...now this may sound like a boring post but it's not! Because I've been reading Papal Household preacher dude Raniero Cantalamessa's book Virginity.
I highly recommend it to anyone in formation and those discerning as well, priesthood or otherwise (religious!!!). Right off the bat there are some very positive qualities about this book. 1, it's short, only like 96 pages. 2, it gets straight to the point. 3, it's very biblical, so the words come alive. But most of all it's just a wonderfully Christ centered and grace-filled book on virginity and celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of God. It's powerful. It's already shaken me up a bit.
I thought I'd just share one thing I came across recently that boggled my mind a bit. He starts talking about married life and virginity as charisms and says:
"Jesus' words: 'You have not chosen me; on the contrary, I have chosen you' apply to virgins in an altogether special way. You do not chose celibacy and virginity in order to enter into the Kingdom, but because the Kingdom has entered into you. In other words, you do not remain a virgin to save your soul more easily, but because the Kingdom, or rather the Lord, has taken possession of you, chosen you, and you feel the need to remain free to respond fully to that choice."
Therefore accepting a call to celibacy is realizing that God is already establishing his Kingdom in you. Earlier Cantalamessa talks about celibacy and virginity as an eschatological sign of what is to come. The life as a celibate and virgin is one that witnesses to the fulfillment of God's promises of salvation for all and union with God face to face in heaven. This unique charism then is a sign of God's Kingdom in the world and if you have this calling, how beautiful it is, because that means God has established his Kingdom in your heart and now you can respond with every part of your soul in love. Ok, one more part from Cantalamessa...
"From everything we have said so far we can already begin to see the need for a conversion in connection with virginity and celibacy. This conversion consists in moving from the attitude of someone who thinks they have given a gift or made a sacrifice, a big sacrifice, to the quite different attitude of someone who is aware of having received a gift, and a great gift, and needs most of all to give thanks. We must admit that sometimes that feeling is present in consecrated persons, at a more or less conscious level. Sometimes our married brothers and sisters encourage such a view without realizing it, by comments like:
'What a sacrifice, what courage it takes to give up the chance to have your own family and live alone, to give up such a brilliant future and lock yourself up in a seminary or a convent!'
And possibly we end up believing it ourselves. Whereas if our vocation is genuine we know that precisely the opposite is true and that they ought to exclaim: 'How fortunate!' I believe that there is no one called to this way of following Christ who at some time - especially at the beginning, when the vocation begins to blossom - has no clearly seen, or at least glimpsed, that what they were receiving was for them the greatest grace of God, after Baptism."
Celibacy and virginity is first a gift given to us by God that we should give thanks for and rejoice in. What a joy that God has shown such love that he has given us the grace to be consecrated completely to God. Obviously there is a sacrificial element to this vocation but an overemphasis on our sacrifice can lead to pride and that is truly deadly in priestly and religious life.
Anyways, you can see why I recommend this highly. Good stuff. By the way, it's the Feast of the Chair of Peter today and I rolled by the Vatican where St. Peter's statue was all dressed up with a vestment, a tiara, and a ring. In light of the many recent events in the Church, please join with me in praying for unity in the Church and reunion with those who stand outside of communion with the Chair of Peter.
This is the chair of St. Peter lit up with a ton of candles.