A life in chastity. What is it? Is such a life possible today? Come, today I will speak about it.
If we want to summarise what a life in chastity is, we could say: A life in chastity is a life of love! Does that sound paradoxical? I don’t think so, so where is the problem? It is in the context in which we are living today. The word chastity has no longer a concrete meaning. We live in a world, in a situation, in which a life without chastity prevails around us. And no one wants to call it like that at all. We are in a world in which exists the cult of the body, where there is an emphasis on pleasures and they are cultivated, seen as the meaning of life, as something that allows us enjoy life; indeed, the source of our happiness. But is this true? Really?
Let’s see what the Bible says about this.
The standard text is the one of the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, chapter 19, where Jesus talks about celibacy. For Jews celibacy was something unacceptable and not an option. Jesus talks about three kinds of people that have a life of celibacy or, as the canon law expresses it: a life of perfect celibate continence. The first group of celibate people are those who were born like that from their mother’s womb, they are unfit for marriage. The second group are those who people have been made like that.
The third group of people are those who, for the Kingdom of Heaven, have become celibate themselves. At the same time, Jesus realizes that those are difficult words and that not everyone can take them on. Jesus justifies this in that there are people who choose this life for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, that is, what we do not see. Nowadays talking about spiritual life seems very difficult, as people live convinced that life is only for fun, life is for pleasure or fulfilment of one’s desires and the pursuit of success. When the sphere of spiritual life is excluded, it becomes difficult to talk about chastity and consecration, about the measure of giving oneself to something more than what we see here and now.
Why do people take up such a life today? Why a life of chastity in this dimension of consecrated life? Well, you can say that one makes this decision not to get married for God, for the Church and for the community.
That is why, choosing that kind of consecrated life, we want to follow the steps of Jesus, who he himself was chaste, poor and obedient. We profess the so-called evangelical counsels, and one of them is precisely chastity. Jesus did not have a wife and we want to follow him like that. But is this an idea in itself? Of course not! We are not concerned about ideas in themselves. What does this give us following Jesus in this complete, perfect sexual continence, in not getting married? Above all it gives us a free heart. A free heart to have a wide love, firstly to God. And this is what distinguishes the heart of a consecrated person, that somewhere deep down this heart feels that it can love another person, a spouse and, at the same time, God, because this heart strives for such a total, exclusive offering to God. Therefore it loves God with an indivisible heart. This does not mean that it doesn’t love the people whom it is with. It just mean being open; being open to God’s loves means that my heart is free, not only for one specific person, but for everyone to whom God sends me on my mission, either preaching His Word, either in any concrete apostolic service: with children, the sick, or any other work, like at college or in the printing house. Every job accepted can be done in the church by a person whose heart is free and open to giving and loving, in order to give oneself more, because their heart is not exclusively for one person, but it is for God, for everyone to whom it is sent.
The choice of such a life is an answer. God invites us to this kind of life. It doesn’t mean that everyone must choose this life and that if you don’t choose it you won’t be saint, or your life will be less perfect. Of course not! God invites some people, takes them, so to say, out of this world, of this lifestyle, which we are all disposed to.
Everyone is born with the possibility of being in a relationship or getting married. And there cannot be a situation in which someone chooses a consecrated life because he/she despises marriage or is disgusted by such a life, thinking that it is something worse. This is not the right direction. The choice must always be orientated to love. I choose this life because of a greater good, because I recognize it as the greatest good in my life. Jesus invites me to that. Let us see that we are not the only ones that have problems justifying this life. How is it to leave everything, follow the Lord, leave in chastity nowadays? Is it possible? Saint Peter also had the problem of how to justify this choice of life. He asked: “What are we to have, then?”, and Jesus answered him: “you will receive a hundred times as much”. Above all it is about eternal life, because for that we take this life on, in order to fulfil my personal vocation to holiness and my vocation in the Church. For those, whom God sends me to.
Author: Izabela Stokłosa OSsR|
Translation: Carlos A. Diego Gutiérrez CSsR