Seminarians, like myself, don’t cease to be human beings once they enter the seminary. Before I started seriously discerning the priesthood, I wanted to get married. I wanted to know what it’s like to be with the most beautiful woman for the rest of my life. I wanted to give my wife stolen kisses, take her to places she wants to go, hold her hand on the way there, make fun of her, tease her, raise our children together into the faith, and most of all, help her grow closer to God and be happy together.
I wanted all those things. And to a slim degree, I still do.
One of the most relevant things to discern when it comes to priesthood is a life of celibacy. I have been praying about it since I joined the seminary, begging God for the grace to understand celibacy in my heart and reveal to me His will for me.
I assure you, no prayer is left unanswered, as my understanding of celibacy – through prayer – has changed for the better.
I came to realize, over my time here in discernment, that celibacy is more of a YES than a NO.
Celibacy is a discipline that has its roots in human relationships. No human relationship in this world is easy by all means. Beauty can go so far as the delight of the human sight, but it doesn’t fully satisfy the human heart by itself alone, and our happiness lies in the fulfillment of the human heart.
Human relationships are often met with challenges and burdens which can be overwhelming. Some people let go of the relationship, either by divorce or the bitter decision of letting go. Our struggles with human relationships have a lot to do with our brokenness. When we are broken, we struggle to love and feel loved.
Celibacy is more than just mere discipline, it is a way of life marked by a witness to the kingdom of God, where human relationships are restored, healed, and the person is made whole again. The pilgrimage to happiness is not journeyed alone but together.
Celibacy, as I have grown to understand it, is more about opening one’s self up for the healing of others, forming friendships worthy of the kingdom, and fostering of human relationships – between a husband and wife; mother and son; father and daughter; friends, brothers and sisters, etc. It is less of not being able to experience sexual and physical intimacy and more of letting God work in you for the healing of human relationships, bringing about the kingdom of God to this world marred by brokenness. Sex is an integral part of a relationship – between a husband and wife in order to beget Life, but it is not the entire thing that makes up relationships. Sex is good for marriage, but it doesn’t sustain it. The presence of divorce in society is enough to prove that point.
I am at a certain point in my discernment where I am still astounded by the lavish and stunning beauty of some women. But I tell myself- “the most beautiful part about them is not their looks, but their deepest yearnings of their hearts to be satisfied, which is happiness. And nothing in this world can ever satisfy the human heart.
Only the love of God can.