Can Bishops Change the Duties of Consecrated Virgins?

by Therese Ivers, JCL, OCV

A number of readers have asked whether a bishop can impose more duties on the Consecrated Virgin after her consecration. For example, let’s say that Janice was consecrated by Bishop Ambrose. Bishop Ambrose and Janice had agreed that she would be leading a Bible study once a month as an integral part of her way of life as a Consecrated Virgin. Then Bishop Ambrose gets transferred or retires. Bishop Gregory is Janice’s new Bishop. He wants all the Consecrated Virgins (eight of them) in the diocese to start teaching catechism to grammar school children in the parishes. Janice has only time to do the Bible study because of her work schedule. She does not have the day off for catechism lessons, nor does she have the aptitude or desire for teaching young children. Is Janice obliged to teach catechism per Bishop Gregory’s desires?

If you would like to know my take on this scenario, please write your response to this question in the forum linked below. If I don’t get any responses, I will move on to something else more interesting to our readers.

Update:  I am moving on to another topic.  I may choose to revisit this at another time, but probably in a book or in the members only section.

Posted in Consecrated Virgins, Obedience, Rule of Life, Vows | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hot off the Press! New Book on Consecrated Virginity

While a lot of attention has focused on the spiritual and theological formation process for those who wish to become consecrated virgins, there hasn’t been as much
emphasis on the practical logistics of consecration planning.  If, as many consecrated virgins do, a virgin wishes to wear a wedding dress on her Consecration day, then the date must be set at least several months in advance because it takes time to have a dress shipped and altered.  Printing invitations, getting the invitation formula approved, discussing home chapel arrangements, planning the music, and other details take time, thought, and effort.   Because both virgins and diocese’s are often unaware as to the extent of the advance planning needed, a lot of things pop up last minute, are neglected, or even botched, causing great stress.   This guide gives tips on how to navigate the uncharted territory for a lot of dioceses in how they can work with the virgins who desire to be espoused to Jesus Christ.   I am therefore pleased to offer you my book via Kindle (or if you wish, by print):

 

P.S. Even if you don’t need a copy for yourself, please consider donating below to get this book into the hands of our American diocesan bishops!

Posted in Canonical Requirements, Consecrated Life, Consecrated Virgins | Leave a comment

Attention Discerners: What is Your Most Burning Question about Vocations?

Now is your chance to ask Therese Ivers, the leading canonical expert on vocations on the internet, your deepest or most puzzling question about vocational discernment. How?

On December 8, 2012, Therese Ivers will be hosting a webinar Q&A session on people’s most burning vocational questions. Depending on the type of questions submitted, other experts may be invited to the roundtable panel such as religious, married couples, and priests.

If you have a burning question, be one of the first twenty people to register, and we’ll guarantee your question will be answered* during the Q&A session. This is your chance to speak with a canonist without paying the steep hourly fees canon lawyers typically charge. Do you want to know if you can become a diocesan hermit before starting your dream order? Are you wondering whether you can become a deacon if you are divorced? Have you wanted to ask whether you should date while thinking about becoming a nun? Ask away! If you are one of the first 20 people to register, you’ll be given at least one question that is guaranteed an answer* and if there’s time, we’ll answer your other questions as well. If you are not one of the first 20 people, don’t worry. You can listen to the roundtable. Plus, once we answer the first 20 questions, we’ll open the floor and answer both pre-submitted and spontaneous questions. Sound good?

What you’ll get by being one of the first 20 people to register for the webinar besides getting an early bird discount:

bulletpoint Your burning question answered* if you submit your question at least 48 hours prior to the webinar.

 

bulletpoint The opportunity to listen to the answer to other people’s burning questions.  Their questions will probably help you in your own discernment process so this should be quite valuable for you!

 

bulletpoint And more!  Think “virtual door prizes” and other goodies for those who register.

 

 

What you’ll get if you register for the webinar, but aren’t one of the first 20 people:

 

bulletpoint The opportunity to listen in on other people’s burning questions.  The chances are that the questions that are asked will be similar to yours.

bulletpoint The possibility that your own question(s) may be answered during the open floor session.  You can submit questions in advance and type questions or “raise your hand” and perhaps say your question over the microphone during the open questions session.

 

bulletpoint And much, much more!  Yes, there are virtual “door prizes” and other goodies to be distributed to our webinar registrants and participants.

 

 

Here’s the nitty gritty you’ll need to know for the webinar:

 

You’ll need fast internet access to access the webinar. If you have dial up, you will not be able to participate.  Sorry, we do not know if you can use your internet capable phone or tablet to participate.

You’ll need speakers or a headset to hear Therese and fellow guests speak.  If you can play YouTube videos and hear them, you should be fine.

You’ll need a microphone if you intend to speak, and/or a webcam if you want to video “chat” from your end, and a keyboard if you intend to type.


The exact time of the webinar is to be determined. You will be emailed at least 48 hours in advance as to when it will take place.

 

The webinar will be probably be recorded on CD and/or DVD. No guarantees here, though, so please don’t ask.  Sometimes technology goes on the blink and I don’t want to promise this…

When you register, be sure to give your real email address because you will be given the password for the webinar room by email.

 

 

Excited?  Register now!

*So now, you’re probably wondering whether there are any restrictions on the burning question you can submit. Yes, there are. But, we think you’ll agree that they are fairly reasonable. First, although we will try our best to research answers for you, the response we give you will not be an academic one with footnotes and citations and all that. Second, we will not critique specific institutions. Don’t ask us if the Sisters of the Burning Flame are a “good order” or not.  Or if the Diocese of Timbuktu is “solid”.  Third, your question must be specific not broad and general. A good question might be why Franciscans wear a knotted cord. A too broad and general question might be “how do I know what my vocation is”", or, “what are the names of all the contemplative communities in the United States?”. The type of question covered under the guaranteed answer ideally should be one which has a “yes” or “no” answer, or one which might take an expert 1-10 minutes to answer and explain. Lastly, the question should be genuinely helpful for your own personal vocational discernment and not merely a hypothetical situation which might never take place. Thus, while there’s nothing wrong in asking if there’s any significance to the blue bands on Mother Teresa’s sari’s, it is much better to ask us to name a quality which communities look for in candidates.

Posted in Audio, Discernment, Webinar | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Glimpse Into One of the Rarest Vocations On Earth

by Therese Ivers, JCL, OCV

Part I.  The Friars
Vocation directors often find it quite challenging to find new members for their communities in this day and age.  When the pool of candidates for Friars is limited to a percentage of a small group in which the majority of members are already married or in the diocesan priesthood, it can get very difficult indeed to grow one’s Order.  The Order being described might well be labeled the “hardest religious Order in the world to join”.  The head of this religious Order is a man who, while not a cardinal, holds the rank or precedence at the Vatican of a cardinal.  He is also a sovereign prince.  He rules one of the smallest countries of the world, and at the same time, is a friar of an ancient religious Order spanning centuries of the Church’s history.  Members in this unique Order are divided into two major groups.  Certain full fledged members are recognized in the Catholic Church as religious friars.  The others, men, women, and chaplains, are members who make a promise of obedience but retain their proper canonical status (lay/consecrated/clergy).  Recognize the Order yet?

sisters in spain

Known for its international charities throughout the world, this religious Order is popularly known as the “Order of Malta”. It’s official title is the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta.  The Knights of Justice are religious knights.  That is, they are as religious as the Dominicans, Franciscans, and Benedictines.  They take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.  Their general superior is known as the Grand Master, and the current one is Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing, who was originally from the UK. This is a video of his audience with the Pope upon being elected as the Prince and Grand Master of the Order:

What does the Order of Malta do?  According to its website, “The Order of St John of Jerusalem is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilisation. Present in Palestine in around 1050, it is a lay religious Order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. Its 13,500 members include Professed Friars and others who have made the promise of obedience. The other Knights and Dames are lay members, devoted to the exercise of Christian virtue and charity. What distinguishes the Knights of Malta is their commitment to reaching their spiritual perfection within the Church and to expending their energies serving the poor and the sick.”

Here is a quick video on some of the activities of the Order of Malta:

The Professed Friars of the Order of Malta come from the lay ranks of the Order of Malta.  They are dedicated to the defense of the Faith and to assisting the sick and poor.  These professed friars are known as the Knights of Justice.  They make religious vows.  What is unique about them is that they – for the most part – continue to live and act IN the world but are no longer OF the world.  Concretely, this means that the friars are religious who continue to live as befits their station in life.  If the friar was a doctor before, he can continue being a doctor, living in his house, and maintaining his style of life.  Knights of Justice support themselves.  He is a man of God, and thus he filters his life through this all encompassing new lens of being a religious friar.  So, while he might continue to maintain his style of life, and is expected to have a secure income for this purpose, he will be living in a spirit of simplicity and is expected to be generous in giving his time, talent, and treasure to the Church.  The Knight of Justice professes obedience, and lives this out in accordance with the regulations of the Order.  He also professes chastity.

Although there are no Dames of Justice (women) in the Order, there is a female cloistered “branch” of the Order with two houses.

One is in Spain and their website is HERE.

The other convent is in Malta itself.  Their website – in English – is HERE.

Part II to come.

For a fascinating look at the Order, you may
want to get this book:
To read more about the solemn ceremonies of
the Order of Malta, this book is great:

(c) 2012 by Therese Ivers, JCL, OCV

Note: A small commission is paid when books are purchased through these links. Thank you for your support.

Posted in active, Knights and Dames, Religious, Religious Brothers, Religious Life, vocations, Vows | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What’s Wrong With These Two Statements?

As I was perusing vocations sites on the internet, I happened upon a statement which I have slightly edited. What is wrong with this (edited) statement when you apply it to permanent deacons?

From the beginnings of the Church there have been those who felt the call to consecrate themselves exclusively to Christ in a private manner. In recent times there has been a revival of this vocation, by which a makes makes his private ordination in the presence of his bishop.

Is it just me, or is there something dreadfully theologically incorrect in the quoted (albeit edited statement)?  I literally only changed one major word and pronouns.  Take a moment to do this poll:

Now, here is the original text.  I hate to dignify it by republication…  What is wrong with it?

From the beginnings of the Church there have been those who felt the call to consecrate themselves exclusively to Christ in a private manner. In recent times there has been a revival of this vocation, by which a woman makes her private consecration in the presence of her bishop.

Here’s the poll.  Please participate!

Notice any similarities between these two?  It’s really interesting how there is a lot of confusion about permanent deacons and consecrated virgins.  Here are some commonly believed myths:

1)  Permanent deacons/consecrated virgins are lay.

2)  Permanent deacons/consecrated virgins cannot hold secular jobs.  After all, they are ordained/consecrated!

3)  Permanent deacons/consecrated virgins are financially supported by their diocese/parish.  (Usually not true unless they work full time for the diocese or parish in a salaried position.  Being a deacon or consecrated virgin does not entitle the individual to a job in the Church! Most of the time permanent deacons and virgins have secular jobs and do ministry/apostolate on the side.)

4)  Permanent deacons/consecrated virgins are second class- they didn’t “make it” to the priesthood or religious life respectively.

5)  Permanent deacons/consecrated virgins are obviously not Church vocations because they are not “the priesthood or religious life”.

Feel free to share any other common myths about either vocation with us in the forum!  Also, feel free to look up the folks who have this statement on consecrated virgins on their website and politely let them know the Church’s teachings and praxis on this public vocation.  You never know if some great saint will find her vocation this way!

P.S.  If you’re feeling very ambitious, here are some other false statements floating on the web.  Please contact those responsible for publishing on their websites and respectfully and politely request that they be changed:

1.  Various (arch)dioceses and even the World Day for Consecrated Life sites have this false information published on consecrated virgins:

Single lay people may choose to be consecrated virgins and make private vows to the local bishop as they live out their vocation in various walks of life.

Comment.  Single lay virgin females who intend to remain virgins in perpetuity for the sake of Christ may request to become consecrated virgins.  The solemn Consecration to a Life of Virginity Lived in the World conferred by the bishop constitutes the virgin as a “Bride of Christ”, a “sacred person”, and a member of the Order of Virgins, who is dedicated to a life of prayer and service to the Church.  She fulfills her vocation in the midst of the world, and does not make vows of any kind, including those of poverty and obedience.   Truth is powerful.  Give people the truth, not what somebody “thinks” consecrated virginity is.    Hint.  The revised Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity lived in the world does NOT have the word “vow” in it.  In the entire ceremony, with all the homilies, questions, blessings, etc., there is not one instance of the word vow or even promise.   You will find, however, references to the virgin becoming a “sacred person” receiving a “special annointing”, being the bride of Jesus Christ the Son of God, a commission for the virgin to be “an apostle”, etc.

2)  From a religious website:

Women who commit themselves to follow Christ more closely and to serve the Church are consecrated in a liturgical ceremony by a diocesan bishop. Consecrated virgins live as devoted Catholic lay women.

Comment:  Not bad.  The only difficulty is if a person misinterprets the word “as” to mean “are”.  Apart from being able to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in their homes, consecrated virgins do mostly live “as” devoted Catholic lay women.  It would be incorrect, though to say or read it as saying “Consecrated virgins ARE devoted Catholic lay women.”

Posted in Celibacy, Consecrated Life, Consecrated Virgins, Permanent Deacon, private vow, vocations, Vows | 1 Comment