Christ’s Precious Gift to His Church
In 2007, Cardinal Claudio Hummes wrote a wonderful article on priestly celibacy entitled Christ’s Precious Gift to His Church. Many of his points can also apply to consecrated virginity. Below are some passages from his article but with references to priests and priestly celibacy changed accordingly.
Consecrated virginity has been guarded by the Church for centuries as a brilliant jewel, and retains its value undiminished even in our time when the outlook of men and the state of the world have undergone such profound changes.
We know, therefore, that following him with faithfulness in virginity, which includes sacrifice, will lead us to happiness. God does not call anyone to unhappiness; he calls us all to happiness. Happiness, however, always goes hand in hand with faithfulness.
By a daily dying to herself and by giving up the legitimate love of a family of her own for the love of Christ and of his Kingdom, the virgin will find the glory of an exceedingly rich and fruitful life in Christ, because like him and in him she loves and dedicates herself to all the children of God.
If ordinary Christian life cannot legitimately claim to be such if it excludes the dimension of the cross, how much more incomprehensible would the life of the consecrated virgin be were the perspective of the crucified One to be put aside.
Suffering, sometimes weariness and boredom and even setbacks have to be dealt with in a virgin’s life which, however, is not ultimately determined by them. In choosing to follow Christ, one learns from the very outset to go with him to Calvary, mindful that taking up one’s cross is the element that qualifies the radical nature of the sequela.
Love for the Lord is authentic when it endeavors to be total: Falling in love with Christ means having a deep knowledge of him, it means a close association with his person, the identification and assimilation of his thought, and lastly, unreserved acceptance of the radical demands of the Gospel.
It is only possible to be witnesses of God through a deep experience of Christ; the whole of a virgin’s life depends on her relationship with the Lord, the quality of her experience of martyria, of her witness.
Without this clear perspective, any “missionary urge” is doomed to failure, methodologies are transformed into techniques for maintaining a structure, and even prayers can become techniques for meditation and for contact with the sacred in which both the human “I” and the “you” of God dissolve.