Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Spiritual Family "The Work," the Bishop of Eichstätt, and the Rationale

The Spiritual Family "The Work" (Familia Spiritualis Opus), an organization of pontifical right consisting of two communities, one of clergy and brothers, the other of sisters, recently officially vested three novices in the choir habit in a ceremony held at St. Gallus Church in Bregenz. The rite included a mass celebrated by Gregor Maria Hanke, OSB, Bishop of Eichstätt.

I have very little personal experience with with The Work, but some of its sisters were active in a number of laudable spiritual programs in local parishes when I was living in New York, and I was fascinated to see images of their striking and picturesque choir habit, which includes a circled resembling a highly-stylized crown of thorns. It, including the veil, and the society's custom of carrying a lit oil lamp, recall very specifically, the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. The choir habit is worn only on solemn liturgical occasions on Sundays and feastdays, a sensible compromise that allows a distinct sense of identity while adapted to the practical circumstances of their ministry.

Our readers may enjoy reading some of the bishop's homily on the significance of the consecrated life:

It is about a growth in love, in your life and in the Church. A calling in the Church is never a call to a job or function, but a call to a person. A vocation is an appeal to grow into a relation, a relation with God’s love. A call to the three evangelical counsels is a journey of growing in love. This journey begins of course with less of His love, so that more of His love can be given to me. The One, who is more than everything else in this world, must grow in me.
Bishop Hanke also wore the traditional and rarely-seen rationale, an item of vesture discussed here before which, in this form, is a unique privilege of the bishop of Eichstätt.

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