The Single Consecrated Life is a covenant commitment whereby a person professes a vow of consecrated celibacy as a way of making a personal response to God’s call. Some will exercise an apostolic ministry and others a more contemplative lifestyle. The vow is received by a bishop following a period of testing and preparation. In most cases, candidates will take a temporary vow for a period of years before making a life vow. The bishop will appoint someone to be the ‘guardian of the vow’ who will normally meet with the vowed person at least annually. Those in the Single Consecrated Life are invited to register their consecration with the Advisory Council on the Relations of Bishops and Religious Communities and to belong to the Single Consecrated Life Network which has regular meetings and a magazine. Members of the Network can also assist with vocational formation.
The ancient tradition is for the vowed person to make a single vow of consecrated celibacy.
The vows of poverty and obedience which are normally made by those living within a religious community should not be made, but the spirit of the evangelical counsels may be expressed by promises of direction of life, stewardship or simplicity. A commitment to a particular lifestyle, devotion or ministry may also be made at the time of consecration but the vowed person should bear in mind that personal circumstances might change. A ring and/or a cross and/or an office, candle, icon or office book may be given during the Rite of Consecration as outward symbols of the vow and life being undertaken.
The candidate may be presented by a vowed person in the Single Consecrated Life or by some other appropriate person.
Bishop: N, What do you seek?
Candidate: I seek to make a vow of celibacy and to continue to consecrate my life to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Bishop: Are you resolved to live (to the end of your days) in the state of celibacy and in the service of God and his Church?
Candidate: I am.
Bishop: Are you resolved to accept (solemn) consecration in the single life following the example our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God who in love gave his life for the salvation of the world?
Candidate: I am.
Bishop and all present: Thanks be to God.
Bishop: Brothers and sisters, let us pray to God the Almighty Father through his Son Jesus Christ, that he will pour out the Holy Spirit on N, his servant whom he has called to be consecrated in his service.
A Litany may be said or sung
The Bishop invites the candidate to make his/her profession
Candidate: Father, receive my resolution to follow Christ in a life of consecrated celibacy, which I here profess (for x years/life) before you and God’s people, and pray that I may be given grace to persevere in love and faithfulness.
The Bishop then says the prayer of Consecration
Loving Father, you have loved and redeemed us through your Son Jesus Christ. He is your Word, through whom all things were made. Look with favour on this your servant N. who has resolved to follow you in the holy state of celibacy. You have inspired him/her to make this vow and s/he now gives you his/her heart.
Lord, protect N as s/he desires to be strengthened by your blessing and consecration.
Here the bishop may anoint the candidate
Through the gift of your Holy Spirit, give him/her chastity with right judgement, kindness with true wisdom, gentleness with strength of character, freedom with purity of heart. Give him/her the gift of love to love you above all others. May his/her life deserve our praise, without seeking to be praised. May s/he give you glory by holiness of life. Be yourself his/her glory, joy and whole desire. Be his/her comfort in sorrow, his/her wisdom in perplexity, his/her protection in the midst of in justice, his/her patience in adversity, his/her riches in poverty, his/her food in fasting, his/her remedy in sickness. S/he has chosen you above all things, may s/he find all things in possessing you.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. All: Amen.
Bishop: Lord God, bless + and hallow this ring and this cross as the outward sign of the vow that N has made/renewed this day. The bishop gives the ring/cross and says: Receive this ring and this cross and wear them as a sign of your consecration and be faithful to him who has called you to himself.
If an office book is presented, the bishop says: Receive this book that contains the prayer of the Church. May the praise of our heavenly Father be always on your lips; Pray without ceasing for the salvation of the whole world.
The Eucharist continues with the Peace or Intercessions. At the end of the Eucharist
The bishop blesses the candidate with these words: God who inspires all holy desires and brings them to fulfilment, may he protect you always by his grace, so that you may fulfil the duties of your vocation with a faithful heart. Amen. May he make you a witness and a sign of love for all people. Amen. May he make those bonds with which he has bound you to Christ on earth endure for ever in heavenly love. Amen.
The bishop blesses all present: The blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen