Consecrated virgins: a heart of the Catholic Church
August 18, 2015
HOUSTON — The Consecration of a virgin is one of the oldest sacramentals in the Church, and one of the fruits of Vatican II was the restoration of this profound blessing on virgins living in the world. The promulgation of this restored rite for women living in the world was on May 31, 1970.
Through this sacramental, the virgin, after renewing her resolve of perpetual virginity to God, is set aside as a sacred person who belongs only to Christ. The acting agent is God Himself who accepts the virgin’s promise and spiritually fructifies it through the action of the Holy Spirit.
Rosie Capalad, who became a consecrated virgin in 2007, said that consecrated virginity is a vocation which calls to love, to be in love and to live being with Him.
“I live out my consecration as a bride of Christ in the midst of my family and friends as well as my parish family,” she said. “It is not easy — it is difficult to maintain a balance, and yet through God’s grace and mysterious ways, I am renewed each day and love grows within.”
Nhung Pham, who became a consecrated virgin in 2011, said she had the desire to belong to Christ alone since the deaths of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Princess Diana in 1997.
“After inquiring into the religious life option, the Lord showed me a slightly different path: the Ordo Virginum (Order of [Consecrated] Virgins Living in the World),” she said. “Each day I am grateful for this sacred vocation as a consecrated virgin; God has untiringly manifested his love and mercy toward this handmaiden of His. Words cannot begin to adequately express the peace and joy I experience in being a consecrated virgin in today’s world.”
This sacramental is reserved to the bishop of the diocese. The consecrated virgin shares intimately in the nature and mission of the Church — she is a living image of the Church’s love for her spouse while sharing in His redemptive mission.
The consecrated virgin living in the world embodies a definitive vocation in itself. She is not a quasi-Religious, nor is she in a vocation that is in the process of becoming a religious institute or congregation. Nevertheless, she is a consecrated person, with her bishop as her guide. By virtue of the consecration, she is responsible to pray for her diocese and clergy. At no time is her diocese responsible for her financial support.
Peggy Popkey, who is celebrating her 10-year anniversary as a consecrated virgin, said, “Since receiving the Rite of Consecrated Virgins Living in the World I am humbled as it has been revealed who I have been all of these years and how each step in my life (good or bad) has brought me to this moment. While I experience more and more the challenges of the spiritual life, I cannot describe with enough clarity how much my Beloved has filled the emptiness of my heart.”
The Rite of Consecrated Virgins Living in the World, as expressed in Canon 604, is irrevocably “consecrated to God, mystically espoused to Christ and dedicated to the service of the Church, when the diocesan bishop consecrates [her] according to the approved Liturgical rite.” The consecrated virgin attends Mass daily (if possible), prays the Divine Office and spends much time in private prayer. She can choose the Church-approved spirituality she prefers to follow.
“We receive our Father’s merciful love in the temple of the Catholic Church so many times during our lives, particularly in the holy Sacraments and through our blessed consecration to a life of virginity,” Alice Claire Mansfield, consecrated virgin in the Archdiocese, said.
Supporting herself by earning her own living, the consecrated virgin is not obliged to take on any particular work or apostolate. Usually, the consecrated virgins in the United States volunteer their time to their local parish, diocese, or Church-sponsored association. Some volunteer their time also in civic responsibilities.
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.
Sabina Boet, also a consecrated virgin in the Archdiocese, said a consecrated virgin is a woman who is head over heels in love with Jesus.
“Every day I thank Jesus for having chosen me from all eternity to be His bride and to be able to live in this spousal relationship with Him,” she said.