September 14, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — An article promoting consecrated virginity within the Catholic Church, Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, and early Christian martyrs like St. Agatha and St. Lucy appeared in a very unlikely place this week: Cosmopolitan.
The article “I Am Happily Married to God — as a Consecrated Virgin” profiled Carmen Briceno, who became a consecrated virgin seven years ago. Consecrated virgins are “betrothed mystically to Christ and dedicated to the service of the church and enter “a public state of consecrated life in the Church.” The vocation of consecrated virginity is distinctly different from religious life in that consecrated virgins work and live in the secular world and do not wear a habit despite being considered a “bride of Christ.”
Briceno said World Youth Day in 2005 inspired her and she “felt the Lord speak to me in prayer about my relationship with Him.”
Understanding “God’s gift of sexuality” and how it relates to a life of consecrated virginity led Briceno to feel more attracted to the vocation. Briceno credited the teachings articulated in Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body for explaining to her “the gift and purpose of human sexuality.”
“Sex and virginity are gifts of yourself you give — not something you lose,” Briceno said. “This wasn't at all about religious jargon; it was about the beauty of being human. I connected in a major way to the idea that expressing love isn't all about sex. It's about wanting the best for the other person.”
“God has designed everything for a specific purpose, and when we go outside of that purpose, we find confusion and brokenness,” Briceno explained. “Just like a phone that is designed for communication breaks if you use it as a hammer or to play baseball, so do our bodies and relationships suffer brokenness when we use the great gift of human sexuality, and its purpose for union and procreation outside of marriage.”
As she discovered her vocation, Briceno felt “joy…from experiencing God” and fell “deeply in love with [her] faith.”
I was attracted to becoming a consecrated virgin because of its beautiful, ancient roots — in the early church, women made private vows to belong fully to Christ and not marry. These were the early virgin martyrs like Agatha and Lucy, who were executed for not wanting to marry Roman citizens because they were already vowed to God. They lived in their families and dedicated themselves to works of mercy in their community. They loved the Lord so much they wanted to give all of themselves to Him.
Living as a consecrated virgin came from love, and it was that which so appealed to me. “Ordo Virginum” — which is the technically correct term — are just that. They are ordinary citizens; they have jobs and are responsible for their own keep. I've even known some who are doctors and lawyers.
My decision did not come lightly. I like to tell people, “I did not give up romantic relationships for an idea. I fell in love with a person, Jesus Christ.” I understood the lifelong commitment this would mean, so I made sure I was confident this was God's will for me.
While the discernment process is key, the truth is that God picks you, makes you His, and then puts you back into the world. You don't just get to become a consecrated virgin. God chose me as much as I chose God. It was a courtship, in a sense. I said to God, “If you want me to be with you, you have to really make me fall in love with you.” If I'd given other men in my life a chance, why not God? That may sound odd, but it was a logical rationale.
It was not imposed upon me, even though it may be hard to understand. I don't doubt my vocation, and I see my saying “yes” to God as a gift. It's sacrificial, and I'm aware of that. I am completely filled with joy and happiness.