"Imitate the Mother of God; desire to be called and to be handmaids of the Lord" (RCV, n. 16). The Order of Virgins is a special expression of consecrated life that blossomed anew in the Church after the Second Vatican Council (cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata, n. 7). Its roots, however, are ancient; they date back to the dawn of apostolic times when, with unheard of daring, certain women began to open their hearts to the desire for consecrated virginity, in other words, to the desire to give the whole of their being to God, which had had its first extraordinary fulfilment in the Virgin of Nazareth and her "yes". In the thought of the Fathers Mary was the prototype of Christian virgins and their perception highlighted the newness of this new state of life, to which a free choice of love gave access.
"They have chosen you [Lord] above all things; may they find all things in possessing you" (cf. RCV, n. 24). Your charism must reflect the intensity but also the freshness of its origins. It is founded on the simple Gospel invitation: "He who is able to receive this, let him receive it" (Mt 19: 12), and on St Paul's recommendations of virginity for the Kingdom (I Cor 7: 25-35). Yet the whole of the Christian mystery shines out in it. When your charism came into being it did not take shape in accordance with specific ways of life. Rather, it was institutionalized little by little until it became a true and proper solemn, public consecration, conferred by the Bishop in an evocative liturgical rite which made the consecrated woman the sponsa Christi, an image of the Church as Bride.
Dearest friends, your vocation is deeply rooted in the particular Church to which you belong: it is your Bishops' task to recognize the charism of virginity in you, to consecrate you and, possibly, to encourage you on your way, in order to teach you fear of the Lord, as they commitment themselves to do during the solemn liturgy of consecration. From the sphere of the Diocese with its traditions, its Saints, its values, its limits and its problems you broaden your horizons to the universal Church, sharing above all in her liturgical prayer, which is also entrusted to you so that "the praise of our heavenly Father be always on your lips; pray without ceasing ", (RCV, n. 28). In this way your prayerful "I" will gradually be enlarged, until there is no longer anything except a great "we" in the prayer. This is ecclesial prayer and the true liturgy. May you open yourselves in your dialogue with God to a dialogue with all creatures, for whom you will find you are mothers, mothers of the children of God (cf. RCV, n. 28).
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