“For a priest’s life is an act of total self-giving. This is the reason for his celibacy. It leaves him free for ministry, service to the Church." – Scott Hahn from "Many are Called: Rediscovering the Glory of the Priesthood."
When I initially decided to enter Moreau Seminary four years ago, my decision was met with a variety of reactions. However, one of the most common comments from friends and others was: “But doesn't that mean you have to give up sex?” Or “there's no way I could do that because of everything you have to give up.”
I've heard them all, and when I first attempted to answer those questions, I wasn't in a space to really know what to say. However, during my time at the Novitiate, I began to be able to better answer those questions. Part of my answer to how I viewed the vow of chastity in my life is presented below, taken directly from a presentation on the vows I created prior to professing first vows a little over a year ago:
“For me, the vow of chastity calls me to live in love with the God who created me, to love the person God created me to be and to love all of God’s people. Thomas Aquinas describes celibacy as a ‘vacancy for God.’ This description seems fitting as I am reserving space in my heart, the deepest space for God. Through prayer, God can then enter into the empty space that only He can occupy. The vow of chastity, like all the vows, is an outward sign of the love God has for all His people and the intimate relationship to which all of God’s people are called.”
It is in “living in love” that the vow of chastity allows me to enter into relationships. It is in giving of my life to God that I experience complete freedom. Today's world doesn't understand what it means to be truly free. Freedom in God implies a deeply personal relationship with the God who created me to be the person He is calling me to be.
This is true for all of us. When we truly realize and live out our vocations, whether to married life, single life, priesthood or religious life, it is in that moment of acceptance of our vocation that we experience true freedom. Scott Hahn comments later in his book: “Marriage and celibacy are interrelated because they both have their origin in God’s love.”
All of our vocations originate in God's love. God created us all in His image to do something in this world that brings greater glory to God. This is true freedom. I chose chastity because I feel called to the priesthood. I freely chose the vow because it allows me to live the life that God is calling me to live. I pray that we all may listen to God's voice in the silence of our hearts and may come to completely trust in His plan regardless of how counter-cultural it may appear to be …
Mr. Dan Ponisciak, C.S.C. is in his second year of temporary vows as a seminarian at Moreau Seminary. He and other seminarians at Moreau post twice each month for the Spes Unica Blog, sharing on their life and formation at Moreau. Meet our other men in formation, and learn more about seminary life in Holy Cross, and specifically about the Postulant Program at Moreau Seminary, which constitutes the first year of religious and priestly formation in Holy Cross for college graduates.