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Consecrated Virginity Question


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Let me add that each bishop is a representative of the univeral Magisterium in his local Church. That's precisely why bishops are both entrusted with a portion of the flock and responsible to the Holy Father for witnessing and teaching the universal faith. The bishops teach authoritatively in the name of Christ.

 

It’s a false distinction to say only the Holy Father has universal authority. His universal authority is exercised though the bishops in union with him. (Of course they are subject to him.) It’s not accurate, as you say, that bishops “can act with true authority only within the specific sphere of their particular mission.” Their mission is simultaneously universal & particular. That’s exactly what being in union with Rome means.

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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

Cecilia -  I think you are wanting something for consecrated virginity which does not exist. The only person who can tell a consecrated virgin how she ought to live her vocation is her bishop. Some bishops insist on and/or permit a more secular angle, others insist and/or permit something more along the lines of what Sponsa Christi is talking about.  Some of them forbid the life of public consecration, period. A virgin and her bishop can listen to you and  everybody else - Cardinal Burke, Sr. Sharon Holland, the USACV - and say "that's nice." And then go do whatever it is they think is correct. And they would be well within their rights.

 

Looks like that's the way it's set up. There's a lot of flexibility and do-your-own-thing. In fact thats what I'm hearing from people on this thread. So why are those same people being so dogmatic when it comes to their interpretation?  Irony, no? There is no rule you have to wear a veil, there is no rule you can't move, there is no rule you have to work directly for the church. The only rule is you can't propose the possiblity that there be any other rules.     <<<< really? 

 

 

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"Cecilia - I think you are wanting something for consecrated virginity which does not exist. The only person who can tell a consecrated virgin how she ought to live her vocation is her bishop."


1) It does exist! Goodness, it exists in the lives of the several hundred consecrated that currently populate the earth. Which is not to say that they all live the vocation identically.


2) Not true. For example, a bishop certainly could NOT tell a CV to live like a hermit. And, a woman could not receive the consecration as a virgin, then live exactly like a hermit because she wants to, and be fulfilling her vocation as a CV.


3) I was the first one who pointed out in this thread the legitmate flexibility of the vocation. It is one thing to have a flexible vocation. It is quite another to go from that flexibility to the conclusion that the nature of the vocation itself is undefined.


4) It's puzzling that one side is permitted to take a stance here and yet another point of view is not. Irony, no? The point here is to try to get some clarifications on the table for whatever women out there might be discerning this vocation and reading this blog. That's a good thing, not a bad thing!

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2) Not true. For example, a bishop certainly could NOT tell a CV to live like a hermit. And, a woman could not receive the consecration as a virgin, then live exactly like a hermit because she wants to, and be fulfilling her vocation as a CV.
 

I know at least one consecrated virgin who lives a deliberately secluded life. She and her bishop have had long discussions about her vocation and how she proposes to live it out for the rest of her life. The bishop supports and encourages her. I don't think Cardinal Burke, Sister, or the USACV would think it their place to interject their opinions into that relationship. In particular I can't see Cardinal Burke doing that.

 


4) It's puzzling that one side is permitted to take a stance here and yet another point of view is not. Irony, no? The point here is to try to get some clarifications on the table for whatever women out there might be discerning this vocation and reading this blog. That's a good thing, not a bad thing!

Right now the two sides seem to be:

1. consecrated virgins are called to live a more "distinct" or "apart"  type of life-style ...

and 

2. NO they are NOT and it is WRONG to even suggest it!

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I know at least one consecrated virgin who lives a deliberately secluded life. She and her bishop have had long discussions about her vocation and how she proposes to live it out for the rest of her life. The bishop supports and encourages her. I don't think Cardinal Burke, Sister, or the USACV would think it their place to interject their opinions into that relationship. In particular I can't see Cardinal Burke doing that.

 

Right now the two sides seem to be:

1. consecrated virgins are called to live a more "distinct" or "apart"  type of life-style ...

and 

2. NO they are NOT and it is WRONG to even suggest it!

 

No one has said CV's are not called to distinct in their consecration. However, ,what has been said is that they are called to a distinctly consecrated secularity. What they are not called to is the lifestyle of religious with the separating and limiting elements of religious life (vows, habit, etc). If that is what they want, then that is what they SHOULD be discerning and embracing. After all, it is not as though this form of life does not already exist in all of its diversity and needs to be discovered. We call it religious life. As for the CV living as a hermit, I would suggest she is actually discerning a separate vocation at this point because eremitical seclusion DOES seem to be contrary to the secularity of the vocation of a woman living in the world.

 

It would not be unheard of for this kind of thing to happen. Canon 603 is primarily the result of this kind of development amongst religious (mainly monastics) whose congregations' proper law did not allow an eremitical expression. Such persons who naturally discerned a call to solitude were regularly secularized (dispensed from their vows) in order to follow a call to eremitical solitude. Eventually the situation was addressed via Vatican II and the revised Code of Canon Law with canon 603. However, in the early history of canons 603 and 604 Bishops more regularly offered c 604 consecration to those seeking c 603 profession and consecration because eremitical life was seen as far more rare and less well-understood. The vows, etc also involved the Bishop in a legitimate (legal) relationship which c 604 did not. That usage (offering c 604 as a stopgap solution) was wrong and a function of inadequate reflection on or understanding of BOTH vocations, but we are not in that position today.

 

It is the case (as in the situation above) that a person who lives a life of prayer might well find themselves called to a life of solitude thereafter. However, it should be clear that they are also moving from their original discernment to something other than that. No one would prevent someone from sincerely following the promptings of their heart in this but at the same time, after this woman has lived a life of solitude for some years (5 or more) the diocese should probably consider professing her under c 603 to formalize the change in her vocation --- because it IS a change. (Consider what would and should happen if I went to my Bishop and said I wanted to be "a hermit in the world" and that this was a natural (if unusual) expression of canon 603! He would respect my discernment, of course, but my living this out would NOT occur under canon 603!!)

 

best,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

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Cecilia -  I think you are wanting something for consecrated virginity which does not exist. The only person who can tell a consecrated virgin how she ought to live her vocation is her bishop. Some bishops insist on and/or permit a more secular angle, others insist and/or permit something more along the lines of what Sponsa Christi is talking about.  Some of them forbid the life of public consecration, period. A virgin and her bishop can listen to you and  everybody else - Cardinal Burke, Sr. Sharon Holland, the USACV - and say "that's nice." And then go do whatever it is they think is correct. And they would be well within their rights.

 

Looks like that's the way it's set up. There's a lot of flexibility and do-your-own-thing. In fact thats what I'm hearing from people on this thread. So why are those same people being so dogmatic when it comes to their interpretation?  Irony, no? There is no rule you have to wear a veil, there is no rule you can't move, there is no rule you have to work directly for the church. The only rule is you can't propose the possiblity that there be any other rules.     <<<< really? 

 

My own sense is that Cecelia is very clear about the nature of the vocation to consecrated virginity in the world and simply wants for that to be recognized and respected. Again, she has simply been clear, as I have also tried to be, that flexibility does not mean one can change the NATURE of the reality. No one here is saying the vocation cannot develop. In fact, in the past 30 years it has developed and greater clarity has been achieved in some matters. That is especially true regarding the paradoxically secular nature of this form of consecrated life. Originally Bishops associated consecrated life with religious life; there really was no other model. As a result it was common to call CV's Sister, to expect (and allow) them to wear habits, etc. That rapidly changed as clarifications were made and Bishops realized this was both entirely consecrated and entirely secular because it was a recovery of an expression of a vocation which had existed into the 12th Century side by side a cloistered expression. This clarity was affirmed and strengthened every time a woman was consecrated without being made to renounce her secular life. Again, liturgy is authoritative: Lex orandi, lex credendi. As we pray, so we believe. (The corollary is that as the Church ASKS or calls us to pray, so she calls us to believe!)

 

The call to a sacred or consecrated secularity is an amazing challenge and the freedom involved is a demanding one. One is called to use money, power, and participate in a relatively normal range of relationships in distinctly Kingdom-inspired ways and build a society which does the same. Rather than renouncing these things one is called to model a truly sacred participation society and in these integral dimensions of secular life. Religious are not only NOT called to do these things, they renounce them and are, in some ways, canonically prohibited from embracing a sacred secularity. Vows and habits are symbols of this "religious" (or non-secular) state of renunciation. They separate the religious FROM the secular in various ways precisely because, as active as religious may be in ministering to the world, Religious are not called to serve their brothers and sisters "in the things of the world," as consecrated virgins living in the world are.

 

No one is proposing arbitrary rules here. They are simply saying w and x are consistent with the secular nature of the vocation, and y and z are not;  further they are doing so on the basis of the recognized ecclesial and canonical import of vows, habits, etc. It is not only a Bishop who can tell a CV how she is to live her life. The Church more generally CAN and DOES tell her this is a secular vocation: do what you feel called to within the resulting parameters. She does this through her liturgy of consecration, through the formation she requires and the she does NOT require for CV's living in the world, through canon law (especially in this regard, by the canons which do NOT apply to CV's living in the world), etc.

 

I have written other places about using canon 603 as a stopgap for getting individuals professed and consecrated when what they really desire is to live in (and sometimes to found) communities. Especially c 603 is not about merely living a pious life alone, much less living alone for 9-10 hours a day when children and husbands come home from school and work!! In this case I think we are speaking of something similar --- a kind of variation on that theme. One cannot be consecrated as a virgin living in the world when one really wants to be a religious but wants to avoid some of the elements of the life, nor when one really wants to be a hermit but knows getting admitted to profession/consecration under canon 603 is a shorter, easier route. Similarly, one cannot seek to be consecrated as a CV living in the world, while deciding not to wholeheartedly embrace that secularity or instead to embrace the Religious' relationship to the secular. This changes the charism of the vocation completely. If one believes they are free to do this because (for instance) one believes the secular is ONLY the proper sphere of the laity, then perhaps they are not really called to be CV's living in the world at all.

 

In any case, I would suggest that just as a person cannot use c 603 legitimately to get professed and then define almost anything that possesses some degree of the silence of solitude as eremitical (perhaps saying it is just eremitical in the "weak sense") neither can women use c 604 to get consecrated and then morph the vocation into a quasi Religious one or "secular in the weak sense." She may well find she is really called to something else, but in that case she must be honest about it and change vocations as appropriate. Flexibility is not only allowed; in fact it is demanded in wide and challenging ways. Changing the nature of the vocation so it is neither fish nor fowl (a concern when the possibility of reprising the vocation was originally raised after Vatican II) is not. 

 

Sincerely,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

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My own sense is that Cecelia is very clear about the nature of the vocation to consecrated virginity in the world and simply wants for that to be recognized and respected. Again, she has simply been clear, as I have also tried to be, that flexibility does not mean one can change the NATURE of the reality. No one here is saying the vocation cannot develop. In fact, in the past 30 years it has developed and greater clarity has been achieved in some matters. That is especially true regarding the paradoxically secular nature of this form of consecrated life. Originally Bishops associated consecrated life with religious life; there really was no other model. As a result it was common to call CV's Sister, to expect (and allow) them to wear habits, etc. That rapidly changed as clarifications were made and Bishops realized this was both entirely consecrated and entirely secular because it was a recovery of an expression of a vocation which had existed into the 12th Century side by side a cloistered expression. This clarity was affirmed and strengthened every time a woman was consecrated without being made to renounce her secular life. Again, liturgy is authoritative: Lex orandi, lex credendi. As we pray, so we believe. (The corollary is that as the Church ASKS or calls us to pray, so she calls us to believe!)

 

The call to a sacred or consecrated secularity is an amazing challenge and the freedom involved is a demanding one. One is called to use money, power, and participate in a relatively normal range of relationships in distinctly Kingdom-inspired ways and build a society which does the same. Rather than renouncing these things one is called to model a truly sacred participation society and in these integral dimensions of secular life. Religious are not only NOT called to do these things, they renounce them and are, in some ways, canonically prohibited from embracing a sacred secularity. Vows and habits are symbols of this "religious" (or non-secular) state of renunciation. They separate the religious FROM the secular in various ways precisely because, as active as religious may be in ministering to the world, Religious are not called to serve their brothers and sisters "in the things of the world," as consecrated virgins living in the world are.

 

No one is proposing arbitrary rules here. They are simply saying w and x are consistent with the secular nature of the vocation, and y and z are not;  further they are doing so on the basis of the recognized ecclesial and canonical import of vows, habits, etc. It is not only a Bishop who can tell a CV how she is to live her life. The Church more generally CAN and DOES tell her this is a secular vocation: do what you feel called to within the resulting parameters. She does this through her liturgy of consecration, through the formation she requires and the she does NOT require for CV's living in the world, through canon law (especially in this regard, by the canons which do NOT apply to CV's living in the world), etc.

 

I have written other places about using canon 603 as a stopgap for getting individuals professed and consecrated when what they really desire is to live in (and sometimes to found) communities. Especially c 603 is not about merely living a pious life alone, much less living alone for 9-10 hours a day when children and husbands come home from school and work!! In this case I think we are speaking of something similar --- a kind of variation on that theme. One cannot be consecrated as a virgin living in the world when one really wants to be a religious but wants to avoid some of the elements of the life, nor when one really wants to be a hermit but knows getting admitted to profession/consecration under canon 603 is a shorter, easier route. Similarly, one cannot seek to be consecrated as a CV living in the world, while deciding not to wholeheartedly embrace that secularity or instead to embrace the Religious' relationship to the secular. This changes the charism of the vocation completely. If one believes they are free to do this because (for instance) one believes the secular is ONLY the proper sphere of the laity, then perhaps they are not really called to be CV's living in the world at all.

 

In any case, I would suggest that just as a person cannot use c 603 legitimately to get professed and then define almost anything that possesses some degree of the silence of solitude as eremitical (perhaps saying it is just eremitical in the "weak sense") neither can women use c 604 to get consecrated and then morph the vocation into a quasi Religious one or "secular in the weak sense." She may well find she is really called to something else, but in that case she must be honest about it and change vocations as appropriate. Flexibility is not only allowed; in fact it is demanded in wide and challenging ways. Changing the nature of the vocation so it is neither fish nor fowl (a concern when the possibility of reprising the vocation was originally raised after Vatican II) is not. 

 

Sincerely,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

 

By the way, in case someone believes that I think there is something wrong with mistakenly discerning a vocation or alterately needing to re-discern one down the line, let me be very clear that I do not believe that myself at all. If I find myself desiring to do more ministry and to lead a much more active and socially-involved life than canon 603 or the eremitical tradition really allows, then I would be responsible for discerning where at this point in time God is calling me. My vocation might have changed due to many factors: health, gifts, opportunities, maturation, changes in the Church's own perception and interpretation of my vocation, etc. If this is the case, then I need to rediscern the vocation to the extent what I feel called to live is contrary to the nature of the vocation I have embraced and been commissioned to live.

 

I am personally inspired by those hermits who spent 50 years and more solemnly professed as monks or nuns and then felt called to solitary life prior to canon 603. They needed to leave their monasteries despite the fact that these were the seedbeds of the vocation discerned late in life and, in the language used at the time, be secularized (be dispensed from vows, etc). I have heard some suggest these persons had mistakenly discerned their vocations originally; sometimes they suggest these persons' egos got in the way. Nonsense. Vocational paths change and there is nothing wrong in that.  (Our vocation to authentic and holy humanity achieved in dialogue with God does NOT change.) These monks and nuns became the immediate forerunners of canon 603 hermits and the reason Vatican II and those thinking through things post-Vatican II eventually accepted this solitary form of eremitical life as a state of perfection or a form of religious life without community (cf Handbook on Canons 573-746).

 

Thus I believe it is entirely possible to discern in good faith, make a similar commitment, live the life well, and STILL determine one is called to a different expression of discipleship down the line. In no way do I mean to suggest that ANYONE necessarily simply discerns badly or without real care.

 

best,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notefromstillsong.blogspot.com

Edited by SRLAUREL
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Since I don't intend to dispute this further (I have neither the time nor the inclination), interested readers can check out my blog

 

Sincerely,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

 

Sister I'm sorry you didn't keep your resolution, though your subsequent contributions have been very worthy! Time management is truly a challenge for everyone regardless of their vocation - arguing on the Internet is usually a tremendous time-waste, and yet it's also a tremendous temptation, difficult to resist. A temptation I succumb to, all too often :(

 

I read the entire thread, and as a non-virgin married woman, I can see the Church has not really given her children a clear picture of how this "new, yet ancient" vocation should be lived. I imagine as time goes by this vocation will under-go even more change and reform, just as religious life, the priesthood and to a lesser extent, marriage have. In most cases a greater diversity in the expression of the vocation comes to be approved and celebrated - where once religious life was only monastic, in the modern era there are apostolic religious vocations as well, and where there were once only Third Orders now there are personal prelatures as well. I am in awe of all the CVs who with their lives help to define and redefine what this vocation should mean to the Holy Church.

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Sister I'm sorry you didn't keep your resolution, though your subsequent contributions have been very worthy! Time management is truly a challenge for everyone regardless of their vocation - arguing on the Internet is usually a tremendous time-waste, and yet it's also a tremendous temptation, difficult to resist. A temptation I succumb to, all too often :(

 

I wonder if putting one's point of view on a Catholic discussion site is such a waste of time.  :) We may be somewhat aware of the concepts of those actually posting into a thread, but not those of anyone who is only reading - member or non member.  These sites are open to the public, the world.  Nor can we be aware often of either the positive or negative influence we may have, while our prayer is that it will be positive.  I think that we certainly need to be aware that we need to be disciples of Jesus at all times, in all places.  Certainly whenever Jesus spoke in public His words would have fell on 'all sorts of ground'.

While at times I have differed with some opinions of Sr Lauren, at other times she has made some very powerful statements that have set me thinking about my own vocation in life (not CV).  At times her words fell on "stony ground" and I rejected them, at other times they fell on "good ground".  A recent statement of Sr Laurel's in this thread has had quite a positive impact on me even though I do not have a vocation to CV

 

This all reminds me of the Parable of The Sower.  Ours is simply to prayerfully 'cast our seeds' as we go through life and probably without ever knowing for sure the affect or effect they have, or are going to have.  Success is always the Work of The Lord.  I recall a whole family (Mum and Dad, 5 children) that were baptized into The Faith and their interest in Catholicism was sparked simply because they saw me (just into my teens) walk to Mass in the mornings before school.  They asked my mother where I was going so early each day.  Those days morning Mass was around 7am.    They eventually made formal enquiries into The Faith.

 

 

 [3] And he spoke to them many things in parables, saying: Behold the sower went forth to sow. [Matthew 13:3] [Latin] [4] And whilst he soweth some fell by the way side, and the birds of the air came and ate them up. [5] And other some fell upon stony ground, where they had not much earth: and they sprung up immediately, because they had no deepness of earth.

[6] And when the sun was up they were scorched: and because they had not root, they withered away. [7] And others fell among thorns: and the thorns grew up and choked them. [8] And others fell upon good ground: and they brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold. [9] He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

 

 

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Sister I'm sorry you didn't keep your resolution, though your subsequent contributions have been very worthy! Time management is truly a challenge for everyone regardless of their vocation - arguing on the Internet is usually a tremendous time-waste, and yet it's also a tremendous temptation, difficult to resist. A temptation I succumb to, all too often :(

 

I read the entire thread, and as a non-virgin married woman, I can see the Church has not really given her children a clear picture of how this "new, yet ancient" vocation should be lived. I imagine as time goes by this vocation will under-go even more change and reform, just as religious life, the priesthood and to a lesser extent, marriage have. In most cases a greater diversity in the expression of the vocation comes to be approved and celebrated - where once religious life was only monastic, in the modern era there are apostolic religious vocations as well, and where there were once only Third Orders now there are personal prelatures as well. I am in awe of all the CVs who with their lives help to define and redefine what this vocation should mean to the Holy Church.

 

Sometimes situations change.  In this case time opened up for me rather unexpectedly so please don't be concerned about (nor assume you know the nature of) the reasons I rejoined this discussion. Sometimes (usually in fact) God gifts and/or inspires us in surprising ways. While you might consider this discussion a waste of time, I don't. Of course my purpose was not to "win" an argument on the internet. That would indeed be foolish and futile. Instead, several points have been verified, clarified, and even strengthened for me theologically, historically, and pastorally, and for that reason the eschatologically secular nature of the CV vocation of women living in the world and its significance are clearer for me than they were even a week ago. So is the minority nature of those who desire a quasi-religious vocation instead. A chance to review the evidence for both positions offered here recently was beneficial last year when I first engaged with Sponsa Christi's positions on this in another forum and it has been equally beneficial for me here recently. So, was the chance to hear from other CV's dealing with the same matters every day and raising new questions both on and off this forum. So again, not to worry. Far from temptation, this discussion has been revelatory and therefore a graced opportunity for me as a theologian intimately interested in consecrated and Religious life.

 

Sincerely,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

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Have been through a very busy week and hardly managed to read the above posts in depth.So please excuse me if this post sounds as if I don't know what's going on since a week. After attending a seminar to get recent updates on psychology in practice , I have been analysing people too much : personality traits , defense-mechanisms at work unconsciously etc. etc. But it was a Wow ! experience of my favorite subject.

 

I have tried to do in-depth study of consecrated life from the perspective of psychology and it is clear that formation and other vocational  needs of young adults  can be very different from that of other age-groups. There have been various paradigm shifts in the approach to religious life /consecrated life  at the grassroot level. There are those with a traditional mindset and others moving towards liberal /innovative approach.

 

Since more than twenty years I've been close to Ecclesial movements / associations which have a core-group of  Consecrated members. During a World Youth Day encounter in Yr 2000 in Rome , I had the opportunity to meet such persons from movements across the globe and this development in the church has truly fascinated me. In fact when I first learnt about the Order of consecrated virgins, I understood it to be some kind of Ecclesial movement of ancient origin , revived according to the signs of the times.

 

Some of these movements/ associations  have Church-recognized  consecrated members. Some prefer to identify themselves as Laity since they live in the world . I've noticed that although they do not wear habits, most of these groups do have a 'distinct' style of dressing  common to their group.These groups are either public or private associations of the faithful , but their vows/commitments are Private . They live alone, with their families or in common, some of them have  the Blessed Sacrament reserved in their group homes, have  intense formation programs  spread over 9 to even 12 years with commitments to live the evangelical counsels according to the charism of their group .In local churches they are often addressed as Sister . But their bonds are not with the Church. If a member  feels called to leave , it is mutually discerned and exit is according to church approved norms of the group but the commitments / private vows are dispensed through the sacrament of reconciliation. 

 

These  Ecclesial groups are  either diocese based or spread all over the world. Their statutes are approved by the Diocese or CICLSAL[not sure]/or the Congregation for the Laity in Rome. Latest updates from the Church recognize these as truly Consecrated life, as Ecclesial groups ,not as Lay groups  , but under authority for Laity due to practical purposes. Of course  there have been teething troubles with some of these movements, e.g. in Regnum Christi.  I can say from my direct experience with such groups , that their  life is as radical  or even more matured  than religious life. Poverty for some gets translated to simplicity or common goods or attitude of emptiness. Obedience for most is translated to mutual discernment etc. They have obligations like Liturgy of the Hours, silent prayer, etc

 

I don't think their lives can be called quasi-religious. Many of them have arisen spontaneously in the life of the church. Many of them claim to pattern their lives on the households of virgins in the early church.  I know some countries that have hundreds of CVs,  have begun encouraging their younger members to live in households  without the rigid structures of religious life,  learning from the psychological needs of different age-groups [e.g. Erik Erikson's theory]. So  CV is taking different shapes around the world.

 

The new movements/ associations I described   live fully immersed in the world. Often they have common tasks in service of the church or society. Some charisms are focused on common mission, some on living in common. And yet they are very distinct from Secular Institutes.

 

 

 

Refering to the  clarification from the Congregation for the Inst. of Consecrated life in Rome as follows :

 

My Question: According to the Roman Pontifical the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity is used for women living in the world and those in monasteries.Does 'living in the world' mean only that it is 'not in a monastery' or should it be lived strictly 'in the world' like in secular institutes ?

 

The charism of cons.virgins is to be an eschatological image of the Heavenly Bride and the life to come, when the Church will at last live her love for Christ the Bridegroom.The charism of Secular Inst. is to transfigure the world from within, acting like a leaven within the cultural, economic and political life. Hence it would be improper for a member of a Secular Inst. to wear clothing which would identify them as a consecrated person. However,Cons.virgins are called to be an image of the Chruch's love for Christ.Would it be proper if the local circumstances demand, to wear clothing which would identify one as a consecrated person or be addressed as 'Sister'  even though one does not live in a religious community ?

 

The following was the response with the Official reference number. 

 

 Prot n.SpR 862-4/2003

 

The life of virginity lived in the world gives public witness in everyday life , in some self-supporting work and in her service to the Church. It is not quite the same as the style of a secular institute because the virgin's consecration is public ,yet it is secular in the sense that she is not a religious.

 

The use of the veil, provided for in the Rite is decided on in the local circumstances with the Diocesan Bishop.The same would be true regarding any other identifying clothing and/or the use of the title Sister.

 

 

Since CV is of Ancient origin,  there are two ways to re-discover its identity and mission in concrete living.

 

1. CV by itself

 

2. CV in relation to other vocations like religious life , secular institutes , laity.

 

To be practical, pastoral , I think the Primary approach in any discussion should be  CV by itself and then in relation with other vocations

 

 

Nowhere has the Church said that CV  is Secular in the same strict sense  that Secular Inst. are called . CV is very clearly  since ancient times, a Diocese- based vocation. CV embody the identity of the local church. Take the analogy of  diocesan clergy who  are called Father, have distinct garb etc. They are Secular in the sense that they are not Religious.  This is exactly what  the Church says about the secularity of  CV as is clearly seen from the response from the  office in Rome. Their words are not at all ambiguous. If they meant it in the strict sense, they would have replied to my question saying: Yes, CV is called to live in the world in the strict sense as it is with Secular Inst. and Laity.

 

 

 

The following from the Roman Pontifical:

 

I. NATURE AND VALUE OF CONSECRATION TO VIRGINITY  
1  The custom of consecrating women to a life of virginity flourished even in the early Church. It led to the formation of a solemn rite constituting the candidate a sacred person, a surpassing sign of the Church’s love for Christ, and an eschatological image of the world to come and the glory of the heavenly Bride of Christ. In the rite of consecration the Church reveals its love of virginity, begs God’s grace on those who are consecrated, and prays with fervor for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.   


II. PRINCIPAL DUTIES OF THOSE CONSECRATED  
2  Those who consecrate their chastity under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit do so for the sake of more fervent love of Christ and of greater freedom in the service of their brothers and sisters.  They are to spend their time in works of penance and of mercy, in apostolic activity, and in prayer, according to their state in life and spiritual gifts.  To fulfill their duty of prayer, they are strongly advised to celebrate the Liturgy of Hours each day, especially Lauds or Vespers. In this way, by joining their voices to those of Christ the High Priest and of his Church, they will offer unending praise to the heavenly Father and pray for the salvation of the whole world.

 

 

The following from the suggested homily: [ I wish I could get the Latin text to understand the nuances deeper].

 

The Church is the Bride of Christ. This title of the Church was given by the  fathers and doctors of the Church to those like you who speak to us of the world  to come, where there is no marrying or giving in marriage. You are a sign of the  great mystery of salvation, proclaimed at the beginning of human history and  fulfilled in the marriage covenant between Christ and his Church.

 

When the suggestions in the Rite speak of eschatological image of the world to come, the central idea is " where there is no marrying or giving in marriage ". This is  the meaning for a witness while living in the world according to  charism of CV. The call to be an apostle in the things of the Spirit and the things of the world  is also according to this charism, where  CV is called to be a witness  of God's plan of making all things one in Christ come to perfection.

 

In case of Secular Inst and Laity, they are called to transfigure the world from within, acting like a leaven within the cultural, economic and political life.  This living of Kingdom values also has Eschatological implications but they are specifically related to the temporal .

 

Eschatology is a very broad subject with various schools of thought and  every vocation fulfills its own role. The charism of Secular Inst  is something New in the Church. It ought not be imposed on CV.

 

 

 

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Sister I'm sorry you didn't keep your resolution, though your subsequent contributions have been very worthy! Time management is truly a challenge for everyone regardless of their vocation - arguing on the Internet is usually a tremendous time-waste, and yet it's also a tremendous temptation, difficult to resist. A temptation I succumb to, all too often :(

 

I read the entire thread, and as a non-virgin married woman, I can see the Church has not really given her children a clear picture of how this "new, yet ancient" vocation should be lived. I imagine as time goes by this vocation will under-go even more change and reform, just as religious life, the priesthood and to a lesser extent, marriage have. In most cases a greater diversity in the expression of the vocation comes to be approved and celebrated - where once religious life was only monastic, in the modern era there are apostolic religious vocations as well, and where there were once only Third Orders now there are personal prelatures as well. I am in awe of all the CVs who with their lives help to define and redefine what this vocation should mean to the Holy Church.

 

Sometimes situations change.  In this case time opened up for me rather unexpectedly so please don't be concerned about (nor assume you know the nature of) the reasons I rejoined this discussion. Sometimes (usually in fact) God gifts and/or inspires us in surprising ways. While you might consider this discussion a waste of time, I don't. Of course my purpose was not to "win" an argument on the internet. That would indeed be foolish and futile. Instead, several points have been verified, clarified, and even strengthened for me theologically, historically, and pastorally, and for that reason the eschatologically secular nature of the CV vocation of women living in the world and its significance are clearer for me than they were even a week ago. So is the minority nature of those who desire a quasi-religious vocation instead. A chance to review the evidence for both positions offered here recently was beneficial last year when I first engaged with Sponsa Christi's positions on this in another forum and it has been equally beneficial for me here recently. So was the chance to hear from other CV's dealing with the same matters every day and raising new questions both on and off this forum. So again, not to worry. Far from temptation, this discussion has been revelatory and therefore a graced opportunity for me as a theologian intimately interested in consecrated and Religious life.

 

Sincerely,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

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Refering to the  clarification from the Congregation for the Inst. of Consecrated life in Rome as follows :

 

My Question: According to the Roman Pontifical the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity is used for women living in the world and those in monasteries.Does 'living in the world' mean only that it is 'not in a monastery' or should it be lived strictly 'in the world' like in secular institutes ?

 

The charism of cons.virgins is to be an eschatological image of the Heavenly Bride and the life to come, when the Church will at last live her love for Christ the Bridegroom.The charism of Secular Inst. is to transfigure the world from within, acting like a leaven within the cultural, economic and political life. Hence it would be improper for a member of a Secular Inst. to wear clothing which would identify them as a consecrated person. However,Cons.virgins are called to be an image of the Chruch's love for Christ.Would it be proper if the local circumstances demand, to wear clothing which would identify one as a consecrated person or be addressed as 'Sister'  even though one does not live in a religious community ?

 

The following was the response with the Official reference number. 

 

 Prot n.SpR 862-4/2003

 

The life of virginity lived in the world gives public witness in everyday life , in some self-supporting work and in her service to the Church. It is not quite the same as the style of a secular institute because the virgin's consecration is public ,yet it is secular in the sense that she is not a religious.

 

The use of the veil, provided for in the Rite is decided on in the local circumstances with the Diocesan Bishop.The same would be true regarding any other identifying clothing and/or the use of the title Sister.

 

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