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Lumen Gentuium - Dogmatic Constitution on The Church

(215) However, this holiness of the Church is unceasingly manifested, and must be manifested, in the fruits of grace which the Spirit produces in the faithful; it is expressed in many ways in individuals, who in their walk of life, tend toward the perfection of charity, thus causing the edification of others; in a very special way this (holiness) appears in the practice of the counsels, customarily called "evangelical." This practice of the counsels, under the impulsion of the Holy Spirit, undertaken by many Christians, either privately or in a Church-approved condition or state of life, gives and must give in the world an outstanding witness and example of this same holiness.

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Dear Barbara Therese and all:   Thank you so much for the above post. I do not wish to Hijack this thread but only give some small witness which I pray will bear some fruit. I thought to wait longer

Just adding my two cents here...  Many people, myself included, do not think it is advisable to make private vows of obedience or poverty outside of a group context.  Chastity is the "hinge" of consec

This weekend I plan on asking Father about this as this is something I would love to do. I had in mind that I would like to make the private vow of virginity/chastity at the same time as my Total Cons

Indwelling Trinity
From my perspective I have run into too many people who actually fail to understand that their baptismal consecration obliges them to live the evangelical counsels in their own state of life. They are already obliged to poverty, chastity and obedience and we do NOT make vows for things we are already obligated to. When religious make vows they embrace religious obedience, religious poverty, and consecrated celibacy or religious chastity.

 

It is true that the evangelical counsels (as per my quote from the CCC) obliges all the baptised and for those outside religious life etc. – ACCORDING TO their state in life and vocation as Charity may ask. Those in the lay state are not necessarily called to a stable form of the evangelical counsel – all as I have quoted from the CCC.  Those in the lay state are not living in a stable form of canonically vowed RADICAL poverty, chastity and obedience and on a continual basis at all times in all circumstances.  While Jesus has addressed the evangelical counsels to every disciple or all baptised not all are called to live in a stable state of the evangelical counsels and radically so.  And I have quoted from the CCC in this regard.

The privately vowed person to the evangelical counsels chooses to live in a stable form of these counsels not in imitation of religious life necessarily (some may feel a call to do so) rather in imitation of Jesus Himself – as the CCC states - as I have already quoted.

To demand that vowing the evangelical counsels privately is questionable, is to deny persons to vow to live as Jesus lived in poverty, chastity and obedience a life in the spirit of The Beatitudes – and in a consistent state in life.  While my obedience may not be as radical as in some expressions of religious life, my poverty is certainly more radical than in many forms of religious life.  "Radical" is a very big word. 


 If one finds their baptismal promises inadequately demanding, then perhaps it is time to take a look at them and consider why that is so. One can specify how these call one at this particular time without making added vows.

 

This is very true and quite skillfully, if unkindly, worded.  It is not necessarily finding baptismal promises inadequate - rather to build on them and in imitation of Jesus and His Person and His Life - and for the sake of The Kingdom.  However to deny or challenge that there is a vocation such as private vows to the evangelical counsels in the lay state is to be opposed to what The Church tells us. It is also opposing those who are aware of a call to make private vows and denying their consciousness as valid. This is challenging Canon Law and you are quite free to do so, while any person vowed (privately or canonically) to obedience is not - without compromising obedience per se.

  All vocations no matter which build or have a foundation in Baptism.  Those in private vows to the evangelical counsels renounce as it were for one the married state in life and in order to live more radically the call to Chastity and for the sake of The Kingdom. They also vow to live the counsel of Poverty in some radical form along with the vow of obedience.  As the CCC tells us, the evangelical counsels remove what might be opposed to GROWTH in Charity, while not necessarily opposed to Charity. 

 

Radical is a very big word – even in religious life forms of this radical state vary and in degree.

 

I would point out also that there may be some who have clear impediments to any form of canonical vow and as The Church permits have decided to embrace the vows in imitation of Jesus (and religious life) anyway and in the lay state with a desire to give their whole life to Jesus and for the sake of The Kingdom.  If  their choice is to imitate the vows of religious life in some way (and in the person and life of Jesus) why all the fuss and bother?

 

Ordinarily it makes no sense to vow obedience which is akin to religious obedience unless one will have a legitimate superior and a Rule to which one is obligated to conform one's life and will. (Obedience as listening already binds each Christian.) That is why some canonists and I agree that a vow of obedience is usually meaningless apart from either community or solitary vowed life.

 

What Jesus has called us to in obedience as a counsel for all the baptised is obedience to The Will of God - in whatever form it is expressed and for Catholics, canonically vowed or not,and  this is expressed in and through The Church.  With the canonically vowed, The Church authorizes some authority to be a direct expression of The Will of God for those vowed.  A privately vowed person is free to choose some authority  in The Church to which to vow obedience.  This is not “meaningless” since obedience as a counsel will assist in the growth of Charity as the CCC states.  This is one of the things that disturbed me in some posts into some threads – that Charity seemed not to be present at all. 

 

The privately vowed person is also quite free to write a ‘rule of life’ for themselves since The Church has not stated to the contrary.  In fact in Vita Consecrata JPII has put the dedicated life as a form of consecrated living (“special consecration”) and under the sub-heading of “Thanksgiving for The Consecrated Life”.

 

To state anything else is simply to be contrary to what The Church tells us.  We are quite free to have our own concepts; however, there is a limit, a very clear boundary, on those concepts as a Catholic and under the counsel of obedience.  One’s concepts are either in line with The Church or they are not, either within the boundary of any vow of obedience, or outside it.

 

If you consider the lay state under private vows questionable, then you are free to do so.  I choose to hear and apply what The Church states and as coming under my private vow of obedience.  Also, I consulted two theologians on the matter (for two Church authorities only) prior to making life vows.  Of course, you are quite free to disagree with their affirmation of life private vows as a quite valid potential.  This is simply a theological disagreement between those who have some education in the science – and nothing new, nothing new whatsoever. 

 

Dear Barbara Therese and all:

 

Thank you so much for the above post. I do not wish to Hijack this thread but only give some small witness which I pray will bear some fruit. I thought to wait longer before responding until my rational mind had caught up with my emotions but my heart urges me to speak. Before I go on I warn all that this will be highly emotionally charged on some levels  with emotions of love, joy, sadness sorrow, ,yes some anger, but most of all Gratitude for the gift of my life and the most wondrous gift of my vocation.

 

This will be long , so most probably i will have to write it in parts as my strength allows. (Laughing and as your stamina wanes).

 

I chose not to start another thread as there are so many going on right now loaded with legalese talk I dare not open another can of worms . Yes, some of the discussions do shed light and that is  an important factor in making sound faith filled decisions ; but i find many of them shed little or no warmth and love.   For  me some of the posts sound  like everything is taking place in the head  and has not yet reached the heart ( but that is only an impression i get for ONLY GOD KNOWS  the heart of another and and i have no right to judge anyone save myself. But after reading  many of these posts i do not come away feeling more ardent in my love for God but instead feel drained and frustrated for there is nothing them to sustain the spirit and feed the soul. Yes i may come away a little smarter, but that is about it;  and the spiritual life is so so much more! It is endless and wide, wondrous, deep and boundless!  Most of all it is the most passionate love affair anyone can have no matter what state of life one is called to. It is that what my heart seeks. It is that that God has gifted me with even when i stumble or fall badly that gift still remains.

 

The vocation station I used to know was a simple joyful supportive place for the most part free of constant distinctions, classifications and re-classifications of everything. It was a place of meeting for simple  childlike joy of souls  no matter what age, who in the fervor of their love only wanted to find a community of support and gentle loving guidance that would fan the tiny flames of their vocation into a burning fire until each one of us found where and how God was calling us to that intimate love affair with him. For those of us already in religious life it was a refreshing place to renew our spirits and encourage others  and rejoice as they began their own wondrous journey to God.

 

It seems lately i see some of that is being lost to cynicism and silly stuff like what vocation is more special than another which requires more serious commitment and dedication etc.... Lets face it. No one is openly saying that but that is what is happening. It is just that out of politeness or fear of being banned that no one is calling a spade a spade.

 

My Brothers and sisters, when we have to resort to doing things like that, even on an unconscious level, it is often a sign that there is something still missing in us or perhaps issue,old hurts, or insecurities, that we have not dealt with.  As for myself, after reading some posts, i use a simple general rule of thumb to go by. "If it increases my love for God or challenges me to do that, i let it in my heart and mind and if it does not, I simple walk away. My house is already cluttered with thing I must let go of, why add more? God cannot fully fill a soul  the way he would like if it is already inhabited. But that is another topic.

 

The second reason I am posting this on this particular thread, is that i see my life is now coming full circle to where my love affair with God began It began at age 14 with private vows. I am now 56 I have laughed loved, cried, experienced at times such beauty beyond words,  I have suffered, fallen ,wanted to run away, at times even been tempted to want to end my life. But I have NEVER for one second regretted giving my self to God, yes, even as a teenager.

 

When God calls  so gently and persistently and the love in ones heart burns so bright, to not respond is sheer agony for Love can only be answered by love to the heart that seeks God. Yes spiritual guidance is important, but i am afraid God called my heart even before i knew what spiritual guidance was!  Love for Love was the only answer I could comprehend in my heart. And it gave my heart peace.

 

If my thoughts or feeling will offend please do not read on.

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Dear Barbara Therese and all:

 

Thank you so much for the above post. I do not wish to Hijack this thread but only give some small witness which I pray will bear some fruit. I thought to wait longer before responding until my rational mind had caught up with my emotions but my heart urges me to speak. Before I go on I warn all that this will be highly emotionally charged on some levels  with emotions of love, joy, sadness sorrow, ,yes some anger, but most of all Gratitude for the gift of my life and the most wondrous gift of my vocation.

 

This will be long , so most probably i will have to write it in parts as my strength allows. (Laughing and as your stamina wanes).

 

I chose not to start another thread as there are so many going on right now loaded with legalese talk I dare not open another can of worms . Yes, some of the discussions do shed light and that is  an important factor in making sound faith filled decisions ; but i find many of them shed little or no warmth and love.   For  me some of the posts sound  like everything is taking place in the head  and has not yet reached the heart ( but that is only an impression i get for ONLY GOD KNOWS  the heart of another and and i have no right to judge anyone save myself. But after reading  many of these posts i do not come away feeling more ardent in my love for God but instead feel drained and frustrated for there is nothing them to sustain the spirit and feed the soul. Yes i may come away a little smarter, but that is about it;  and the spiritual life is so so much more! It is endless and wide, wondrous, deep and boundless!  Most of all it is the most passionate love affair anyone can have no matter what state of life one is called to. It is that what my heart seeks. It is that that God has gifted me with even when i stumble or fall badly that gift still remains.

 

The vocation station I used to know was a simple joyful supportive place for the most part free of constant distinctions, classifications and re-classifications of everything. It was a place of meeting for simple  childlike joy of souls  no matter what age, who in the fervor of their love only wanted to find a community of support and gentle loving guidance that would fan the tiny flames of their vocation into a burning fire until each one of us found where and how God was calling us to that intimate love affair with him. For those of us already in religious life it was a refreshing place to renew our spirits and encourage others  and rejoice as they began their own wondrous journey to God.

 

It seems lately i see some of that is being lost to cynicism and silly stuff like what vocation is more special than another which requires more serious commitment and dedication etc.... Lets face it. No one is openly saying that but that is what is happening. It is just that out of politeness or fear of being banned that no one is calling a spade a spade.

 

My Brothers and sisters, when we have to resort to doing things like that, even on an unconscious level, it is often a sign that there is something still missing in us or perhaps issue,old hurts, or insecurities, that we have not dealt with.  As for myself, after reading some posts, i use a simple general rule of thumb to go by. "If it increases my love for God or challenges me to do that, i let it in my heart and mind and if it does not, I simple walk away. My house is already cluttered with thing I must let go of, why add more? God cannot fully fill a soul  the way he would like if it is already inhabited. But that is another topic.

 

The second reason I am posting this on this particular thread, is that i see my life is now coming full circle to where my love affair with God began It began at age 14 with private vows. I am now 56 I have laughed loved, cried, experienced at times such beauty beyond words,  I have suffered, fallen ,wanted to run away, at times even been tempted to want to end my life. But I have NEVER for one second regretted giving my self to God, yes, even as a teenager.

 

When God calls  so gently and persistently and the love in ones heart burns so bright, to not respond is sheer agony for Love can only be answered by love to the heart that seeks God. Yes spiritual guidance is important, but i am afraid God called my heart even before i knew what spiritual guidance was!  Love for Love was the only answer I could comprehend in my heart. And it gave my heart peace.

 

If my thoughts or feeling will offend please do not read on.

 

Thank you so much for posting this. I too have felt Vocation Station has strayed very far away from what it was. Yes, discernment and things related to it are serious; that's why we need to be lighthearted at times. If you take something too seriously, it kills the natural joy it brings. We need to be lighthearted again and make this place much more welcoming. So many ridiculous arguments (I decided to call a spade a spade, as you mention in your post) that have been going on recently have taken the joy out of discerning. I can tell you in just two years of discerning that discerning in itself brings about times of anxiety and dread. There is no reason to bring about any more than there naturally is in it with silly arguments.

Edited by FuturePriest387
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Thank you for the contributions.  It's a bit hard to reply, not understanding where you find "silly arguments" are applying and other comments that to me are obscure and this is not to say that they are - only that such as I find them so.

It is very sad and I agree when a thread in this forum in particular becomes argumentative.  For my part, I have tried to state with quotations from various Church reliable sources that individual private vows to the evangelical counsels (outside of an insitution of some kind) are indeed a valid form of following Christ in a radical manner.  For my part again, I have discerned I think probably most every form of consecrated life (except Consecrated Virginity as I am ineligible) and also Third Orders for laity and with spiritual direction in that discerning, and continue on this path of private vows outside of any Church approved institution and with an increasing real sense of call and vocation.  There has been a variety of reasons why my discerning with an institution may have ceased or not really begun in the first place.

 

 It is my experience over some years now that discussion on private vows outside of a Church approved institution very often do become argumentative sadly and due to the fact that some wish to dismiss the way of life as a potential call from The Lord in the first place.  I did like the comment by nunsense that no matter what a particular person educated in Church matters said, her private vows were important to her.  Or words to this effect.  I feel the same way; however, if The Church decided against such vows as mine, I would follow whatever The Church said while probably continuing to live the vows (while knowing that my private vows no longer no existed) and in whatever context The Church decided in the lay state in secular life - and of course this is my current state in life and call in life (i.e. to secular life) and with every fibre of my being.  My very sincere and active hope is that I would never be outside of what The Church has to say on any matter where it is necessary to embrace what The Church has to state.  Iam quite confident that nunsense would probably feel the same way or very similar, along those lines.  She is not available just now having just entered a Carmelite monastery.

I do not share with others ina general sense, not even my family, that I have made private vows.  Within my family and each community to which I belong, I am simply a divorced Catholic with an annulment if anyone should enquire and have been so for over 30 years now - and with these private vows.  It has been a long journey and up a few creeks and wrong turns on the way most often due to episodes of my Bipolar condition and a confused state of mind.  Thankfully and beyond my hopes and anticipates, short of a near on miracle, the past ten years have seen serious episodes of Bipolar be a memory from the past and these are very painful memories.

I decided to 'come out the closet, on Catholic discussion sites if necessary including where discussions on private vows may be taking place - again, if I thought it necessary and most times it is, due to the argumentative nature of such threads and the presence of arguments totally against such a way, call and vocation as mine.  I decided to speak for the call and vocation to private vows as a private individual.

 

As for the head and the heart, some do not wish to share the heart's content at times.  This is not to state that the heart is as much in the vocation as the head - perhaps even moreso.  Heart, mind and soul.

 

Edit:  This thread did not start out to be argumentative although I confess I have jumped right in very deliberately into any argument against PV to the EC as an individual.  And will in the future I daresay should the situation arise once more.  It is another topic I can put on my list for discussion with my director.

Edited by BarbaraTherese
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What possibly could be misunderstood is that very often I, for one, am battling for the right to make the vows in the first place and to live by them as I have defined each of the vows and submitted to my spiritual director at the time for approval.  He was (now dec'd) an Order priest and theologian who lived and worked at our Seminary lecturing in theology.  He gave his approval to my 'rule' without one single modification.   It does feel on these discussion forums and on the feeling level like a battle for survival, which of course it is in some aspects anyway and sometimes against those who are far better educated in Church matters than I will every be probably.  Be this as it may, it does not make such educated invidiuals of necessity correct in all their concepts and in their comments and most especially if reliable Church sources state to the contrary.

The only way that I have and others like me have to defend our desire and right to live in this radical way in the lay state and in secular life is by quoting Church sources and texts that support our decisions and as quite valid decisions in that there is nothing in Church Law (Canon Law) nor other reliable Church documents to give an indication that an individual outside of a group context making private vows to the evangelical counsels is somehow unwarranted nor wise.  Rather The Church speaks quite to the contrary.  If The Church should ever speak to the contrary, then I would be taking up what The Church has to state and with heart, mind and soul in obedience to The Church.

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Indwelling Trinity

I humbly ask that no one take offense at what i write until i am able to complete my response adequately. As stated i the very beginning  i would be responding in parts. This subject is very near and dear to my heart. I have just come out of the hospital  ICU  to the floor unit and am forced to write in short spurts. After i have finished you can :bash: me LOL.

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I have to concur, for what it is worth, with some of the sentiments above. Although I have not been on Phatmass as long as some I have noticed that, of late, the tone of VS has changed. This makes me a little sad. I am sure it's just a cyclical thing and do hope things will improve again.

Just my two cents worth.

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Indwelling Trinity

Hello, My name is Catherine.

 

I am Sister Emmanuel's  blood sister and am writing on her behalf. Sister has Taken a turn for the worse this morning  and asks your prayers.  Sister has again gone into respiratory failure after an episode of bleeding internally and choking.  She is intubated and still conscious but lightly sedated.

 

She  has asked me  in writing to convey you her apologies at not finishing what she was saying to you. She sends her love to each of you and wants you to know that she will be praying for each of you until the she can return. 

 

Kindly,

 

Catherine Finnegan

 

 

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Hello, My name is Catherine.

 

I am Sister Emmanuel's  blood sister and am writing on her behalf. Sister has Taken a turn for the worse this morning  and asks your prayers.  Sister has again gone into respiratory failure after an episode of bleeding internally and choking.  She is intubated and still conscious but lightly sedated.

 

She  has asked me  in writing to convey you her apologies at not finishing what she was saying to you. She sends her love to each of you and wants you to know that she will be praying for each of you until the she can return. 

 

Kindly,

 

Catherine Finnegan

 

Oh dear. I am so sorry to hear this. I will pray for your sister, and for you.

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I am very sad and concerned also and will be praying for her.  When she said in a post that she was in a hospital environment, I had thought she must have been a nurse - not that she was a patient herself.  Assure her of prayer and I thank her for her own prayers.  It is an outstanding kindness and very thoughtful, entirely loving, of her to think of us in her own time of need.  I send my love, prayer and thoughts.

 

Barb

Edited by BarbaraTherese
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Hello, My name is Catherine.

 

I am Sister Emmanuel's  blood sister and am writing on her behalf. Sister has Taken a turn for the worse this morning  and asks your prayers.  Sister has again gone into respiratory failure after an episode of bleeding internally and choking.  She is intubated and still conscious but lightly sedated.

 

She  has asked me  in writing to convey you her apologies at not finishing what she was saying to you. She sends her love to each of you and wants you to know that she will be praying for each of you until the she can return. 

 

Kindly,

 

Catherine Finnegan

 

As I did during Indwelling Trinity's previous hospitalization, I will put a prayer request for her complete recovery in a crack of the Western Wall of the Temple, here in Jerusalem.  This is one of the traditional Jewish ways of praying for a "refuah shelayma".  If you can, please tell her Antigonos is thinking of her.

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incarnatewordsister
Hello, My name is Catherine.

 

I am Sister Emmanuel's  blood sister and am writing on her behalf. Sister has Taken a turn for the worse this morning  and asks your prayers.  Sister has again gone into respiratory failure after an episode of bleeding internally and choking.  She is intubated and still conscious but lightly sedated.

 

She  has asked me  in writing to convey you her apologies at not finishing what she was saying to you. She sends her love to each of you and wants you to know that she will be praying for each of you until the she can return. 

 

Kindly,

 

Catherine Finnegan

 

Catherine,

 

Thank you for posting, please tell Sr. Emmanuel that I am praying for her, that I hope everything turns out well. May the Incarnate Word hold her close to his heart.

 

Sre. Mary Helga

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As I see things, it is entirely up to you.  To my mind it is unwise and imprudent to make any sort of private vow or vows without first seeking spiritual direction.  The Church does not place any restrictions on private vows providing one is over 14 years I think it might be.  I am unsure of any age restrictions so dont take me as 'gospel'.  It does remain a very serious move to make a vow to God even privately, be assured of this.

 

You do realize of course that if you hope to enter religious life at some point, there is no need for any sort of actual private vow in the interim.  There is no need to make a private vow to God in order to live a certain way.  To live a holy life does not ask any sort of vow.

 

The Lord is never displeased with what we do with the very best motives and intentions and especially when what we do is a good in itself with the intention of performing some good.  This is not to state that for our human part, it may be an unwise and imprudent move.  Were it me in your instance, I would be talking with Father anyway - it is entirely up to him and whether he feels he may know you well enough to give you advice on the matter. From there you can make up your own mind and decide.  While, again, we are probably very wise and prudent to follow what a priest may state as some sort of advice, there is no actual obligation in obedience to obey everything a priest may advise or state (unless of course one has made a private vow of obedience to him, AND he has accepted such a private vow and the terms of the vow).

 

Is there any way you can seek out regular spiritual direction.  This is only a discussion forum and not at all in any way very often a place of any sort of personal spiritual advice, which does ask a spiritual director again if one is wise and prudent.

 

Personally, I do value obedience immensely (along with my other private vows).  We read of Jesus in the Gospel that "He learnt obedience" and also "Not My Will, Father, but Thine be done" and other references in the Gospel to obedience - and powerful references.  Primarily, we owe obedience to The Church as Catholics and through whom The Will of God is expressed for us.

 

May God reward you for the post; it was very informative for me. I believe at this time my focus is more on discernment with the religious life. However, if I come to find that this will not be possible for me in the near future then I would like to talk to a priest about the possibility of making that vow of virginity if I discern that while being "in the world" it would bind me closer to Jesus. I know that all of my desires and intentions are not hidden from Him. He'll take care of everything when the time is right and I hope that I will be faithful to my part also. Waiting for His time is always great for the virtue of patience. Sometimes it seems as if not much is happening, but He is always at work. I'll continue to trust that I'll know the right thing to do at the right time. Please keep me in your prayers! :)

Edited by VeniJesuAmorMi
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May God reward you for the post; it was very informative for me. I believe at this time my focus is more on discernment with the religious life. However, if I come to find that this will not be possible for me in the near future then I would like to talk to a priest about the possibility of making that vow of virginity if I discern that while being "in the world" it would bind me closer to Jesus. I know that all of my desires and intentions are not hidden from Him. He'll take care of everything when the time is right and I hope that I will be faithful to my part also. Waiting for His time is always great for the virtue of patience. Sometimes it seems as if not much is happening, but He is always at work. I'll continue to trust that I'll know the right thing to do at the right time. Please keep me in your prayers! :)

 

God bless!

While a vow has the potential to bring one closer to God, it is holiness of life that does bring one closer to God.  Trust and confidence in The Lord will never lead one astray and at times our spiritual life can seem to be in 'the doldrums'.  This can have many reasons indeed, which is why sound spiritual direction is pure gold in our spiritual quest.  Also, a spiritual director will incline one to be led rather than to lead - it inclines us away from our own will and to be more inclined  towards the will of another in a sound position of guidance and this asks a certain disposition of docility of spirit and humility.

 

The Lord speaks to us in many ways including through others.  Pope Benedict has highly recommended spiritual direction for all - including those in the lay state and secular life.  While we are not bound in obedience to everything The Holy Father has to say, docility of spirit and humility will call for a certain level of obedience in some matters and in this wisdom and prudence will be our guide.  Such obedience can also be an act of trust and confidence in what The Lord has to say through His Church and in many different ways.

I will keep you and your discerning in prayer - please keep me and all in your own prayers. :)

Edited by BarbaraTherese
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