Consecrated women can reveal to priests the true face of their priestly celibacy, according to a French nun, Sister Alexandra Diriart. She spoke February 18, 2022, at a three-day symposium at the Vatican on the priesthood.
A professor at the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and Family, the apostolic sister of the community of St. John gave a conference on the theme of “states of life” in the Church.
The sister, clad in her gray and white habit, focused on “the specific contribution of the consecrated woman” who is “an important sign for the priest because of the apparent uselessness or poverty of her life.”
The consecrated woman “renounces conjugality, but also that which makes the beauty of a woman, motherhood,” she stressed. And this “at the risk of being despised, mocked, even discredited in her dignity as a woman.” Furthermore, she “receives nothing in exchange, at least apparently,” unlike the priest who “receives in exchange the immense gift of the priesthood.”
The risk will always exist for the priest to conceive of his priesthood as a function, a power, or a ministry that he possesses.
“The risk will always exist for the priest to conceive of his priesthood as a function, a power, or a ministry that he possesses,” Sister Alexandra Diriart stressed. It is the consecrated woman who reveals to him “the true face of his fruitfulness” and of his priestly celibacy. She reminds him that “divine fruitfulness is held in this apparent chaste emptiness which is in fact receptivity to the love of Christ, availability and acceptance of the gift of God.”
The religious sister also warned against “a dissociation of the spiritual and the corporeal,” which can lead to a “dehumanization of the priest living celibacy” even to a “perversion.”
She concluded by quoting St. Francis de Sales: “Do not desire not to be what you are not, but desire to be very well what you are.”