Donal quoted from Barbara Fiand who said, ‘Perhaps, our celibate chastity has never been lived. It may have been avoided instead…Propriety rather than passion was our guiding principle.’ The Brothers said that the vow can only be really explained in the context of following Jesus. It becomes difficult when examined outside of that.
So, celibacy needs to be considered as a way of loving, a gift and not something that promised not to love a woman or man. If it is considered a burden, then the aspect of sacrifice predominates and people become weighed down with the burden.
Donal then went on to talk about how celibacy is about value radiation, how we vow to healthy relatedness where people experience how love and how I increase the amount of love in the world.
In the following session Donal dealt with the stages that religious go through in their living of celibacy. He says that the experience of celibacy changes as one ages. Each stage carries its own challenge and life goes on whether we manage these stages well or badly. Earlier challenges amay resurface with new strength, requiring renewed attention
- Adolescent celibacy (puberty to twenties
- Generative celibacy (twenties to thirties)
- Intimate celibacy ( mid- thirties tolate fifties )
- Integral celibacy (from late fifties to retirement)
The Challenges at each stage
- Adolescent Stage
- To develop a vision of life in a celibate mode as worth living
- To negotiate the physical pressures of adolescent sexuality in a way that allows one to believe that a commitment to celibate life is possible
This results in physical celibacy and an ability to be wholly human without being sexually active and without feeling distracted or frustrated
- Generative Stage
- Life partner …offspring when peers are defining their lives in those terms
- Home building.
This results in enabling one to set out on the celibate journey where further challenges arise. There can be feelings of emptiness and moments when we revisit their commitment
The result of this is to broaden our understanding of generativity, handing on to the next generation. This can lead to a sense of being productive
- Intimate celibacy
- The need to share one’s inner life with other persons for whom one cares
- The need to find people to share one’s daily life.The issue is intimacy and the challenge is to cope with aloneness and solitude.
The result of living intimate celibacy is the ability to share personhood in its fullness and depth and opening to the intimacy of companionship and to have life-sharing friends without being married and without violating one’s self gift to God.
- Integral Celibacy
- To maintain meaning and hope as one gets older
- To come to terms with ‘uselessness’ and usefulness’ of the whole commitment
The result is where I can feel personal worth and significance when no one is intimately present to care for, or depend on for care. The challenge is to stay involved with life when one is not needed by the institution