A young woman, who answers God’s call to become a Bride of Christ, may not receive a proposal that is audible or physically tangible, yet it is as real as any marriage proposal. Jesus invites her into a relationship of special intimacy that entails a total gift of self, a response of love to Love. On her wedding day, a bride professes her marriage vows. Similarly, when a young woman professes the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, she becomes a Bride of Christ and witnesses to a preferential love for the Lord. The vows are taken in imitation of Jesus who "loved with an undivided heart, universally and to the end" (EE, 15). By their nature, "The vows are a triple expression of a single 'yes'… three ways of pledging oneself" (EE, 14).
As the complete and unrestricted love of natural marital union is life giving, so too is the spiritual union between Jesus Christ and His bride. Considering this supernatural dimension, the Church teaches that "Perfect continence for love of the kingdom of heaven … [is] a singular source of spiritual fertility in the world" (LG, 42). A religious’ bridal relationship with Christ produces abundant fruit in the apostolate. In a general audience, Blessed John Paul II stated that spiritual fruitfulness “…is shown in the work accomplished by many women religious in educating young people in the faith. It is well known that many female congregations were founded and have established numerous schools precisely to impart this education for which womanly qualities are valuable and indispensable…Dedication and compassion are the treasures of the feminine heart” (March 22, 1995).
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