What is Celibacy?

Every single person is called to love. If we do not experience love, life remains incomprehensible to us. But if we do experience love, then all of life becomes charged with meaning and joy. But how are we called to love? We are called to love…like God loves. While meditating on this truth one evening during prayer, I came to an insight regarding God’s love that I would like to share with you today.

God’s love for every person is incredibly intimate, personal, and unique. God truly knows people better than they know themselves. God knows the little baby sleeping in a neonatal ward before her memories have even begun to form. God knows the man living in an Alzheimer’s unit, his own memory eaten away by disease. God knows everything about each individual person. He is always by their side, supporting them and giving them life. God’s love is personal.

Yet, at the same time, God’s love is also universal, inclusive, and all-encompassing. God loves everybody; it does not matter if she is rich or he is poor, it does not matter if he is young or she is old, it does not matter if she is beautiful or he is ugly. What matters is that every single human life is of immeasurable value, and God is present and loving to all. God’s love is universal.

Now, how could God show this divine love to the world, a love that is intimate and personal for each person, yet also universal and available to all people? One of the most beautiful ways God has shown this divine love to the world is through a two-fold gift. This gift is like a coin, its two sides imprinted with these two qualities of divine love. On one side is the image of personal, unique, and life-giving love: the image of matrimony. God gives some people the gift of the sacrament of marriage to be an image of God’s personal love to the world. When a person gets married, they lay down their life in love for one other person, and have the potential to know them better than they even know themselves.

On the other side of the coin God has imprinted the image of universal, inclusive, and all-encompassing love: the image of celibacy. God gives some people the gift of celibacy to be an image of His universal love to the world. When someone makes a promise of celibacy for the Kingdom of God, they lay down their life in love for everybody, and have the potential and freedom to be completely present to every single person with whom they interact—to give every part of themselves out of love for God to every person they cross paths with during their lifetime.

Let us look to the wonderful examples of His own love which God has given us – both in the married couples and the professed religious who imitate His love in the world – and so grow closer to the God whom they image.

Br. John Winkowitsch, O.P. | Meet the Student Brothers in Formation HERE