Cara Buskmiller is an aspiring OB-GYN from Dallas, TX who recently became a consecrated virgin. Today, I ask her about what exactly that kind of lifestyle entails.
What exactly is a consecrated virgin and how does that differ from being a nun? Are you joining with a consecrated order or an independent one?
I am going to be consecrated a virgin as Canon 604 permits. This means I am not joining a religious order (apostolic or contemplative). I am also not joining an ecclesial movement like the Focolare or Regnum Christi. This form of consecrated life is the original, simplest form for virgins who wish to become brides of Christ. We don’t have an “order” in the typical sense, but we can associate and live together.
What would your daily responsibilities be as a consecrated virgin and an OB/GYN?
A consecrated virgin living in the world must be flexible in her schedule, because she is at the disposal of Him who called her to the often-chaotic world. Under ordinary circumstances, the consecrated virgin prays the liturgy of the hours (at least Morning and Evening prayer), attends daily Mass, and meditates on Sacred Scripture. Many of us pray the Rosary and spend time in spiritual reading. My clinical duties require eighty-hour work weeks, so fitting all of this in is often a challenge. It is very important that I constantly sanctify the present moment so that I pray and love in every action.
So why consecrated virginity? What drew you to that particular vocation?
God makes each of our hearts for our vocation, so there are often many, many reasons! This is the case with me.
Consecrated virginity is lived in the world, which fits my desire to serve and to heal in corporal works of mercy. I wanted to live radically, completely at the disposal of others, especially my family and patients. This desire is fulfilled by a life in which the Rule is simply God’s will in the moment, and the horarium can be frequently and legitimately interrupted by Jesus in others.
It is a bridal vocation, which fits my desire to be in love, to belong to Someone, and to be deeply known. At the same time, it is a quiet vocation: I will wear no habit except a ring. It is a maternal vocation, which fits my desire to carry souls, in imitation of Mary. It is not linked to any founder or spirituality except Christ and the Church, which fits my synthetic mind and my desire for Church and Christian unity.
So how will you integrate your faith into your career?
Even in a largely pro-choice culture, integrating faith in my career is not the hardest struggle I have. That distinction goes to integrating faith with myself. I work to strength my faith with holy friendships and frequent reception of the Sacraments. I try to form my conscience by educating myself about the Church’s teachings and going to Confession. I want to be full of faith, hope, and courage to live as if God existed, as if sin was worse than death, and as if I was destined to be a great saint with an unrepeatable mission. If I can do that, integrating my faith and my career is no problem: I just drive to work.
Practically speaking, living faithfully as an OB/GYN means that I do not prescribe contraceptives, provide primary sterilization, or participate in abortions. It further means that I get to offer women fertility awareness and natural family planning, which get more exciting with every paper that comes out about their good effects.
Who are your go-to saints and what devotions do you have for this particular process?
I go to anyone whose name I know, but I love Our Lady, St. Joseph, St. Joan of Arc, and the physician-saints (St. Luke, Sts. Cosmas and Damian, St. Giuseppe, St. Gianna, and others.) I consecrate myself to Our Lady yearly and try to pray the Rosary daily.
What advice would you give to those who are discerning and to young adults who want to work in the medical field?
To those discerning: have courage and joy. You have a vocation right now, which God can use to its fullest if you allow Him. Allowing Him to use you now helps you do this later, when you’re on your way to or finally in your permanent state in life. Do this by being at peace, taking care of yourself, growing in faith and virtue, and developing your gifts. Also remember that God doesn’t want you to be in the dark or uncertain, and He doesn’t want you to “miss” anything.
A mid-level clinician (physician assistant or nurse practitioner) can do now what a doctor did in the early last century; a doctor now has a different set of unique privileges. A doctor (MD or DO) can be a supervisor of clinicians, an entrepreneur, an innovator, and a superspecialist. If you don’t want to be these things, I suggest going mid-level: you’ll still have your patients, you’ll still diagnose and manage, but you won’t have as many years of school, nor as much debt and liability.