Gift of self is foundational to both married and celibate vocations

Categories: Around the Diocese,Synod,World Meeting of Families

The following is the sixth in a 10-part series focusing on the 10 themes of the preparatory catechesis for the World Meeting of Families Sept. 22-27 in Philadelphia.

By Sister Candace Fier
For The Visitor

God, in his plan of love and wisdom, has created man and woman for communion. As human beings, we find our fulfillment in giving and receiving love.

Love is realized and shared in many forms throughout our stages of growth from childhood to adulthood. All forms of love — childlike, motherly-fatherly, bridal-marital — are unique and interdependent. An organic and healthy growth of love in one stage of life safeguards and perfects the future growth of love. Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of each of our lives.

world-meeting-of-families-philadelphia-2015-logoLiving out this message takes practical form through our vocation in life. Like Mary, we want to live our life in active readiness to discern God’s will for our vocation. Within our vocation, whether it be to the married life or to the state of virginity, God unfolds the fullness of love through a life formed in the virtue of chastity.

The virtue of chastity is a means and expression of our holiness, our relatedness to God, our desire to be totally one with God in pure and eternal faithfulness. It is a fullness of goodness, a fullness that allows us to give ourselves, our total person, to God with joy.

Chastity unfolds and sustains the God-willed interrelatedness of love and life within us. Every life by its very nature has the need and the capacity to nurture life, if not through giving birth and raising children, then through other forms of self-giving, nurturing and service.

It is the interior offering of self to the Lord that is the common core and source of strength for both vocations. The celibate vocation should be the sign and ransom for the faithfulness of married couples and vice versa. The two vocations mutually enrich each other, and both are needed to build up the family of God.

Married couples contribute to this family of God by giving themselves to each other with a Christ-like love that joins them as one and makes their love fruitful in the bringing forth of new life. As parents, they are to be witnesses to their children of Jesus’ love on the cross.

The contribution of the celibate vocation brought by priests, vowed religious and all those who are living chastely outside of marriage is the love of spiritual motherhood or fatherhood as expressed by mercy, generosity and service.

It is characterized by a freedom for certain types of service, friendship and community. They have gifts of time, prayer and contemplation that parents often do not have. When a person loves chastely outside of marriage, the result is friendship.

Friendship is a good for all, for it leads to spiritual communion. This is the special contribution of the celibate vocation to the building up of the family of God.

• Family activity: Pray together as a family that each child will hear the call to the vocation God has chosen for them.

Sister Candace Fier, a member of the Secular Institute of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, is the director of the Office of Family Life for the Diocese of New Ulm.