I recently came across the work of Richard Sipe, a former Catholic priest who released an extensive longitudinal study of the sexual practices of Catholic clergy in 1990. Though the book largely focuses on failures to live out celibacy, Sipe points out what he found to be four essential elements of a “mature adjustment to celibacy”:
- Productive work;
- A well-defined prayer life;
- A deep sense of community;
- And a dedication to service.
These four elements strike me as important for a mature adjustment to Christian life, but they are particularly important for those living out committed celibacy. In a married life, these four elements often come out naturally in the care for one’s spouse and children. What Sipe’s study shows, however, is that celibacy is not a life that just comes easily and naturally to most. Rather, it requires attention to the order and rhythm of our daily lives.
For those of you committed to celibacy, what have you found helpful in ordering your lives and maturing in your commitment?
Chris Damian recently graduated from the University of Notre Dame and is currently pursuing degrees in Law and Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas. He can be found on Twitter @UniversityIdeas.