Woman Marries Jesus

I’ve been on my way towards Catholicism for a few years. I’m probably 85% there. I saw this article yesterday and hit a roadblock. I read this site which explains it, but I think that made it worse.

I understand symbolism. I understand that the Church is the bride of Christ. But the ideas and ceremony involved with the “consecrated virgin” being a spouse of Christ is pushing the boundaries.

Can someone help me out?

Thank you

Can you be a little more specific as to why you find this concept troubling?

This idea is not limited to consecrated virgins (who may be either men or women, BTW). Many priests and Religious (both men and women Religious) wear wedding bands. They are considered spouses of Christ (sometimes referred to as spouses of the Church).

The Church has this concept of “vocation.” A vocation is a committed lifelong relationship. The most common vocation is matrimony, where we commit ourselves to another earthly person, and this commitment includes sexual intercourse.

But a person may also commit himself or herself to Jesus. Such a commitment always includes virginity, so there is no sexual component involved, which is why it is not strange to think of men entering into such a relationship (even though, as a guy, I struggle with accepting this).

I understand that obviously there is no sexual component. However, especially given the marriage debate today, the Church emphasizes the importance of sexual complementarity in marriage and procreation being an important part of marriage. So the Church emphasizes the sexual component of marriage in one case, but needs it to be played down in another. It is difficult to do.

The use of the term as the Church being the “bride” of Christ I understand. It’s a general analogy. However, when there are ceremonies for individuals to marry Christ and the symbols of human matrimony are used (the ring), the analogy is being pushed closer into areas in which it doesn’t apply. And with physical ceremonies and symbols, the analogy starts to morph into the thing itself.

It just starts getting into an area that I’m not comfortable with. With essentially all Catholic doctrines, I have found the scriptural basis. Not so much for this one.

BTW, I also find it troubling that priests would wear wedding bands and be referred to as spouses of Christ. Again, I understand it’s symbolism. But especially given the current cultural climate, we need to be very clear what marriage is and isn’t. Saying that a man could even symbolically be married to another man (Jesus, God the Son) distorts what the word marriage even means. It does not work as a symbol or an analogy because two males cannot be married.

This is troubling. :frowning:

I don’t see why it would be troubling. They are consecrating themselves to God, and to God alone. They are permanently forgoing the option of having a spouse. They are giving up that enormous good, instead to offer it to God as their gift to Him. They are vowing to eternally be devoted only to Him and to serve only Him.

St. Paul and Jesus both talk about those who give up the opportunity for a spouse and marriage for the greater glory of the Kingdom of God. They talk of those who can make this type of sacrifice and how much glory is attached to it.

But they aren’t talking about giving up marriage for Jesus. They are talking about marrying Jesus. And marriage comes with a lot of symbolism and meaning. That’s the troubling part.

It’s not a symbol or analogy. And there’s no sexual relationship expected. Earthly unions are only types of the perfect, spiritual covenant between Christ and his Church, and the relationship between the Father and Son. We shouldn’t be confusing this with our bodily functions or natural law.

All those saved are “marrying” Jesus. Consecrated virgins are giving up earthly marriage in expectation of that perfect, spiritual union.

Yes, they are spiritually marrying Jesus, and giving up earthly, sacramental marriage with a husband. They are giving up a great good for an even greater one.

You’ve got it in reverse.

Marriage (especially as a sacrament) is a representation of Christ’s relationship with the Church, and not vice-versa. In technical terms, Christ+Church is the antitype, and the sacrament of marriage is the type.

Therefore, the vocation of religious life and consecrated virginity is not analogous to marriage, but rather is another, religious representation of Christ’s relationship with his bride the Church. The consecrated virgin, in a way, makes herself representative of the Church in her “role” as the Bride, which is why her virginity is consecrated and she acquires the mandate to pray the Divine Office.

What seems to be bothering you is the male aspect.

The Church is the Bride as is our soul. Each is referred to in the feminine. When a man enters into a relationship with God his soul is still feminine.

The perfect union is the Trinity. We emulate that perfect with our sacrament of Matrimony. Our physical union is to help us bind with each other.

There have been Saints in history that had very deep and loving relationships that where chase. Most of us are not capable of this level of love without the physical aspect.

Jesus’ relationship with he Church is one of husband. He cares for, nurtures, protects, defends and feed her. There are children, spiritually ones. Look in the pews.

[quote=1Corinthians 7:8] But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.
[/quote]

The celibate life has been a Christian practice from the very beginning. Paul, a young Jewish man practiced it and recommended it to others because

[quote=1Corinthians 7:34 ]The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
[/quote]

This was unheard of in the classical era and created all sorts of havoc in patrician society. A woman was under the direction of her father until she married or her father died. If she renounced marriage, not only were the eligible men out a wife, but her property also. Secular historians belief this was one of the causes of the Diocletian persecutions.

As monasticism grew during the medieval period, the ancient consecrated virgins became nuns. As spirituality evolved, especially after Vatican II when all states in life were identified as practicing one office (king, prophet, priest) more than the others. The council identified a need. The priestly vocation, embodies Christ the priest, the sacrifice for sinners. The religious life embodies the Christ the Prophet, the symbol of the heavenly destination where we will not give or be given in marriage(sometimes called eschatological) The lay calling, whether in marriage or the single life is the embodiment of Christ the King who will rule in peace and justice, securing the freedom of all humans.

Each vocation practices all three offices, but each vocation specializes in one of the offices. Priests do not or should not get into politics. Laymen do not offer the sacrifice of the man. Religious do not raise their own children or promote Jesus in the corporate world. Consecrated Virgins promote Christ’s kingdom here on earth through any work they use to support themselves. Where Religious are not bound to bishops, Consecrated Virgins are, just like deacons.

Really we are all in a marriage covenant with Christ, he is the bridegroom.
Religious sisters as well as nuns are also considered brides of Christ.

:thumbsup:

Women marry Christ. Priests “marry” the Church. As representatives of Christ on this Earth they marry “the Bride”. So wearing a wedding ring is symbolically correct and there is no gender-related “issue”.

Relevant (and quite beautiful) paragraphs in the CCC are 1544 through 1553.

Here’s a quote from the 4th century that may prove helpful in the discussion at hand:

“The Son of God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, having become man for our sakes, and having destroyed death, and delivered our race from the bondage of corruption, in addition to all His other benefits bestowed this also upon us, that we should possess upon earth, in the state of virginity, a picture of the holiness of Angels. Accordingly such as have attained this virtue, the Catholic Church has been accustomed to call the brides of Christ.

Actually consecrated virgins cannot be male. Consecrated life in general is a state that both men and women are called to. Consecrated religious, who take vows and belong to institutes of consecrated life, may be male or female. Hermits likewise may be male or female. Consecrated virgins, the specific vocation the woman in question was called to, is specifically for virgin women. The solemn consecration conferred by the bishop configures the virgin into a living image of the Church as the Bride of Christ.

Correct. The same reasoning for consecrated virgins being only females is the same for priests being only males- the complementarity of the sexes reflecting the nuptial marriage of Christ and His Church. The sacred virgin is the icon of the Church as Bride-Virgin and she alone is anointed by the Holy Spirit to fully represent the Church as such. Religious and others in consecrated life participate in that reflection of the Church as bride to a lesser extent (because it is not required that they be female or virgins) but more than the merely baptized faithful. Personally, I think it is a fad for priests to wear rings because they are not married to the Church but they are more configured to Christ the Bridegroom than deacons or the lay faithful, but only the bishop receives the ring in a sign of his spiritual wedding with the Church.

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