COVENANT WITH CHRIST?!... Headline Animator

October 7, 2012

Canon 604 and Associations of Consecrated Virgins -- PART 4

 Can. 604 §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.

POST-SYNODAL APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION VITA CONSECRATA OF THE HOLY FATHER JOHN PAUL II,  n. 7. states “ It is a source of joy and hope to witness in our time a new flowering of the ancient Order of Virgins, known in Christian communities ever since apostolic times. Consecrated by the diocesan Bishop, these women acquire a particular link with the Church, which they are committed to serve while remaining in the world. Either alone or in association with others, they constitute a special eschatological image of the Heavenly Bride and of the life to come, when the Church will at last fully live her love for Christ the Bridegroom.”

Virgins can be associated together  to assist  each other  to fulfil their resolution more faithfully. The vocation of consecrated virginity involves  BEING AND DOING [Identity and Mission]. In an Association, virgins would be called  to together BE an eschatological image of the Church’s  love for Christ. They are also called to support each other to bring their resolution to completion and  for the Mission of the Church which is their own mission too. Since Canon 604 #1 refers to the approved Liturgical Rite, lets see what the Rite mentions about the resolution.


After the Homily the candidates stand and the Bishop questions them in these or similar words:

Are you resolved
to persevere to the end of your days
in the holy state of virginity
and in the service of God and his Church?

Are you so resolved
to follow Christ in the spirit of the Gospel
that your whole life may be
a faithful witness to God’s love
and a convincing sign of the kingdom of heaven?

Are you resolved
to accept solemn consecration
as a bride of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Son of God?
receive my resolution to follow Christ
in a life of perfect chastity
which, with God’s help,
I here profess before you and God’s holy people

Collect [From the Ritual Mass in the Roman Missal ,2011]

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 fulfilment…….

c)In the intercessions of Eucharistic Prayer III, after the words, the entire people you have gained for your own, the following is added: 

Strengthen in their holy resolve, O Lord,
these your servants,
who seek to follow your Christ in faithful devotion,
giving a witness of evangelical life
and of sisterly love…….

Blessing at end of Mass

May God, who inspires and brings to completion every holy design,
Guard you always with his grace,
That you may faithfully discharge the duties of your calling.
R. Amen.

My previous post  Plan of God and Resolution of a virgin  mentions: “the term used  for resolution in the Latin text of the Canon  is ‘propositum’ which can be translated as PLAN, PROJECT, PURPOSE, DESIGN, THEME OF DISCOURSE, AIM, THESIS, etc.”

In the references to the Rite as mentioned above, there  are prayers for the grace to fulfil / bring to completion  the Resolve / Holy Design . Canon 604#2   also speaks about  fulfilment of the resolve using stronger words in the Latin text.  

Order of Virgins as an Image of the Communion of Saints

According to Vita Consecrata, virgins are an eschatological image. The term eschatology refers to the end times or theology of Fulfilment. The Union of a consecrated virgin/s with  Christ  is supposed to be an image of  the future of all   Humanity  reconciled and united with God according to His Plan which He fulfilled through the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.  If  consecrated virgins are united with Christ,  logically  they are   linked with each other  in deep bonds  of the Communion of Saints, far surpassing  earthly unity or loose association.  


Every consecrated virgin and the entire  Order of Virgins of all times and places since 2000 yrs  are called to  manifest the Identity and Mission  of the Church of Christ  that subsists in the Catholic Church, both  Individually and Collectively. [Either alone or in association with others, they constitute a special eschatological image of the Heavenly Bride and of the life to come, when the Church will at last fully live her love for Christ the Bridegroom.”- Vita Consecrata, n.7 ]

The Universal Church is present in the Diocesan Church  and the Diocesan Church is present in the Universal Church.  Similarly  we could say that   a consecrated virgin/s   living the vocation in the Diocesan reality   belong to the Universal Order of Virgins   and the  Universal Order of Virgins of all  times and places since 2000 yrs is spiritually present with every consecrated virgin/s  in a diocese. We can  compare this with the Communion of Saints  professed in the Apostles Creed. If all the baptized are a Communion of saints and  together  the Bride of Christ, how much deeper is the Communion of Saints  in the Order of Virgins expected to be  if  consecrated virgins represent the  eschatological union of the  Church with Christ!   ISN’T THIS SPIRITUAL  REALITY  A POINTER TO  THE IDENTITY AND MISSION OF  ASSOCIATIONS  OF CONSECRATED VIRGINS  ACCORDING TO CANON 604 #2 ?

Various approaches to  looking at  the Communion of Saints in the Order of Virgins. 

There could be  the Socio-Liturgical category of the Order of Virgins at the Universal level  with a Public Juridical Personality and Core elements  of the vocation well-defined by the Church and held in common.
 At the diocesan level there could be individuals or groups  living or not living together, as a diocesan life, lived in small households  with mutual co-operation in a family spirit, without the structure, regimentation, vows or  resemblance to religious life. This would be more appropriate for younger consecrated virgins who need concrete support and solidarity.  Read : Consecrated virginity from an Inter- generational perspective

However, such households  would  have recognition as a Public Association of Consecrated virgins in the  Particular / Local  church.

There could be some common place where  young consecrated virgins  could  have the option to live together, while  candidates and seasoned consecrated virgins could come together  occasionally  for continual formation, in times of crises  like illness, old age, etc. The  finances  could have to be worked out by  consecrated virgins  among themselves.

Such an arrangement  would differ from religious life in the sense that  just like the Early Church virgins, there would be neither  vows  nor strictly common schedules nor common rule of life involved  and  such an association  would not necessarily be for the purpose  of a  common project or charitable  activity.  Each one  would live, earn her living  and serve according to  her talents  gifted by God  for the Church and the world, offering moral  and concrete support to each other in daily living, to be faithful  in the resolution and a Eucharistic sign of Communion with God and with each other as a Family.

Canon 604 speaks of consecrated virgins forming associations to help each other to Fulfil their Holy Resolution and Serve the Church. It does not speak of associations with a different charism, using the rite to fulfil the need of as a ceremony.

In the first 3 parts of  the blog posts on Canon 604, I’ve tried to  discover the Ecclesiology of the Church of Christ that subsists  in the Catholic  Church.  Providentially  the  recent  teachings of our Holy Father Benedict XVI   have also covered the  topics of Ecclesiology [relationship between churches ], Liturgy, Relationship between Christ and His Church, Virgin Mary,etc.  We can safely apply  all of it  to the Order of Virgins  which has been given the Identity and Mission of the  Church of Christ  herself and for whom Virgin Mary is  the Role Model.

But let us not forget: We discover Christ, and we come to know him as a living Person in the Church. She is “his Body”. This corporality can be understood in light of the biblical words about man and woman: the two will be one flesh (cf. Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:30ff; 1 Corinthians 6:16 ff). The unbreakable bond between Christ and the Church, through the unifying force of love, does not destroy the “you” and the “I” but rather raises them to their most profound unity. To find one’s identity in Christ means attaining a communion with him that does not destroy me but rather elevates me to the highest dignity, that of being a child of God in Christ: “The love-story between God and man consists in the very fact that this communion of will increases in a communion of thought and sentiment, and thus our will and God's will increasingly coincide” (Encyclical Deus caritas est, 17). To pray means to be raised to the heights of God, through a necessary and gradual transformation of our being.

how do I learn to pray, how do I grow in my prayer? Looking to the model that Jesus taught us, the Pater noster [the Our Father], we see that the first word is “Pater” [Father] and the second is “noster” [our]. The answer, then, is clear: I learn to pray, I nourish my prayer, by turning to God as Father and by praying with others, by praying with the Church, by accepting the gift of her words, which little by little become familiar to me and rich in meaning. The dialogue that God establishes with each one of us and we with him in prayer always includes a “with”; we cannot pray to God in an individualistic manner. In liturgical prayer, especially the celebration of the Eucharist, and – formed by the liturgy – in every prayer, we do not pray alone as individual persons; rather, we enter into the “we” of the praying Church. And we must transform our “I” by entering into this “we”.

In the liturgy of the New Covenant every liturgical action, especially the celebration of the Eucharist and the sacraments, is an encounter between Christ and the Church” (n. 1097); therefore, it is the “whole Christ”, the whole Community, the Body of Christ united with her Head who celebrates. The liturgy then is not a kind of “self-manifestation” of a community; instead, it is a going out of simply “being ourselves” -- of being closed in on ourselves -- and the portal to the great banquet, the entrance into the great living community, in which God himself nourishes us. The liturgy involves universality, and this universal character must enter ever anew into everyone’s awareness. The Christian liturgy is the worship of the universal temple, which is the Risen Christ. His arms are extended on the Cross in order to draw all men into the embrace of God’s eternal love. It is the worship of heaven opened wide. It is never merely the event of a single community, with its own position in time and space. It is important that every Christian feel and really be inserted into this universal “we”, which provides the foundation and refuge for the “I” in the Body of the Christ, which is the Church.

Even in the liturgy of the smallest communities, the entire Church is always present. For this reason, there are no “strangers” in the liturgical community. In every liturgical celebration the whole Church participates together, heaven and earth, God and men. The Christian liturgy, although it is celebrated in a concrete place and space and expresses the “yes” of a particular community, is by its very nature catholic; it comes from the whole and leads to the whole, in unity with the Pope, with the Bishops, with believers of all times and ages and from all places.”

The idea of the Son of God dwelling in the "living house", the temple which is Mary, leads us to another thought: we must recognize that where God dwells, all are "at home"; wherever Christ dwells, his brothers and sisters are no longer strangers. Mary, who is the Mother of Christ, is also our mother, and she open to us the door to her home, she helps us enter into the will of her Son. So it is faith which gives us a home in this world, which brings us together in one family and which makes all of us brothers and sisters. As we contemplate Mary, we must ask if we too wish to be open to the Lord, if we wish to offer our life as his dwelling place; or if we are afraid that the presence of God may somehow place limits on our freedom, if we wish to set aside a part of our life in such a way that it belongs only to us. Yet it is precisely God who liberates our liberty, he frees it from being closed in on itself, from the thirst for power, possessions, and domination; he opens it up to the dimension which completely fulfills it: the gift of self, of love, which in turn becomes service and sharing.

Faith lets us reside, or dwell, but it also lets us walk on the path of life. The Holy House of Loreto contains an important teaching in this respect as well. Its location on a street is well known. At first this might seem strange: after all, a house and a street appear mutually exclusive. In reality, it is precisely here that an unusual message about this House has been preserved. It is not a private house, nor does it belong to a single person or a single family, rather it is an abode open to everyone placed, as it were, on our street. So here in Loreto we find a house which lets us stay, or dwell, and which at the same time lets us continue, or journey, and reminds us that we are pilgrims, that we must always be on the way to another dwelling, towards our final home, the Eternal City, the dwelling place of God and the people he has redeemed (cf. Rev 21:3).


1 comment:

  1. 'Communion' with God and each other is a requisite to the vocation of Order of consecrated virgins , even if it is not structured like a religious 'community'.


Please leave a Comment