Indiana high school teacher Jessica Hayes has earned herself quite a tough task in impressing the in-laws by marrying none other that the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Hayes, 38, is now officially a consecrated virgin, having married Christ in an unusual ceremony that involved her lying prostrate on the altar at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne, IN.
The theology teacher joins around 3,500 consecrated virgins worldwide, 230 of whom are in the US, who have pledged to never have sex or to marry. Quite a commitment to make to a man who has over 3,500 other wives.
Joined mostly by strangers intrigued by the elaborate ceremony to marry the man up above, the theology teacher sealed her commitment after years of prayer and soul-searching.
“I had been praying about it for years, trying to seek God’s will for my life and not really finding it in any of the paths that I sought before," Hayes told WANE.
“It was really a consideration of which things brought me the most joy and where my greatest happiness was. It seemed that all of those loves converged on this one thing where I could still be living in the world and be a part of the lives of my students and be studying and teaching and involved in a parish life, but I could also give myself more completely by making this total commitment of my life to serve the church in whatever capacity is needed and whatever capacity my own gifts are available for.”
Although now set to lead a lifestyle similar to a nun, consecrated virgins differ slightly. Both remain chaste throughout their lifetimes, but consecrated virgins are not required to live in a convent or engage in any particular kind of work for the Catholic Church.
Consecrated virgins are Catholic women who have never had sex or been married/lived in violation of chastity (moved in with a man) and who choose to remain celibate throughout their lives by marrying God; white dress, ring, veil and all.
The practice had died out in the Middle Ages, but was revived in 1970 by Pope Paul VI. They are still extremely rare, however. Hayes' was the first ceremony of its kind in the Fort Wayne area in 25 years.
For Hayes, her life will pretty much continue as it was before the marriage ceremony.
“My students asked if they should call me Mrs. Hayes when I come back to school next week, and no, I’m still Ms.,” she told WANE.
“But I am married to Jesus.”
“I think that in some sense, we’re all called to be married. It’s just a matter of discerning how. So, my marriage is to Christ and someone else’s marriage is to their spouse,” she continued.
The marriage, overseen by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, was well attended by “interested” onlookers, only encouraging Hayes that she had made the right decision in her commitment to God.
“Now that I’ve made a public commitment, that’s really an encouragement to me to live up to that because people know that this is who I am and my life needs to be lived in conformity with that,” she explained.
“So, it’s one more step in that direction that others expect this way of life from me and I need to live consistently in my words and actions that love for Jesus.
“I’m so happy to have had so many witnesses (at the wedding) because there may be others that the Lord is calling in this way that have now heard of this life and can consider it in their prayer.”
Wanting to shine on her big day as any bride would, the 38-year old spent quite a time deliberating over her choice of wedding dress, especially as she would be required to lie on the altar during the ceremony.
“I’ve seen so many wedding dresses over the years that I think I’ve probably changed my mind very many times,'” she told WANE.
“I had to really consider the appropriateness of the occasion for my dress.
“I wanted my shoulders to be covered, and I would have to lie prostrate before the altar, so I really wanted to make sure that I was well-covered in a way that still shows the beauty of a bride.”
Here's HS teacher Jessica Hayes who "married" Jesus at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne, Indiana. pic.twitter.com/FB016YV42W— Roger & JP (@RogerandJP) August 19, 2015
H/T: Daily Mail