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The Nature of Vocational Consecration: Scriptural, Liturgical, and Prayerful

The Consecration of St. Lawrence (Fra Angelico [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

On whether consecration, particularly vocational consecration, is scriptural, liturgical, and prayerful; submitted October 25th, 2017.

Consecration—particularly personal consecration to the service of the Church—is, in and of itself, something divine: “the person who surrenders himself to the God he loves above all else thereby consecrates himself more intimately to God's service and to the good of the whole Church.”[1] In that way, with special regard for the faithful, consecration is indeed scriptural, liturgical, and prayerful; Scriptural in its significance and message, liturgical in the way it expresses itself in the life of the Church, and prayerful in the way it is understood, received, and realized. In Scripture, the notion of consecration is ever-present, appearing throughout with varying degrees of purpose. Consecration, as it plays out throughout the Bible, is a process or form which dedicates something or someone to God in an incredibly intimate way. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”[2] Marked for God, people and items were made holy, and thusly made more useful in the carrying out of God’s will. As a consecrated person, one was reserved for special duty in the work of God, and for the spreading of the message of Christ. In this way, Scripture allows, and indeed calls, for the continuation of the practice of consecration. Leading to the next point, consecration is liturgical and prayerful. Being careful to preserve the profound closeness between the liturgy and prayerfulness, it is understood that the act—and life—of consecration binds its subject to the Church in a sacramental way. As an outward expression of a deep, supernatural effect, the consecrated person lives out the nature of the liturgy through prayer. It seems that, with consecration, prayer is an invaluable resource in maintaining the life of the Christian, especially in times of depravity. Consider 1 Timothy, where Paul writes, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving; for then it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”[3] Further, in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the value and importance of consecration is evidenced by its effect on the host, offered to God, which becomes Christ Jesus in the flesh; taking something of little value, and making of it something which God can use for his own purpose. Consider also those consecrated men and women, who in service to the Church, offer their time, talents, and treasures to the Mass in celebration of the liturgies, and most perfectly (for men) in the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The special consecration of the faithful, whether religious, ordained, or layperson, truly conveys the message, will, and plans of God as they bring to light the nature of his Church. In prayer, the candidate for consecration discerns God’s will, and makes himself holy when he acknowledges the will of God for himself. In the liturgy, the life the consecrated person is lived out, as he enjoys the fruits of the liturgies of the Mass. The liturgy also applies, of course, as the process by which the person becomes consecrated, offering himself to God in due process, likely during a liturgy. Finally, consecration is unavoidably Scriptural. As the “soul” of theology,[4] and the foundation of all of Church teaching, Sacred Scripture necessarily marries the significance of consecrated life with the nature of prayer. Just as Paul reminded us earlier, prayer is, with consecration, an act of gratitude to God and fidelity to his service. [1] CCC, 945. [2] Jeremiah 1:5 (RSV). [3] 1 Timothy 4:4-5 (RSV). [4] Conf. Petroc Willey, Pierre de Cointet, Barbara Morgan. The Catechism of the Catholic Church the Craft of Catechesis (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008), 110, referencing Optatam Totius, 16.

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