Human formation for celibacy should aim toward an affective maturity, which is the ability to live a true and responsible love. Signs of affective maturity in the candidate are prudence, vigilance over body and spirit, compassion and care for others, ability to express and acknowledge emotions, and a capacity to esteem and respect interpersonal relationships between men and women. Therefore, true friendship is an education in affective maturity.”
Chastity is a microcosm for what it means to live the virtuous life. While chastity is often only used in reference to the religious life, it is actually a virtue that every Catholic is called to live at every stage in life. The virtue of chastity calls on us to recognize the passions, emotions, and desires we have in regards to our sexuality and to act upon them in a way that is morally virtuous. The habit of the virtuous life requires us to order our reason above our will, and our will above our emotions. Chastity is an excellent example of this proper order.
Whether we are single, married, priest, or religious, we must be a person whose sexuality is kept in check by our will which is informed by our reasoning. This does not make us less human, but more human, more authentic, and more mature.
“Education for chastity, a virtue incumbent on all Christians and in a unique way embraced in celibacy, ought to present it as a “virtue that develops a person’s authentic maturity and makes him or her capable of respecting and fostering the ‘nuptial meaning’ of the body.””
As a virtue that develops a person’s authentic maturity, chastity is a key part of seminarian formation. “Since the charism of celibacy, even when it is genuine and has proved itself, leaves man’s affections and his instinctive impulses intact, candidates to the priesthood need an affective maturity which is prudent, able to renounce anything that is a threat to it, vigilant over both body and spirit, and capable of esteem and respect in interpersonal relationships between men and women”
Chastity is not a fun or easy virtue to focus upon, but each and every one of us must be living a chaste life according to our vocation. The proper understanding of what chastity is will help us to live a virtuous life.
Take Action this Week:
- We live in a culture that glorifies feelings over reason. Is there an influence in your life that preys upon your feelings against your better judgment? Does social media inspire envy, or advertising inspire lust? Can you take active steps to pray for strength and reduce that area of negative influence?
- Pray for our seminarians and priests that they might live out affective maturity through chastity.