Today, the Church celebrates the World Day for Consecrated Life! You may be asking, what does consecrated life have to do with marriage? Why would a website dedicated to the promotion and defense of marriage want to place special emphasis on consecrated life? Well, the two states of life have much more in common than may first appear.
When someone makes a promise to live a specific state, he or she is actually giving the whole of themselves present and future. The promise someone makes either in marriage or celibacy, is inclusive of one’s whole being, a total gift of oneself. Those who are called to live as consecrated, not only point to the beauty of consecrated celibacy, but also uphold the beauty and dignity of marriage while living out their vow of celibacy.
In his apostolic exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, Blessed John Paul II explains that marriage and celibacy are two ways of expressing and living the one mystery of the covenant of God with His people. In fact, each of the two states of life actually reveals the interior meaning of the other. So, “whoever denigrates marriage also diminishes the glory of virginity (FC, 16).” He continues, “when human sexuality is not regarded as a great value given by the Creator, the renunciation of it for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven loses its meaning (FC, 16).”
The celibate person awaits in a bodily way, the eschatological marriage of Christ and the Church. Celibacy is a higher state of life because the celibate person anticipates the relationship we are all called to have with God in heaven. Celibacy reminds us of the life to come; that we are all made to be united with God. At the same time, marriage discloses what is at the heart of virginity. By looking at marriage, we are able to correctly understand celibacy as spousal love.
Again, Blessed John Paul II explained that “celibacy keeps alive in the Church a consciousness of the mystery of marriage and defends it from any reduction and impoverishment (FC, 16).” Let us pray that we may be given the grace to defend the integrity of both states of life.
Visit the USCCB website for more information on the World Day for Consecrated Life.