Ah, the little-known and enigmatic vocation of the Consecrated Life. Not only is it a rare vocation, but little is known about it and what is known about it is generally inaccurate.
I decided to address this topic today because whenever I post about the Consecrated Life on my social media accounts, I get responses and comments from women, who perceive it to be the default State of Life for the unmarried.
This is simply not true.
Your vocation is NOT by default the Consecrated Life simply because you are over 30 and unmarried.
I know that some single women attempt to claim it as their vocation, perhaps to lessen the stigma of being unmarried and over 30, but you are not doing yourselves any favours when you do that.
If you notice, thus far, I have referred to this vocation as the “Consecrated Life”, NOT the “Consecrated SINGLE Life” This is because:
a) The word “single” implies a temporary state of being, a wife or sister in waiting, a State of Life that is subject to change.
b) The Consecrated Woman is NOT single. She takes vows; she is off the market.
According to CCC 873: A consecrated person is a Christian belonging to either the clergy or the laity who serves the Church by living the evangelical counsels.
“The evangelical counsels” are expressed in the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
CCC 915: Consecrated life is characterized by the profession of the three evangelical counsels within a permanent state of life recognized by the Church.
When a woman takes vows to the religious life, it is only in very rare and extenuating circumstances would she be allowed to break those vows and become married. The same thing for a woman who is married, later deciding to leave her family and go be a nun. It very rarely, if ever, happens. Vows are perpetual.
Why then is the Consecrated Life expected to be any different?
If you also notice, I do not use the term “Consecrated Virgin”. While in the past, the vast majority of women who took the vocation to the Consecrated Life happened to be virgins, that is generally not the case today.
So yes, a woman who takes the vocation to the Consecrated Life may be a virgin, that is not always the case. Some are widows and some are neither.
Single Catholic women need to stop saying that their vocation is to the Consecrated Single Life.
That term just does not exist. It’s like a nun saying she has a vocation to the Religious Single Life. It makes no sense.
The Catholic vocation to the Consecrated Life is NOT for those who are still dating, but yet to find Mr Right; those who are open to dating or those who are discerning marriage.
Public vows, whether in the presence of Church and family or in the presence of a Church council only, are taken when a woman takes on the vocation of marriage, the vocation to Religious Life, and also the vocation to the Consecrated Life.
So unless you have gone through some form of liturgical ceremony or vow process, acknowledged and approved by the Church, you are a single woman, NOT a Consecrated Single, and you definitely do not have a vocation to the Consecrated Life.
When you formally take on the vocation to the Consecrated Life, you become a spouse. Not a spouse to a husband like in marriage, not a Spouse to God and the religious community like in religious life, but a Spouse of Christ, living in the world.
And when you become His Spouse, all other men are off limits. That’s it! You are off the market. Not looking for Mr Right, not hoping to find your Joseph, not discerning marriage, not being open to biological motherhood. You are off the market.
Some people in the Consecrated Life vocation may choose to wear a wedding ring, of sorts, as a public declaration of this.
Being single is not a vocation. It is a State of Life that all of us will pass through at some point in our lives as we are not born married, born a nun or sister, or a priest.
God has called us all to a specific vocation, how best we are called to love Him and serve Him. This is why Catholics are taught from a young age to discern their particular vocation.
Vocation discernment is not an ongoing affair. It has a definite start period and a definite end period.
Read more HERE.
If you claim that you are discerning and believe that God has called you to married life and yet 15+ years later, you are still ‘discerning’, still unmarried and without a family, your biological clock shutting down on you, are you then saying that God lied? God made a mistake? Or is God directing you somewhere else that you are refusing to go?
You see, if God calls you to a specific vocation, He makes it happen. He is not a liar. He will open the doors and avenues, leading you to that vocation – whether it is in the arms of your spouse or the arms of a religious community.
So, to declare that God has called you to marriage and 15+ years later nothing has happened is to call God a liar.
These three major vocations for Catholic women contain 3 key similarities:
- A public or semi-public profession of vows, in union with the Church
- Vows are perpetual
- Chastity is expected – chastity for those called to marriage, and celibacy for the spouses of Christ, be they Religious or Consecrated.
I think that some women who single, but declaring that they have a Consecrated “Single” Life vocation secretly want to have their cake and eat it too.
They want to wear the label of the Consecrated Life vocation to lessen the stigma of being unmarried and over 40, but they do not want to go through the formal & permanent process of this vocation, thus leaving the door open, in case they eventually meet someone that they wish to marry.
That seems a lot like infidelity; like getting married, but with a get-out clause. It’s frankly an insult to God because, in essence, we are saying: Yeah, God, maybe You called me to the Consecrated Life, but I am not going to make it public or official just yet. I might meet some guy that I may want to leave You for.
And people wonder why they are having problems in their vocations and even in their lives.
How many of us are in the wrong vocations? How many of us should be in a certain vocation, but we are choosing to deafen our ears to God’s calling?
When you are on the right path to your vocation, everything falls into place. Yes, there might be some difficulties, but you will find the grace to sustain them and you will have more highs than lows within your vocation.
However, if you are having waves after waves of problems in your State of Life or vocation, perhaps God is trying to get your attention.
Perhaps you need to pause, step back, spend some alone time with God and find out if you are really where He wants you to be.
You can read more about the Consecrated Life vocation HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
You can read about Consecrated Virgins HERE
I pray that our FIAT may be bigger than our fears, inadequacies and insecurities.
O Lord, I implore You: open the hearts of Your people to listen, answer & to live Your call in their lives within the vocations that You have called them to be it in Married Life, Religious Life or in Consecrated Life.
Our Lady, model of perfect submission and perfect obedience to God’s Will, pray for us.
ad Jesum per Mariam