Our Prior, Rachel, committed to the Single Consecrated Life (see more here) in the service at St John the Baptist Church in Leicester, which included the following prayer of consecration from Bishop Martyn:
Look with favour on this your servant Rachel, who has resolved to follow you in the holy state of celibacy.
You have inspired her to make this vow
and she now gives you her heart.
Lord, protect Rachel, that she may be strengthened by your blessing and consecration.
You can read the full Order of Service here.
After the service Rachel wrote about her decision to explain it to others:
“I made my First Vow to the Single Consecrated Life in a service of celebration among friends, family, colleagues and Community. This is a call I have heard God whispering into my life over the years, but it came very clearly and invitingly whilst I was on retreat three years ago.
“I realise this isn’t something you hear of someone doing terribly often, so let me explain a little of what it means to me…God has already gifted me other vocations; to be a teacher, to be a priest, but now this, which goes right to the heart of me, bringing a sense of fulfilment and strengthening my capacity to live out the other callings.
“What is Consecrated Celibacy? Well, just as the Church recognises marriage as a vocation and ‘state of life’, it also recognises the call to consecrated celibacy, which is why I was able to have my vow received by Bishop Martyn in a public service. From the days of the New Testament Church, we know there were people who felt this call of God to remain single, following the example of Jesus, making this choice in order to dedicate themselves, body and soul, in a completely ‘undivided’ way (2 Corinthians, Chapter 7, v34-35).
“Two words that are important for me in this commitment are ‘chosen’ and ‘contemplative’.
“Chosen: for many people the single life is not chosen or desirable; I too felt this very keenly at times. My experience now, though, is of ‘being chosen’ and ‘choosing’, stepping deeper into my relationship with Christ. It feels every bit as fulfilling and beautiful as being invited into a marriage. So, whilst the vow of celibacy involves renouncing the possibility of marriage, it is for me now, an overwhelmingly positive choice, a joy-filled response to God’s choosing, a ‘YES’ that I am saying wholeheartedly and gladly.
“Contemplative: the vow of celibacy is the touchstone of the monastic tradition that has for so long drawn me. In this vow I am voicing my commitment to live a rhythm of prayer, exploring a ‘new monastic way’ in everyday life. The charism of celibacy is about creating a rule of life in which there is ‘space’ for God, a solitude of heart, seeking ‘the one thing necessary’ (Luke, Chapter 10, v42).”
If you are interested in knowing more, Rachel is happy to be available to talk to anyone for whom this raises questions. You can contact her on: Rachel.Bennetts@LeicesterCofE.org