At the heart of our celibate sexuality is our love relationship with God, and with all the things that God loves. God is our central commitment. I think of what Rabbi Abraham Heschel once said, “God is of no importance unless God is of supreme importance.” The skills for intimacy with God are primary for healthy lives of consecrated celibacy.
Kathleen Norris spent some time with Benedictine monks and nuns and wrote about her experience in her book The Cloister Walk. She recalls a comment one of the sister’s made about her celibate sexuality. The sister said, “…My primary relationship is with God. My vows were made to another person, the person of Christ. And all of my decisions about love had to be made in light of that person.” Norris recalls being stunned by that statement. She wrote, “I could not conceive of Christ being so alive for me, or myself being that intimate with Christ” (251).
I cannot say it enough, that at the core of skills for healthy celibate sexuality are skills for intimacy with God. Our spirituality and our sexuality are not at opposite ends of the spectrum. They are intimately interrelated. Our love of God, our love of self, and our love of others are all one love, one energy for relationship.
How do you understand the vow of consecrated celibacy? What would you say are some skills for intimacy with God?
Sister Sara I want to thank you for writing openly about sexuality from a Sister's perspective. I never thought of "celibate sexuality", but that is exactly the truth that most people struggle to understand. " Consecrated Celibacy" appeared to be lost with the changes to Sisters ordinary dress . Thank you for reference to Kathleen Norris' book for those who want to understand and trust you more. Is Kathleen an Adrian Dominican Sister? As a Adrian Dominican for only 5 years, I remember it as an directed energy as well. You cleared up a conflict of interest for so many people of Faith today with this reflection piece. Sisters working WITH people certainly are different from Monastics before you.Hurray! Someone finally answered the question. Sexuality has become a mainstream word in homes, families and neighborhoods. It is good to have added "celibate sexuality" to Sisters' conversations Social Media showed up and changed everyone. Good to have the Sisters' part of the conversations too.
Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP
Director of Formation
Sister Judith Benkert, OP
West-Southwest Vocations Promoter
Sister Sara Fairbanks, OP
Director of Vocations, East Coast-Midwest Vocations Promoter
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