Saturday 8 December 2007

Five Whole Years, And Counting...

On December 1st, 2002, I took private vows, dedicating my life as a single woman, living and working in the world, to God and his Church. A bit like being a Consecrated Virgin, but I haven't vowed obedience to the Archbishop (which would have made the vows public rather than private).

The vows I took were these:

1) to live a life of prayer and self-denial, following Christ’s teaching that "anyone who wishes to be a follower of mine must take up his cross and follow me;"

2) to live a life of chastity in the single state so as to witness to Christ with an undivided heart and be a sign of spiritual fruitfulness in the world; and,

3) to live in obedience to the teaching and authority of Christ and his Church so as to accord with the will of Christ who was himself obedient even unto death on the cross.

Today I renewed my vows (I don't worry too much about the actual date: a suitable Saturday around the start of Advent is the most practical option.)

The day was a busy one: as well as being the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, at the morning Mass a little boy made his First Holy Communion. (Hey, tick the Plenary Indulgence box for a Holy Soul in Purgatory... available under the usual conditions for assisting at a First Holy Communion Mass!) and I spent an hour in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament (Hey, tick the Plenary Indulgence box for a Holy Soul in Purgatory... Waddaya mean, only one a day? Hey who thought up that rule? Holy Mother Church??? Ok, ok... so make it a partial indulgence grumble, grouse, chunter...)

The start of the ceremony for my renewal of vows was a little later than planned... partly because Confessions proved to be very popular, and over-ran. I love it when that happens: think of all those lovely shining souls... However, the fact that I forgot to print out the order of service and the readings was the main hold-up. Poor Fr. Tim had to go and search his computer to see if he had a copy of it. Luckily for me, he did!

The Union of Catholic Mothers had prepared a fabulous buffet lunch. A Faith Family Day had been organised for the afternoon, and so, after lunch, Fr. Tim talked to the children about Christmas, and then to the parents about vocations. I didn't hear what he said about vocations because I was one of the helpers for the children's activities: they were making Christmas tree decorations... a crib with pictures of all the different vocations in the Church stuck around the manger. Christina had printed out lots of pictures, and so there was much cutting, sticking and application of glitter-glue.

I have come to the conclusion that PVA glue is an invention of the devil...

I also resented the fact that the picture representing a single woman (I had been pointed out to the children as someone who had chosen this vocation) was somewhat redolant of a person engaged in liturgical dance...

After a short tea-break, the parents continued with a discussion group. Some of the children were getting a little boisterous, and so I suggested a game of Sleeping Tigers. This is a brilliant game. It involves children lying down and pretending to be asleep. The adults and older children get to walk around looking for signs of movement... if the child moves, he or she loses, and has to sit up. Last one up is the winner.

A clever adult can prove to be remarkably short-sighted, overlooking all but the most blatant movements...

After two games of this (heheheh), we went into the church to pray the Rosary together (Hey, tick the Plenary Indulgence box for a Holy Soul in Purgatory... ok, ok, it was worth a try... I'll settle for another partial indulgence then!) and after we tidied up a bit, I drew the short straw (not having fractious children) and finished hoovering the Large Hall before the Parish Social Club came to open up.

It was a truly blessed and happy day. I felt privileged to be able to join in with the family day, and to help out while the parents had an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the faith: they will, in turn, be passing that faith on to their children. It seemed to sum up the reason for my own vocation.

Five years since I first made my vows. Someone asked me, just after I'd made them, what would happen if I found I'd made a mistake. "I mean, what if Mr. Right shows up tomorrow?"

I answered pretty swiftly that he'd be Mr. Wrong, because he'd have turned up too late. Reflecting on the past five years, I know that I've found my vocation. My "Mr. Right" is my Lord and God... somehow I don't think divorce is an option!


gemoftheocean said...

Glad your day was wonderful, and congratulations on "re-upping." [Does this mean you can DISOBEY the archbishop? :-D ] A friend of mine is a consecrated virgin.

This "sleeping tigers" game needs to be imported to the US! You can also give out prizes for who can whisper the lowest.


gemoftheocean said...

Oh, and tag. Hit up the 3 wise men too while you're at it. :-D


antonia said...

Glad to hear you had such a nice day!

Renewing your vows is such a blessed thing to do. I wish you every grace!

with love


Anne said...

Is that the picture of you in the black mantilla or someone else? Is the chapel in your home, if so its very beautiful.

Mulier Fortis said...

Anne, it's me in the mantilla - and I consider it to be the best photo of me anywhere! The "chapel" is actually the Lady Altar in my parish church (Fr. Tim offered to take the photo for my blog profile, and he knows how I hate having my photo taken!)

Katie said...


I stumbled across your blog quite by accident. It's wonderful to see another woman commited to God! I don't feel so alone now lol. I'm 22 years old and currently discerning a vocation to Consecrated Virginity. I can really relate to what you said in your post, being so close to God is such a blessing.
Take care and God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. I congratulate you on your vows and in not jumping into the vows of obedience and poverty like many single women are tempted.

BTW, consecrated virgins make no vows. They are consecrated through the action of God via the consecratory prayer of the bishop. It's very similar to ordination except it's a sacramental instead of a sacrament.

God bless you.

T. Ivers

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