Tuesday, June 26, 2012

the vocation to celibacy

This post is the confluence of thoughts about a number of different things.  I have just come back from FOCUS training where I encountered a whole bunch of very sincere young Catholics almost obsessing about their vocations.  FOCUS has an interesting and controversial requirement for its first year missionaries: the dating fast.  After thinking long and hard about it and experiencing its ups and downs practically, I have concluded that the dating fast is wise, if it can be entered into wholeheartedly.  Yes: a call to live celibacy embraced, not endured.  The dating fast is only a particular formalization of the call to celibacy that these young people already have at this point in their lives.

I have come to the conclusion that celibacy is a vocation.  The Lord Jesus called people to it.  Some are called to it and others are not.  Like the vocation of marriage, it is not necessarily eternal.  With these young people at FOCUS, it is clear that they are called to celibacy right now.  I would say that if you cannot accept the dating fast, then it is clear that you are not called to be a FOCUS missionary.  I have also counseled those thinking about the priesthood to think about celibacy first, to settle that question first.  There is no need for at young man to go on discerning priesthood, if he is not called to celibacy.  As in the case of priesthood, the vocation to celibacy may need to be accepted permanently, for example, for religious, for consecrated virgins, for numeraries of Opus Dei, and...here's the outlying thought...for those with same sex attraction.

Sometimes one runs into the idea of a vocation to the single life, and sometimes one runs into questions about whether the single life is a vocation.  Leaving the concept of "single life" aside, I have concluded that there is a vocation to celibacy for the Kingdom.  The Lord Jesus speaks of different ways that people come to celibacy, and I propose that any of them can be accepted for the sake of the Kingdom: widows and widowers, singles caring for parents or nieces or nephews, those engaged in necessary careers that preclude family, those for whom marriage did not present itself, those called to priesthood or consecrated life, as well as those with same sex attraction.  Those with same sex attraction do have a vocation in the Church: the call to celibacy.  The particular manifestation of that call is various, yet the vocation to celibacy is a real vocation.

These thoughts gelled (as much as one can say that they are gelled!) while reflecting on St. John the Baptist this week.  Under what category do we consider the vocation of the greatest man who ever lived?  He wasn't a priest or religious, and he was not married.  Calling St. John the Baptist "single" doesn't really seem to cut it.  He lived the vocation of celibacy.  He gave himself to this vocation for which he was destined from birth, and it made him free, as any vocation is supposed to do.

OK -- call in the Inquisition!  I am ready to recant, if need be.

Monday, June 4, 2012

I am here

I want to take a quick moment to post again.  It has been a long time and will probably be a long time again.  I have been doing the crazy things that I do at the beginning of the summer which leave me very frazzled.  I have been in Colorado, which is very beautiful but I could not breathe.  This Southern boy needs thicker, wetter air.  Back here for a week of interviews.  Pray about that one.  Last week in Alabama for Totus Tuus training -- the best teams, ever -- in Cullman and a wedding in Auburn.  Alabama is more my style.  Now I am here again but about to leave for our priests' convocation at Fall Creek Falls.  I have to get some work done before I go!  And then to the University of Illinois for FOCUS  training, followed by a wedding in St. Louis.  And then back here.

That's another good thing about my assignment at St. Mary's: it will tie me down more and make me plan more carefully.  That will be better!

UCat Dominicans -- not the one in the middle!

Newly named Br. Cyprian and newly professed Br. Pachomius, O.P. at St. Gertrude's, Cincinnati, Ohio, August 15, 2017

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