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Godzdogz

The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
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Consecrated Life: The Vows - Chastity

Friday, May 01, 2015

Of the three vows that form the basis of consecrated life, chastity is perhaps the most controversial.

Though it finds its mandate in the words of Christ, that some embrace chastity ‘for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven’ (Matt.19:12), and in the ministry of St Paul, who hoped that all could be single and chaste ‘like him’ (1. Cor. 7:7), it has been and remains an observance which seems to contradict what most of us regard as one of the best opportunities in life: to fall in love with another person and, giving ourselves totally to them, manifest that love physically in the creation of new life.

That we might tend to think in such terms should be no surprise. St Paul himself admits that though the single life is a laudable road it is difficult and only made possible by the grace of God. It is a particular gift not given to everyone. So given that chastity is difficult, on that we can all agree, why does God call people to it? The answer is given by Christ himself in Matthew’s Gospel. Those who ‘become eunuchs’ (who embrace the single life) do so ‘for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven.’ The consecrated person who lives according to chastity functions in the world as a sign. They highlight the transitory and imperfect nature of the the goods of this life by subjecting them to the expectation of the Eternal Good which the saints possess in Heaven. Chastity is a way of giving the self entirely over to God to the exclusion of all other things, even people. 

However, this does not mean that consecrated people don’t love. Quite to the contrary, if they authentically live out their calling they find themselves possessing an abundance of love which they freely share amongst God’s people. The good brother or sister is not just a sign but also a companion for all who seek to walk along the road to Heaven.

Of course, a life of chastity, and indeed any virtuous life, is a difficult path but it is precisely because of the goal at the end, that everlasting companionship with our loving God, that makes it bearable and worthwhile.

Br Jordan Scott O.P.

Br Jordan Scott O.P.

Comments

Luke Gormally commented on 02-May-2015 07:38 PM
Chastity is a virtue required in every form of life - married, single, and that of the consecrated celibate. It's demands are distinctive in the celibate life, so it would be more helpful to talk about the demands and fruits of chastity in the life of consecrated celibacy than to speak of 'chastity' tout court.

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