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Dignity and the role of the consecrated woman

By 2 March, 2018January 3rd, 2023No Comments
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Reflections to deepen and live the Gospel, by Lourdes Grosso, idente missionary, director of the Secretariat of the Episcopal Commission for Consecrated Life of the Spanish Conference of Bishops. On this occasion, we share an article of yours for the World Day of Consecrated Life that is celebrated every year on February 2. (Article published by Ecclesia magazine, No. 3,868, January 28, 2017).

As we celebrate the World Day of Consecrated Life for another year, our gaze is focused on the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Vita Consecrata, as a necessary reference for all of us who have received this vocation in the Church. Today I would like to dwell on two issues explicitly dedicated to the consecrated woman: No. 57, which reflects on The dignity and role of consecrated women and No. 58 that points to New perspectives of presence and action.

These numbers are brief but substantial, because in them we find patterns, lines of teaching and points of reflection for the development of this specific vocation and mission. They recognize the presence of women as a sign of God’s tenderness towards humankind and a singular testimony of the mystery of the Church, which is a virgin, wife and mother. It is affirmed that it is legitimate for the consecrated woman to aspire to see her identity, her capacity, her mission and her responsibility more clearly recognized, both in the ecclesial conscience and in daily life; because men and women are to be valued in equal dignity, as the pages of the Gospel reflect. Faced with this new feminine consciousness, all of us – men and women – have to revise our own mental schemas.

Concrete steps
So that it does not remain a mere declaration of intentions, Vita consecrata highlights some concrete steps that should be taken, starting by opening spaces for participation to women in different sectors and at all levels, including those processes in which decisions are made, especially in the matters that concern them most directly.

It is necessary that the consecrated woman receive adequate training, equal to that of the males, which provides sufficient time and the necessary institutional opportunities for a systematic education, covering all fields, from the theological-pastoral to the professional aspect.

Much is expected of the genius of women
Because much is expected from the contribution of the genius of women in the field of theological, cultural and spiritual reflection, not only in what refers to the specificity of the consecrated feminine life, but in the intelligence of the faith in all its demonstrations
The contribution of female sensitivity helps to promote the doctrine and customs of family and social life, especially in regard to the dignity of women and respect for human life, from a “new feminism”, that translates into numerous activities, such as the commitment to evangelization, the educational mission, participation in the formation of future priests and consecrated persons, the animation of Christian communities, spiritual accompaniment and the promotion of fundamental goods of life and peace.

The contribution of the holy women
There are innumerable examples of the valuable presence and mission of consecrated women, whether in the silent task of daily devotion, or in powerful events for the history of spirituality, as is the case of Saint Brigida, who left Sweden and made a pilgrimage to Rome, with the intention of obtaining from the Pope the approval of the Rule of a religious Order that she wanted to found, dedicated to the Holy Savior and composed of monks and nuns, under the authority of the abbess.

“This is an element that should not surprise us,” said BENEDICT XVI. “In the Middle Ages there were monastic foundations with a male branch and a female branch, but with the practice of the same monastic Rule, which provided for the direction of the abbess. In fact, in the great Christian tradition, women are recognized as having their own dignity, and – following the example of Mary, Queen of the Apostles – a proper place in the Church, which, without coinciding with the ordained priesthood, is equally important for the spiritual growth of the community. In addition, the collaboration of consecrated men and women, always respecting their specific vocation, is of great importance in today’s world » (October 27, 2010).

We pray to Mary, sublime example of perfect consecration, for her full belonging and total dedication to God, to guide our steps.

Lourdes Grosso García, M.Id

Lourdes Grosso en una visita apostólica a la misión idente de Yaoundé, en Camerún, el 9-5-2016.