“Called to Celibacy Unchosen”: Aaron Taylor

in First Things:

Addressing women who knew they would never be able to marry because the lives of too many of their country’s men had been claimed by the Second World War, Pope Pius XII had the following to say in 1945:

When one thinks of the women who voluntarily renounce matrimony in order to consecrate themselves to a life of contemplation, sacrifice, and charity, immediately there comes to one’s lips a luminous word: vocation!

[But] this vocation, this call of love, makes itself felt in very diverse ways . . . The young Christian woman who remains unmarried in spite of her own desires may—if she firmly believes in the providence of the heavenly Father—recognize in life’s vicissitudes the voice of the master: Magister adest et vocat te—the Master is at hand, and is calling you. . . . In the impossibility of matrimony, she discerns her vocation.For Pius XII, the “meaning” of celibacy lies not in our choice of a state of life, but in God’s choice of us. As a same-sex attracted Christian, the question of what I would like to choose is largely irrelevant. The important question is what God chooses for me. Celibacy, like marriage, requires consent—it cannot be enforced, but must be embraced in freedom. But the key to a right view of celibacy is not free choice, but free response: free and obedient response to the divine call.


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