Saturday, March 26, 2011

God's love has the power to make every burden light

"There is a strong element of surprise in chastity. A religious is surprised that he is able to take a vow of chastity; other people are surprised that he is able to keep it. But in spite of everything, chastity is possible. And it is entirely satisfying.


I suppose the first and most salient reason for our choice is that Christ Himself lived a celibate life. We love Christ. Because we love Him, we try to make ourselves like Him in every respect. He is our model, so we strive to imitate Him not only in the things He chose to do, but also in the things He chose not to do. Christ lived a celibate life - this is good enough for us. If there were no other reasons, this alone would be sufficient.

Getting along into the realm of practicality (and how the world loves that word 'practical' - it is so broad), we find many good, solid reasons to give the person who asks 'why?' First of all, saving souls is a full-time job. It occupies either directly or indirectly every waking moment (and our dreams at night). Every single one of us is most definitely aware that in our life no other system could work. We cannot afford to shoulder obligations which by their very nature would take us away from our apostolate. We have enough as it is. Why, the wife of almost any good physician would tell us that her husband is more consistently a doctor than he is a husband or a father.


Just suppose that we were not bound to live a life of celibacy. Suppose we were all married men. That would automatically bring thirty women under our roof. And presuming that we would lead good Catholic lives, suppose we all had a family of five or ten children! We laugh to think of the intrigue, the confusion, the heart-breaking chaos that would surely descend upon our haven of prayer and work. Maybe this seems silly. Maybe it is no reason at all. But it certainly is something to think about. Maybe that is why some non-Catholic clergymen are beginning to embrace the celibate state. They are beginning to see that in laboring for God, it is the only thing that works.

Yet, people who are forced to live in the fiery midst of a carnal world still look askance at us when we go by. Many question us and our motives, probably because they could not live like this themselves. And they harbor doubts because the have overlooked the battering but soothing dynamism that is the grace of God. They have forgotten that God's love has the power to make every burden light.

We do not say it is easy. But when we pluck the cross from the little Calvarys within our hearts, there is method to it. We are not seeking comfort or personal satisfaction, because there is no room for that in God's plan for us. So we turn our heads forward and upward, comprehending full well the enormity of our task. We must live and work in the midst of others' suffering, so we do not wish to be without suffering ourselves. In our labors we must come face to face with the full-cupped loneliness of men. We do not want to be without loneliness ourselves. We want to walk unafraid and unashamed at the side of those who need us and to be able to say, 'You have suffering, so have we. You have loneliness, so have we. We we shall forget our problem; let us turn to yours. Let us heal yours, for ours can wait for eternity.'"

-- Men in Sandals by Fr Richard Madde, ocd

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