stated call to be an eschatological witness—that it, a witness to the passing nature of this world, to the immanence of Christ’s second coming, and to the surpassing value of eternal things and of the life of the world to come.

 

5. In the question of whether consecrated virgins should ordinarily remain in the diocese where they were consecrated, I also don’t think it’s appropriate to compare CVs to married laypeople. Yes, marriage is a public state of life, but it’s not consecrated life.

Funny.  The Rite itself compares consecrated virginity to marriage in the solemn consecratory prayer:  "Among your many gifts you give to some the grace of virginity yet the honor of marriage is in no way lessened.  As it was in the beginning your first blessing still remains upon this holy union.  Yet your loving wisdom chooses those who make sacrifice of marriage for the sake of the love of which it is the sign.  They renounce the joys of human marriage but cherish all that it foreshadows."  If you study the parallels of the marriage rite and virginity rite, you will notice a lot of similarities.  Perhaps it is because the bishops who wrote the rites deliberately saw them both as a rite of espousals and not of religious profession?

Consecrated life by its very nature implies a deeper connection with, and more obligations towards, the institutional Church. If consecrated virgins, who are unattached to any institute or association, were also truly unattached to a local Church, then I think this would be an anomaly in the Church’s entire experience of consecrated life.

They are not unattached to the local Church.  They simply don't have the onerous obligations you would place on them of restricting freedom of movement (changing dioceses), of working where work is available (many virgins work outside their home diocese), etc. 

And while consecrated virgins, as brides of Christ, do share the vocation of the universal Church, I think this concept is distinct from the questions regarding the nature of a consecrated virgin’s relationship to the Church as a visible institution.

Not really.  Either you grant that the virgin is the bride of the Universal King and hence has freedom of movement amongst her peoples to follow her King where he beckons, or not.  Even Mary is said by tradition to have moved to Ephesus for her livelihood (St. John).  According to your arguments she should have remained at Nazareth where she was consecrated.  Or am I mistaken in thinking that Nazareth and Ephesus are in different dioceses?

Nevertheless, of course consecrated virgins—like all the faithful—have a relationship with the universal Church. However, I think that the way that consecrated virgins ordinarily relate to the universal Church is through the Church on a diocesan level.

CVs like everyone else have membership in a parish, diocese, and universal Church.  Although the CV has a special bond with the bishop of whose diocese she resides in, practically speaking she relates most closely to the Church through Christ her Spouse, whom she serves where ever she is.  She serves Him in the people she encounters (this can be across several parishes and dioceses and even countries), in the prayer and penance she offers (universal), and in any formal ministry she may be engaged in (can be trans-parish, trans-diocese, and trans-nation).  She is a universal mother.  I would argue that most CVs relate visibly to the Church visible in the people she encounters on the parish territory level rather than diocesan. 

Similarly, it gets tricky when we try to make direct comparisons between consecrated virgins and bishops in discussions of this issue. The theology of bishops being “married” to their dioceses is complex and nuanced, and not all of it is readily applicable to consecrated virgins. But with that being said, it’s worth noting that while modern bishops are often transferred from one diocese to another, this is always done for serious reasons, and it’s at the Pope’s discretion (not the individual bishop’s).

While it can get tricky, the bottom line is that they can move given certain circumstances. CVs don't move at a whim.  Moving is serious business.  Restriction on movement is serious business.  Do you realize that certain virgins even of antiquity moved?  What about the virgins who transferred from Rome to the Holy Land to be with St. Jerome?  Did they need a special dispensation to do that? 

 

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Okay.  I'll take the bait and debate.

Right now the "authoritative" authorities are the bishops who have consecrated the 2000+ virgins, 99.9% of whom obviously disagree with you as the lived lives of the virgins can attest.

Naturally.  And what I suggest is what I wrote elsewhere in response to Sr. Catherine, which is that a CV religious is higher than a secular CV at least in the profession of vows if not in life.  A secular virgin has her vocation.  You appear to want a religious vocation for virgins.  Why don't you become a nun?

 

Why not?  Have you read the discussions that led to the formation of the second version of the Rite for virgins living in the world as opposed to those who were nuns?  Isn't it rather insulting to the intelligence of the fathers who revised the Rite and took the bold step of splitting it into two and of supressing certain items and adding others that they would be merely considering the "contemplative nun" in their vision of women living in the world?  Seriously?  How many women in the world do you know and that they would know follow the lifestyle of a contemplative nun? 

 

You may not be aware of this, but it is safe to say that women who are or have been religious in a habit respect the canonical gifting of the habit and do not go around wearing one of their own will (unlike certain laywomen who do not understand this point and think they can just don one).  Thus it is unlikely you would have former religious wearing a habit and it is unlikely that you would have a woman the bishop would seriously consider as a candidate wear a habit (bishops don't like it when laywomen wear it and see it as a serious red flag).  Therefore, one would have to conclude that the Fathers did not have a habit wearing laywoman in mind when they wrote the distinct Rite for women living in the world.  Further, since they spent a lot of time revising the Rite and did some serious changes to it, one should respect the fact that they did very deliberately drop the distinctive garb from the Rite. 

Many a bishop, including a certain Cardinal Ratzinger himself did not and do not think it is wise to require wearing veils as part of their daily attire.  His Holiness strikes me as a person who would go for a traditional approach to things if he felt it was appropriate.  That he does not require it for his own diocese and never has appears to me an indication of the current magisterium's view towards this point.

Funny.  The Rite itself compares consecrated virginity to marriage in the solemn consecratory prayer:  "Among your many gifts you give to some the grace of virginity yet the honor of marriage is in no way lessened.  As it was in the beginning your first blessing still remains upon this holy union.  Yet your loving wisdom chooses those who make sacrifice of marriage for the sake of the love of which it is the sign.  They renounce the joys of human marriage but cherish all that it foreshadows."  If you study the parallels of the marriage rite and virginity rite, you will notice a lot of similarities.  Perhaps it is because the bishops who wrote the rites deliberately saw them both as a rite of espousals and not of religious profession?

They are not unattached to the local Church.  They simply don't have the onerous obligations you would place on them of restricting freedom of movement (changing dioceses), of working where work is available (many virgins work outside their home diocese), etc. 

Not really.  Either you grant that the virgin is the bride of the Universal King and hence has freedom of movement amongst her peoples to follow her King where he beckons, or not.  Even Mary is said by tradition to have moved to Ephesus for her livelihood (St. John).  According to your arguments she should have remained at Nazareth where she was consecrated.  Or am I mistaken in thinking that Nazareth and Ephesus are in different dioceses?

CVs like everyone else have membership in a parish, diocese, and universal Church.  Although the CV has a special bond with the bishop of whose diocese she resides in, practically speaking she relates most closely to the Church through Christ her Spouse, whom she serves where ever she is.  She serves Him in the people she encounters (this can be across several parishes and dioceses and even countries), in the prayer and penance she offers (universal), and in any formal ministry she may be engaged in (can be trans-parish, trans-diocese, and trans-nation).  She is a universal mother.  I would argue that most CVs relate visibly to the Church visible in the people she encounters on the parish territory level rather than diocesan. 

While it can get tricky, the bottom line is that they can move given certain circumstances. CVs don't move at a whim.  Moving is serious business.  Restriction on movement is serious business.  Do you realize that certain virgins even of antiquity moved?  What about the virgins who transferred from Rome to the Holy Land to be with St. Jerome?  Did they need a special dispensation to do that? 

 

I would also note that CV's existed into the 12th century as a separate vocation from cloistered nuns. It is not the case that they simply morphed naturally into cloistered nuns as prototypes of those nuns and then ceased to exist  otherwise, nor that there were not two distinct vocations into the 1100's. Canon 604 reprises the original vocation, but also the vocation that existed side by side cloistered religious as a distinct and secular vocation. Sister Sharon Holland, IHM notes that the use of the consecration by nuns actually turned the vocation on its head so that c 604 is a way of recovering the original vocation precisely in its secularity.

 

In point of fact, however, a CV is not vowed to obedience and her special relationship with the Bishop does not rise to the level of legitimate superior/subject. When such a relationship is created (by vow to God in the hands of the superior), as any canonist or student of canon law should know, specific rights and obligations obtain and are spelled out in canon and proper law. In cases of ambiguity the presumption is ALWAYS on the least restrictive interpretation. Thus, CV's have been free to move from diocese to diocese, though one would assume they would have good cause for this, and though one would expect they would speak to the Bishops involved int he situation to apprise them of their needs.

 

Again, CV's are not quasi-religious and are not separated from the world of power by a vow of obedience. They model a different expression of responsible freedom in the world precisely by virtue of their consecration without vows. It is the freedom most people are called to --- a freedom to work out the will of God without legitimate superiors or the restrictions of law which obtain from public vows. Thus, they may be active in all of the areas of life any other person living in the world could embrace: academia, business, politics, etc, etc. That seems to me to be precisely what a number of documents on the vocation represent.

 

best,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

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I don't know very much on this subject without the background that several of you here have, but I would guess the Fathers left out a lot of things for CVs living in the world to give each CV freedom (&/or for it to develop) and to discern personally how the Lord is calling them to their lives for Him.

 

I do not think it is wrong however for one CV to encourage a more radical way of living out Consecrated Virginity, as it is certainly a very radical/not of this world/set apart (ie. consecrated) thing to do, to chose Christ as one's only Spouse and be solemnly & publicly consecrated as His Bride by His Church.

 

Again, as I said another thread, I think what SC wrote here is very well said/thought out and makes perfect sense - http://sponsa-christi.blogspot.com/2010/07/what-does-it-mean-to-be-in-world.html

 

Because of this freedom/non-specifics that CVs have then, I do not think we can say that no CV is called to be/live like a quasi-religious. They are publicly consecrated and thus closer to religious than lay people. Maybe some CVs will live in a more outwardly secular looking way, while others might live closer to a religious - and if so, again, I do not think we can say they are not following their vocation as it should be lived (because again there are so few specifics on how they are to live) I'm not sure if anyone is saying this, although maybe it is being implied.

 

To bring in an example, was St. Gemma Galgani wrong in the way she lived as a laywoman in private vows? Not to focus only on outward garb, but for instance, she wore the same black wool dress and mantle every day, http://www.stgemmagalgani.com/2011/03/photos-of-st-gemmas-personal-items.html  Should she have tried to conform herself more to what would have been more proper to someone living in the world/who is not a religious? I don't think so because of her personal call/vocation from the Lord. I know she was aspiring to religious life, but she was still a laywoman. And I am sure there are many other saints like this as well (who lived similarly to religious though they were not) If St. Gemma could live this way, why couldn't a CV? 

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I don't think so. My understanding is she makes the vow of obedience to her bishop. Maybe with her bishops permission, but I think the norm would be to stay in the diocese she is consecrated in. I highly recommend this blog. This is a consecrated virgin from the NYC diocese. She is so level headed, orthodox, and sharp. She is studying in Rome at the moment.

 

http://sponsa-christi.blogspot.com/p/what-is-consecrated-virgin.html

 

Regarding terminology (because I see misunderstandings of these a lot and they are important.): Vows are ALWAYS made to God NEVER to a human person. Religious vows are made to God in the hands of the legitimate superior. The legitimate superior receives the vows (more than merely witnessing them) in the name of the Church. They thus become/are public vows with public rights and obligations. Promises may be made to other persons; for instance I may promise my Bishop to  contact him once a year for an appointment, or to consult him in the meantime if there is need, but my vows are made to God alone. In either case CV's do not make vows. They have a commitment to chastity but it is not a vow, nor is their relationship with their Bishop one of a person to a legitimate superior. Hopefully someone else has clarified these points as well.

 

best,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

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I don't know very much on this subject without the background that several of you here have, but I would guess the Fathers left out a lot of things for CVs living in the world to give each CV freedom (&/or for it to develop) and to discern personally how the Lord is calling them to their lives for Him.

 

I do not think it is wrong however for one CV to encourage a more radical way of living out Consecrated Virginity, as it is certainly a very radical/not of this world/set apart (ie. consecrated) thing to do, to chose Christ as one's only Spouse and be solemnly & publicly consecrated as His Bride by His Church.

. . .

 

To bring in an example, was St. Gemma Galgani wrong in the way she lived as a laywoman in private vows? Not to focus only on outward garb, but for instance, she wore the same black wool dress and mantle every day, http://www.stgemmagalgani.com/2011/03/photos-of-st-gemmas-personal-items.html  Should she have tried to conform herself more to what would have been more proper to someone living in the world/who is not a religious? I don't think so because of her personal call/vocation from the Lord. I know she was aspiring to religious life, but she was still a laywoman. And I am sure there are many other saints like this as well (who lived similarly to religious though they were not) If St. Gemma could live this way, why couldn't a CV? 

 

Personally, I don't think what is being suggested by those who seek to make c 604 into a quasi-religious vocation is a more radical way of living out consecrated virginity in the world, but a less radical way. Distinctive garb and religious vows (especially obedience) are ways of separating oneself from the everyday world in which one is called to live out one's vocation. What seems far more radical to me is living a completely secular life but as a consecrated person; in other words, it is a sacred secularity which one is called to live radically, not a vocation which is neither wholly secular nor wholly religious.

 

While consecration under c 604 sets one apart FOR and to God, it does NOT set one apart FROM the world. One is not meant to be OF the world, of course; instead one is of God, but one is absolutely called to live this vocation IN the world and in the things of the world, not in stricter separation from it as religious and hermits are called to. A passage from the homily of the Rite of Consecration of Virgins Living in the World reads: [[Never forget that you are given over entirely to the service of the Church and of all your brothers and sisters. You are apostles in the Church and in the world, in the things of the Spirit and in the things of the world.]] (emphasis added). As I have noted in the past, NO religious has ever been told they are apostles "in the things of the world"!

 

Vatican II worked very hard to be sure that lay persons understood theirs was not an entry level vocation, not second class, and similarly that the secular world was not to be despised but embraced for its truest potential and transformed into (or allowed to be) the sacrament of God it was made to be. While secularism is not a good thing (this essentially asserts the secular is the ultimate value and reality), the secular itself and thus the ordinary life we call secular, as God reminds us in Genesis, are essentially VERY good and holy indeed. Consecrated virgins living in the world are called upon to live out this truth as exhaustively as possible and summon lay persons to do the same in their own state of life.

 

I personally can't think of a vocation which is more challenging than a radical living out of one's secular vocation in a way which allows the secular to be every bit as sacred as it is meant to be. Religious are separated from secular life by their vows, and in many cases, by distinctive garb. (The vow of poverty separates them from the economic dimensions of the secular world in some ways, obedience separates them from the world of secular power and influence and asks them to exercise freedom differently, and consecrated celibacy separates them from many of the relationships and social obligations which are part and parcel of secular life.) They are actually prohibited from taking a full part in secular life canonically. CV's consecrated under canon 604 are not only called to take a full part in secular life, but to do so in a way which calls it to become completely and exhaustively the realm of the sovereign God. Theirs is a witness  which is at once radically holy and radically secular. I would argue anything which mitigates or compromises the sharpness of this paradox is actually less radical than the vocation calls for.

 

In my own life I am certainly free to discover the shape of contemporary eremitical life as our Church and world needs it. The canon that governs my life itself gives that right and obligation to me by demanding a specific combination of non-negotiable elements and the Rule which the hermit herself writes. The Fathers who created this canon allowed for that freedom, of course. However, they did not allow me to neglect or compromise the essential nature of either the eremitical or the solitary eremitical vocation in doing so. I am responsible not only for my own vocation, but for the eremitical vocation itself (and more specifically, the solitary eremitical vocation). Thus, when the Church defines it as one of "stricter separation from the world" and (sometimes) marks that with distinctive garb, vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, a prayer garment (cowl), a prohibition of community life (lauras are different than cenobitical life), and functional cloister and stability, I cannot simply relinquish all of these and turn it into a secular vocation because I personally feel called to this or because (rightfully) a secular vocation too seems very good to me. My experimentation and discernment have definite limits no matter what the Fathers failed to say in their deliberations on establishing this vocation in the 20th Century. I suggest the same is true of canon 604.

 

all  my best,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

Edited by SRLAUREL
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To Jesus Through Mary

Wow- Just a thought: maybe some softer tones/less combative approaches might be better suited for those who are engaging in a public debate. Love above all things, right?... even when that persons POV is different then your own. Especially if one is consecrated to the Lord or discerning to be. I doubt Jesus would be out with a slug hammer dealing with these details. It isn't like anyone is speaking heresy. Also not totally necessary to nit-pick everything said if they don't use exactly the right vocabulary or if this person has a different opinion. I see nothing wrong with debate, but I think as Catholics we have a higher responsibility to censor the way we might say something. It seems like there is a lot of room for person choice within the CV vocation. 

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Wow- Just a thought: maybe some softer tones/less combative approaches might be better suited for those who are engaging in a public debate. Love above all things, right?... even when that persons POV is different then your own. Especially if one is consecrated to the Lord or discerning to be. I doubt Jesus would be out with a slug hammer dealing with these details. It isn't like anyone is speaking heresy. Also not totally necessary to nit-pick everything said if they don't use exactly the right vocabulary or if this person has a different opinion. I see nothing wrong with debate, but I think as Catholics we have a higher responsibility to censor the way we might say something. It seems like there is a lot of room for person choice within the CV vocation. 

 

I am not exactly sure what you find combative or offensive in Sr Laurel's posts? I find them informative and realistic, even if I don't always agree with her POV on all things. I still respect that she is speaking with clarity and purpose and not with any personal agenda apart from information dissemination. Could you give an example of what you think should be 'censored'? Thank you.

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To Jesus Through Mary
I am not exactly sure what you find combative or offensive in Sr Laurel's posts? I find them informative and realistic, even if I don't always agree with her POV on all things. I still respect that she is speaking with clarity and purpose and not with any personal agenda apart from information dissemination. Could you give an example of what you think should be 'censored'? Thank you.

 

I wasn't referring to her? But later tonight I will do so. I guess that post was a bit passive-agressive, although I still think it holds true. This isn't the Debate Table. This is the VS where prospective people (many of whom are lurkers) are seeing how this exchange is going down and I think in some ways it shows bad form. At the very least the tone could be taken down a notch or tow. This is all pretty open to interpretation. I am running out to dinner now, but I will post your request in a bit. 

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