Chastity

In regards to the relation between Christ and the religious, the evangelical counsel of chastity best illustrates the reality of the spousal dimension.  As Blessed John Paul II noted, “…virginal love goes directly to the Person of Christ through an immediate union with him, without intermediaries.  Thus, a religious enters into a union with Christ that is “a truly complete and decisive spiritual espousal” (November 30, 1994).  The Church also teaches that chastity for the sake of the kingdom "is an exceptional gift of grace which uniquely frees the human heart for a more fervent love of God and of all mankind" (LG, 42).

Through her vow of Chastity and flowing forth from her bridal relationship with Christ, a religious becomes a spiritual mother by nourishing the life of God’s children through her prayers, sacrifices, and total gift of self to the Lord.  Every woman is created to be a mother and the essence of religious life does not deny or contradict this.  Even though her motherhood is spiritual, this is not to say that it is not real.  As reflected in the teachings of Blessed John Paul II, “Evangelical chastity implies renouncement of physical motherhood, but so as to be expressed, according to God's plan, in a superior kind of motherhood on which the light of the Virgin Mary's motherhood shines.  Every consecrated virgin is destined to receive from the Lord a gift which in a certain way reproduces the features of universality and spiritual fruitfulness of Mary's motherhood” (March 22, 1995).

A religious cannot presume to live a life of consecrated chastity by her own power.  It is only through the grace of God that she can live out her bridal relationship with Christ by answering his call to a total gift of self, persevering in prayer, showing charity to all God’s children, and practicing self-denial in order to continually respond to this exceptional gift of grace.