Consecrated Singles - Are they canonically recognized?


#1

Greetings to Catholic Answers Forum,

Over the last few days I have seen threads that mention consecrated singles as they relate to secular institutes. Now I am aware that the Church recognizes those that are in public solemn vows either through a religious Order or if someone falls under Canons 603 and 604.

Consecrated singles do not fall under either of these scenarios. Do they take public solelmn vows in the hands of the Bishop? Do they have canonical status?

IF you do provide answers please provide supporing Church documents such as Canon Law or something of that nature.

Thanks for helping me get to the bottom of this.

God Bless.
Anathama Sit


#2

I don’t understand. I’m not being rude, but I need to ask, what would be the point if being a consecrated single? Sounds kinda half hearted. We’re called to union, not single-Ness. So why not marry the Church if not a person?


#3

The short answer to your question is: "no", there is no canonical standing for being a consecrated single person outside of Canons 603 or 604.

If you scroll through this Vocations Forum you will find many discussions about this very topic.

You may wish to make private promises/vows to remain single in service to the Church and devote your life to serving the Church and the poor. One recent saint that comes to mind is St. Joseph Moscati ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giuseppe_Moscati )

This decision should be made with the help of a spiritual director.

The promise is made as a lifelong committment; not a "temporary" decision while one is still trying to find Mr./Ms. Right!

Hope this helps a bit.


#4

[quote="DasErlibnis, post:2, topic:268903"]
I don't understand. I'm not being rude, but I need to ask, what would be the point if being a consecrated single? Sounds kinda half hearted. We're called to union, not single-Ness. So why not marry the Church if not a person?

[/quote]

So they can dedicate their lives to helping others. Not everyone is called to marriage.

I know Consecrated virgins are, but I couldn't tell you about the other ones.


#5

[quote="DasErlibnis, post:2, topic:268903"]
I don't understand. I'm not being rude, but I need to ask, what would be the point if being a consecrated single? Sounds kinda half hearted. We're called to union, not single-Ness. So why not marry the Church if not a person?

[/quote]

Greetings DasErlibnis,

That is a good question to ask. And no I did not take it as being rude.

You are right we are called to union, but above all we are called to Union with God. Everyone. Sometimes God calls out people to be dedicated and consecrated to Him alone. When someone consecrates themselves to God they serve Him, and at the same time they serve the entire Church by their prayers or their works that they do.

I have known for a long time that I am not called to the Vocation of Marriage even though that is a noble vocation. All vocations are noble, but for each one the truly noble vocation is the one that God is calling each person to follow.

God Bless.
Anathama Sit


#6

[quote="anonymous_in_fl, post:3, topic:268903"]
The short answer to your question is: "no", there is no canonical standing for being a consecrated single person outside of Canons 603 or 604.

If you scroll through this Vocations Forum you will find many discussions about this very topic.

You may wish to make private promises/vows to remain single in service to the Church and devote your life to serving the Church and the poor. One recent saint that comes to mind is St. Joseph Moscati ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giuseppe_Moscati )

This decision should be made with the help of a spiritual director.

The promise is made as a lifelong committment; not a "temporary" decision while one is still trying to find Mr./Ms. Right!

Hope this helps a bit.

[/quote]

Greetings Anonymous in Fl,

Yes this does help. I did not think that they were canonically recognized by the Church. It is because of the Vocations Forum that this question was prompted as some led me to believe that they had a canonical status. I spent last night combing canons 603 and 604.

Thank you very much for your answer.

God Bless.
Anathama Sit


#7

It is not clear to me whether you are asking if members of secular institutes have canonical status or if singles outside of canons 604, 603 and religious institutes have canonical status. Members of secular institutes are "consecrated lay persons" (that is, if they are non-clerics) and have the canonical status of being members of secular institutes. They have vows/promises and are in a form of consecrated life which is acknowledged in canon law. However, their state in life (ordained-lay-consecrated) remains lay (or ordained if they are clergy members). Does that make sense?

Men/women with vows or promises of perpetual chastity who are not clerics, not members of religious institutes, not 604, not 603, are in the lay state canonically speaking even if they are dedicated to God's service in conscience. However, they can be in a consecrated "form" of life (not state in life) in secular institutes, societies of apostolic life, personal prelatures, etc.


#8

[quote="DasErlibnis, post:2, topic:268903"]
I don't understand. I'm not being rude, but I need to ask, what would be the point if being a consecrated single? Sounds kinda half hearted. We're called to union, not single-Ness. So why not marry the Church if not a person?

[/quote]

While it is quaint and romantic language to say that religious marry the Church in reality we do not. I can not think of any Church document (though if I am wrong please link it) that uses this sort of language.

I know that some saints do us this language but I have to say that it has worked against my vocation.


#9

[quote="SerraSemper, post:7, topic:268903"]
It is not clear to me whether you are asking if members of secular institutes have canonical status or if singles outside of canons 604, 603 and religious institutes have canonical status. Members of secular institutes are "consecrated lay persons" (that is, if they are non-clerics) and have the canonical status of being members of secular institutes. They have vows/promises and are in a form of consecrated life which is acknowledged in canon law. However, their state in life (ordained-lay-consecrated) remains lay (or ordained if they are clergy members). Does that make sense?

Men/women with vows or promises of perpetual chastity who are not clerics, not members of religious institutes, not 604, not 603, are in the lay state canonically speaking even if they are dedicated to God's service in conscience. However, they can be in a consecrated "form" of life (not state in life) in secular institutes, societies of apostolic life, personal prelatures, etc.

[/quote]

Greetings SerraSemper,

No it just seemed to complicate things. Where in canon law does it mentioned consecrated lay persons? Yet does canon law acknowledge these as it acknowledges those who fall under religious institutes, canons 603 and 604? I hope I am making sense here.

This just does not seem to answer the question, perhaps I am not fully understanding what you are saying. I have tried to ferret it out. Could you please break it down for me a little more basic than what you answered. *

Thanks so much.

God Bless.
Anathama Sit*


#10

Perhaps it is the word “single” that can create confusion since. to my knowledge, The Church does not use this term. Rather it is the celibate lay state. I think “single” is probably a sort of commonly used word that we adopt to mean “the celibate lay state”.

The Leaven (O.Carm) is a secular institute of consecrated life of pontifical right : theleaven.org.uk/What%20is%20a%20cecular%20institute.htm
Members make vows of Poverty, Celibacy and Obedience. Secular institutes are a newer form of consecrated life in the lay state. Members live in their own homes etc. and may be in the workforce or in some career. A member may keep secret, if the wish, their membership of The Leaven - information passed on to me by The Leaven some years ago. I do not know if it is still current.

theleaven.org.uk/What%20is%20a%20cecular%20institute.htm
Although in the early 1900’s there were groups living a secular institute lifestyle it was not until 1947 when Pope Pius X11 issued the Apostolic Constitution *Provida Mater Ecclesia *that some groups were canonically raised to be secular institutes of pontifical right.

I dont know, under Canon Law, whether a member of a secular institute of consecrated life remains in the lay state, or simly lives in the lay state though a consecrated person and this latter sounds to me probably the more accurate, but I am totally unsure.

CCC

**Secular institutes **
928 "A secular institute is an institute of consecrated life in which the Christian faithful living in the world strive for the perfection of charity and work for the sanctification of the world especially from within."472 929 By a “life perfectly and entirely consecrated to [such] sanctification,” the members of these institutes share in the Church’s task of evangelization, “in the world and from within the world,” where their presence acts as "leaven in the world."473 “Their witness of a Christian life” aims “to order temporal things according to God and inform the world with the power of the gospel.” They commit themselves to the evangelical counsels by sacred bonds and observe among themselves the communion and fellowship appropriate to their "particular secular way of life."474

The above #928 comes in the CCC under Section III Consecrated Life.

From Catholic Presence Association Dictionary
SECULAR. That which belongs to this life, in contrast with the sacred, which pertains to the life to come. The secular, therefore, is the earthly and not celestial; the human and not the divine; the created and not the uncreated; the temporal and not the eternal; the visible and not the spiritual; the humanly rational and explainable and not the mysterious and ineffable; the relative and therefore changeable with time, place, and circumstances, and not the absolute, which is immutable because and insofar as it is associated with the unchangeable God. (Etym. Latin saecularis, pertaining to the world, saeculum, the world.)
LAITY. The faithful who are not in holy orders and do not belong to a religious state approved by the Church.


#11

Bible says, "it is not good that man should be alone."

Men and women were made for each other. And we should be together.

But those who "marry" the Church are not just "being single" in order to serve the Church. They are "marrying".

You need to make a vow to somebody. It is not good that you should be alone.

And those consecrated virgins, they weren't consecrated singles. Their aloneness wasn't consecrated, their virginity was. Not the same.


#12

Can you provide any documents that support this “view”?

[bibledrb]1 Corinthians 7:8[/bibledrb]

And if this is so, how do you explain the lack of vows in the Byzantine rite of Marriage?


#13

[quote="DasErlibnis, post:11, topic:268903"]
Bible says, "it is not good that man should be alone."

Men and women were made for each other. And we should be together.

But those who "marry" the Church are not just "being single" in order to serve the Church. They are "marrying".

You need to make a vow to somebody. It is not good that you should be alone.

And those consecrated virgins, they weren't consecrated singles. Their aloneness wasn't consecrated, their virginity was. Not the same.

[/quote]

Greetings DasErlibnis,

Yet the bible also says things about the single state as well. I would have to go digging around for it. I think one of the Gospels mentions about being eunichs for the kingdom of God. St. Paul I think mentioned the single life.

And those in religious vows or under canons 603 and 604 do make a vow to someone, and that someone is God. You have to realize that these people are not alone.

God Bless.
Anathama Sit


#14

This thread sorely needs Brother JR. :slight_smile:


#15

Take a look at this thread, especially the posts by Tigger and SrLaurel starting at post #26

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=453601


#16

Actually, 604 is its own can of worms… no vows are made. Instead, the bishop consecrates the virgin by the prayer of consecration making her a sacred person and a bride of Christ. She makes no vows of poverty, chastity, or obedience.


#17

I might be going off topic a little bit, but the way I understand it, there are four general states in life: ordained regular, lay regular, ordained secular, and lay secular. The lay secular is our default state in life, through which we pass our entire childhood and a certain share of our adulthood as well, even if we are called to another state. The married are a subset of the lay secular, but share something profoundly in common with the other states: that they are so through a vow made and/or a sacrament received in response to a vocation.

From a traditional viewpoint, the very concept of a “consecrated single” is somewhat strange, largely, I’d say, because there seems to be little precedent for it in the history of the Church. One could look back on the lives of the great lay regulars, perhaps, but one profound difference emerges: the evangelical counsel of obedience to a superior. To whom is a “consecrated single” obedient? And what are his or her duties, both of these additionally to those required of every Christian and those of their worldly profession? The idea strikes me as rather like one of those classes of monks for whom St. Benedict expressed his distaste at the opening of his Rule.

There have been bachelors and spinsters since the dawn of time, and there likely will be forever. Some choose to be so, and others do not. But we are social animals, and the Lord Himself said that it is not good for us to be alone. All of the effective and wise celibate people I know scarcely consider their celibacy as any kind of a vocation, but rather as a situation in which they have found themselves after missing opportunities for marriage or being blackballed by a religious institute or suchlike. They rather consider their calling in life what one might consider a secondary vocation: being an excellent teacher, being an excellent doctor, being an excellent psychologist, and so forth. Indeed, their lives are profoundly socially oriented, and the good they do in this world comes not through their celibacy, but from their profession.

It strikes me that the trend toward an increase in consecrated singles, secular institutes, and such parallels the drive to inclusivism that we see in our society–as to say, if you are not a priest, a religious, or married, don’t feel left out. But celibacy is not socially ordered, and I think those who are celibate by will or by circumstance would do better to cultivate a secondary vocation in which they may do good for others.

Just my thoughts. I’d be interested to hear what you have to say.


#18

[quote="bardegaulois, post:17, topic:268903"]
I might be going off topic a little bit, but the way I understand it, there are four general states in life: ordained regular, lay regular, ordained secular, and lay secular. The lay secular is our default state in life, through which we pass our entire childhood and a certain share of our adulthood as well, even if we are called to another state. The married are a subset of the lay secular, but share something profoundly in common with the other states: that they are so through a vow made and/or a sacrament received in response to a vocation.

From a traditional viewpoint, the very concept of a "consecrated single" is somewhat strange, largely, I'd say, because there seems to be little precedent for it in the history of the Church. One could look back on the lives of the great lay regulars, perhaps, but one profound difference emerges: the evangelical counsel of obedience to a superior. To whom is a "consecrated single" obedient? And what are his or her duties, both of these additionally to those required of every Christian and those of their worldly profession? The idea strikes me as rather like one of those classes of monks for whom St. Benedict expressed his distaste at the opening of his Rule.

There have been bachelors and spinsters since the dawn of time, and there likely will be forever. Some choose to be so, and others do not. But we are social animals, and the Lord Himself said that it is not good for us to be alone. All of the effective and wise celibate people I know scarcely consider their celibacy as any kind of a vocation, but rather as a situation in which they have found themselves after missing opportunities for marriage or being blackballed by a religious institute or suchlike. They rather consider their calling in life what one might consider a secondary vocation: being an excellent teacher, being an excellent doctor, being an excellent psychologist, and so forth. Indeed, their lives are profoundly socially oriented, and the good they do in this world comes not through their celibacy, but from their profession.

It strikes me that the trend toward an increase in consecrated singles, secular institutes, and such parallels the drive to inclusivism that we see in our society--as to say, if you are not a priest, a religious, or married, don't feel left out. But celibacy is not socially ordered, and I think those who are celibate by will or by circumstance would do better to cultivate a secondary vocation in which they may do good for others.

Just my thoughts. I'd be interested to hear what you have to say.

[/quote]

Not sure which poster you are addressing here... but if you're talking to me, I would be very interested in knowing where you got the four divisions you talked about since this is the first time I've heard of them (and my specialty is in consecrated life theology and law). Traditionally, consecrated life began with virgins and hermits/anchorites/ascetics. This is reitereated in Vita Consecrata and other papal documents. Thus, the individual forms of consecrated life predated communal forms.


#19

This post is not addressed to anyone specifically, rather general comments after reading most posts. We are entitled to our personal opinions and personal concepts and we may be right and we may be wrong. Our opinions and concepts are more likely to be correct if supported by reliable and sound source information.

Some who feel called to live in the single celibate lay state make private vows and these are covered by Canon Law :

TITLE V: VOWS AND OATHS
[LIST]
*]CHAPTER I : VOWS
[/LIST]Hence to address the topic of this thread, if one makes private vows then yes, one is canonically recognized but not as a consecrated person by The Church under public vows.

Lay people who do not make any sort of vow and may remain in the single celibate lay state as their call and vocation are covered by Canon Law :

TITLE II: THE OBLIGATIONS AND RIGHTS OF THE LAY MEMBERS OF CHRIST’S FAITHFUL
[LIST]
*]Can. 224 Lay members of Christ’s faithful have the duties and rights enumerated in the canons of this title, in addition to those duties and rights which are common to all Christ’s faithful and those stated in other canons.
*]Can. 225 ß1 Since lay people, like all Christ’s faithful, are deputed to the apostolate by baptism and confirmation, they are bound by the general obligation and they have the right, whether as individuals or in associations, to strive so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all people throughout the world. This obligation is all the more insistent in circumstances in which only through them are people able to hear the Gospel and to know Christ.
*]**ß2 **They have also, according to the condition of each, the special obligation to permeate and perfect the temporal order of things with the spirit of the Gospel. In this way, particularly in conducting secular business and exercising secular functions, they are to give witness to Christ.
[/LIST]Our Baptism is a clear call and vocation from The Lord to The Gospel as stated in Canon 225
We are consecrated to and in Christ by our Baptism and are commissioned to The Gospel.

If one makes private vows to the evangelical counsels of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, it is not the consecrated state but the celibate lay state and one has a specific call and vocation to be involved in the world for the world and The Gospel. This is not a ‘default position’ because one has ‘nowhere else’ but only this ‘default position’. It is experienced as a specific call and vocation from God to remain in the single celibate lay state in the world and for “the sake of The Kingdom”.

Sometimes those who are called to the single celibate lay state are committed to works both in The Church and in the world and live alone. Their time spent at home can be a life of prayer and penance. Some may be members of Third Orders or some organization within The Church. I do think one would be ill advised to embrace the single celibate lay state as one’s vocation and call without spiritual direction and on an ongoing basis.

The following is interesting and one of the first signs that The Church in our modern world is coming to recognize the single celibate lay state as a vocation and call. The vocation and call to the single celibate state however has always been recognized by The Church (St Paul) as a potential vocation and call from God.

Apostolic Exhortation - Pope John Paul II

Vita Consecrata (On the consecrated life and its mission in The Church and the world)

vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_25031996_vita-consecrata_en.html

**Thanksgiving for the Consecrated Life **
We are all aware of the treasure which the gift of the consecrated life in the variety of its charisms and institutions represents for the ecclesial community. *Together let us thank God *for the Religious Orders and Institutes devoted to contemplation or the works of the apostolate, for Societies of Apostolic Life, for Secular Institutes and for other groups of consecrated persons,

[quote] as well as for all those individuals who, in their inmost hearts, dedicate themselves to God by a special consecration

.The Synod was a tangible sign of the universal extension of the consecrated life, present in the local Churches throughout the world.

[/quote]

What follows is actually titled under priestly celibacy, but it does also refer to the single celibate lay state.
saintaquinas.com/controversial.html
Celibacy needs to be viewed in the light of chastity; St. Paul recognized the value of a celibate life when he wrote, “he who is unmarried is concerned with God’s claim, asking how he is to please God; whereas the married man is concerned with the world’s claim, asking how he is to please his wife (1 Cor 7:32-33). …Celibacy is not for all people. Christ said, “some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it (Matthew 19:12).” Thus, some or called to the vocations of marriage, others for the single life, and some for the celibate religious life.


#20

@TiggerS

Your sentence on personal opinions reminded me that I need to change my signature! Thank you.


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