Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Saturday 25 September |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Herman “the Cripple”
home iconLifestyle
line break icon

Can you be celibate and happy?

HAPPY WOMAN

Shutterstock

Edifa - published on 05/12/21

The sheer number of people who are celibate shows that it's possible to be fulfilled without a romantic relationship. What's their secret?

For many persons, celibacy has become a fact of life: they didn’t choose it, but they’ve accepted it. Many of them are very happy. On the path of incontrovertible abstinence, some of them have discovered that they can enjoy a variety of spiritual and human experiences, including beautiful friendships. 

Celibacy is not always a choice.  

This is why celibacy cannot be proposed to young people as an option, a worthy living situation alongside with marriage, religious consecration, or priesthood. People can only commit themselves to positive choices –even if they may involve great sacrifice. We can’t build a life based on a negative choice, as in an old-fashioned novel where a heroine joins a convent because of a broken heart. 

Claiming that “celibacy is a vocation” is controversial. One may say “I am living my vocation” or still simpler “I seek to answer the call of the Lord as a celibate.” Or it’s also always possible to explain: “In the secret of my heart, my celibacy has transformed into consecration.” An extended period of celibacy may be obscured by nostalgia and anxiety; solitude is an ordeal that many faithful face and is a part of the mystery of the Cross that applies to our lives in one way or another.

Celibate is not “for the lack of something better.”

A friend of mine asked whether my view of what she calls “the marriage market” is a realistic one. It’s true that the present state of the world makes it difficult for Christian marriages to form. This undoubtedly requires confidence in Providence, some imagination and initiative on the part of the interested parties, their family, and their parish. Perhaps, the same rules apply to marriage and as to vocations: we wait for the Lord to “send” one, but are we always ready for what he sends?

I would say that celibacy is less of a condition than a “wait.” It’s primarily a wait to make one’s vow, involving preparation, growth, and purification.  If this vow does not materialize, this wait is interiorized: deep down, isn’t it a promise of the day when God becomes everything in everyone? This is why I mention the wedding supper of the Lamb. It is the mystery all Christians must experience because they have been baptized:  “Christ loved me and gave himself for me,” and this love gives sense and weight to my life.

This is why celibacy is not a deprivation. But this nuptial mystery can only be celebrated in three ways: the union between husband and wife, “as Christ and His Church;” the religious life — a virginal bride awaiting her Beloved; the priesthood – an embodiment of Christ the shepherd and the spouse of the Church. This is why celibacy is a state of extreme poverty. But in the Church, poverty is more of a blessing than a deprivation.

Father Alain Bandelier

Tags:
Vocations
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
SLEEPING
Cecilia Pigg
7 Ways the saints can help you sleep better at night
2
OUR LADY
Philip Kosloski
An alternative Hail Mary to Our Lady of Sorrows
3
Tolkien
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
4
VATICAN LEGOS
J-P Mauro
Chicago architect models Vatican City from 67,000 LEGO bricks
5
PADRE PIO
Bret Thoman, OFS
Exclusive photos: Meet Padre Pio and the place he lived
6
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady saved Padre Pio from a violent demonic attack
7
Bret Thoman, OFS
A journey to the shrine of St. Padre Pio
See More