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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 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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Hildegard of Bingen: Celibacy is Green: (Part 2)

Hildegard of Bingen (sehildegard 4e previous blog of 14/12/12 ) wrote of celibate women:

By their purity of purpose, these women have overcome their vain, empty unpredictable desires. Through their passionate love for the true Son, they have ascended to that level beyond the confines of prescribed laws and now they breathe a new air, an air pure beyond the clarity of the purest water; and they shine with radiance beyond the radiant glory of the sun. In the green life of their virginity and in the blossoming of body and spirit, these women have revealed their sweetest longings. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, they have been filled with the fragrance and power of many virtues. And now they feel the breath of a new air, air that breathes the fresh green force of all the herbs and flowers of earth and paradise; air that is filled with the fragrance of life-giving power, just as the summer is filled with the perfume of green plants and flowers.” (The Wisdom of Hildegard of Bingen)green 1

It’s easy to be cynical of words like this: the medieval way of thinking is certainly quite distant from our own. But aren’t they positive, reaching upwards and not inwards, revealing the need to live supernaturally, in touch with God? Don’t they paint a picture of celibates fulfilled in their union with God and satiated by the life He brings?

Hildegard thought green … abundant, verdant, well-watered, God-breathed life  … O to feel the breath of a new, pure air, air that breathes the fresh green force .. air filled with life-giving power ... the Holy Spirit. How we need Him and the abundant life He brings!

 
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Posted by on Fri 21st Dec 2012 in Historical, Quotes

 

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