by Therese Ivers, JCL, OCV
His Holiness the Pope rarely presides over public liturgies. The importance of World Day for Consecrated Life is such that he prays Vespers and gives an official address on each Feast of the Presentation to consecrated persons. Since the Marian (consecrated life) dimension of the Church is as essential as the Petrine (ordained life) in the life of the Church according to our Holy Father, dioceses should take their cue from Rome and also host celebrations for Consecrated Life in their cathedrals. It is the one day that the Church prays for the consecrated, that is, for those of us who normally pray for the rest of the Church!
The Vicariate of Rome issued the invitation to the Papal Vespers and Address to religious superiors, religious, consecrated virgins, members of secular institutes, members of apostolic societies, hermits, and others in consecrated life living in Rome. For those who don’t know, the Vicariate of Rome functions as the “diocese” of Rome and govern in the name of the Pope. There is a bishop assigned for consecrated persons. I found it ironic that in the official invitation, the Vicariate mentioned that the contemplative (cloistered) religious would be spiritually present, and yet hermits were invited. Perhaps it was an official oversight in terms of the incongruity. Or, perhaps the Vicariate wanted to make it clear that this is one occasion in which it is very appropriate for the hermit to leave his/her hermitage and join the other consecrated persons in celebrating this day in the cathedral. It is heartening, however, that the Vicariate did not limit its invitation to religious. Now I just wait with bated breath – not really – for a consecrated virgin to be one of those selected to have some part in the ceremony as I noticed that only habited religious were chosen this year. At any rate, it is my fervent hope that dioceses will follow the example of the Vicariate of Rome and remember to include consecrated virgins and hermits in their mailings.
On a personal note, yours truly was able to participate in this Liturgy with another consecrated virgin, Jenna Cooper, the author of a blog on consecrated virginity. We disagree on many practical interpretations of how our vocation is to be lived out but we are united in the love of our Divine Spouse and total self gift to the Lord. Speaking of consecrated virgins, on my way home from the papal liturgy, I passed the place where the International Congress for Consecrated Virgins was held in 2008. It brought back so many memories of the 500+ virgins who attended from over 52 countries.