What is the Consecration of a Virgin?
The Consecration of a Virgin is one of the oldest sacramentals in the Church, and one of the fruits of Vatican II was the restoration of this profound blessing on virgins living in the world. The promulgation of this restored Rite for laywomen was on 31 May 1970. Through this sacramental, the virgin, after renewing her promise of perpetual virginity to God, is set aside as a sacred person who belongs only to Christ.
The acting agent in the Consecration is God Himself who accepts the virgin's promise and spiritually fructifies it through the action of the Holy Spirit.
This sacramental is reserved to the Bishop of the diocese. The consecrated virgin shares intimately in the nature and mission of the Church--she is a living image of the Church's love for her Spouse while sharing in His redemptive mission.
The consecrated virgin living in the world embodies a definitive vocation in itself. She is not a quasi-Religious, nor is she in a vocation that is in the process of becoming a Religious institute or congregation. She is a consecrated woman, nevertheless, with her bishop as her guide. By virtue of the Consecration, she is responsible to pray for her diocese and clergy. At no time is her diocese responsible for her financial support.
The consecrated virgin living in the world, as expressed in Canon 604, is irrevocably "consecrated to God, mystically espoused to Christ and dedicated to the service of the Church, when the diocesan bishop consecrates [her] according to the approved liturgical rite." The consecrated virgin attends Mass daily, prays the Divine Office, and spends much time in private prayer. She can choose the Church-approved spirituality she prefers to follow.
Supporting herself by earning her own living, the consecrated virgin is not obliged to take on any particular work or apostolate. Usually, consecrated virgins in the United States volunteer their time to their local parish, diocese, or Church-sponsored association. Some volunteer their time also in civic responsibilities.
Who can be consecrated?
A woman living in the world who has never married or lived in open violation of chastity, and who by age, prudence, and good character is deemed suitable for dedicating herself to a life of chastity in the service of the Church and of her neighbor may petition her bishop to receive the Consecration. She must be admitted to this Consecration by her local Bishop; it is he who determines the conditions under which the candidate is to undertake a life of perpetual virginity lived in the world. Usually, a woman who aspires to the consecration works with a spiritual director and has lived a private promise of perpetual virginity for some years before seeking the Consecration of a Virgin.
It is understood that a laywoman aspiring to the Consecration of a Virgin is able to support herself by work or pension or independent means and has provided financially for her medical care.
A woman aspiring to the Consecration should be practicing her faith. She accepts the teaching of the Church and Sacred Scripture, with a readiness and capacity for personal growth. She should be able to give herself totally to God and the Church.
For further information, contact:
Judith M. Stegman
300 West Ottawa Street
Lansing, Michigan 48933
Approved by Most Rev. Raymond L. Burke, Bishop of La Crosse and
Episcopal Moderator of the Consecrated Virgins in the United States