Listen to the show:
Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Matt Williams
Today’s guest(s): Kathy Reda
Today’s topics: The vocation of the consecrated virgin
Summary of today’s show: Kathy Reda reveals to Scot and Fr. Matt the story of her vocation as a consecrated virgin, one of less than 350 in the United States; how her hospital co-workers handled the news that she was being betrothed to Jesus; and how her counter-cultural witness points to eternity every day in her profession as a nurse.
1st segment: Scot welcomed Fr. Matt back to the show after being away for nearly a month. They talked on air when Fr. Matt was in Madrid for World Youth Day. He asked Scot is he has rapped the Rosary with his kids yet, referring to our 100th show with Joe Melendrez, the Rosary rapper. The last week has been one of recuperation for Fr. Matt.
Scot said it’s a big day at his house today with all three kids starting school, including his youngest who started kindergarten. Fr. Matt said it’s hard to believe the summer went so quickly and the start of the school year is like the beginning of a new year for youth ministry. Scot agreed that much of everything that happens in the Church either follows the liturgical year or the academic year.
Fr. Matt shared a very profound experience during the World Youth Day vigil in Madrid with the lightning storm that hit the field of 1.5 million people. At one point, the Holy Father’s aides asked him if he wanted to end the ceremony early, but the Holy Father refused and asked them to stick it out. Then he asked the pilgrims to pray and soon the rain stopped. Then he invited the pilgrims into the silence and 1.5 million rowdy pilgrims went silent for six minutes of adoration. The next day he blessed the pilgrim crosses given to each participant and asked them to be witnesses to Christ. Fr. Matt asked listeners to pray for pilgrims to be able to live that World Youth Day witness.
Today, we’ll be talking with Kathy Reda about the little-known vocation of consecrated virginity. Typically, consecrated life is religious brothers and sisters, hermits, secular institutes, societies of apostolic life, and consecrated virgins. Most of these aren’t well known to most Catholics and we plan to profile some of them.
2nd segment: Scot and Fr. Matt welcomed Kathy Reda back to the show. She was on the show in early April talking about the Eucharistic Congress. Scot read a definition of consecrated virginity from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
922. “From apostolic times Christian virgins, called by the Lord to cling only to him with greater freedom of heart, body, and spirit, have decided with the Church’s approval to live in a state of virginity ‘for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.’ [Mt 19:12 ; cf. 1 Cor 7:34-36.]
923. “‘Virgins who, committed to the holy plan of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are betrothed mystically to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church.’ By this solemn rite (Consecratio virginum), the virgin is ‘constituted … a sacred person, a transcendent sign of the Church’s love for Christ, and an eschatological image of this heavenly Bride of Christ and of the life to come.’”
924. “‘As with other forms of consecrated life,’ the order of virgins establishes the woman living in the world (or the nun) in prayer, penance, service of her brethren, and apostolic activity, according to the state of life and spiritual gifts given to her. Consecrated virgins can form themselves into associations to observe their commitment more faithfully….”
Scot said Kathy discerned many different vocations in the Church before coming to consecrated virginity. Kathy said there are 12 of them in the Archdiocese of Boston, 350 in the US, and under 3,000 in the world. Growing up she went to Mass every Sunday, taught CCD, and was involved in CYO. Her family was very involved in St. Mary parish, Dedham. Her mother had an untimely death in 1991 and she grew angry at God and didn’t go to Mass for six years. In 1997, Life Teen youth ministry started at her parish and a woman in the parish started inviting her to be involved but she refused. For four months she asked her to go and finally one Sunday when her car wouldn’t start, the woman gave her a ride on the condition she attend the Mass. She was amazed at what she experienced and started going.
On Palm Sunday, during a dramatic re-enactment of the Passion, she was suddenly struck by the reality of Christ dying on the cross for her and she started crying. From then, she got involved in Life Teen and as she shared faith with the kids, she came to know Christ better and better. At first, she didn’t even know what adoration was but it became a powerful part of her prayer life, hearing Christ speak to her in the silence.
Scot asked Kathy at what she started to feel called to a religious vocation. She said she always thought she was called to marriage and family, but as she prayed more she began to pray for God’s will for her. As she looked around at religious orders, none of them appealed to her or seemed to speak to an inner voice. She eventually found out about consecrated virginity. She met with a consecrated virgin and it really spoke to her.
What about the life of a consecrated virgin attracted her to this particular vocation in the Church? Because she also love being a nurse, she didn’t have to give that up. Consecrated virgins live and work in the world. Fr. Matt asked how being a nurse is part of her vocational journey. Kathy said anything you do in life is a calling. God puts on your heart what he has planned for you. For nursing, you want to be there for people and help them. She knew her whole life she wanted to be a nurse. Fr. Matt noted she gave up something in giving up marriage, but now has a relationship with Christ with Him at the center of her life. Fr. Matt said he’s known Kathy for many years and he sees being a nurse in her DNA. Consecrated virginity informs being a nurse and makes it greater.
Kathy said the people she works with just don’t understand consecrated virginity. They often claim she won’t be fulfilled without a sexual relationship, but she replies that she knows many people who are and who aren’t fulfilled. This isn’t a sacrifice for her. She lives with Jesus in that, as a consecrated virgin, she can ask her bishop to allow her to have a chapel in her house with the Blessed Sacrament reserved. This fulfills her in the way that others are fulfilled by marriage.
Kathy fell in love God, but it’s a unique way compared to how others love God. It is a more spousal type of love. In the rite of consecration, the virgin wears a wedding gown and marital imagery is a large part of the vocation. She becomes betrothed to Christ. Kathy said Christ is always present to her in a particular way that she is called to be his.
3rd segment: It’s time to announce the winner of the weekly WQOM Benefactor Raffle.
Our prize this week is A Catholic Handbook For Engaged and Newly Married Couples by Frederick Marks and Sex au Naturel: What It Is and Why It’s Good for Your Marriage by Patrick Coffin.
This week’s winner is Denise Chmielinski from Ashland, MA. Congratulations Denise!
If you would like to be eligible to win in an upcoming week, please visit WQOM.org. For a one-time $30 donation, you’ll receive the Station of the Cross benefactor card and key tag, making you eligible for WQOM’s weekly raffle of books, DVDs, CDs and religious items. We’ll be announcing the winner each Wednesday during “The Good Catholic Life” program.
4th segment: Scot said the rite of consecration is very beautiful. He asked about the promises made in the rite. Kathy said they promise to live a chaste and holy life, to pray the Divine Office, to attend daily Mass, to spend a lot of time in prayer for others, and to remain unmarried and without children. They aren’t promise obedience or poverty because they support themselves with their own jobs. Scot noted all Catholics are called to chastity within their state in life, while consecrated virgins are called to celibacy. Scot asked how difficult it is to live such a witness in a hyper-sexualized society? Kathy said at first even she was squeamish about telling everyone she was becoming a consecrated virgin. Her co-workers have asked every possible question about it and they just don’t get it at all.
Fr. Matt said Kathy is living the eternal marriage feast of the Lamb of God, as depicted in Scripture, and she’s living it now while we will be living it in eternity. The consecrated virgin is a living sign of something that points to something beyond ourselves.
Kathy said the reaction to her announcement of her ceremony was, first, “What?” and then, “That’s kind of cool.” One Jewish doctor at work, when she told him she was marrying Jesus, he said, “I knew you’d marry the top of the class and marry a Jew.” BEhind her back, she’s heard people wondering if she knows what she’s doing.
Scot said our society confuses pleasure and happiness. People have a problem understanding vocations in the Church that involve a commitment to chastity because they think happiness depends on unbridled pleasure. Fr. Matt said a common theme among young adults who won’t be committed to one another in marriage and then eventually kind of back into it, rather than considering from the beginning whether God has a plan for them to journey together in this life and into the next. They are so caught up in the moment, they don’t step back to look at the wider ideal that God has a plan for our lives.
Kathy said she doesn’t wake up every day acknowledging she won’t have kids or a husband. She just is who she is. She lives in the presence of Christ and through the sacraments she stays connected to Christ. It feeds who she is.
Kathy gets up at 5am to pray before work. She’ll often work a shift that begins at 7am. If she has an 8-hour shift she attends Mass after work, but if she does have 12-hour shift, she won’t be able to go that day.
As a consecrated virgin, she doesn’t live in community so Scot asked who her “community” is. Kathy said the community of her parish as well as another consecrated virgin she meets with monthly. Annually, she attends a retreat in Chicago for a national meeting of consecrated virgins.
5th segment: Kathy said being a consecrated virgin is a very joyful life. She encouraged all to pray and ask God to reveal what He is calling them to. It is a grace and honor to be His spouse. When you are completely his and can live for him, it makes the path clear.
Fr. Matt asked whether Kathy is lonely or how she deals with questions of what happens when she dies. She recalled Psalm 60: “My Lord, my happiness lies in you alone.” God provides in this life and the next.
Kathy said we have to get the word out, especially to priests, so they can share it as an option with those who are discerning God’s will for them.