Not My Own: How I Discovered—and Said Yes to—Consecrated Virginity 

“There must be something wrong with me,” I decided as I dodged the advances of yet another unfitting admirer. “Why don’t I ever get asked out by a decent guy?”  

Eventually, the “decent guy” I had grumbled about did turn up, more or less. However, this time, my interior response to his persistent (and often grandiose) attempts to convince me to date him were immediate and surprising: My heart is already taken.  

To put it simply, I couldn’t say yes because, well, Jesus.  Little did I know, this was the beginning of a beautiful love story the Lord was unfolding in my soul.  

The first stirrings of a divine calling came in high school, when I was certain I was destined for the convent. I told my mom over a massive plate of Oreo s’mores (yes, these do exist), and yet even as I poured out my heart to her, I was just as wary as she about leaving my family and those I was helping to care for. Did God really want me to abandon the ones He had entrusted to me? What was I missing here?  

Over the course of the next few months, I scoured the internet for an alternative to religious life, one that would satiate my desire to go deeper, while still allowing me to remain in the world. But nothing spoke to me. If my vocation was not to be a nun (and Christ was making that clearer every day) and I didn’t feel the call to live as a Third Order Carmelite (and I didn’t), what did the Lord want from me? 

The answer wouldn’t come for nearly a decade. During this time, the Lord asked me to serve Him in other ways, from aging grandparents to exuberant godchildren. An inner yearning to escape to a convent would surface at times, but I knew I was needed at home and that God would one day unveil my true calling, whatever that might be.

Then, in the summer of 2019, I began a 33 Day Consecration to Merciful Love with my parish. This self-guided retreat is a transformative journey based on the spirituality of St. Therese. Making the consecration was a true catalyst in my walk with Christ, and mid-way through the retreat, I was left with a burning desire to give Him everything.  

By this time, I was certain I was not called to live in community, so when the idea of making a private vow of virginity started to surface in prayer, I pondered what my life as a “celibate single” would look like.  

Once again, I began researching options for women who desired to belong totally to Christ while still living in the world. That’s when I discovered Consecrated Virginity. As I read about this ancient and little-known vocation, an inferno of joy and yearning blazed in my soul. This is what I had been searching for my entire life.  God had planted a seed, but I still felt the nudge of the Spirit to make a private vow.  

After this prompting, I attended a Catholic women’s retreat in Dublin, Ireland. On the last evening of the retreat, Jesus, ever the gentleman, spoke so clearly and tenderly to my heart during adoration that I promised myself to Him forever.  

Fast forward two years. I am now an official Candidate for Consecrated Virginity, the first woman in my diocese to embrace this vocation. 

You may not know what consecrated virginity is (most people don’t!). Despite this, consecrated virginity is the oldest recognized form of consecrated life in the Catholic Church.  A consecrated virgin is a woman who has been consecrated by her local bishop to a life of perpetual virginity as a Bride of Christ. Consecrated virgins are dedicated to prayer and the service of the Church, but continue to live in the secular world as witnesses of their radical love of Christ.  

To this day, I’m not sure why the Lord kept this vocation hidden from me for so long. All it took was a simple Google search to discover what my heart had always hungered for. But looking back, I can see Christ’s hand in everything. In His perfect order and perfect timing, He was gently preparing my heart to belong exclusively to Him.  

When I turned down that determined suitor, the Lord was preserving me to be His spouse. Truly, I was never meant to belong to anyone but Christ. He is is the first, the last, and the only, Love of my soul.  

And for all eternity, I am His; I am not my own.

He Loves, He Hopes, He Waits

By Cathy Webb

Every seat was taken. I peered through the frosted glass doors once again, hoping I hadn’t seen correctly. But there was no mistaking it: the Adoration chapel was at full capacity.

Crushed, I walked back to my car as the desperate need to be in Christ’s presence enveloped me in a deluge of tears. Taking out my journal, I poured out my heart to Him and waited.

Nearly an hour later, I walked back inside. In my sobbing state, I hadn’t noticed the adorers slowly departing. Now, just one other woman remained. I knelt in front of the monstrance and allowed Christ’s Eucharistic gaze to wash over me. After a while, I heard shuffling as the other woman gathered her things and left.

Suddenly I was faced with a realization: the next scheduled adorer hadn’t shown up. Stunned, I just sat there in front of the Eucharist, not knowing what to say or do. Believe it or not, this was my first time ever being alone with the Blessed Sacrament. Sure, I often had virtual Holy Hours at home by myself, but this was different. Here I was, being handed a face to face, one-on-one encounter with the Word Made Flesh.

Not wanting to waste this precious moment, I asked Him, “Lord, what do You want to say to me? What do you want me to say to you?” The words I heard Christ speak to my heart are only for Him and I (and my spiritual director) to share. But what I can tell you is that His words—and my honest response to them—were the catalyst in a journey toward full healing of which I am still reaping the fruits.

I am telling you all this because I truly believe that Jesus divinely arranged to be alone with me, His beloved daughter, at this particular time and place. He knew what it would take to open my mind and heart to experience a life-changing encounter with Him. The truth is, had I come into the chapel when I originally planned, when it was packed with adorers, I never would have been able to communicate my feelings to Christ in such a personal, intimate way.

Maybe you’ve never been inside an Adoration chapel. Maybe you’re not sure what the purpose of adoration is or why it’s even important.

The answer lies in the prayer of the priest, spoken at every Mass during the consecration: “This is My Body…this is My Blood.”

In the Blessed Sacrament, it is Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity that is really and truly present. As Catholics, we adore and receive Jesus’ Real Presence in communion, and we can continue to adore Him in all the tabernacles around the world.

During Eucharistic Adoration, we pray to Jesus Christ truly present in the Eucharist, typically exposed in a monstrance. If the concept of praying to the God of the Universe under the guise of a tiny white host is hard for you to grasp, ask the Spirit for guidance. And keep showing up! My first time at adoration was super uncomfortable and awkward (almost like a clumsy first date!) but I simply asked Jesus to draw me back to Him, and now there is no other place I’d rather be.

Spending time in Christ’s presence is a deeply transformative practice, and there are no rules when it comes to prayer. You can recite the Rosary, read Scripture, or simply speak to Him about everything that’s on your heart. Use this opportunity to tell Him your own needs, as well as the needs of your family, your friends, and the world. It is also important to just sit in God’s presence and listen.

The Eucharist is the gift of Christ’s very self, perpetually offered out of love. Silent and vulnerable, He subjects Himself to irreverence, ignorance, indifference, and unbelief—all for the sake of remaining with us on the altar.

Through an unexpected grace, Christ cleared the chapel for me that day, and He has set apart a place specifically for you. In the words of St. Maria Goretti, “He loves, He hopes, He waits.”

Jesus is waiting for you, thirsting for a personal relationship with you. So make time with Him a priority. Run to Him. Seek His ever-abiding presence. Allow His all-consuming love to penetrate your soul.

And then sit back as He transforms your prayer and your life.

Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you- for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart.

St. Therese of Liseiux