Celibacy and Marriage Complement Each Other, Says Papal Preacher

Virginity Is More a Gift Received Than Given, Insists Friar

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 20, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Virginity is a manifestation of the Spirit for the good of all, says the Papal Household preacher.



Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa delivered that message today in the latest homily delivered in the presence of the Pope and members of the Roman Curia, in spiritual preparation for Christmas.

"If consecrated chastity is a charism, then it is more a gift received from God than a gift made to God," the Capuchin friar explained.

That means that celibates and consecrated virgins should change from "the attitude of someone who has made an offering and a sacrifice, to the absolutely different attitude of the one who realizes he has received a gift for which, instead, he should be thankful," Father Cantalamessa stressed.

This also explains why those who have been given this charism are called to be witnesses of humility, avoiding all vainglory in their continence for the Kingdom of God, he added.

"But, perhaps, the most important result obtained from speaking of virginity and celibacy in terms of a charism is to make the latent opposition between virginity and marriage disappear, which has so affected these Christian vocations," the Capuchin continued.

"In the notion of charism and that of vocation, the two forms of life can finally live fully reconciled and edify one another reciprocally," he added. "Consecrated virginity is not a private affair, a personal choice for perfection. On the contrary, it is for the common benefit and is for the service of others. Virgins and married people edify one another mutually."

Father Cantalamessa explained that virgins remind married couples of "the primacy of God and of that which does not pass," while those who are married can teach the consecrated "generosity" and "forgetfulness of self" experienced in the service of life and in the education of children.

Those in the married state can offer "a certain humanity that comes from direct contact with the dramas of life," he said.

"This shows the usefulness of having in the Christian community a healthy integration of the charisms, by which the married and the celibate do not live rigidly separated from one another, but in a way where they help and exhort one another mutually to grow," he emphasized.

"It is not true that the proximity of the other sex and of families is always and necessarily for the unmarried insidious and a dark menace," the Capuchin stressed. "It could be, if there still has not been a free, joyful and final acceptance of one's own vocation. But this also applies to those who are married."

The friar concluded: "The most beautiful thing we can do by way of conclusion to our reflections on celibacy and virginity for the Kingdom is to renew our 'Here I am" and our 'Yes.' Not with resigned acceptance but with the desire and the impatience of Mary at the annunciation."