I have a heart for lay celibates in the Church. For the most part, their vocational state in life is uncelebrated and overlooked. Christian community lacks a convincing way of speaking of the power of this vocational lifestyle. A lot of potential, sadly, goes to waste, and many just drift away.
Yet with so many lay celibates in the Church today we have to wonder: What is God up to? In the 1920s Dorothy Day had a heart for lay celibates, and directed their passion for justice and availability for apostolic works into Catholic Worker houses which still bear good fruit today.
Among the celibate men and women I’ve met, I think of John, an accountant who quietly gives financial support to religious institutions. I think of Mollie, working tirelessly in social services in foreign posts. And Guy who works with high-tech companies and is active in parish ministries on the weekends. I think of Dorothy, in her 80s and immersed in projects to help new mothers, homeless families, and the homebound. And Tim, working a day job to pay the bills, and coming alive in teaching and guiding catechumens. And Paul who sits with the dying. And I think of Celina, divorced five times and weeping at the discovery that she never was called to married life, and now lives with all her heart for God and the consolation of others.
One priest said of his celibate life: “We do not get married for the same reason other people do get married. It’s all about relationship. The celibate life is a way of belonging.”Celibate men and women today have enormous capacity to touch their world in healing and life-giving ways, and an unusual availability to God’s purposes. All are anointed, or are just now awakening to their anointing.
Bringing it home
1. Who do I know who is celibate and deeply engaged in doing good in this world?
2. How does their dedication touch or help to shape my life?
Hold this thought
I am coming to value the unique calling of the celibate state in life.