I have not posted anything a bit personal recently so here goes. This past week we've started our classes again and for once, I have actually started prioritizing my life. Prayer is actually coming first. Sleep second. Studying third. And random laziness is a far back fourth. Life is actually making sense.
I have also had a lot of time to reflect about celibacy. A lot of what I am going to say flows from my retreat a few weeks ago and continuing reflection in these past couple weeks. I realized recently I was still working on an essential part of my priestly identity, that is, not being single but celibate. I found I was still thinking at times as though I were a single man and not someone preparing for lifelong celibacy. But that is exactly what I am doing! So it was a bit of a shock to realize this and decide what steps to take to begin this transformation towards seeing myself as taken or as a friend told me a while back, "You're married!"
photo by thecaucas
But what did my friend mean by marriage? Obviously I do not marry in the traditional sense of the word or what modern society terms marriage. But I do have a spouse. And this is my key to growing in my celibate identity.
Now I know what you might be thinking. You don't have a spouse! Well that's what a patient at the hospital recently told me when he asked for my defense of celibacy and I told him I have a spouse. Of course I do! I have the Church. And she is a great spouse. He replied that this was just an idea in my head. This could not be my spouse.
The funny thing is how wrong he is. If the Church is not my spouse in my heart, and just an idea in my head, there is no way this crazy adventure is going to last. No way. I could not make it without a spouse. We all desire to make a gift of ourselves. What would I be doing with my life? I could not last in the priesthood.
But how is the Church my spouse? She is the one to whom I give my time, energy, and very life. I will sacrifice everything for her good. I will love her forever. And I will care for her children, the people of God. Sounds very spousal to me - well if I hold up my end of the bargain.
I have learned that to really take on this idea of the Church as my spouse comes as I begin to realize what my spouse looks like. Part of this is imagining the sacraments I will celebrate with the people of God and part of it is praying for my future spouse the Church each and every day.
It was almost odd talking to this patient because I ended by telling him I am living my relationship with my spouse even now, by being at his side. I do not know if he quite understood but for me it is something incredibly amazing and true.
I have and continue to pray for the grace to grow in my priestly identity as a celibate and for the grace to love my spouse the Church more and more. Thankfully, God in charge with this one so I am not too worried.