Lay consecrated are people who consecrate themselves to God through promises of poverty, chastity and obedience, while still remaining lay people. They are usually associated with some group or Movement. As lay people they remain “in the world” and often exercise careers while giving a priority in their lives to prayer, witness and service.
Certain men and women in the Emmanuel Community receive the call to give themselves entirely to God in celibacy for the Kingdom. The first commitments in celibacy took place on 3rd January 1981. There are now more than 200 men and women in five continents living out this calling.
These are lay people who go out to meet others and seek to love them by following and announcing Christ in their everyday lives.
In imitating Christ by their poverty, chastity and obedience, they demonstrate God’s primacy and spur other baptised people to go further in giving of themselves. Their life choice and their undivided love for Christ witness to the vocation that we all have – i.e. to live in God at the present moment and for all eternity. It is a witness to the world.
Committed celibacy for the Kingdom is a form of missionary life, marked by the Community’s charisms. In foregoing the possibility of raising a family, members committed in celibacy are more personally available for Adoration, compassion and evangelisation. With all the other members of the Emmanuel Community, from whom they receive witness and support, they seek to be led by the Holy Spirit and grow in sanctity in order to serve Christ and mankind at the heart of the world.
What is religious life/Lay consecrated life ? What is the difference?
The people who live religious life are called “Religious”. Religious seek to follow Christ more closely by publicly professing the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in a recognized religious order, giving public witness of their consecration by wearing a religious habit, and they live in community.
There are religious orders or communities of men and of women. Women religious are nuns and male religious can be either priests or brothers. Religious communities often refer to themselves as “religious families”. Each has its own Founder and mission, and its own “family spirit” or spirituality.
That is why if you are considering religious life it is necessary to get to know particular communities.
Consecrated life in the Emmanuel Community
A vocation at the heart of the world
Testimony of a consecrated sister and brother of the Emmanuel Community
I grew up in the southwest of France, near Lourdes. I always loved Christ. As a child I read the Passion each night before falling asleep. I cried in my bed, not understanding why people treated Jesus so badly. I loved the Church too. Then the young people of my age began to desert Sunday Mass in the village. I was the only young person in a small congregation. People said, ‘Isabelle will be a good nun’. For many people a good sister was someone who had not managed to get marriedand in addition was not good for very much. I grew up with these ideas. I was completely divided. On one hand, I had a great thirst for God. I loved going to the grotto at Lourdes, I was touched by priests and religious who were filled with God, like the parish priest of my village. On the other hand, I tried to convince myself that I would not become a nun. This resulted in a festive and very social student life and doing unusual sports such as parascending. This reassured me.
After graduate studies in Toulouse, I came to Paris in 1999 to carry on my work as an air traffic controller. I was more and more unhappy. The compromise that I was living did not make any sense.A friend told me about the Youth Forum in Paray, and I went there. I thought I would easily find apriest there for confession. I did. And I found God’s mercy. And so my life has changed. I understoodthat it was Christ who would make me happy. I started going to Mass during the week, to pray every day, and the question of vocation came back. I did not speak about it, neither to myself, nor to anyone who could have helped me, nor to God. It was there, just like a fear.
In August 2000, I was back in Paray. One evening they invited all the people committed in celibacy to come up to the podium. A lady sitting next to me said, “I thought you would go up too”. I said ‘no’in a sly way.
Then she said to me,“Like me, it must be too late”
This sentence was to be the cause of much reflection afterwards. Back home, I decided to talk to the Lord about it. I realized very quickly that He knew better than I what would make me happy. Then Icried and I prayed the prayer of Fr de Foucauld,
“Father, I abandon myself to you, do with me what you will.”
From then on I started my journey in life committed in celibacy in the Emmanuel Community. I sometimes think of the joy I felt the first time I welcomed this call from the Lord. This joy has never ceased to increase. This is something major in my life. I continued to do my job as an air traffic controller. I try to be a presence among my work colleagues. I pray hard for them, that one day they will also meet God’s mercy.
Isabelle: air traffic controller
Attracted by Christ, but not inclined to a life consecrated to God, Isabelle for long lived a divided life. Today, her career as an air traffic controller does not prevent her from journeying with the Emmanuel Community.
Bernard: a meaning to his life
Bernard is committed in celibacy in the Community.
I had looked for a long time for a meaning to life when the Lord permitted me to meet the Emmanuel Community. I found there a living Church with Christians who happily lived out their faith while respecting the tradition of the Church.
At this time of my conversion, the only way forward seemed to become a priest. I made a retreat to discern my call but I did not count on the ‘unexpected of God’. The beginning of my journey helped me to understand that God’s call for me was in the world. I did not think that I could give myself entirely to God while working each day, until the Lord showed me that the work environment can be a place of sanctification.
Being in the world allows one to meet people who do not know God but who have a great thirst for love. One may work, but also listen and be attentive to the suffering of those around us. This is at the heart of our vocation.
A brother committed in celibacy, son of the Father, Christ’s brother and a friend to men and women.Following the example of St. Joseph and of Pierre Goursat, such a brother is called to become a person of Adoration, because it is there that the Lord gives us the desire for a heart burning withc harity for the world.
For discernement for commitement in celibacy for men and women a series of evenings and weekends are offered to discover, deepen and welcome this call from God.