The consecrated virgin living in the world is a puzzle
The consecrated virgin living in the world is a puzzle to many people. One reason is that the CV does not fit into a recognizable box.
Although she’s canonical and come under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, she’s not a nun nor sister nor religious nor even a lay consecrated. She has no “mother superior”, does not follow any particular constitution or rule of life, and is not obliged to carry out any particular apostolate. She normally lives alone and not in community. And she has to fend for herself and earn her own living. Yet her consecration is permanent and cannot be dispensed. It’s no wonder people don’t know what to make of her.
So it was wonderful to receive affirmation from Pope Benedict XVI when he addressed CVs at the 2008 International Congress-Pilgrimage of the Order of Virgins in Rome. He said:
“Your ideal, truly lofty in itself, demands no special external change. Each consecrated person normally remains in her own life context. It is a way that seems to lack the specific characteristics of religious life, and above all that of obedience. For you, however, love becomes the sequela: your charism entails a total gift to Christ, an assimilation of the Bridegroom who implicitly asks for the observance of the evangelical counsels in order to keep your fidelity to him unstained. Being with Christ demands interiority, but at the same time opens a person to communicating with the brethren: your mission is grafted on this. An essential “rule of life” defines the commitment that each one of you assumes, with the Bishop’s consent, at both the spiritual and existential levels. These are personal journeys. There are among you different approaches and different ways of living the gift of consecrated virginity and this becomes much more obvious in the course of an international meeting such as this, which has gathered you together during these days.”
The CV’s life, then, unites a life of prayer and total dedication to her Divine Bridegroom with a life in the world earning her living and carrying out apostolic works. As you can expect, her life is exposed to many temptations. But she also receives tremendous graces daily to help her live her vocation faithfully and joyfully.