Day 39: Freedom for the Next World
By Marco Casanova
DSM Assistant Director
Editor’s Note: TOB is the abbreviation for Pope St. John Paul II’s book “Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body” Pauline Press
I know a nun whose love of Jesus amazes me. Spirit-filled and made for mission, this sister lives radically in communion with Jesus. She’s concerned about His business. Her celibate offering in the Dominican Republic bore many spiritual children. She mothered people to Jesus.
I worked with her for a bit and her Kingdom advance wore me out. Early to rise and late to bed, her days teemed with Jesus and His people. This wasn’t just a ‘mission trip’ for her. This was her life. I went home. She was home.
She could choose celibacy because she’s faithful, capable and free. Her commitment was conclusive. She’s no bachelorette. She’s espoused to Jesus now and a mother for the Kingdom.
I hope I don’t have the gift of celibacy. Not because its unlovely to me--I just want marriage and believe that I will summon a woman someday. Jesus has been stoking my virility! The thought of my home alive with a bride and little Marquitos excites me. We’ll see!
Choosing celibacy for the Kingdom says something conclusive about marriage. The celibate believes that God has summoned him/her to full throttle identification with Him, for His Kingdom (TOB 77:2). But first the pre-celibate must face the good of marriage and renounce its good from a profoundly personal place (TOB 77:3). Celibacy is not a dodge based on disinterest in the ‘other’, for whatever reason! You can’t renounce what you don’t possess. Lack of mature and integrated ‘fascination’ is a disqualification for celibacy, not a motivation (TOB 117b:4-5). Bypassing is not renunciation.
As a boy, I felt drawn to give my life to Jesus. I loved the priesthood and was drawn by the saints. I knew the stories of John Vianney, Padre Pio, and John Paul II like the back of my hand. These priests did something great for the Kingdom and I desired the same.
My adolescent zeal needed maturing. Honest discernment eventually revealed that I wasn’t free to choose celibacy. Settle in spiritual fatherhood? I couldn’t! Due to high octane, hidden same-sex attraction, I felt ‘disqualified’ from biological fatherhood. I couldn’t renounce what I never possessed.
Jesus summoned my virility. He sought to grow me as the man I’m becoming. I said ‘yes’ to His Kingdom in a way that is distinct, but no less, than the priesthood.
I love celibacy more than ever. As there’s no marriage in heaven (Mt 22:30), a whole celibate blazes like fire for the divine union that awaits us in heaven. My sister friend points to a life beyond this world. And He frees her for Himself, and His Kingdom purposes now. Unfettered and heaven bound! Her witness shines holy light on my longing for marriage this side of heaven.
‘Jesus, rouse the gift we are. Help us to attend to the treasure you summon from the trash. Free us from our constant faultfinding and free us for vestiges of paradise in our memories and in our lives today. We refuse the liar who tries to rewrite Eden out of our histories. Unite us to the home of our original dignity.’
‘Jesus, have mercy on us as Your Church. We have abused weaker members, including children, and protected ourselves. We have violated the most vulnerable. In Your mercy, free us to superabound with justice. Grant us Kingdom discernment and courage to reform ourselves. May our repentance grant us Kingdom authority to strengthen the weak, discipline violators, and restore the violated.’