Table of contents for Consecrated Virgins
by Therese Ivers, JCL
Jane is a Catholic. She marries Mark in the Church. Later, they divorce. Jane falls in love with David. Jane wants to have children desperately and she is getting close to the age of riskier pregnancies. Because she does not have a declaration of nullity from the Church (annulment), Jane decides to get married to David before the Justice of the Peace and worry about getting her marriage blessed in the Church later. Jane and David have a miscarriage and then a daughter. The sorrow and excitement distracted Jane from working on the annulment paperwork, but she finally got around to getting all the information put together and sent it to her parish priest. After a year and a half, Jane learns that she received the annulment and can get married in the Church. The way Jane sees it, she can now have God’s blessing called upon her wonderful marriage between her and David and she can now go back to Holy Communion. She believes that the convalidation (wedding) ceremony in the Church is just a fancy way of having God recognize her marriage and bless it.
Unfortunately, Jane, like many other people in her situation, is quite mistaken in the matter. She does not have a true marriage with David for God to bless in the convalidation ceremony. Instead, she and David are coming before God to get married for the first time, she will change from a single woman and become a married woman, becoming two in one flesh. Even though Jane was legally married to David, walking down the aisle with David to the altar, she was still single in the eyes of God (the annulment is a declaration that even though she thought she was married to Mark, she was still a single person). When she came before the priest/deacon and exchanged her vows with David in the Church, she finally got married. This is why God does not “bless” her supposedly already existing marriage. There was no marriage to bless- it was being created! Now the couple in the eyes of God are joined by a permanent bond which “no man shall sunder”. Afterwards, the nuptial blessing can be given upon David and Jane.
Now, we have a similar situation for people who think that the ceremony of the Solemn Consecration of a Virgin Living in the World is a “blessing ceremony” upon the woman who is privately vowed to God. In this erroneous view, God solidifies a virgin’s vow to perpetual virginity and blesses her already existing dedication/consecration to God within the ceremony. The Bishop merely confirms her already existing espousals with Christ. The author of THIS article online assumes that it is the consecrated virgin who espouses herself to the Son of God by means of a private vow and then the consecration ceremony confirms and blesses this spiritual nuptials. He writes that the consecration ceremony is an event in which “the virgin’s bond is confirmed and elevated by the church’s acceptance of it”. This is false! It is derived from the religious life paradigm of people who do make vows.
A virgin does present herself before the Bishop. She may or may not be under a private vow of virginity. This private vow does not make her a consecrated virgin bride of Christ any more than an engagement makes a couple married. Yes, a private vow is a pledge of one’s celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, but a male can make the same pledge of virginity. If we were to have hold that a vow of chastity/virginity is what makes the consecrated virgin and that it is merely elevated and blessed by the Church in the Consecration ceremony, then males should be able to receive the consecration. Yet, it is precisely because it is directly spousal that a man ontologically cannot be a consecrated virgin since he is male.
As mentioned before on this website, it is the consecration prayer that the bishop recites that creates consecrated virgin’s unique and directly spousal bond with Christ! Unlike the vowed celibate in general, who can be male or female, consecrated virgins are female and this is part and parcel of “consecrated virginity”. The ceremony does not recognize or bless her supposed already existing but lesser form of “marriage” with Christ as a consecrated virgin because until the consecration prayer, that distinct and substantially different spousal bond did not exist. That special charism and outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the virgin creating her a bride of Christ specifically as a consecrated virgin occurs in the Consecration Prayer. Until then, she is a lady, dedicated to serving the Lord in virginity (if she has retained her primary virginity) but she does not have that distinct charismatic spousal bond. Although the author makes some excellent points in his article, he fails to mention that primary virginity is required to be a “consecrated virgin” in the strict sense (not in the loose sense of being a celibate religious or lay woman with a private vow of virginity).
(c) 2010 by Therese Ivers, JCL