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Private Vows in The Laity/Spirituality


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My spiritual director (priest and religious superior) has received permission from diocesan offices to celebrate a Home Mass for the purpose of me renewing my life private vows to the evangelical counsels.  At the same time, "Bethany" (residence) will be blest.  My SD suggests that I have the celebrant and a couple of witnesses sign some sort of a record as witnesses.

I plan to keep things as quiet and as simple as I can with my brothers and wives present along with a couple of close friends including religious who are close friends.  The next step (advice of our Vicar General to my spiritual director) is to speak to my parish priest and I have asked for an appointment at his convenience.  My pp can contact my spiritual director if he wishes. I suspect that this is protocol and formality since the Home Mass will be in his parish.  I daresay as it all unwinds, I will become the wiser and was far too overwhelmed when my SD told me permission had been received to think of questions to ask.  My SD too has suggested that I write my own vows.  When the subject first came up, Father mentioned making the vows at the Offertory - I replied that I was under the impression that private vows could only be made before or after Mass.  That aspect is still to be sorted out and Father will probably refer the matter back to the Vicar General - he is very traditional and conservative............but with a rich sense of humour, of the funny and absurd (hence directing me! :smile4:)


I am hoping Mass will be in the morning or afternoon, since providing a morning or afternoon tea will be far cheaper than a full meal.

I will keep this thread updated as things unfold - although if it disappears into the archives I will need to start a new thread again -  since I don't plan the Mass in hope until the Feast of The Immaculate Heart of Mary (Saturday) in June 2014 (June is traditionally dedicated to The Sacred Heart) - my SD asked me to pick a feastday - and of course I need for him to be available on the date I choose.  By choosing a Saturday, it should not present in hope inconvenience to those I am inviting.


 I am hoping to go on retreat prior, but there seems to be an absence of facilities for a one person only retreat - most of the facilities here nowadays are for groups only now that are large Carmelite Monastery has been sold. I could always stay in the Carmelite guest house before it was sold.  I am still looking for somewhere and have contacted the Jesuits at Seven Hills Retreat Centre in Clare here in South Australia but no reply as yet.  Much too for me will depend on cost involved.  If all comes amiss retreat wise, then I shall go on retreat here in Bethany.


I am no little overwhelmed by it all still and I don't think that humility is the word since I doubt that humility has anything to do with 'shock and trembling'. :)

I have spoken to one of my brothers who is not at all impressed having seen my journey with Bipolar and my 20 very ill years.  I think I am challenging his notion that such things should only be done by very holy people and only in convents or monasteries - and by people who are undoubtedly completely and always sane.



It is very difficult to crawl out from under a tag of "mental illness",

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I am so glad, very truly and honestly glad, that Phatmass is here and with such accepting and openhearted, open minded, members in the main.  I think I probably soon will have only you to 'talk to'.  Those around me who travelled with me during my very ill years with Bipolar tend to close ranks and avoid me if they think that I am unwell.   Their unfailing support comes only when I have been hospitalized (out of circulation and away from them and someone else's big problem) and then they are supportive when I am later released and sane once more.   My brother (see my previous post) obviously, I think, thinks that I am cracking up completely once more and loosing count of my marbles again - and doubtless this will circulate.  I have not made it generally known re private vows.  This is the first they are hearing of it and it aint easy to make it known and my coming plans re the Home Mass - oh not at all!  It is not easy to react quietly to questions that are obviously trying to test my mental state.


Thank you Phammers for being you and a true community and phamily to me!  :winner: My five star phamily and community. 


Prayer very much appreciated for sure!  I desperately need it on a few fronts. 

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Private vows (to the evangelical counsels) are a Church and canonical term meaning that one does not change one's state in life and the vows are not public and canonical vows where the state in life does change to the consecrated state and the consecration celebrated by a Bishop - hence private vows are  also a distinguishing term from canonical public vows to the consecrated state in life.  I remain fully in the laity in every way and governed by all laws and teachings for the laity and I am under non canonical private vows in the laity, not public vows - even though one can make private vows at Mass with the agreement of the celebrant.  My SD wanted to put it to the Vicar General who consulted the Archbishop.  I did want a Home Mass and I think diocesan authority needs to be consulted on this score - although I am unsure on this point.


My SD asked me to write a Rule of Life some times back and I have done this and he approved it.  Basically all I did was put down on paper the way I have lived for many years now using the petitions of The Our Father as subject headings.  My Rule does ask some revision to my mind as I think I was repetitive in places and it could be polished into a more concise document - I did write it rather quickly.  That revision can wait for the time being.

Edited by BarbaraTherese
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My parish priest rang me this morning and has granted his permission for my spiritual director to celebrate a Home Mass at my residence in Bethany here for the purpose of renewing my life vows to the evangelical counsels (there was no need for an appointment thankfully).  All the Church formalities are now over and next week on the 6th Feb Thursday, my brothers are taking me out to lunch and I have their formalities and concepts, opinions, protocols and I daresay protests to deal with.  After that, settling on a date and time - guest list.  Although at the most I am thinking 20 people including four nuns, immediate family and a few friends.  The sisters have already indicated that they will be trying their best to attend.  It all depends on the convenience of the date.  And I am thinking mid 2014 or later.


When Father rang this morning, he joked "Would you like an appointment?" "Do I need one, Father?" "Not really, you have mentioned to me your private vows - and it's just a formality so that I can be sure you are not importing some international imposter into my parish".


The Seven Hills Jesuit Retreat Centre in Clare, South Australia, have rung me and passed on to me a telephone number where someone may be able to assist me in the Seven Hills Centre with a private directed retreat and at reasonable cost.  I'm yet to follow up on that as I am not anticipating going on retreat until just before the Home Mass.


To say that I am 'over the moon' is a decided understatement and with joy and thanksgiving.  Even loosing the trepidation too of talking with my brothers.  A far higher authority than blood relationships have given permission.  And when all this first began, I felt strongly that results would tell me The Lord's Will and which way to travel.


Have you ever read the poem "God knows" (Minnie Louise Haskins) - a favourite of mine and I have a wooden oval plaque with the first part painted on it. (down to "trod gladly into the night")




And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.

God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.

Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill



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If you read my signature, I'll tell you the story behind it (and what else, if you know me! :) ).  One night very late and very scared as my life was coming totally apart yet again, I prepared to just open my Bible and read searching for some sort of consolation in desperation as The Lord really seemed absent to me even uncaring, other than to Dark and Naked Faith- and telling The Lord that I knew what I was about to do was not at all recommended and by very sound sources, but that I was really desperate and needed something to hang on to and was going to do just open and read randomly what my eyes landed on anyway.  I opened and read what appears in my signature and it did give me consolation and hope at least somewhere somehow ahead of me.  That was all donkeys years ago and during my very ill years, but I have never forgotten that verse from Jeremiah and with a sense of consolation somewhere in the darkness and unknowing ahead of me.  My now feeling is that that verse is being fulfilled for me - I have years of good mental health under my belt and now FINALLY at 68 yrs of age after a very harrowing 20yr journey indeed, I have been sufficiently confident to ask re the Home Mass for receiving my private vows to the evangelical counsels with reassurance from my psychiatrist that she feels my illness "has turned a real corner".  I have my own Rule of Life approved.  And diocesan offices have given their approval for the Home Mass for receiving vows, though many details of my harrowing and often socially repulsive journey with Bipolar are known to diocesan offices.


Humbled is not the word - indeed if true humility is anywhere present in me at all!  Who am I Lord and Who are You that you stoop so graciously to your most least of all?  I am just one of the sinners He came to save.

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Had lunch with my two brothers today.  To my surprise, my brother who had thought that I was cracking up completely has come round and my other brother was very supportive and encouraging.  It all turned out quite contrary to my expectations.  We had a great lunch at a lovely Chinese restaurant - and neither seemed surprised that I was choosing private vows received and renewed at a Home Mass.  I did try to silently give thanks but it very nearly came out aloud - but I did manage to avoid doing so...........just!

I think that probably all hurdles are now past tense and all has resolved happily.  The next milestone will be when my spiritual director gives me an actual date for the Home Mass here.  I wont be seeing him for about another month.  Then I will be sending out invitations - probably to about 20 people maximum.  I'd like to keep it a quiet celebration - and also my unit will only hold about 20 in comfort.  Mass followed by morning or afternoon tea (or whatever) dependant on time of day Father sets.

"Bethany" here will be blest at the same time as the Home Mass.

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I have read on the internet that private vows should be made only before or after Mass.  My spiritual director (superior in his community) suggested at the Offertory during Mass - I am yet to discern what exactly will happen and I daresay that Father will run it past our Vicar General who is highly qualified in Church matters. When I find out what has been decided, I will post back into this thread.


I am very thankfully praying for all those who have prayed for me and their intentions.  I just cannot quite believe that things have transpired as they have.  I don't feel at all worthy nor anything whatsoever in that vein - while I feel very strongly I am taking that path directed by The Holy Spirit.  In all my years of severe mental illness, I never asked "Why me?"...........now that question baffles me.  I do tend to think after my long journey with Bipolar Disorder and all it has meant in my life by way of destruction and major life losses, including reputation, and all in that order, that it does reveal that The Lord indeed has quite unique plans for every person without exemption at all - and that "all things are possible to God".


I was a completely psychotic mess and medicine (doctors and medication) offered little if any prospect to hope for any sort of normal type of future at all.

Please spare a thought and much compassion for those who do suffer severe mental illness.  They suffer what must come close to the horrors of hell and often without any sort of love and support from family and friends whatsoever - and endure often tremendous poverty and homelessness, social exclusion.  Sufferers of MI are not only still very much misunderstood, they must wear social labels of rejection on various levels -  because of their illness and illness it is.  And statistics tell us that crimes of violence are far more prevalent per capita amongst 'the normal' than amongst sufferers of MI.  We just don't see headlines "Normal person ................."  But we do see headlines "Mentally ill person.................." where crimes of violence are concerned.


Hijacked my own thread!


Here I pause with a prayer for all those who suffer in any way at all, including those who do suffer deeply because their deepest desires in life seems to be thwarted and they grieve.  How does one journey from what I want to what is God's Will for me.  I can't answer that question - only each individual can do so and in that unique way and journey that God has planned for them. "Work as if all depended on work and pray as if all depended on prayer" because it does. Trust confidently.


Matthew Chapter 19 "      [24] And again I say to you: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. [25] And when they had heard this, the disciples wondered very much, saying: Who then can be saved?   [26] And Jesus beholding, said to them: With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible.


........off me pulpit again...........until next time :)

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Thanks heaps, BM.  I am over the bouncing all over the joint with joy stage (initial) then I went into the 'stunned mullet' stage - and now I think I am back to normal just pinching myself now and then that each hurdle presented is at last past tense and all resolved happily.   Thank you so much for joining in my Joy.

I am hoping that this thread might prove helpful to those considering or interested in the vocation.  We certainly get a strong mention in the Dogmatic Constitution of The Church and also in Vita Consecrata (The Consecrated Life).....(Pope Pius XII pre Vatican2 also mentioned us in "Sacra Virginitas" - see quote box below)  - but our guiding light is the Decree on The Apostolate of The Laity http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19651118_apostolicam-actuositatem_en.html


I recall the days when the thought of remaining in the laity was a dreadful thought - yet now so full of Joy and Peace.  Very long journey indeed since then changing many of my concepts including the image of myself as a contemplative nun! :)


Fortunately, everything I have read and related threads ("single" or more accurately "lay celibate vocation") here on Phatmass or CA I have recorded in my Favourites - as a 'just in case needed again'.


Sacra Virginitas"Sacred Virginity"  http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_25031954_sacra-virginitas_en.html



"6. And while this perfect chastity is the subject of one of the three vows which constitute the religious state,[9] and is also required by the Latin Church of clerics in major orders[10] and demanded from members of Secular Institutes,[11] it also flourishes among many who are lay people in the full sense: men and women who are not constituted in a public state of perfection and yet by private promise or vow completely abstain from marriage and sexual pleasures, in order to serve their neighbor more freely and to be united with God more easily and more closely. "



Edited by BarbaraTherese
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Thank you also and heaps, AL.  I will post the big date for sure!  Prayer from you and others has got me over the big hurdles, so that I can heave a sigh of relief (more than a sigh!).  :yahoo: The next step is to get a date from my SD and then organize the big day itself.  And I am hoping to go away on retreat prior - and if my pocket wont fit, to go on retreat here in Bethany.

A whole bunch of invitations will be going out to Phatmass in spirit and Joy that my phamily "whole bunch of others" will join me in spirit.

This really is big for me.  Because of my Bipolar history, which is well known - no secret anywhere including diocesan offices - I was totally inclined and prepared to be disappointed - but thought prayerfully that I would give it my best shot anyway knowing indeed that God can do all things.  HE DID! :woot:  Truth is, I would not have blamed anyone if the response was in the negative.  My hope was that my years of good health just might speak up for me favourably.


Thanksgiving in order !


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More truth!  I though it would be only up to my spiritual director to agree or not to be celebrant and that would decide things full stop.  When my SD said that he had spoken to our Vicar General who was going to "run it past The Archbishop", I sorta felt "Oh well, I gave it my best shot!" with a sinking feeling.  And then the VG in passing on His Grace's decision advised that I also run it past my parish priest.   Everyone, fer goodness sake, was in 'on the act'!!!


At a point to me (when our VG and His Grace got in on the act :) ), it was all going terribly wrong - and what was all going so badly wrong turned out to be all going right................ Samazing! :)

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Would prop you & your Ecclesiastical Team.. but I am out of props!  So.... here is an AnnieProp for lack of others:  :saint2:

Edited by AnneLine
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