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Seven Silver Rings: Seven Celibates Tell Their Story

seven silver ringsIn ‘Seven Silver Rings’ seven celibates from the Jesus Fellowship tell their very varied stories – why and how they chose celibacy, the trials and joys, the vision and outworking of the gift. The stories are interspersed with chapters on  topics such as the biblical foundation of celibacy, celibacy in history, celibacy today and some FAQ.

Here are some quotes from three of the contributors:

‘Celibacy is reckless in its devotion to God! It’s giving up the best and the first for stuartGod – not the leftovers.’ Stuart

‘Celibacy is an amazing gift of love that has the power to enhance all you do in living for Jesus. I have many heroines who have trod this way before me who have really inspired me – Mother Teresa, Basilea Schlink and St Teresa of AvilaVanessa amongst others. Their greatest influence upon me has been to show me the need for a consistent contemplative and prayer life that matches my service for God. This, for me, has been one of the real secrets of how I keep going and how I keep discovering more of Jesus. Prayer is the oxygen for my celibacy. If I stop communing with God, I die spiritually.’ Vanessa.

selina‘In my gifting as an evangelist I’ve found celibacy to be central, especially with messed-up young people. In many young people’s lives there has never been love without a price tag of some kind. I’m aware that when you’re a celibate there’s a quality to your love for people. This love is unconditional, centred upon them and shows respect, rather than fulfilling some need in yourself. Celibacy is not for yourself – it’s for others! Pouring out the love that is within is what fuels the celibate gifting. If you stop loving and being among people, the gift dies!’ Selina

A review of this book can be found on the Single Consecrated Life (SCL) website (Anglican).

http://singleconsecratedlife-anglican.org.uk/silver_rings_20.html

Partial copies of Seven Silver Rings are available on google books; full copies are available via Jesus Army website:http://www.jesus.org.uk/books

 
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Posted by on Fri 3rd May 2013 in Books

 

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The Mystery of Love For The Single: Fr.Dominic J. Unger

Lisa Gee Book review by Lisa Gee

“The Mystery Of Love For The Single.” Fr. Dominic J. Unger, O.F.M. Cap.

The sub-title is “A Guide for Those Who Follow The Single Vocation in the World.”

 First published in 1958. Republished by TAN BOOKS in 2005.

This book is unique because it speaks to singles that plan on living their lives in the world but remaining single for the kingdom. Some of the topics covered include:

  • The mystery of man’s love for God
  • The single vocation in the world
  • Spiritual nuptials through perfect chastity (one of my favourites)
  • The manner of dedication
  • Careers and home life
  • Some basic helps in safeguarding purity

Fr. Dominic writes of a joyful life for those choosing a celibate lifestyle: one that blesses the church, the world at large and the person living this call to the utmost. He writes, “One does great honour to God and, besides, such a vow to live chastely brings stability to one’s life and adds strength, psychologically”.  (P60)

mystery of loveIn most books about celibacy the bent is toward those in religious orders; this is not so with “The mystery of the love for the single”. From the first chapter to the end it speaks to modern people who come to this call in a variety of ways.  It gives practical advice such as for careers, housing and social life. The chapter on ‘manner of dedication’ is full of wisdom in taking this call step by step, recommending a temporary promise for the first year then evaluating one’s own heart before making a final promise. It supplies different prayers and ideas for the dedication.

The chapter on ‘safeguarding purity’ is most helpful.  A quote worth remembering is “moderation always”

Here are a few more quotes

 “The Heavenly Spouse cares with special solicitude for those who follow Him in virginal and perfect chastity, He protects them, consoles them, helps them, rejoices their hearts.” (P81)

  “Single people in the world are ..freer than priests and religious. They do not have to wait for the counsel or command of superiors before taking care of urgent works of mercy.” (P68)

“Precisely because such single men and women are so beneficial to the Church and are such a power for the church’s apostate do the heretics oppose them and persecute them.” (P39)

“All this excellence and reward of virginal and perfect chastity adds up to one thing: a life of genuine peace and joy already in this world, and of hope for even better things in the next.” (P94)

I am unsure if I am doing this book justice.  For me I was struggling in this calling, like walking in the dark, often feeling out of step with the world around me. Then I found this book which I almost didn’t buy because I didn’t like the cover!

I have re-read this book often and learn something new each time. I will end with what I wrote on the inside cover when I first finished it “A great book! A gift from God, the author of all that is good”

 
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Posted by on Tue 23rd Apr 2013 in Books

 

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The Celibacy Myth: Loving For Life: Part 6

celibacy myth This is an outline of the final chapter of the book: The Celibacy Myth: Loving for Life; Charles A.Callagher and Thomas L. Vandenberg. St Paul Publications. England. 1987.

This is an excellent book written mainly for Catholic priests but it has relevance for all Christian celibates.

Chapter 7: Despair or Hope?

The writers tell us that we must deal constructively with our hurts, to look them in the face and address them. Failure to do so will lead to pessimism, negative attitudes and despair. We have to take responsibility for our lives in this.

Despair is looking on the world with a sense of powerlessness. It is battling against insurmountable odds. Yet, we are not alone and Jesus said ‘Fear not’ to the pessimist and to the one in despair. We must overcome negativity, pessimism and the consequent loss of vision; God is with us and we live in faith and hope. Whilst we love, we have hope but when we cease to love we also cease to long, to hope, to have faith. Lack of love and pessimism go together.

The battle is for the Church, for a strong brotherhood with deep bonds of pure love: with this celibacy will win or fail. The question at the heart of the Church is this: will we all chose to love, to forgive, to be reconciled? Will we fight to make it work, not as an institution but as a living body? Celibacy will only work in the context of the Church being a ’living Body of Christ’.

As celibates, we chose a way of loving for life.”

A married leader’s primary intimacy is with his wife. A celibate’s primary intimacy is with the people of God.  In this way a celibate is that more given over to the Church. A celibate’s life should be totally centred on his people – there is no tension and conflicts of interest.

 
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Posted by on Tue 2nd Apr 2013 in Books

 

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The Celibacy Myth: Loving For Life: Part 5

Continuation of the outline of the book: The Celibacy Myth: Loving for Life; Charles A.Callagher and Thomas L. Vandenberg. St Paul Publications. England. 1987

This is an excellent book written mainly for Catholic priests but it has relevance for all celibates.

Chapter 5: Contract or Covenant?celibacy myth

Callagher and Vandenberg tell us that it is not the job a priest does that is important so much as who he is and how much he loves. It is not a contract that unites the priest with his congregation but rather a covenant of love (in the same way that marriage is a covenant of love and not just a contract).

We must look at the way Jesus treated His disciples and follow Him.

“I am in your midst as one who serves you (Luke 22:28).

“I call you friends (John 15:15).

Relationships were of great importance to the apostle Paul. It is love that must be central to the life of a priest.

Being faithful in marriage is not just about abstaining from sex with another person. It is something positive, a real giving of one’s self to one’s partner with enjoyment. Celibacy is the same – it is something positive, a gift lived out with joy.  It is delight in one’s people. It, like a faithful marriage, goes far beyond duty. Celibacy should not be a burden.

Chapter 6: Fellowship or Communion

We can have intimacy in relationships without sex. “Intimacy involves … the willingness to disclose oneself to others, to become somewhat vulnerable by being honest about one’s self … and a willingness to let others become a part of and an influence on one’s own life.” Joseph Bernardin: Towards a Spirituality of Marital Intimacy. Origins 10/18 (16 Oct 1980).

Living celibacy, then, like living marriage, requires constant effort. There is nothing automatic about it.”

 Sometimes it is easier to pour out love than to receive love: “When he is loving, it is on his terms; he is in control. But when he is receiving love, he must give up control and allow his people to love him on their terms.” We must receive love in order to live out our celibate gifting and be there for the people. Jesus said to Peter, ‘Do you love Me?’ It was important for Him to feel loved. We too, must allow ourselves to be loved.

The role of leadership in the Church is to love purely and to bring about a greater brotherhood amongst the people of God. It is from the love-communion between God’s people that the mission of the Church must flow. Celibacy must be a catalyst for a stronger church-brotherhood, a living communion of people that love.

Just as a married man must evaluate his success as a husband in terms of how happy his wife is, a celibate priest must evaluate his success as a celibate in terms of how happy his people are.” A priest who loves will bring out both goodness and joy in his people. Celibacy is not about heroism and self-sacrifice so much as about belonging to a people, a belonging that is characterized by warmth and tenderness. Those who are full of love will always make others feel good about themselves.

Celibates need a love relationship – with the people of God. Celibacy is all about loving a people and that takes self-giving and hard work. The people must sustain a priest’s celibacy by loving him too.

“In a very real way, their (God’s people) priest’s ability to live celibacy is in their hands.”

 
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Posted by on Fri 29th Mar 2013 in Books

 

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The Celibacy Myth:Loving For Life: Part 4

Continuation of the outline of the book: The Celibacy Myth: Loving for Life; Charles A.Callagher and Thomas L. Vandenberg. St Paul Publications. England. 1987

This is an excellent book written mainly for Catholic priests but it has relevance for all celibates.

 Chapter3: Bachelor or Bridegroom?

A priest or Christian leader should not be described as a ‘man of God’ but a ‘man of God’s people’ and Celibacy is a way of loving for life” …When living in relationship with his people, his (i.e. the priest’s) basic human emotional needs for love, belonging and self-worth will be met.

The more we lose ourselves in love and move in self-giving, the more we find our identity as people. Marriages that are successful are not based on ‘my-need’ but on self-giving.  It is no good getting married for what is ‘in it for me’. ‘Give and it shall be given to you’ is a recipe for successful marriage i.e. you have to be the one who initiates the affirming and loving process. It is all too easy to compensate for lack of relationship by busyness, career etc. – and before you know it the relationship drifts apart.

Priests become leaders in order to express self-giving to the people of God. It is not a job, it is a relationship; the priest is taking a Bride.  As the priest offers himself totally up for his people, his own heart is filled. He does not think in terms of self-fulfilment but in terms of what he can give to the Bride. Celibacy can only be understood in terms of love commitment to the church – not in terms of what has to be sacrificed. A celibate’s needs are fulfilled among the people of God.

When a celibate senses a need in himself to be loved, he must reach out in love to his people. He must take responsibility for meeting his needs, and he does so by giving of himself.” As celibates we need not fear our negative feelings of loneliness and anger. They are God’s call to us – into a deeper relationship with His people. Priests must not compensate for unmet needs by being needlessly busy.

As celibates, we have to fight the independent spirit. It’s easy to withdraw and become aloof – especially when one’s self-esteem becomes low.  At such times, like a married man has to rekindle his love for his wife, a faint-hearted celibate “can choose to refocus his attention on his beloved people by loving beyond his hurts and disappointments. When his sense of self-esteem is wanting, a priest can remember that he is part of something bigger than himself and can choose to affirm, praise, and build up his spouse, the people of the church.”

celibacy myth

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on Fri 22nd Feb 2013 in Books

 

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The Celibacy Myth: Loving for Life: Part 3

Continuation of the outline of the book: The Celibacy Myth: Loving for Life; Charles A.Callagher and Thomas L. Vandenberg. St Paul Publications. England. 1987

Chapter 2: Matrimony and Celibacy: Adversaries or Allies?

 celibacy mythCelibacy and marriage have a great need for each other.

Celibacy, according to the New Testament, is for the Church, for furthering the Kingdom of God. Marriage, too, is for the Church, for furthering the Kingdom.

Celibacy is not a private affair between oneself and God; neither, is marriage. Both are to enrich the Church.

 “When a priest it totally taken with his people, absorbed in them, then celibacy becomes ”of course’ instead of ‘I have to’.” In this way celibacy is no different from faithful marriage. A faithful man promises commitment to one woman and that ‘narrowness’ enhances that one relationship.

It seems that the higher marriage is upheld, the more too is celibacy – and visa-versa. Both marriage and celibacy are a calling, a sacrament. To uphold the sacredness of one is to uphold the sacredness of the other.

Matrimony and celibacy are church experiences; they are complementary life styles meant for each other.”

Celibates need a relationship, friendship, with happily married couples – not just with ones who need their advice because they have problems.

Of both celibacy and marriage: Together, they are reeling from the shock waves of a society that has turned its back from the very notion of commitment itself.” Where marriage fails, so will celibacy and visa versa.

To be continued.

 
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Posted by on Fri 15th Feb 2013 in Books

 

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The Celibacy Myth: Loving for Life: Book Outline: Part 2

Continuation of the outline of the book: The Celibacy Myth: Loving for Life; Charles A.Callagher and Thomas L. Vandenberg. St Paul Publications. England. 1987.

Chapter 1: Privation or Privilege

Christian celibates do not concentrate on what is to be  given up but on what is to be received and moved into. Celibacy is not a privation but a privilege.When people talk about celibacy they seem to view it as something negative e.g. abstaining from marriage, not having sex etc. but this is not a definition of what celibacy is.

Celibacy is about relationship – the relationship of a priest with his people. He is especially given over to his people in the way a married man is particularly given over to his wife and children.

Celibacy is nothing to do with ‘a job’ or even having more time for ‘the job’. It is far more than that. There must be a real quality and depth of relationship between a priest and his people – a relationship that is far more than doing the job. It is about commitment and a deep bonding with a people.

“Rather than being the operator of a spiritual filling station, a priest is more like the conductor of an orchestra who enables the talents of his people to emerge for the glory of God.”

 A priest does this because he is in communion with his people. A priest is not above his people, but is in the centre with them. He is like a father in a family; there is value in what he does for his people, but it cannot replace who he is with his people.

Celibacy must facilitate this relationship (between priest and people) and from that the Bocelibacy mythdy of Christ (the church) is built up.

This series, outline of ‘The Celibacy Myth’, to be continued.

 
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Posted by on Fri 8th Feb 2013 in Books

 

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