ing that is part of marriage.
Healthy celibate lovers don’t
leave our sexuality at the door when
we enter communities. We never
cease being sexual beings. We take
our sexuality with us and freely
embody its creative energy in ways
that are life-giving, passionate, and
loving. Is it always easy? No. Is this
aspect of our lives often misunderstood? Definitely.
Available for love
When all the world around us
seems to be paired off in couples
or seeking partners, celibate loving
can appear inept, misguided, and
even a cop-out. But for those of us
to whom this life is given and who
embrace it healthily and honestly,
no amount of justification is needed
because it’s about our essence.
Celibate chastity, like all the
vows, is more about interior dis-
position than about any behavior
or absence of that behavior. And it
seems to me that the primary interi-
or disposition for love is availability.
But to whom and for what? Married
lovers are available to and for one
another in a manner in which they
are not available to any other per-
son. Their love for God is expressed
in and through their marital com-
mitment. That’s the primary locus
of their love, the emotional center
of their lives. Celibate lovers in
religious communities, along with
their sisters and brothers, are avail-
able to and for the mission of their
congregations. Their love for God
is expressed through their religious
commitment, and that’s the primary
locus of their love and the emotion-
al center of their lives.
So what does all that mean?
For me it means that I’m available
for intimate relationships but not
exclusive ones marked by genital
sexual expression. It means that
IN 2009 AT THE
Federation of the
Sisters of St. Joseph
in conversation with
Sister Giselle Martinez,
C.S.J., the UN-NGO
representative for the
federation at that time.