Thoughts about the Vow of Chastity
- Written by Friar Shane Nicholas
((This is a repost of an earlier blog post))
Most people when they hear “Vow of Chastity” immediately think “Vow of NO Sex.” But this vow is much more faceted than that. Of course in the Roman Rite the vow of chastity means that you will not engage in a personal relationship with another person – no dating, no relationship, no marriage, and yes, no sex.
Fortunately we vow Chastity within our state in life – in other words, if we are married then we vow Married, or Single – committed relationship, or Single, or even Celibate – if that is how we are called by God.
But there are other facets to this vow. When we vow chastity we are also vowing to be chaste with God. We are saying “you are the one I serve,” “There is no other God than you!” “You are all I desire in the land of the living,” “you are my refuge, my strength and my hope!”
We vow chastity to serve God and Him alone. It is a deeper commitment than just “giving up” a human relationship or sex or dating. Chastity is saying to God – I will serve you in prayer and worship; I will serve you in the hungry, the homeless; I will serve you in the desperate and marginalized; I will serve you in your people – ALL your people.
I pray for the words that can express the deepness of Chastity, or the words to explain the rainbow colors that make this vow blessed. But sadly the words do not come.
I was having a wonderful discussion with my “Jewish Mom” yesterday, and as always, we discussed many things. But what we discussed hinged on what it means to be community. As always I was picking her brain to understand Judaism. And she made a comment that struck home!
She said: “I was at Mt. Sinai with Moses and the Israelite’s. I was a part of the Diaspora, and I was in the concentration camps.” Obviously, she isn’t that old. But I understood what she meant! As a Jewish person today, she was still there throughout the history of her people even till today. There is the sense of “continuity” (for lack of a better word.) Although she is American born, because of her faith and belief, she shared in the ups and the downs of the Israelite's.
And then a light bulb went off in my head.
Our Christian faith began and was founded within Judaism, we too were at Mt. Sinai, we too were part of the Diaspora, and because they were/and are our Jewish brothers and sisters, we too were in the concentration camps with them.
I think we have lost the sense of community, of a shared history, a shared bond. But Chastity calls us to remember that we are committing ourselves to love and serve God, and each other. That being Christian is not just something we do on Sunday; everyday of our lives should be spent in His service.
In how we treat and respect those we work with, are in charge of, and work for. In how we treat the person walking down the street, or riding the bus with us. In how we treat the grocery shopper in line ahead of or behind us; In how we live our lives. IS our life the shining light that can’t be hid under a basket? Or is our life something we are afraid to even tell our priest about in the sacrament of reconciliation? Can our lives stand up to the bright shining light that chases away the shadows?
Of course we will all have our shadows – we’re human. But God is merciful with us, God is faithful with us, God is Chaste with us.
Can we say the same?
Are we chaste with God?