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August 25, 2012

Canon 604 and Associations of Consecrated Virgins – PART 2

Nuances in the translations of Canon 604  from Latin to English

Canon 604  in Latin

§ 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.


Canon 604 in English

§1 The order of virgins is also to be added to these forms of consecrated life. Through their pledge to follow Christ more closely, virgins are consecrated to God, mystically espoused to Christ and dedicated to the service of the Church, when the diocesan Bishop consecrates them according to the approved liturgical rite.
§2 Virgins can be associated together to fulfil their pledge more faithfully, and to assist each other to serve the Church in a way that befits their state.

§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.

As I was meditating on Canon 604 , I tried to compare the Latin and English translations. Previously I had observed that the translation of the Latin ‘propositum’ into the English ‘pledge’, ‘ plan’ , 'resolution’ etc.   Read this   seems to dilute the theological richness of the Faith  contained in the word ‘propositum’. The English translations seem to express only one  of the facets of the Latin text.  The  dynamic  nature of ‘propositum’ in the history of consecrated life  in the Catholic Church is missed   and it  gets reduced to  a resolve [ like a new year resolution], effort, desire, etc., thus leading to an understanding that  it is something less than the Simple vows  of apostolic religious Sisters.  No wonder  people in the Church think consecrated virgins  have to only live the vow of chastity while not  having  to live under obedience and poverty.  It is not understood that the consecration of Virgins  is a different paradigm [diocesan] altogether and cannot be compared with religious life /vows. 

Similarly, I noticed  that the English translations mention Virgins in plural and never in singular. The Latin text  speaks of the Ordo Virginum  as one group/entity  in  Canon 604#1  and  of course virgins in plural in 604#2.  It is only in Vita Consecrata that  it is said, “Either alone or in association with others, they constitute a special eschatological image of the Heavenly Bride and of the life to come.” Hence I think it was the mind of the  Church  in  revising the Rite of Consecration to a life of virginity for women living in the world  and formulating Canon 604 to focus  on the Unity  of consecrated virgins as forming one Order of Virgins  that encompasses   all virgins  consecrated since 2000 yrs . 

There is no strain of Singleness, Individualism,Solitariness  anywhere in the Rite  or in Canon 604. The very nature of the Church  is Eucharistic communion  with Christ and each other.  This CANNOT be ignored  in the  understanding of  this Ecclesial vocation  in today’s world  where  Individualism  is harming the Church and the world.

Canon 604 uses the term ‘Diocesan Bishop  whereas the Introduction to the Rite in the older but Post-Vat II version of the  Roman Pontifical, uses the term 'Local Ordinary’ because the Rite was revised  much before canon 604 on the Order of Virgins  was formulated in the 1983 Code of Canon law. Read older version here : 'Those who may be consecrated/ 5 / c  and yr 2011 version / III /5/c Here    The implications are that  some rights of consecrated virgins  like  having a Pastoral Dialogue directly with the Diocesan Bishop  cannot be delegated  to another Bishop  or Vicar for  consecrated life.  The Pastoral Dialogue  is a right mentioned   with the Rite in the Roman Pontifical, although not  explicitly mentioned in canon 604. 

The Latin Christo Dei Filio   is not mentioned in all English translations. It means  Christ, Son of God  as  I described in Part 1 of this  post    Here .  refer to Mt 16:16 - Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." and in the rite of consecration of virgins , the  woman is asked, “ Are you resolved to accept solemn consecration as a Bride of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God ?”  

I see the implications  of  virgins being espoused to  The Christ, Son of God,  an  Identity of Jesus proclaimed by  Peter  in Mt 16:16.  Theologically, the Bride of Christ  is the  Church of Christ which subsists in the One  Catholic Church.   To say that the Universal  Church is present in  the Diocesan Church  is more  theologically correct than to say that the Diocesan Church is present in the Universal Church.  The Ordo Virginum represents the Universal Church  in the Diocesan reality.  To say that  it is  strictly of Diocesan right  would be incorrect. All theological pointers lead to the fact that  it  is meant to encompass the Universal Identity of the Church, as mentioned by Pope Benedict XVI in  This

"From the sphere of the Diocese with its traditions, its Saints, its values, its limits and its problems, you broaden your horizons to the universal Church, sharing above all in her liturgical prayer, which is also entrusted to you so that “the praise of our heavenly Father be always on your lips; pray without ceasing”, (RCV, n. 28). In this way your prayerful “I” will gradually be enlarged, until there is no longer anything except a great “we” in the prayer. This is ecclesial prayer and the true liturgy."

Here again I see the mind of the Church to focus  on the Unity  of  consecrated virgins. While individual women can be consecrated, there is no emphasis on Individualism  or  Solitary mindset     in   Scripture, Tradition, the Rite or  Canon 604.  The current trends to  HIGHLIGHT  the   strict living of this vocation INDIVIDUALLY    as an ESSENTIAL  element of the Identity of this vocation  according to me would  be an aberration. However, I don’t mean  that  several consecrated virgins  present in the same diocese  should live together  like a religious community.  

 Vita Consecrata  42 mentions. “ Consecrated virgins in the world live out their consecration in a special relationship of communion with the particular and universal Church.” The Primary community of the consecrated virgin is the Diocese.  But  in reality and humanly speaking,  virgins do need the  concrete support of each other to live the vocation faithfully and fully. 

I think  the Order of Virgins needs canonical protection for it to survive  / live the vocation fully. For this to happen  it needs to  be seen  not  as a liturgical category  like the order of deacons, order of catechumens, etc., but as a Socio-liturgical category, acquiring a Public Juridical Personality in the Church.  How this can be compatible with the possibility of  Associations  at diocesan, national  levels, I shall try to discuss  in the next part of this topic.

Another Latin term in the code is mystice desponsantur  which has been translated as  mystical  betrothal   / espousal   in various English versions.   However  the term desponsantur is best translated as  Espousal  meaning  that it speaks of  a Marriage and not an Engagement like it is in the Rite of Profession of Religious women.  Read

Canon 604#2  in the Latin text has a term perficiendum  which  I think  has not been translated in the English versions although it is rich in theological meaning.  If  any reader  who knows Latin  well  can help  me  I shall be grateful.  As far as I understand  it  means ‘finish,’ ‘complete,’ ‘fulfill.’ What is it that virgins   can be associated to mutually assist each other to  fulfil  or complete ?   Some words ring in my ears, “ May God who has begun a good work in you bring it to completion."

The latest translation of the Roman Missal  for the Ritual Mass of Consecration of virgins mentions  in the Collect :

Grant, we pray, O Lord, to these your servants,
in whom you have instilled a resolve to live in virginity,
that the work you have begun in them
may be brought to fulfillment
and that they may be found worthy
to complete what they now begin,
so as to bring you a full and perfect offering.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit
one God, forever and ever.

More  reflections on Associations of Consecrated Virgins in following posts.

1 comment:

  1. Cardinal Burke to a Kenya Canon Law convention said ,"Later on in Vita Consecrata, Blessed Pope John Paul II articulated the service to a new evangelization, given by consecrated persons, with these words:

    The new evangelization, like that of all times, will be effective if it proclaims from the rooftops what it has first lived in intimacy with the Lord. It calls for strong personalities, inspired by saintly fervour. The new evangelization demands that consecrated persons have a thorough awareness of the theological significance of the challenges of our time. Those challenges must be weighed with careful joint discernment, with a view to renewing the mission. "

    "Because of the essential service of canon law to the life of the Church, Pope John Paul II reminded the Church that “by their very nature canonical laws are to be observed,” and, to that end, “the wording of the norms should be accurate” and “based on solid juridical, canonical and theological foundations.”[xliii]
    "the study of the text of the law must respect the mind of the legislator and, therefore, avoid any kind of formalism. The wording of Church discipline derives from solid juridical, canonical and theological foundations which can only be known by those humble enough to study them. All forms of manipulation of the law to advance particular agenda redound to the grave harm of the faithful and of the Church as the Body of Christ."


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