Sunday, November 29, 2009


Celibacy is not about the will; it is not about getting busy; it is not that you do not have the urge for sex that makes it possible for you to embrace celibacy. If we were animals the above may be true. Man is the combination of body and spirit. Man has the mind to speculate; a sense of conscience; a longing for something greater than that which exists in this world. Above all man has revelation. As human, our urge is not only to have sex but to have a relationship. This is made manifest in the fact that we have been created in the image and likeness of God and God is a relationship (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Celibacy is, therefore, a choice to be able to find relationship for your spirit with God. Thus, just as we will want to satisfy our body needs, celibacy invites us to satisfy the Spiritual needs. That is why even marriage couples can set aside sometime to avoid sex to satisfy their spiritual urge.
Having sex is not what fulfills but having a relationship. That is why even in marriage, a couple can commit adultery in their heart when one sees the other as a sex tool. Celibacy is a matter of the will in relation with God and not just a matter of the will alone. It is this relation with God that can keep you committed to celibacy and not your ‘busyness’. If you don’t have an urge how can you enter into a relationship?
There are three levels of relationships found in the context of the Priesthood and the Eucharist:
• Intimacy
• Appreciation
• Acceptance
The above are mutually exclusive. Christ maintains these three levels of relationship with us namely he is intimate with us; he appreciates us; he accepts us for who we are. In the Eucharist, when we eat God, we become like him and not he like us. For it said that we become what we eat. Indeed, the Eucharist is the only food that when we eat does not die but remains alive. There is only one person who calls us to a lasting relationship, even when we die his relationship with us is intact. God is that person. Therefore, sacrifice is the catchy word in any relationship. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can be chaste; that we can be celibate. It is our body that express this reality of the Spirit and that is why God chose to dwell in our bodies (the incarnation)
On the physical and emotional level, celibacy is the ability to know oneself as sexual and to experience some considerable comfort with that knowledge. It is the ability to regard oneself as sexual without experiencing neither the internal or external demand to do something about it- neither the need nor demand to act it out. It is the choice not to act out one’s sexuality in a genital or romantic way.
On the level of relationships, celibacy is the ability to cherish and nurture other people’s being and becoming without establishing bonds of mutual emotional dependence with them. It means not to be married, and not to be pursuing the path which naturally leads to marriage. It is the ability to establish warm and deep relationships with others by loving them and by being loved by them in a non-exclusive and non- possessive way. It is a way of loving which allows the celibate person to say. “They and I are better off for our having been together, but no worse off for our parting.”
On a practical level, celibacy is a way of remaining significantly more available to cherish and nurture others’ being and becoming because of the choice not to take on the responsibilities of establishing and maintaining family units.
On the level of social impact, the prophetic level, it is a way of living which seriously challenges the hedonistic tendencies in all of us. It says that an auto is not something to believe in, that you don’t necessarily deserve a break today, and that self- fulfillment is not the ultimate meaning of life.
On the personal level, spiritual level, celibacy is a commitment to stand ready to enter fully and vulnerably into life’s moments of loneliness because God can be found concrete in such moments. It is a commitment to face the reality in our separateness and incompleteness and to allow ourselves to experience, however momentarily, that our own being and becoming is blessed by God and to discover the radical all- sufficiency of God.
But dissected, into its various levels and parts, celibacy cannot be understood, because religious celibacy is a lifestyle which integrates all of these parts and levels in such a way that speaking only of one or the other aspect of this whole will severely distort the meaning of the experience. And yet each level and aspect of it needs to be verified if an individual is truly to live celibacy.
And finally, on the level of Christian faith, celibacy is this lifestyle taken up and lived in response to a call or invitation one has received from God to live as Jesus did. The call to be celibate is a gift from God. Celibacy as a lifestyle has never been upheld as a value by the Church. It is celibacy “For the sake of the kingdom of God” which has always been promoted. It has always presumed that the individual who takes up the celibate life has had an overwhelming experience of God.
In sum, our ministry is a collaborative one. The celibate life is no exception; it must be lived collaboratively otherwise we will cause scandal to our generation; a scandal which will come from the popular notion that “Everybody for himself God for us all”. We must necessarily provide support for one another; a support which is borne out of

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