It was in 2019 when I watched a youtube video of a ceremony of a lady consecrated as a virgin. Since I am also thinking of entering a religious life, I got curious, how about guys? Can men be consecrated virgin?
A consecrated virgin is a woman who belongs to Christ alone, pledging her whole life to Him through the bishop in the presence of the Church.
First, a little explanation of terminology and context. Consecrated virgins are a rather particular group of women within the Catholic church. They have taken public vows of chastity and tend to lead lives of prayer, service and evangelization. The title “virgin” doesn’t refer to their sexual history, but rather to the fact that they are considered espoused to Christ; therefore, they can be referred to as the bride of Christ. They are called consecrated because they dedicate themselves entirely to God.
She lives in the world, but more so for the sake of Christ than for any human relationship. Therefore, her profession does not belong to an order or institute of consecrated life. However, since she has chosen this vocation from among all possible vocations and is under the direction of a Diocesan Bishop, she is considered within consecrated life by virtue of her profession.
The consecrated virgin is called to signify Christ’s undivided love for his people. She commits herself to a life of purity, prayer, and service. While the specific activities she engages in may vary according to her circumstances, the consecrated virgin’s focus is on prayer for the Church and its leaders and all of God’s people. By her witness as a celibate woman, she points to God’s call to all women and men to live out their baptismal promises with an undivided heart.
Discerning Consecrated Virginity
Consecrated virginity is a vocation that exists in plain sight, and yet is unknown to most. It isn’t a new vocation, but rather one that was “rediscovered” by the Church at Vatican II.
- What consecrated virginity is: A woman who has chosen to remain single and virgin for life, dedicating herself as a bride of Christ.
- Why consecrated virginity is a hidden vocation: Some people mistake it for a cloistered life like the nuns they may see walking around the grounds of their local monastery, while others don’t even realize it exists.
- Where consecrated virgins live: Many live in the world among their families and friends, while others choose to reside within religious communities such as convents and monasteries.
- How consecrated virgins live: They can choose to maintain a full-time job outside of their ministry, or they can devote themselves full-time to prayer and ministry work. Most tend to work part-time to support themselves financially.
- What consecrated virgins do: They serve God through various forms of active ministry in their parish communities such as teaching CCD classes and praying at Pregnancy Help Centers, among many other forms of service within the community
Consecrated Virgin Requirements
Women who wish to be admitted to consecration by the Diocesan bishop must follow the procedures as discussed here.
The church requires a few things of all those who wish to live a Consecrated Virgin life. A Consecrated Virgin should follow and practice the following:
- That they have never married or lived in public or open violation of chastity; the vow of chastity must be free from all affection for, and engagement to another person at the time of their consecration.
- That they possess sufficient maturity and personality integration which is required for living a life of prayer and service within society.
- That they show a clear sign of being called by God to this vocation through their desire that has been tested over time and nourished by prayer, study and spiritual direction. They should not be impulsive in answering such a call.
To become a consecrated virgin, diocesan approval is needed as well as meetings with the local Bishop and written acts of consent. According to guidelines from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, those wishing to be consecrated must have “lived a life of prayer and dedication.”
What does a consecrated virgin do?
Women make a private commitment to a life of prayer and service. Consecrated virgins are not cloistered, and are actually encouraged to “participate fully in the life of their diocese.” However, that does not mean consecrated virgins cannot have a job. Consecrated virgins make a vow of poverty and therefore must financially depend on themselves or others. They must also have their own living space, but can share a residence with other consecrated women as long as each is given her own room. Additionally, they are allowed to be involved in the community outside of their church.
Consecrated virgins are united to the bishop, the diocese’s head. They share in his solicitude for all the faithful and especially for other virgins. They should be present with him at significant liturgical celebrations and participate in parish life. This participation can be expressed by various means, such as:
- Taking care of the Church building.
- Using their professional skills in service to the Christian community.
- Assisting at baptismal and wedding ceremonies.
- Helping with adoration and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
- Cooperating in catechetical work.
- Participating in associations for women or other groups of laypeople.
Do consecrated virgins have to be virgins?
Consecrated virgins can be either single or widowed. In other words, they may never have been married, or they may have been married but are now widowed.
The whole vow is meant to be symbolic, so the church doesn’t really care whether you’re technically a virgin or not. There are plenty of cases when women have entered into a marriage that ended in divorce, then gone on to marry again, and then decided to take on the life of consecrated virginity. In fact, some older women who are widowed may also choose this path.
Can consecrated virgins marry?
The USACV explains that consecrated virgins don’t wear wedding dresses or veils, but they do wear white garments that remind others that they are espoused to Christ as a pure bride.
In addition, according to The Vowed of life a consecrated virgin is one who chooses to live the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. She is a bride of Christ just as much as she would be were she married to a man. Through her vow of chastity she seeks to love Christ with her whole heart and so seek Him in all her actions.
Other than this vow, consecrated virgins commit themselves entirely to God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving—and by serving others in Christ’s name through charitable works, good deeds, and evangelization wherever possible.
If you’re considering a vocation to consecrated virginity, you can be assured that it is a perfectly valid and richly rewarding state of life. However, it isn’t for everyone, and it certainly isn’t easy. You need to know who you are and the call of God before you enter the novitiate. Your prayer life will be vital in the beginning and throughout your life as a consecrated virgin.