One of the great blessings of religious life, but one often not understood, is consecrated celibacy. It’s a gift of God. Living it requires healthy self-knowledge and self-esteem, ability to enter into friendships that are wholesome and respectful, capacity to embrace solitude and deal with loneliness, and a personal awareness of God’s love and call that makes one want to give all back to God.
An article written by Kevin McClone, “What Every Vocation Minister Should Know About Healthy Sexuality,” ( Horizon, Journal of the National Religious Vocation Conference, Summer 2013) has some helpful points on the topic. I share just a few. “To be sexual is fundamentally to be relational and to grow in emotional maturity through every stage of life. . . . Candidates to religious life and priesthood are called to live with their sacred gift of sexuality in a way that honors self, others and God. . . . Healthy sexuality for candidates—for anyone, really—involves the whole person. . . .body, heart, mind and spirit within the context of all a person’s relationships.”
He poses some questions for those considering religious life. They include: Given my life in relationship growing up, what have I learned about myself? Do I relate comfortably with those of the same sex . . . Opposite sex? Am I able to be emotionally available to others? How do I cope with tension, anxiety and stress? Can I pray comfortably about my sexual feelings, longings, and attractions? Is my life imbued with meaning and passion and an aliveness that reflects a fullness of love’s gift?
Consecrated celibacy is one’s response to “finding the treasure” of God’s love. It’s hearing Jesus say, “you did not choose me; I chose you.” Giving one’s whole self makes sense only because it’s done with love.