Deep down you may know that Love is your fundamental and innate vocation (cf. Catechism 2392). Sexuality affects all aspects of your person in the unity of your body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others (Catechismof the Catholic Church 2332). Naturally, the ordering of your sexual life towards the chosen form of life touches upon your longings and urges at your physical, mental and spiritual levels. It is also intimately related to the ordering of your sexual impulses, emotions, value system, interpersonal relationships, friendships and ministerial commitment. When you know that the core dynamism of your sexuality is the mystery of love, you will discover its fullness in the life of Jesus.
Your option to follow the Jesus of the Gospels flows from your search for love: to love and to be loved. It calls for orienting, elevating and integrating your sexuality by the love which the Spirit of Jesus has poured into your heart. You may have gone through joys of friendship and self-mastery as well as feelings of agony, hurt, guilt and rejection in times of failures and loss of self-control in your journey towards sexual integration and intimacy.
“Since the observance of Chastity touches upon some of our deepest natural inclinations and places several renunciations upon us, we should put our trust in the Lord and humbly ask his help in prayer. We should likewise foster community life since true fraternal love preserves and perfects chastity.”(CC 22).
Leaving one’s parents (natural relationship) to become one flesh with the life-partner (a matter of choice but a powerful natural inclination) speaks for itself the force of its inner dynamism. Consecrated celibacy which transcends that inclination requires a more compelling motivational dynamic. It can be a beautiful prayer to retrace before the Lord your sexual history and the process of your sexual integration as a consecrated celibate person.
Loves in your life
Taking all our loves into account one may exclaim with St. Augustine, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee”. The search of the human heart for the Other and others has different expressions in our lives as we encounter many wonderful persons in the course of our history. Your early adolescent infatuations, love affairs, and friendships especially with the complementary sex may have trained the capacity of your heart to love and care. Your life is enriched by the love of hundreds of persons, many of them unacknowledged, who entered into your life story through the doors of many loves: affection, friendship, eros and charity (cf. CS Lewis, The four loves). These natural need-loves train your heart in the school of love to graduate into gift-loves, when touched by God’s own self gift. Without this transformation, as C.S Lewis says, “love begins to be a demon the moment it begins to be a god”. But “when God enters, half-gods can remain” or “the highest does not stand without the lowest”. Perhaps, your experience has taught you the truth of the above affirmations.
You may find that some of your relationships have enriched and empowered you very much, while others have hurt you and blocked your freedom to relate freely with people. Others also may have had similar experiences from your mode of relating with them. At times some of your loves may have assumed first place in your life and even questioned you about your vocational commitment. It is also possible that one hide the aspect of affectivity under the mask of hatred or devaluation of women. You may also have had moments of failing to be true to yourself and to others in your relationships which might have caused hurt and pain to you and to others. But they are moments of Quid Prodest that raise the question, “what does it profit to live and love like this?”.
“Living of Chastity has laws of growth which progresses through stages marked by imperfection and too often by sin. “Man.. . day by day build himself up through his many free decisions: an so he knows, loves, and accomplishes moral good by stages of growth” (Catechism, 2343).
When you introspect, You may find that you have grown to greater authenticity and integrity in and through the struggles of your heart’s search for love. Perhaps you may find yourself still struggling with a limping heart and wounded sexuality groping for wholeness and healing. Both the experience of mutually enriching friendships as well as that of delimiting wounds in interpersonal relationships could be Quid Prodest to receive God’s gift of Love which heals and empowers human hearts. It could be life-affirming if you take courage to share your “love story” with your mentor or a trusted person, if you have not so far done so.
An Exercise: The history of my relationships
• Find yourself a quiet place and become aware of God’s presence in whom you live move and have your being (cf. Acts 17:28). Observe your breathing to arrive at calmness. You may close your
eyes and relax your body from head to foot, tuning yourself to the rhythm of your breathing.
• Imagine a beautiful place of your choice where you feel like spending your quiet time (a sea shore, mountain, garden, lake etc.). Imagine the place in details (the birds, flowers, stones, bushes, grass, or waves etc.) and imagine yourself in your preferred posture and relax.
• Become aware of the presence of the Lord in any of your preferred images of Jesus and place yourself before him in the way you usually do when you have an intimate dialogue with the Lord in
• With Jesus retrace your history.. from your early childhood. Bring to your mind’s screen the various friends from your infancy, both male and female, and revisit your relationships with gratitude. Thank the Lord for the gift of love and friendship. When you come across hurting moments in your relationship, become aware of your pain and hurt, bring them to the Lord’s gaze and remain with your pain before the loving glance of the Lord, ask for his healing touch. When you are aware of the pain and hurt caused to another in your relationship, place that person with his/her hurt and pain and ask the Lord for healing and forgiveness.
• See that you do not rush through the exercise.Take time to be with the Lord with your story. If you are more comfortable writing down the history of loves, you may do so.
• At the end of your review, spend sometime in the presence of the Lord in thanksgiving.
– From Forge in Everyday Life, Quid Prodest, No.8, pp.7-10