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Consecrated virgin: ‘Everything is grace’

November 8, 2023

By Mary Beth Bracy, consecrated virgin
Contributing Writer

Before I became a consecrated virgin, I saw an interview Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke – former moderator of the U.S. Association of Consecrated Virgins – gave about the vocation. Asked “What difference would the Consecration make in my life if I already have a promise of perpetual virginity?,” he simply replied: “Grace.”

At the time, I scratched my head at the brevity of his answer. However, having recently celebrated my six-month anniversary as a consecrated virgin in the world, I better understand the wisdom of the reply, also an echo of my patroness St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s words: “Everything is grace.”

Those who know me would probably say I am a reserved person, so “going out into the deep” (Luke 5:4) in a public vocation was a big plunge. For instance, before becoming a consecrated virgin, if I was asked to do an interview I would pray about and plan out my responses in detail in advance and ask trusted loved ones to look at my answers. Shortly after becoming a consecrated virgin, I began acting as a spokesperson for the book I Would Like to Travel the World, written by Bishop Guy Gaucher. By God’s grace – that is His free gift – I’ve done about 20 radio interviews or podcasts, and a few TV interviews. The Holy Spirit has filled me with courage and guided me to answer questions about this book, my vocation and other topics, often on live programs. “Everything is grace.”

Soon after my consecration, a ministry I had prayed about for several months also began – Friendship Groups. This virtual opportunity has drawn faithful from the North Country and throughout the world together to learn about and discuss spiritual books. Thanks be to God, many have shared how much the group has helped them experience God’s mercy and love more deeply in their lives. “Everything is grace.”

It is always a blessing to write articles for the North Country Catholic, Catholic Exchange and other faith publications. Through these forums, I have received interview requests about my vocation, saints I’ve written about, etc. Before I began working for Sophia Institute Press, I was joking with Darcy Fargo about my dream job and said, “It would be great to get paid to write about the saints full-time.” Praise God, the work I do is quite similar and lends itself to living out my vocation. “Everything is grace.”

People often ask me, what is the ministry of a consecrated virgin? How is your life different after you become a consecrated virgin? Above all, a consecrated virgin is called to be a sign of the Church’s love for Christ. As a Bride of Christ, the heart of who I am is to be “all in,” mystically espoused to Jesus. Strong relationships require open communication and frequent time spent with the people we love. Daily Mass and Holy Communion, Adoration, Liturgy of the Hours, prayer, and the Rosary help me foster more fervent love for my Bridegroom. They also afford me the opportunity to, as Bishop LaValley said during my consecration, “pray without ceasing for the salvation of the world.” This vocation and mission are immense gifts. “Everything is grace.”

As with all vocations, my life is not meant to be lived in isolation or for myself – it is for the Church and humanity. At my parish, Holy Cross, we are blessed to have recently begun praying the Liturgy of the Hours a few times a week. Additionally, in October, Holy Cross added the recitation of the Rosary before all weekend Masses. Volunteers also passed out vocation prayers to all of the shut-ins in my parish to ask them to pray for vocations and the seminarians in our diocese. Father Kevin (McEwan) encouraged promotion of Eucharistic Adoration in our parish in solidarity with the Eucharistic Congress. It has also been a great joy for me to share with others about the many graces that flow from the weekly Adoration at St. John’s.

When I attended the Eucharistic Congress in Auriesville, I was reminded more profoundly of the unity of the Church in its vocations. Praying in the beautiful chapel where the 40 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration was held, I noticed that to the left of the monstrance was a painting of St. Isaac Jogues. Underneath the painting, text read “The blood of the martyrs,” and to the right of the monstrance was a painting of St. Kateri Tekakwitha with the caption “is the seed of Christians.” St. Kateri is a model for consecrated virgins and all of us. As Bishop LaValley said in his homily at the Eucharistic Congress, “The Lily of the Mohawks, all our North American Martyrs, the communion of Saints, have shown us what love can do. Their love, their encounter with the Eucharistic Christ empowered their mission mindedness in the face of real opposition. God is love, my sisters and brothers. If we want to know what love is, we’ve got to know God intimately. I couldn’t help but think as the Blessed Sacrament was exposed in front of this high altar before the crucified one … if you want to know love spend time gazing on the crucified one and the Real Presence in the tabernacle.”

Above all, consecrated virginity is a “vocation of love.” It’s not so much about what or how much we do in terms of ministries, it is about intimate love for God which pours out into the lives of others. As I lay prostrate on the church floor during my consecration and the Litany of the Saints was sung, I remember hearing in my heart “You are called, you are chosen.” This is the same message God personally speaks to each of our hearts. Resting in the knowledge of how much we are loved and cherished by God, by His grace, we are able to respond through our humble prayers and hidden acts of charity for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

So, why should someone “go out into the deep” and live out a public vocation in the Church? Recently, I felt overwhelmed by practical demands, and I shared this with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration. He replied: “Let me overwhelm you with My love.” Overwhelming love and grace are wedding gifts of the Divine Bridegroom. So, with St. Thérèse, we can say: “Because I was little and feeble, Our Lord stooped down to me and lovingly instructed me in the secrets of His love.” And, in responding to His divine invitation, we can echo the Little Flower’s words: “I thank You, O my God! for all the graces You have granted me.” “Everything is grace.”

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