16 September 2013

Sacrifice and Call vs. Harm

From a reader's comment last week:

Question: For someone considering celibacy, how does one know the difference between sacrificing the desires for a spouse, children, grandchildren, etc. and actually being called to that life and not celibacy. Basically, at what point is the "pain" of that sacrifice actually an indication that you're not called to make it? 

A few points:

1) As usual, when answering a question like this there are a variety of venerable spiritual traditions within Christianity that may provide a roadmap for us to begin to answer this question.  The bedrock to all of them is prayer and spiritual direction.  Prayer begins the process of opening one's heart to the stirrings of the Lord.  Spiritual direction keeps us from the "echo chamber" effect in which our voice (or worse, that of the bad spirit) takes on the sound - though not the authenticity - of that of the Lord's.

2) A general rule in discernments of this type is that there is a difference between sacrifice and harm.  In other words, if celibacy does harm to a person's soul: making him or her less charitable, (actually!) less chaste, or just downright miserable, it is a sign that something is wrong.

3) Just as in any decision, the one to embrace the charism of celibacy is not an instant one, but rather a process.  No one wakes up one morning, walks down the gas station and picks out a husband to marry. Likewise, this isn't the case in celibacy either.  One takes his or her time, both discerning before embracing it in a temporary manner, as well as further discerning while attempting to live the celibate charism in actuality.

1 comment:

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