Thursday, May 13, 2010

Shared memories, not just shared company

Like all Legionaries of Christ, I made vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. In terms of Chastity, my biggest temptation was loneliness. I was constantly surrounded by people and constantly busy.  How could I be lonely?

My loneliness was related to my difficulty in reconciling the friendships I developed with the requirement that I gave my heart exclusively to Jesus Christ. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux understood intuitively that our loneliness and the longings we experience have the power to lead us eventually to a place inside ourselves characterized her life as an “exile of the heart”. She refers to her life as a nun as an “exile” of the heart.  She knew that chastity and solitude helps us to face ourselves, to befriend not only the person we think we are, but also to come to know and love the person that in fact we are.

Even though it would take me a long time to act on my intuition, I knew that my spiritual life was not strong enough to sustain my commitment to a life of celibacy in the Legion.  Later I would learn that marriage offers the gift of shared memories, not just shared company.  Couples share life goals as they build their relationship over time. I know that married people can be lonely.  But I suspect that married men do not experience the loneliness of a celibate.

Maybe there are two different vocations.  One is a call to the priesthood.  The other is a call to celibacy.  They are not identical vocations.   In the Catholic Church the only option is the package deal.

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