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December 24, 2011

A Story of Church Bells: with Christmas Decoration

This is the story of a tiny girl, 5 yrs old, who lived in a happy family – a hop, a skip, and a jump  distance from a beautiful  old  church in India, which had a beautiful statue of a mother with a boy in her arms . 


Early every morning, she heard the sound of church bells  and was overjoyed. Maybe,when she was in her mother’s womb, she must have leapt with the sound. She asked her Mom, "Mummy, why do the  chhuch  bells ring  every morning?”  “To ask God to Wake Up  dear!" replied her Mom. “When  we want God to listen to us we have to ring bells to wake God up, so that we will get an answer.” 


So whenever the family went to the temple because they were hindus,  she asked her Dad to lift her up on his shoulder and they  rang the bells  at the entrance with joy.


One day something sad happened. She saw someone  with a knife trying to stab her Dad. Her Mom  shoo-ed away  all the children  and commanded  the tiny  girl to go away  too.


She  ran and ran  on the path where she used to  hop, skip, and jump  to play  on the church grounds.  She ran straight  to a staircase at the side of the church  where hung  HUGE  church bells tied with HUGE and thick  ropes  made of  jute. It was Christmas Eve.


her gifts to God
She climbed up the steps  and tried  to ring the bells, but she could not even move a rope. Her tiny hands were too small to even hold them and they were full of thorns.  By now she was crying, her eyes full of tears. She cried, "God, Wake up! Wake up, God, Wake up" But she could not ring the bells.  She said, "God, I’ll give you what you want. I’ll give you my doll, my compass –box with the new pencil which has a scented  eraser  on top, I won’t  trouble Mom. I’ll drink the Bournvita, I’ll drink the bitter medicines, I’ll do my home-work  on time, I won’t ask for a dotted  frill frock  or sandals  or a new bicycle. Wake up, God  and don’t let him hurt my Dad with the knife."


The tiny girl did not know what is life or death. But she  understood that when some angry man takes a knife  and tries to stab, it can hurt and there can be bloodshed.


She cried and cried but  she could not ring the bells and  so she thought God is sleeping. She too cried and cried till she fell asleep on the steps, holding on to the thorny rope, tightly.


Then suddenly  she woke up.  She felt silent. She came down the steps and went  a hop, a skip,  and a jump  to  her family. There she saw  as she knew in her heart  that she would. Her Dad was safe. Everyone was happy. There was a  nice tea party  where  the man with the knife and  his family and  the tiny girl’s family all had  tea together. They became friends!






God's gift to her !
She went  to bed  with true Peace in  her heart  where the Baby Jesus  was born  to stay there forever! 


 



Since then  they put  tiny bells on the Christmas tree so that little children too can ring them.






HAPPY  CHRISTMAS! MAY  THE LORD JESUS GIVE YOU PEACE, LOVE, AND JOY NOW AND THROUGH THE NEW YEAR.



December 15, 2011

Consecrated Virginity from an Inter-generational Perspective

Growth-stages, Shades of Charism, or Generation gap between consecrated virgins ?!


The Order of Virgins is both  ancient and new,since its charism originated on the cross of Jesus Christ, went through several challenges, and was revived after the Second Vatican Council.

Since then,thousands of women around the world have received the special consecration. There are three categories of consecrated virgins- 
  1. those who were born before the Second Vatican Council which was held from 1962-1965  and have seen life before and after it,
  2. those who were born after the Council  between1965-1977 or the Generation X and have not personally experienced the church before it, and
  3. the Millennial generation of those born approx. between 1977-1998. 


It is interesting to note the differences between these generations to see how this can help us understand the Order of Virgins  and each other better,and be able to respect  different approaches to the vocation and discern in which direction it should journey.


Each generation has different list of motivations for seeking the consecration of virgins. Most consecrated virgins born before the Second Vatican Council  are ex-religious who asked for the consecration  due to the need of a ceremony or rite so that they could continue with their commitment on their own, without rigid regimentation of religious life which had left a wound on their lives. They could not join secular institutes for various reasons. Some of these ex-religious were drawn towards solitude or individual and independent life-style  as a ‘reaction’ to their negative experiences with religious life.  They have definitely influenced the way consecrated virginity is being lived and understood in the  church today.


The charism, identity and mission of the Ordo Virginum as it originated on the Cross and during the first four centuries of  Christianity,was not revived with the revival of the Rite of consecration to a life of virginity as per canon 604  #1 and #2. Even after receiving this consecration, most of these ex-religious  continued to live the spirituality of the institutes they had left. Some followed the spirituality of  Solitaries / Hermits, Single Lay women or Secular Institutes under the veil of consecrated virginity.

The Post-Vatican II and the Millennial generations are not much influenced by religious life. They tend to see the charism of the Ordo Virginum from the perspective of Early Church. They are not drawn towards an individualistic interpretation of the vocation but see it as communitarian, where the community is the diocese / parish  and also the possibility of several consecrated virgins supporting each other concretely or  living together in association,  as it was with consecrated virgins in the Early Church, who lived together in households, without the regimentation of a religious community. [not the charisms but the lifestyle of movements like the Focolarini, the Teresian Association, etc. ]


An area of concern is the emphasis by some bishops' conferences and even associations of consecrated virgins, on the spousal dimension of the vocation, to the extent that dedication to the service of the Church is suppressed, to mean service only in the form of prayer. This could be because most of the consecrated virgins are of the pre-Vatican II generation and cannot commit themselves to active service in the Church.


Psychological theories mention that healthy development of sexuality  leads to intimacy and solidarity in the age group 18 to 35 yrs  while an unhealthy outcome is isolation. Also, in the age group 35 to 55 a healthy ego development focuses on generativity or care for others. Unhealthy development leads to self absorption and stagnation. There is no understanding of these factors in the living out of celibacy. To expect a celibate to lead a Single life in isolation without community and spend most of her energies focused on prayer, is the antithesis of Christian and  human vocation to relate and to love. 


YOUNG CONSECRATED VIRGINS NEED THE SOLIDARITY OF AN ASSOCIATION THAT IS CONCRETELY SUPPORTIVE AND FORMATIVE  AND ALSO NEED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND SERVICES. OLDER CONSECRATED VIRGINS CAN CHOOSE TO BE MORE INDEPENDENT BUT WOULD STILL NEED TO EXPRESS THEIR MATERNAL INSTINCT THROUGH CONCRETELY EXPRESSED  CARE FOR OTHERS. 

It may be justified for contemplative religious who live in community to focus only on  prayer. But the same can be detrimental to the health of a consecrated virgin if she lives alone. A balance of prayer and work, spousal  spirituality and service of the Church is the ideal.


For young consecrated virgins it is psychologically important to have a strong point of reference or some sense of accountability to a person of authority, e.g., the diocesan bishop or a senior consecrated virgin who acts as a mentor or the co ordinator of an association of consecrated virgins [Similar to some sort of support which young couples need in the beginning of married life]. They should not be left to fend for themselves or left high and dry after the consecration ceremony.  A young consecrated virgin needs the tenderness, understanding, and support from seasoned  women in the same vocation if the Ordo Virginum is to survive and grow.


Perhaps there is need of some universal level formative institute that can offer in-depth preparatory and on-going formation and assistance to consecrated virgins and associations, also keeping in mind their cultures, inculturation etc.








December 6, 2011

Plan of God and Resolution of a virgin

When I started this blog, my intention was to  search  for the Truth about the Identity and Mission of the  Order of Consecrated Virgins in today's Church and world.


In this process, I developed a theology of the vocation of consecrated virginity, not focusing on the Rite of Consecration to a life of Virginity as a  ‘sacramental’(noun) but on its ‘sacramentality.’ This Rite is not among the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church.


I also developed an understanding of the prayer of consecration,  necessary elements for its validity, degrees of effective quality of the seal of consecration, or ‘sacramental’ character and design of the seal  impressed on the virgin. Read my post  here-it's important  for details.


A very important question regarding the DESIGN of the seal of consecration comes to my mind because it is central to the vocation. The most authoritative sources to understand it are 


  • the vocation in the history of the Early Church,
  • the Rite of Consecration to a life of Virginity present in the Roman Pontifical, and 
  • canon 604 in the latest Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church after Vatican II.


Early Church History does lay emphasis on the Sequela Christi or Following of Christ. This was a general obligation of every disciple of Christ through baptism. Consecrated life demands a special form of  following Him. In some other post, I shall write in depth about this Sequela Christi specifically  for the vocation of consecrated virgins.


The Rite of Consecration to a life of Virginity  mentions about the plan of God and the resolution to follow Christ, at significant moments:


  • through the antiphons, e.g., ‘Now with all our hearts we follow you,’
  • the suggested homily, ’ Let your light then shine before men and women, that your Father in heaven may be glorified, and his plan of making all things one in Christ come to perfection,’ and  ‘you will sing a new song as you follow the Lamb of God wherever he leads you.’
  • the examination by the bishop, 'Are you so resolved to follow Christ in the spirit of the Gospel that your whole life may be a faithful witness to God’s love and a convincing sign of the kingdom of heaven?’
  • the renewal of intention,’ Father, receive my resolution to follow Christ in a life of perfect chastity which, with God’s help, I here profess before you and God’s holy people.’
  • the prayer of consecration,’ Lord, look with favor an your handmaids. They place in your hands their resolve to live in chastity.’




Canon 604 §1 and §2  mentions about the resolution to follow Christ:
Can. 604 § 1.  Hisce vitae consecratae formis accedit ordo virginum quae, sanctum
propositum emittentes Christum pressius sequendi, ab Episcopo dioecesano iuxte probatum
ritum liturgicum Deo consecrantur, Christo Dei Filio mystice desponsantur et Ecclesiae
servitio dedicantur.
§ 2.  Ad suum propositum fidelius servandum et ad servitium Ecclesiae, proprio statui
consonum, mutuo adiutorio perficiendum, virgines consociari possunt.

 



As mentioned in the Latin version above, the term used  for resolution is propositum which can be translated as PLAN, PROJECT, PURPOSE, DESIGN, THEME OF DISCOURSE, AIM, THESIS, etc. 



Canon 604 in English:


§1. Similar to these forms of consecrated life is the order of virgins, who, committed to the holy plan of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are betrothed mystically to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church.
§2. In order to observe their commitment more faithfully and to perform by mutual support service to the Church which is in harmony with their state these virgins can form themselves into associations.



The virgin renews her intention or  propositum  which she has been living for sometime  before it is publicly consecrated in the ceremony.



WHAT IS THIS PLAN OF  GOD IN THE FOLLOWING OF CHRIST, OR THE DESIGN OF THE PERMANENT SEAL OF CONSECRATION, WHICH THE VIRGIN IS COMMITTED TO LIVE FOR HER ENTIRE LIFE ? 



IT IS VIRGINITY FOR THE SAKE OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, WHICH IS ONLY POSSIBLE WHEN EVERYTHING IN HEAVEN AND EARTH IS UNITED IN CHRIST. THE CONSECRATED VIRGIN IS CALLED TO BE AN IMAGE OF THIS REALITY THROUGH HER ESPOUSAL WITH CHRIST.



10 Even the heavenly forces and powers will now discover through the Church the wisdom of God in its manifold expression, as the plan is being fulfilled
11 which God designed from the beginning in Christ Jesus, our Lord.[ Eph 3:10-11]

See also  Eph 1: 9,13 ; 5: 31-32



The virgin is consecrated to God for the fulfilment of His plan to unite all things in Christ. Her mystical espousal to Christ and her service of the Church, should manifest this mystery of virginity for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.



More on the Plan of God in the Following of Christ in the vocation of a consecrated virgin  in another post.

November 26, 2011

Consecrated virginity and Religious life have different paradigms


THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE VOCATIONS SEEM MORE THAN THE SIMILARITIES.



Apostolic religious life characteristics:


1.      may have been inspired from Buddhist and other traditions
2.      men and women even if previously married can embrace religious life
3.      fully developed during middle ages
4.      ascetic and institutional rather than charismatic and movement
5.      emphasis on self giving. Religious consecrate themselves through the profession of vows which are temporary for some years- followed by permanent-and is done at the hands of the Religious superior. The ceremony can be presided over by a priest.
6.      community life among religious
7.      evangelical counsels mainly based on the beatitudes : obedience, poverty, chastity, etc.[emphasis on asceticism]
8.      religious men and women may symbolize the Bride of Christ only as a community [ which itself is a symbol of the church community which is the Bride of Christ]. The Spousal bond is communal. I think an individual religious man or woman is a bride of Christ to the same degree as any baptized lay person although the symbolic element is greater in the religious woman. He or she may ‘privately’ develop this relationship with Christ as several religious do so. That’s why some religious women in monasteries  receive the consecration of virgins several years after Final profession.
9.      the essence of apostolic religious life varies in kind and degrees among various institutes
10.  separation from the world in varying degrees
11.  service of the Church or the world based on their institutional charisms. Religious institutes were founded by persons inspired usually by a need in society or by some dimension of Christ and His teachings as mentioned in scriptures.
12.  religious can be dispensed from their temporary and even perpetual vows for serious reasons.



Consecrated virginity characteristics:


1.      could have developed a spirituality in contrast to Roman traditions of vestal virgins
2.      only women who are virgins can be consecrated [ with the exception of victims of rape, incest etc ]. Read this
3.      fully developed by the 4th century when the Church was institutionalized. [ In today’s world it is still developing and finding its identity and mission]. Read this
4.      emphasis on the charismatic and family dimension of the early Church which gradually got institutionalized
5.      virgins answer God’s call and are consecrated at the hands of the Bishop through a prayer which is a constitutive sacramental . Read this
6.      Diocesan spirituality: the local church is her community. Consecrated virgins can form associations as per canon law 604#2 .Read this
7.      based on the Paschal mystery which was the treasure at the heart of the early Church expressed as obedience, self-emptying[kenosis] on the cross, virginity or espousal with Christ. Read this
8.      a consecrated virgin is a woman who is spiritually and legally married  to Christ through a public rite which concentrates the specific grace in the person of the virgin and constitutes her a Bride of Christ as an individual. Her bond with Christ is personal and therefore more than symbolic .She is constituted an eschatological Image of the Church which she spiritually embodies in a mysterious way as suggested by this tradition [ perhaps similar to how the consecrated eucharistic bread  symbolizes the Christian community –the Body of Christ]. The virgin’s body is constituted as sacred /set apart for Jesus Christ in His divinity and humanity as affirmed by the Fathers of the Church.
9.      the essence of consecrated virginity is the call to assume the obligation to love the Christian community and the world –as a virgin, bride of Christ and a mother. She is a symbol of the church even as an individual just like Virgin Mary [I do not believe that the Rite of Religious Profession confers this charism on the Individual Religious man or woman].
10.  in the world but not of the world. In the world is also a relative term in the sense of not living in a monastery . Read this
11.  dedication to the service of the church based on charisms of each individual and the needs of the local church-with emphasis on spiritual motherhood which reaches out for the spiritual as well as other dimensions of human needs. When Jesus’ heart was pierced-blood and water flowed symbolizing the sacraments of baptism and eucharist, the birth of the Bride of Christ-the Church. Consecrated virginity was founded on the Cross. It is believed by some that the consecration confers the virgin with a gift of the Holy Spirit  based on the needs of the local church community. Read this
12.  as yet the Church does not have a formal definition regarding dispensation from obligations or annulment of the consecration of virgins.




Diocesan and Religious life are two different paradigms in Christian life. They are demanding with regard to the Christian call to discipleship but in different ways through different reasons for consecration.  A Consecrated virgin is  ‘set apart’ to live and manifest the identity and mission of the  local church or Diocesan community, as a virgin, bride, mother. A Religious woman is ‘set apart’ for the specific charism of her Religious congregation of institute.


For my personal research article on Ordo Virginum    Click Here

November 2, 2011

Virgin-Martyrs needed



I BELIEVE THAT ONE OF THE REASONS THE HOLY SPIRIT REVIVED THE ORDO VIRGINUM IS FOR THE WITNESS OF VIRGIN-MARTYRS IN TODAY’S CHURCH AND WORLD.


Are consecrated virgins willing to face this challenge with courage and dignity ?









October 12, 2011

Charism of Consecrated virginity NOT Sacred Secularity !



Recently, I’ve been reading the views of a Diocesan Hermit on her blog where she strongly insists that the Consecration to a life of Virginity according to canon 604 is a vocation or Consecration to Sacred ‘Secularity.’  She does not quote from primary and authoritative sources such as Sacred Scripture, Fathers of the Church, Magisterium, or Canon law, to support her personal views. Her interpretation of the Rite of consecration itself, is selective and subjective. 

She confuses the accidentals with the essence of the charism of the Ordo Virginum.  Her ideas are analogous to saying that the sacrament of matrimony  is particularly a Call to be consecrated to Sacred ‘Secularity.’

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:
1601 "The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament."

Virginity for the sake of the Kingdom
1618 Christ is the center of all Christian life. The bond with him takes precedence over all other bonds, familial or social (emphasis mine). From the very beginning of the Church there have been men and women who have renounced the great good of marriage to follow the Lamb wherever he goes, to be intent on the things of the Lord, to seek to please him, and to go out to meet the Bridegroom who is coming.114 Christ himself has invited certain persons to follow him in this way of life, of which he remains the model:
"For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it."



CONSECRATED VIRGINITY IS NOT  RELIGIOUS LIFE WITH A UNIFORM LIFE-STYLE OF MEMBERS. INSTEAD, LIKE ANY MARRIED COUPLE, EVERY CONSECRATED VIRGIN LIVES HER RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST IN A UNIQUE WAY, WHICH SHAPES THE  PHYSICAL, MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, SOCIAL, AND SPIRITUAL ASPECTS OF  LIFE TOGETHER.

Although the Ordo Virginum is a diocese based vocation, it has been confused with religious life/ secular institutes/ lay single life, etc. Its own identity and charism is not only blurred but lost  in countries where religious life has the monopoly. The charism of secular institutes, especially the imagery of ‘silent leaven in the world’ seems to have been ‘strategically and artificially’ imposed  on  the Ordo Virginum by some bishop’s conferences.


The vocation of consecrated virgins is ECCLESIAL in one word. She is given to the Church community. It is based on the Paschal mystery which was the treasure at the heart of the Early Church expressed as obedience, self-emptying[kenosis] on the cross, and virginity or espousal with Christ.

When Jesus’ heart was pierced, blood and water flowed out symbolizing the sacraments of baptism and eucharist, the birth of the Bride of Christ-the Church. Consecrated virginity was founded on the Cross. The consecration confers the virgin with a gift of the Holy Spirit  based on the needs of the local church community.



I had written a letter  to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated life in Rome some years ago, after reading an article on consecrated virgins, written  by Sr Sharon Holland IHM in INFORMACIONES,1999. Questions about several aspects of the vocation of consecrated virgins according to canon 604 were raised by me. Let me share a few of the questions and the response I received :

Questions: 

·       In ancient Church history we find that sometimes the same person belonged to 2 orders at the same time. Is it possible for a consecrated virgin to also be  a hermit and lead a diocese-based life?

·        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 consecrated virgins is to be an eschatological image of the Heavenly Bride and the life to come when the Church will at last fully live her love for Christ the Bridegroom. The charism of Secular Institutes 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 Institute to wear clothing which would identify them as a consecrated person. However, consecrated virgins are called to be an image of the Church’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 ?

Response from the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated life:
Prot.n.SpR 862-4/2003

While an individual can belong to two associations of the faithful, one cannot readily have two vocations which involve the total consecration of their life. Perhaps a consecrated virgin might live a secluded life, more like a hermit. However, they are two distinct approaches to the consecration of life and to life-style. 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.


Pages from the  ROMAN PONTIFICAL

FOREWORD

Part IV , Blessing of Persons

The fourth and final part of the book contains the rites for the blessing of persons who are publicly consecrated to God. [Since religious profession itself is ordinarily received on behalf of the Church by the religious superior, the rite is given in the Roman Ritual rather than in this book].

The last of these rites is for the traditional consecration of unmarried women to the life of religious virginity. The revision, which had been formally decreed by the Second Vatican Council, was published by the decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship, May 31,1970, not only for nuns but also for individual consecrated women who do not live in religious communites.[here again it is seen that ‘living in the world’ is not emphasized]


Chapter Sixteeen :

CONSECRATION TO A LIFE OF VIRGINITY

INTRODUCTION

Nature and Value of Consecration to Virginity

The custom of consecrating women to a life of virginity flourished even in the early Church. It led to the formation of the 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.

Principal Duties of Those Consecrated

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 of life and spiritual gifts.

To fulfil their duty of prayer they are strongly advised to celebrate the liturgy of the hours each day, especially morning  prayer and evening prayer. 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.




Those Who May Be Consecrated

This consecration may be received by nuns or by women living in the world.

In the case of women living in the world it is required:

a ] that they have never married or lived in public or open violation of chastity;
b] that by their age, prudence, and universally approved character they give assurance of perseverance in the life of chastity dedicated to the service of the Church and of their neighbour;
c ] that they be admitted to this consecration by the bishop who is the Ordinary of the place.

It is for the bishop to decide on the conditions under which women living in the world are to undertake a life of perpetual virginity.


This vocation is the  consecration of one’s virginity to God and to the diocese. I can say with confidence that 'secularity' is  not an essential element or 'charism' of  consecrated virginity. Had this been so, even monastics who received the same consecration  would be obliged to it! As mentioned in the Roman Pontifical, the nature and value of consecrated virginity is the same, whether lived in the monastery or outside the monastery. 

To define the vocation as consecrated virgins "Living in the World"  makes it very different from "Consecrated Virgins" living in the world. I think the number of religious women in the dioceses  around the world may be less than 0.002 per cent and monastics may be less than 0.00002 per cent of all catholics. Even among these monastics, this Rite is being used very rarely by  few Orders and is becoming extinct.  Hence it is 'by  default' that consecrated virgins live in the world.


The beauty of the charism is that it can be lived in a rainbow variety of ways. However, I would advise a woman who sees it her mission to be a leaven to transform the political, temporal aspects of the world, to consider joining a secular institute or lay association/movement, since such vocational options are already available. Consecrated virgins do not need to change their charism just because today's world seems to have the need or because Religious wish to maintain a monopoly regarding public pastoral consecrated life.


Canon 604 clearly states that virgins are dedicated to the service of the ‘Church.’  The suggested homily in the Rite mentions apostle in the Church and the world. The entire rite  and charism is primarily focused on spousal spirituality and dedication to the service of the Church community.



Through this rootedness, it expands its vision and embraces the world in mission too. Since the consecrated virgin is an image of the entire Church as Bride and body of Christ, she can be adorned with many other charisms, to express her central vocation. Sacred secularity would be just one of the many possible ways of living the vocation.

Some people argue that post Vatican council II theology of sacred secularity ought to be embraced by all consecrated virgins to live our vocation truthfully. I will argue that  the Bride of Christ is an image of the entire Church. The Holy Spirit would not be keen to change the charism of the Ordo Virginum or add sacred secularity to it, without at the same time  inspiring the same for diocesan hermits, priests  and even the religious. Unity is very important to the Holy Spirit.

The bride of Christ spiritual relationship through baptism is not the same as the mystical espousal of the consecrated virgin with Christ, of which her charism expects her to be an Image. The interpretation of Vatican Council II and the way some people in the church are trying to impose the charism of secular institutes on consecrated virgins, is a dictatorship according to my interpretation. It would be improper to insist that a married woman is obliged to focus on mission in the world at the cost of her relationship with her husband and children / family. The entire family of the Church [clergy, laity, consecrated persons]should be involved in transforming the world as leaven –not just consecrated virgins.

Much of what is attributed to religious life today actually belongs to the charism of consecrated virgins in the Early Church, and is paradoxically being denied to consecrated virgins themselves in today’s world. This is not in the interest of Truth, justice, human rights, and dignity of virgins  who have given their entire lives to Christ and the service of the Church. Imagine a married woman being told that she should keep her marriage hidden, her spouse cannot live with her, she should not call  herself Mrs, her service to her family is part-time, and her married vocation need not involve her whole self: body, mind, emotions, spirit, and social relationships. It is legitimate that a consecrated virgin should  express with dignity her relationship as bride of Christ.


If  it is justified that the Ordo Virginum should not live its own  charism, so as to give way for Religious life to dominate, by the same logic it would be appropriate for the diocesan clergy to lose their charisms to give way for Religious clergy.


The call to holiness is Universal and there is a fundamental  equality of dignity of all the baptized in the Church. Powerful institutions in the church need to have  individual and collective examination of conscience. We can suppress the Truth for a while but on the third day Truth will Rise again!

If a married woman tries to be dedicated to her spouse and family, it does not mean that she is ignoring or denigrating the world outside her family. It just means that  her family is her life. In today’s world of course there are women for whom their career in the world is more important. To work outside her family is a matter of need for survival or a choice. Every woman is free to choose according to her circumstances. To focus on ones family is not a middle way for her ! 


THE URGENT NEED IN THE MISSION OF  CONSECRATED VIRGINS IS NOT  TO  CONSECRATE THE WORLD TO GOD, BUT FOR A NEW EVANGELISATION, THAT WILL REMIND MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH, OF THEIR OWN CONSECRATION AND RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AND THE WORLD.

The Pressing Needs of the World Today: A new state of affairs today both in the Church and in social, economic, political and cultural life, calls with a particular urgency for the action of the lay faithful. If lack of commitment is always unacceptable, the present time renders it even more so. It is not permissible for anyone to remain idle.
Certainly all the members of the Church are sharers in this secular dimension but in different ways. In particular the sharing of the lay faithful has its own manner of realization and function, which, according to the Council, is "properly and particularly" theirs. Such a manner is designated with the expression "secular character"(32).
The images taken from the gospel of salt, light and leaven, although indiscriminately applicable to all Jesus' disciples, are specifically applied to the lay faithful. [Post –synodal Apostolic Exhortation: Christifideles Laici ]




TODAY’S CHURCH REQUIRES A NEW EVANGELISATION. CONSECRATED VIRGINS SHOULD RATHER ANSWER THIS NEED, WHICH IS SO INTRINSIC TO OUR  ORIGINAL CHARISM, THAN MEDITATE ON SACRED SECULARITY, WHICH IS THE CALL OF EVERY BAPTISED MEMBER OF THE CHURCH, AND TO WHICH, SECULAR INSTITUTES AND THE LAITY WHO FORM 99.99998 % OF THE CHURCH, ARE ALREADY CALLED IN A PARTICULAR WAY THROUGH THEIR OWN CONSECRATION.