ASK FATHER: #ConsecratedWidows – ACTION ITEM!

St. Margaret the Barefooted, widow (1325–1395)

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

Easter blessings Father! God has given me the gift of widowhood and I feel He is calling me to offer it back to Him as a dedicated or consecrated widow. Is there and current progress in the US towards that end? My spiritual director suggested I try to find some rules of life for those forging ahead in this area to try to present something to my Archbishop. Any help is appreciated. God bless you.

First, your attitude is exemplary.

For those who don’t know, in the ancient Church there were orders of lay people such as virgins (this has been revived), widows and even gravediggers.  They were especially concerned with works of mercy.

I know that the Holy See was studying the revival of consecrated widows.  I don’t know where they are at with it.  I recall also that a diocese in Italy was once experimenting with this.

At this time I don’t know of any efforts in these USA to foster an order of widows.

I can’t for the life of me think of why there hasn’t been more movement on this.  There are a heck of a lot of widows out there, living good lives, faithfully participating in their parishes.

Why should virgins get all the love?  (If you get my drift.)

I suppose with the help of a pastor or a bishop one could start a Consorority of St. Monica (or some other great widow saint… Frances of Rome, Elizabeth Ann Seton, Ksenia Blazhennaya Peterburzhskaya*, Margaret the Barefoot…).

Here’s a thought.

Pope Francis seems to react well when approached personally.

ACTION ITEM!

How about all you widows out there put pen to paper and write to Pope Francis and ask him to revive the ancient order of widows?

I suspect that it he got hundreds of letters from around the world, he’d sit up and take notice.  This seems like the sort of thing that he might take personal interest in.

“¡Hagan lío!”, after all. Right?

Back in 2013 Pope Francis said:

Jesus has, “the capacity to suffer with us, to be close to our sufferings and make them His own,” said Pope Francis, who began his reflections with the encounter between Jesus and the widow of Naim, of which Tuesday’s Gospel reading tells. He pointed out that Jesus, “had great compassion” for this widow who had now lost her son. Jesus, he went on to say, “knew what it meant to be a widow at that time,” and noted that the Lord has a special love for widows, He cares for them.” Reading this passage of the Gospel, he then said, that the widow is, “an icon of the Church , because the Church is in a sense widow”:

“The Bridegroom is gone and she walks in history, hoping to find him, to meet with Him – and she will be His true bride. In the meantime she – the Church – is alone! The Lord is nowhere to be seen. She has a certain dimension of widowhood … and that makes me makes me think of the widowhood of the Church. This courageous Church, which defends her children, like the widow who went to the corrupt judge to [press her rights] and eventually won. Our Mother Church is courageous! She has the courage of a woman who knows that her children are her own, and must defend them and bring them to the meeting with her Spouse.”

Pope Francis might say and write some weird stuff but that was pretty good!

Such a letter might include, along with a very brief description of the circumstances of one’s life…

  • There was in the ancient Church an order of widows.
  • Since Vatican II the ancient order of virgins has been revived.
  • There are many widows living good and faithful lives who would benefit from such a consecration.
  • Local churches could benefit from their prayers and works of mercy.

End with a promise of prayers for the Pope.

Keep it BRIEF… on one side of one sheet of paper.

His Holiness
Pope Francis
Casa Santa Marta
00120 Vatican City

*Russian Orthodox but, hey!, a great name!  A little hard to fit on a procession banner, though.

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21 Responses to ASK FATHER: #ConsecratedWidows – ACTION ITEM!

  1. The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) has Consecrated Widows. See here: http://www.solt.net/consecrated-widows/

    [I’m talking about a revival of this order for the whole Church, along the lines of the Order of Consecrated Virgins.]

  2. The Masked Chicken says:

    I, too, really support the idea of consecrated widows ( and, maybe widowers, since virginity is not an issue in this situation).

    However, I can’t let this statement pass:

    “In the meantime she – the Church – is alone! The Lord is nowhere to be seen. She has a certain dimension of widowhood … and that makes me makes me think of the widowhood of the Church.”

    A widow has no husband – the marriage is over at death (although the love might still remain). The Church has a Husband, living and ever new. Indeed, the Church is never alone. Just because her Husband, temporarily, has a different nature than His spouse does not mean in any sense that the marriage is over or that the Church is a widow. Christ promised – “Lo, I will be with you to the find of time.” That is not the language of a dead spouse. It is more like the talk of a husband who has to accept a temporary assignment, elsewhere, leaving the wife to take care of the kids (which is what the Church does, in Her better moments).

    In Isaiah 62: 3 – 12, the Lord said to Isreal (and how much truer of the Church):

    “You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
    You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My delight is in her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.
    For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
    Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the LORD in remembrance, take no rest,
    and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.
    The LORD has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: “I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies, and foreigners shall not drink your wine for which you have labored;
    but those who garner it shall eat it and praise the LORD, and those who gather it shall drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.”
    Go through, go through the gates, prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway, clear it of stones, lift up an ensign over the peoples.
    Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.”
    And they shall be called The holy people, The redeemed of the LORD; and you shall be called Sought out, a city not forsaken.”

    This language was, also, meant for the Church, where the priests keep watch and make the Lord a rememberence (a veiled reference to the Eucharist). As long as the Eucharist is present, how can the Church be called a widow?

    The Chicken

  3. JesusFreak84 says:

    Some women’s orders also have Oblates and similar for this sort of situation.

    [And yet that is not the same as having a revived Order of Widows for the whole Church.]

  4. Fern says:

    I thought there was already a movement in the US. Check out this link.
    http://www.rondachervin.com/ocw.htm

  5. Supertradmum says:

    Yes, we need this, and many widows, true widows, do live out lives of prayer and fasting. If others were encouraged to do so, this would be a good for the entire Church.

    BTW, one may enter into a private consecration, NOT AN ORDER, by making solemn promises quietly and in the presence of a priest. I have done this with poverty, chastity and obedience to Holy Mother Church, if not a bishop, as my bishop was not interested in pursuing the relationship.

    However, my spiritual director and others encouraged me, as well as myself fulfilling a desire to be fully consecrated to Jesus. The laity have, also, the option of joining Lay Associations of the Faithful, such as the one at Chavagnes in France or the group Foyers de Charite or FASTA.

    The specific Order of Widows would be a great boon to the Church.

  6. Supertradmum says:

    Yes, we need this, and many widows, true widows, do live out lives of prayer and fasting. If others were encouraged to do so, this would be a good for the entire Church.

    BTW, one may enter into a private consecration, NOT AN ORDER, by making solemn promises quietly and in the presence of a priest. I have done this with poverty, chastity and obedience to Holy Mother Church, if not a bishop, as my bishop was not interested in pursuing the relationship.

    However, my spiritual director and others encouraged me, as well as myself fulfilling a desire to be fully consecrated to Jesus. The laity have, also, the option of joining Lay Associations of the Faithful, such as the one at Chavagnes in France or the group Foyers de Charite or FASTA.

    The specific Order of Widows would be a great boon to the Church.

  7. DcnJohnSaturus says:

    I was surprised to see your referring to St Xenia of Petersburg as a Saint. Is this common in the Roman Catholic Church, to treat post-schism Orthodox Saints as, well, Saints? [She has a fun name. Relax.]

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  9. arickett says:

    The diocese of Nottingham (England) has at least one CW as a independent vocation if you or your bishop contact the Bishop of Nottinghams office they may be able to help you with an idea of what was agreed

  10. Michael_Thoma says:

    Why not, Rev Fr Deacon John; she’s recognized by the Russian Catholics, see here: https://m.facebook.com/byzantinecatholicsf/posts/1025481624154891

  11. KatieL56 says:

    Along with the above, what about women who have been divorced, have received decrees of nullity, and whose former spouse has since died?

    I understood referring to myself as divorced, as it was civilly the case, so long as my ex husband lived. But a wife whose husband has died is no longer a wife but a widow. Why should a former wife whose husband has died still be a divorcee? The marriage bond no longer exists so it is no longer ‘broken’ civilly or sacramentally or ‘in earthly terms.’).

    Would we still be welcome in a widows’ order?

  12. benedetta says:

    I think you are very right, Fr. Z, that consecrated widows would be a tremendous help to parishes and in carrying out works of mercy in Christ’s holy name. I will keep your correspondent’s journey, and her intentions, in prayer.

  13. slainewe says:

    Dear Masked Chicken,

    Thank you. Good to know not everyone in the Church has gone totally blind. The Bride of Christ… A WIDOW???!!! May Her Bridegroom forgive us for burying Him alive!

  14. Elizabeth D says:

    How about those who are neither virgins nor widows but consecrate themselves to Jesus and live a penitential life in witness to His Mercy as did St Mary Magdalene.

  15. akp1 says:

    We have a group of consecrated Widows in our Diocese. It was started by the widowed sister of our late Bishop I believe. I know they meet weekly to pray for marriages.

  16. lampada says:

    The Order of Widows (and Widowers) does exist in the Church. In the Eastern Catholic Churches per their Canon laws. Rome is currently working on a Rite to formally consecrated widows (possibly widowers like in the East). According to Cardinal de Aviz (or one of the speakers) at the Symposium for the Year of Consecrated Life in Rome a couple months ago, they were going to discuss it with the Holy Father. It would be wonderful to have widows once more have the opportunity of joining sacred virgins and other consecrated persons in the state of perfection. Of course, for a valid consecration ceremony, the vow of chastity must be made (this is unlike the consecration of a virgin who does not make vows) and the person must have been validly married and lost their spouse by death.

  17. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Masked Chicken et al, the Pope was actually paraphrasing St. Augustine’s Enarration on the Psalms – Psalm 145, verse 9, section 18. It’s the bit about “He will support the orphan and the widow” (“pupillum et viduam suscipiet”). Unfortunately the online translation leaves out all the good bits, so here you go!

    “But in a certain way, we are all orphans – by the Father being absent, not dead. For according to men, an orphan comes about by a dead father. But if you ask the truth, brothers, whether a soul has not died, our parents are alive; and we who are orphans are orphans rather because of an absence of parents. If they were evil, they live in punishment. If they were good, they live at rest. All are completely alive and whole, to the Creator.

    “Still, while we are in the body, and we make our stay in this place of pilgrimage, He is absent, our Father to whom we cry out, “Our Father Who art in Heaven.” Therefore, the Church is a widow, as if [“quasi”] by the absence of her spouse, the absence of her husband. He will come, He Who protects her, in a way; not seen, but desired. For she was carried away by her great desire, and we desire His love, which we do not see. We will cling to His embraces when they are seen, even if we are held back by what is not yet seen except by faith.

    “Therefore, what should you understand by “the orphan and the widow,” brothers?

    “All those destitute of wealth and help. The soul is destitute in the world…

    “… You are the orphan of God, and the widow of God.”

  18. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Actually, I just found another place in the Enarrations where Augustine says something similar – in his sermon on Psalm 131/132, section 16. This one actually had the good bits translated, so here it is in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers translation:

    “16. “I will bless her widow with blessings, and will satisfy her poor with bread” (Psalm 131:15). Every soul that is aware that it is bereft of all help, save of God alone, is widowed. For how does the Apostle describe a widow? “She that is a widow indeed and desolate, trusts in God.” (1 Timothy 5:5-6) He was speaking of those whom we all call “widows” in the Church. He says, “She that lives in pleasure, is dead while she lives;” and he numbers her not among the widows. But in describing true widows, what says he? “She that is a widow indeed and desolate, trusts in God, and continues in supplications and prayers night and day.” Here he adds, “but she that lives in pleasure, is dead while she lives.”

    “What, then, makes a widow? That she has no aid from any other source, save from God alone. They that have husbands, take pride in the protection of their husbands: widows seem desolate, and their aid is a stronger one.

    “The whole Church therefore is one widow: whether in men or in women, in married men or married women, in young men or in old, or in virgins. The whole Church is one widow, desolate in this world — if she feel this, if she is aware of her widowhood — for then is help at hand for her.

    “Do ye not recognise this widow in the Gospel, my brethren, when the Lord declared “that men ought always to pray and not to faint”? “There was in a city a judge,” He said, “which feared not God, neither regarded man. And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him day by day, saying, ‘Avenge me of mine adversary.'” The widow, by daily importunity, prevailed with him: for the judge said within himself, “Though I fear not God; neither regard man, yet because this woman troubles me, I will avenge her.” (Luke 18:1-8) If the wicked judge heard the widow, that he might not be molested; hears not God His Church, whom He exhorts to pray?”

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  20. The Masked Chicken says:

    St. Augustine’s commentary regarding widows refers to being dead to the WORLD. The Church is a widow to the world for Christ. The Church is a widow FOR God, not a widow from God.

    The Chicken

  21. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Yup, Chicken, the Church is an univira, a woman of one husband, and she knows the Bridegroom is alive and active. That is part of what lets her act in faith.

    The main problem with grand rhetorical imagery in this day and age is that a lot of speakers don’t lay the groundwork of orthodox explanation before they start in, or after. St. Augustine’s parishioners knew that his startling bits would be explained, not assumed.