Hey y’all. I had a terrific time at Revoice 2k19, where I presented a workshop on ecstasy in celibacy. I’ll post my notes tomorrow, but for now, here’s the handout I used, so you can see how the presentation was organized. The cover of the handout was the best color xerox I could afford of the beautiful painting of St. Bernard over which I rhapsodized here.
Five purposes of celibacy
I. to give oneself more fully to the community, the Body of Christ.
“Authentic celibacy—whether lay, ordained, or vowed—is oriented toward social and community life. To be a ‘spiritual father’ or ‘spiritual mother’—perhaps as a member of the clergy or religious, but also as a godparent, or an adopted relative, or a catechist or teacher, or simply as a mentor and friend—is an esteemed vocation, something essential for a healthy and flourishing Christian community. …[C]elibacy is a communal practice.”
–Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive
Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.
II. to give oneself to God without distraction.
I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction.
III. to witness to the resurrection: the life of the world to come.
you have made my destiny secure.
IV. to share Christ’s poverty.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
–Matt 6:19 – 21
V. to make one’s body a secret garden, a bridal chamber where God alone enters to tryst with His lover, your soul.
Now one who asks for a kiss is in love. It is not for liberty that she asks, nor for an award, not for an inheritance nor even knowledge, but for a kiss.
–St. Bernard of Clairvaux, On the Song of Songs (Sermon 7)
Picture of light piercing the darkness of St Bernard of Clairvaux Church, in Florida, via Wikimedia Commons