Spousal Terms use to describe religious life


Most religious men and women have often describe as the following. Priest are often refer to as the Groom of the Mother Church. While sisters often refer to themselves as Bride of Christ. These terms don’t bother me so much.

I wonder if any who has little knowledge of the religious life might take these terms out of context. Anyone here have issues with using these terms by religious men and women?


I don’t think we should chose our vocabulary by how someone who is unfamiliar with the concept might take it. We should chose our vocabulary according to its preciseness and appropriateness. In this particular instance, the language you quote fits perfectly, not just with Catholic theology, but especially with John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, particularly his reflections on celibacy as a full embrace of the nuptial mystery, of which human marriage is only a foreshadowing. Religious have gone beyond earthly marriage and are attempting to experience the eternal marriage with our bridegroom, Christ. As the priest stands in persona Christi, he represents Christ in the context of the sacraments, so he is rightfully seen as a bridegroom to the Church (per the imagery explored in Eph. 5). Likewise, women religious have embraced the spousal nature of the church and are taking this to heart, giving themselves over to Christ fully. It is incorrect to refer to an individual person as the “bride of Christ” as Scripture calls the entire church His bride. But religious women, in taking their vows, are taking on the image of the Church in Eph. 5 (and elsewhere) and are refered to as the bride of Christ in so far as they are seeking a perfect union, not just with Christ, but with the entire communion of saints, which makes up the Church, his bride. Pick up Theology of the Body for Beginners for more explanation.


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