Celibacy – true love waits

Benjamin Being Catholic

I talked in a previous post about the treasure of celibacy. Not only is it a loving response to God, but it is a loving response that involves the whole person, body and soul.

Celibacy is valuable because the consecrated person is looking constantly beyond the horizon, and this invites both the Church, and the world, to look where he is looking. I noticed that during his trip to Germany, Pope Benedict was preaching a double-message: proclaiming to the great, pluralistic Germany that God is important, and proclaiming to the German Catholics that we need to be living our lives in a way that reflects how important God is to us.

The fact that Catholics have not been living this way is shown by our divorce statistics, which are little better than the non-Catholic population. Marriage, as wonderful as it is, cannot fully satisfy the longings of the human soul. The husband cannot satisfy his wife, neither can she satisfy her husband, no matter how much they try. To make this a little more concrete, please correct me if I am wrong, but I’m going to bet that everyone reading this who is currently in a happy marriage arrived at this happiness by looking past a lot of flaws and forgiving a lot of foibles (even occasionally gaping wounds) caused by your spouse. There is no perfect husband or perfect wife, because only God Himself is without flaws. So instead of staring at your spouse’s flaws, you need to look past them.

Many couples enter marriage subconsciously expecting it to be their one best shot at happiness. Soon the honeymoon is over, their spouse’s flaws continue to emerge with little sign of disappearing, and they start to wonder “Is this what it’s supposed to be?” “Why am I not happy?” “Why am I so unfulfilled?”. Those nagging questions can work a crack into the marriage that gets wider and wider with every struggle, until one of the two gives up trying to make the marriage work. The harder someone looks at his spouse to find what he is missing, the more he sees her flaws. Instead of staring at each other, they need to look out, towards the horizon.

If we want to heal marriages, we need to begin with understanding celibacy. Celibacy is possible because true love waits. From the depths of eternity God is gazing at us, and beckoning us to look beyond time towards His perfect love. He is drawing us to return His gaze of love. A celibate priest or nun or brother lives with his eyes to the horizon, looking beyond the world, seeking to return God’s look of love. Since we have no other person in front of us, people began to wonder “What is this man looking at?” The consecrated life is an invitation to everyone to look where we are looking.

This is the key to a happy marriage. When a couple fixes their gaze on each other, without looking up, they close themselves into a little world composed of themselves, and it soon becomes stagnant and then suffocating. A happy marriage blossoms when they both, hand in hand, are looking towards the horizon, and helping each other to walk the same journey that the celibate priest, and the consecrated virgin, and the cloistered sister, are all walking. God wants the whole Church to return His gaze of love, and the more we look at Him, the more our eyes fill with love for each other.+