Hello, my question is Can I become a Consecrated Virgin if I am not a virgin. I made mistakes in my past that I have repented but I feel a calling to the order. I have read an article that it is no longer required to be a virgin. It states that the Vatican Congregation to Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life made public Ecclesiae Sponsae Imagoan instruction about consecrated virginity in the Church. There’s a controversial paragraph of the document, #88, instructs that: “it should be kept in mind that the call to give witness to the Church’s virginal, spousal and fruitful love for Christ is not reducible to the symbol of physical integrity. Thus to have kept her body in perfect continence or to have practiced the virtue of chastity in an exemplary way, while of great importance with regard to the discernment, are not essential prerequisites in the absence of which admittance to consecration is not possible.” So, is it possible to pursue this vocation despite my past? I do not wish to offend God in any way. Thank you!!
“In a response to an inquiry from Archbishop Raymond Burke, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has also clarified that “women who have lost the gift of virginity by knowingly and deliberately engaging in sexual relations should not be received as consecrated virgins.” [ Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum, Prot.n.231/06/L, Rome, 4 April 2007]”
Since I am not a Cardinal… I guess I was wrong…but God still has a great plan for your life. Maybe religious life…Mary Magdalene followed Jesus, the woman at the well, then you have the woman caught in adultery. What about those sisters who started orders of sisters and had been married? How about Saint Mary if Egypt?
There is such a thing as “Second Virginity”. You’re in good company, as St Augustine was one of these. Have you heard of the Rule of St Augustine?
Perhaps you could start a secular institute for those who are usually classed as “penitents”, but make specific mention of “second virginity” in the membership requirements.
Number 88 pertains to those women who have conscientiously striven for purity, but are not entirely sure if they’re “intact”, due perhaps to being in a drunken state at a party. At least that’s how it was explained to me.
Get with a spiritual director, and look at secular institutes. See how they are structured. Then write down what you envision for yourself – if what I’ve written resonates with you.
Forgot to add that your SI’s “form of commitment” would be consecration, so members would be consecrated second virgins.
Go and talk to a Vocations Director at your Diocese.
The only two sources of actual church law about this vocation are still Canon 604 (which says little) and the liturgical Rite of Consecration and its Praenotanda. Ecclesiae Sponsae Imago is merely instruction, not law. ESI is helpful in places and dubious in others. Any interpretation of ESI that contradicts law has no force.
The 1970 Prænotanda to the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity states the following requirements for women living in the world to receive the consecration:
“that they have never married or lived in open violation of chastity; that, by their prudence and universally approved character, they give assurance of perseverance in a life of chastity dedicated to the service of the church and of their neighbour; that they be admitted to this Consecration by the Bishop who is the local Ordinary.”
That word “open” in the first criterion has been translated in other ways (manifest, public, flagrant). It does seem to be interpreted as “any other person” who knows about the violation of chastity, outside of the internal forum/confession. And with “chastity” as the criterion and not “virginity”, this is likely more stringent.
Therefore, a topless show dancer in Vegas who has preserved her virginity probably should discern against this. It would be seen to violate chastity in our culture and every audience would know.
A woman who has been in a physically intimate lesbian relationship, even if “intact”, should discern against this. It violates chastity and her partner would know.
A woman who has been in a physically intimate straight relationship, even if still a “technical virgin”, even if only a one-night stand, should discern against this. It violates chastity and her partner would know.
A woman who has survived rape or sexual assault can indeed consider this. There is no culpability assigned. She should, after finding a place of healing, discern if there was other “open violation of chastity” on her part.
A woman who has not preserved virginity and was unmarried has, by definition, lived in “open violation of chastity” and should not present herself for the Consecration of Virgins.
This is my understanding as well; when a woman becomes a consecrated virgin, her virginity is consecrated to God. But how can one consecrate something one does not have? Nemo dat quod non habet.
In all honesty, the additional requirement of not having violated chastity in a notable way is too general and raises a few questions. For example, why is inchastity not an impediment to Holy Orders, or religious profession, or even marriage? Could the impediment for consecrated virginity be dispensed? It is important to distinguish between the virtue of chastity, and the fact of virginity. Considering how there are many different kinds of unchastity which vary in gravity, and the fact that canon law does not deal with issues of conscience, it is not a good idea to make a broad moral subject a juridical criterion.
You deal with a lot of good questions that are beyond my scope of study!
Why talk in terms of chastity and not the fact of virginity? I don’t know. I do know that others, canonists even, have written asking the same questions. The bishop does have to exercise due diligence in admitting virgins to the consecration, yet he can’t pose that factual question to the candidate directly since it may violate conscience and internal forum. There also can not be the scandal of a technical virgin porn star receiving the consecration.
This comes to the topic of sacramentality and image (and addresses those other vocations): the CV is expressly the icon of the Church as Bride of Christ, and Virgin, and Mother. A priest need not be a virgin to image Christ the Priest/Prophet/King. A religious brother or sister need not be a virgin to live a radical discipleship of poverty/chastity/obedience in service of the Gospel. And a married couple, even though they together image the mystery of Christ and the Church, can hardly exercise their call to be generative and fruitful if they lived virginally!
So the sign value of virginity and femininity is required for the CV.
I think this is the reason why the documents in question mention an “open violation of chasity”…the thing is, the documents should really define what exactly this means. And provide concrete measures to be taken to determine whether a specific case constitutes such an open violation, just like specific guidelines have been instituted to determine whether a person is really living in “manifest grave sin” as per canon 915.
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