A Sister friend of mine was nearing her final vows when she would make a permanent commitment of her life to God. She recounted how she happened to be taking a bus ride one beautiful day. She was enjoying the sights when on the bus came a young woman her age who was pregnant. She said, “The woman sat down on the seat opposite me; we could see each other face to face. The woman began to embrace her womb, her pregnant self. I felt my hand go to my womb. At that moment I gave to God the sacrifice of never having my own child. I heard God saying to me, ‘Are you sure?’ I said, ‘Yes, I’m sure.’ It was a beautiful moment.”
While the vow of consecrated celibacy deprives us of the experience of giving birth and raising our own family*, the experience of giving and sustaining life can take many forms. Our capacity to give life also includes our multifaceted creativity, inventiveness, playfulness, and our ability to bring life into human relationships through good communication skills, appropriate sharing of feelings, being a good listener, being sensitive to the needs and concerns of other, and reverencing the dignity of people. It includes the willingness and ability to deal with conflict as well as the skills to make peace and work through difficulties inevitable in human relationships. Generativity also includes joining in the building of resilient communities where economic, political, and social justice is upheld for everyone, especially people who are poor and most vulnerable. In the broadest sense, being a generative person means being someone whose spirit-filled and loving presence facilitates the growth and flourishing of others and all creation. Giving life is a labor of love open to all people.
*Some women take the vow of consecrated celibacy after being widowed or after their marriage is annulled and their children are grown and living independently.
This is so beautiful and so interesting,, My grandson, Ryan Eggenberger is in the phases for becoming a priest, He has finished two years and onto the next four, at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, mi. I had often wondered if he felt this way, as maybe being a father, but i know he is where he wants to be, serving God in this way.. Peace, love and blessings to you all.
This is a really good article and I thank you Sara for your reflection. I know having children was on my mind when I was considering religious life - but I have to say that it was a conscious choice - a very positive one to choose not to be able to have a child.... ever. With this choice I do not feel 'deprived' nor to I feel that I 'lose-out' - it was a conscious choice! I think what makes it a positive choice is when we are able to talk about it and understand that it is a choice ... not a burden! I do think we need to recognize that there are many women today who ARE mothers and grandmothers - and are older when they are coming to religious life.
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Okay, so it's a little less dancing, a little more talking... Sisters Lorraine Réaume, OP, and Sara Fairbanks, OP, have a new video series called DISCO (Discernment Conversations): Dancing with the questions of life!