Finished our class sessions on celibacy in religious community yesterday. Have been thinking prayerfully, again, about the reasons why I believe celibacy is the way I was made to love. As one of our formators pointed out, all talk about celibacy is unintelligible without reference to a life centered in God. With that prefatory point taken, these are a few of the reasons among many others that make the fibers of my being resonate when I regard my choice for celibacy.
1. Celibacy is the essential expression of the fundamental commitment my total self to proclamation of the reign of God.
2. Celibacy is the way I make of my body a prophetic sign of the coming reign of God.
3. Celibacy, my celibacy, is the response to a deep interior sense of a personal call.
4. Celibacy grants me the freedom to belong primarily to a religious family, to the people of God, to the body of Christ.
5. Celibacy signifies and effects my felt experience of a spousal relationship with God, namely the Holy Spirit.
6. Celibacy is a charism, a gift, a graced way of being in the world, and it is my charism.
Celibacy is my mode of commitment for holy service;
a visible witness to an invisible reality;
the way to wholeness, maturity, personhood;
liberation from bondage of family, nation, and the tyranny of exclusive loyalty;
intimacy with "what makes the lover lovely";
more than the means to live well--God has given me this way to love.
Celibacy is also poverty. It is good not to forget the existential reality of my own emotional poverty, in renouncing forever the prospect of a physical sexual intimacy with another. But celibacy is neither an escape from nor a flight into personal loneliness. It is an invitation into a communion of loneliness.
A compassionate celibate will not generalize about other people's loneliness from his or her own. Rather, he or she will use loneliness as a conduit into compassion for other people in their emotional poverty. Moving from estrangement to a communion of loneliness: this is to emulate the compassion of the lonely, suffering Christ, God-forsaken but full of the Spirit, love poured out and life given up for others.
The celibate shows compassion for the poor and loveless, putting love where there is no love, finding love in the abyss of one's own soul, out of faith that God, who is love, is there.