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Tag Archives: devotion

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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A Second Call: Lisa Gee on Celibacy

Lisa GeeMy name is Lisa. I am 48 years old and have been living single for the Lord in the world for a bit now.

When did I first hear the call?

The first time I heard the call was at my first communion. I was seven and did not know about any such thing. All I knew was that I wanted to belong totally to Jesus and that thought brought me joy. I wish I could report that I kept that ideal but I did not. Why? Maybe I did not trust that this call was real; also I had never met anyone living this way. So I got married and soon had five children. However my husband was an alcoholic and we were separated.  There I was, alone, with five children under eight. What was I to do? The wise thing family and friends thought was to find a nice Christian guy and try this whole thing again. But God had other plans and in the midst of all my worries and fears I heard the call again. Of course there was joy but I thought I have to be reasonable, don’t I? After pondering it for another 3 years I said “yes” to this beautiful way of life in March 1996 and made a public declaration in August of 2000.

What sustains me in this calling?

The most important thing for me is time alone with God in both quality and quantity. If I cut this time short I forget why I am doing this and it becomes drudgery.

Single parenting and celibacy, how does that work?

That was a deep concern of mine; would this choice make life harder on my children? The answer is the divorce made life a struggle but celibacy brought stability and a sense of peace to the home. While we never had much money, my children love each other and treat me with respect and in it all God is glorified. I am the least of all celibates and do not consider myself equal to those who have been true since their youth. But I am grateful that God made something beautiful out of past mistakes. My hope is in His Kingdom when we will see Him as He is.

What has been my biggest struggle?

Unbelief! “Is that God really calling you? Are you sure?” This has left me weak but God is strong and that is my hope. Another pitfall for me was to ask everyone and their uncle about the call. While it is good to check in with a trusted friend or spiritual adviser at the end of the day no one knows that tug in a celibate’s heart and it cheapens the call when we try to defend it from those who just don’t understand. Keep holy things holy. This call is holy!

Next week: book review by Lisa

 
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Posted by on Thu 18th Apr 2013 in Interviews

 

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What Has Celibacy To Do With Undivided Devotion?

Recently someone sent the following comment into Undividedblog:

“I do not understand what being celibate has to do with being undivided in devotion to God. The people that seem most Christ-like are married couples who do good work together for others.  

“Right now, the requirement that priests be chosen from a celibate male pool is leaving the Catholic Church so short of priests that it is undermining Catholicism.”

Hey, thanks for writing in. It’s all thought-provoking wilfstuff: I’ve asked my friend, Wilf, to comment and I’ve written my own thoughts after.

Wilf: I think you are right about many married people.However for some people, those who Jesus said could recieve the gift of celibacy, it can and does open up something very wonderful and powerful: it is gift which can sharpen and empower all the other gifts a person has.Having said this, I do not think it should be a prerequisite for the priesthood. Maybe something more like the Orthodox approach would be better, where priests can be married or celibate.

I guess celibacy, for me, is a lot to do with freedom – from family responsibilities and so having time and energy available for other things. Freedom, however, must be treated as responsibly as commitment. Will I use or misuse this gift of freedom?

Ideally celibates use their freedom in order to live poured-out lives – for God, for others.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case and I find this a challenge everyday – to love foremost, to serve and to pray. There are, sadly and gladly, very good examples around of both celibacy’s misuse and use. I guess, let’s not tar everyone with the same brush.

I have observed, as you have, shining Christian couples exemplifying lives poured out for others. Wonderful. Indeed, personally, what would I have done without such people? I have also had the good fortune to see some brilliant examples of celibates, ‘not counting their lives precious to themselves’ (Acts 20:4) but living lives sold out for others.

I believe that, in a healthy church, celibates and married people work together. Celibates often thrive when they closely connect with families and visa versa. Personally, I have really enjoyed the friendship of my married friends and their children and this has been very beneficial – for me as well as them. And then, there is the freedom in celibacy to give oneself to spiritual sons and daughters and one takes on commitment then of a different but equally important type. I find there is no lack of people wanting mentoring, mothering, befriending – if you have time. Yes, celibates, we have time – and hearts of love can go a long way.

I come from a tradition where we have married, single and celibate leaders. I am glad for this as I believe it brings wholeness to the church. We need each other.

 
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Posted by on Mon 18th Mar 2013 in Contemporary

 

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The heart of my call

I wrote this a few years ago. It expressed quite simply the very heart beat of what Jesus had revealed to me in living out my call as a celibate. All other gifts and ministries were always to be secondary to this call.

This is all my joy
To honour you with my life
To serve you in this way
To be a mother

You put in me your trust
To care for damaged souls
To direct the young and old
To be a mother

What greater joy is there
What deeper call to find
That one can break and bear
With a lost soul of mankind
That needs a loving heart
That needs a listening ear
A steady soul to nurture
To be a mother

Nothing more can I offer than this
To avail myself to my Lord
Who gently leads me out
To find another
Another soul who is hurting
Another heart that is breaking
To be a channel of God’s love
To be a mother

No status, admiration or greater gain
Is there to be had in all the world
Than to simply offer all I am
To be a mother.

 
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Posted by on Thu 14th Mar 2013 in Poetry

 

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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: 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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Flexible, Outpoured Life: Let God Choose

Let God choose …

Ruth Dowling made a commitment to celibacy when she was 24 and is now 53. She lives at ‘Spreading Flame,’ a Jesus Fellowship community house in London. For the last twenty five years Ruth has suffered from ME and has been unable to work for most of the time. However, she has fulfilled a somewhat hidden but vital ministry of prayer, befriending and encouragement. Let God choose …

Here are some of her thoughts:

“The fruit of a commitment to celibacy must be a flexible, outpoured life – let God choose what that means. As GD Watson writes: “It is a flexible spirit with no plans of its own” (The Inner Spirit of the Cross).

“It isn’t a good idea to become celibate only in order to fulfil a specific ministry because your ministry may well change with time.

“Most importantly, celibacy is about loving, about being devoted to the Lord and the brethren and those we seek to serve.”

 
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Posted by on Thu 22nd Nov 2012 in Interviews

 

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