“Set me as a seal on your heart,
as a seal on your arm;
For stern as death is love,
Relentless as the nether world is devotion;
Its flames are a blazing fire.
Deep waters cannot quench love,
Nor floods sweep it away.” (Song of Songs 8:6b-7)
Vow of Chastity: Source of Creativity and Energy
Virginity has enlightened, inflamed and given impetus to creativity since the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity willed to save mankind as a virgin.
The intense love of a man who has surrendered the precious possibility of marriage and physical offspring for the sake of love makes a colossal difference to his identity: it purifies him by fire and centers him on his mission. In a mysterious way the fire of the sacrifice purifies his heart to love more ardently; thus his love is more generous, selfless, sacrificing, sensitive, noble and energetic; it focuses him in the way a spectrum of colors return to their original dazzling whiteness: all his relationships are now more clearly seen and lived within the radiance and the white heat of his love for God.
Thus sacred chastity takes away the firewalls built up by man’s disordered pleasure-impulse to the action of the life-blood of sanctifying grace. Knowledge of God through faith becomes more penetrating, hope cuts through fear, love flings aside obstacles. The four cardinal virtues in the priest’s heart have new force: the power of wise decision-making gives him insight that others – even more intelligent people- do not have, fortitude confers superhuman drive. The self-control involved enables him to say “yes” to others because he often says “no” to his own impulses. More easily is he a man who is seamlessly correct in his dealings with all. It is enough to read the lives of the priest-saints whose lives blaze with these virtues to be convinced of this.
Once your intense living of sacred chastity has cleared out the obstacles of sins from the inner rooms of your intelligence and will, it spontaneously tends to fill them with the spirit of initiative and enterprise. The metabolism of grace impels the intense love in the heart of the chaste priest towards creativity.
Of course, cooperation is necessary – for the priest can always say “no” even though the higher he has climbed on Mount Christian the more he spontaneously and naturally loves with a supernatural love. However, when the man stays in base camp and denies initiative entrance to his life, it is a dangerous denial for nature abhors a vacuum: if a priest does not love God through action, he will end up loving someone or something because without love there is no joy and man cannot exist without joy or at least without a dried-up prune version of it called sensual pleasure. Either you will fulfill your priesthood by dedicating your masculine spirit to Jesus Christ through bringing souls to him by every method you can concoct or else you will open the doors through which hobbies, vacations, food and drink, ambitions for Church positions scheming and plotting like a palace eunuch, gossiping and loneliness will enter and squat in your vacant heart. And thus Satan will have his way with you: he will reduce you to being a superfluous priest – for what else is such a priest if he no longer lives for God and souls?
A spirit of enterprise therefore is an accurate thermometer for registering the temperature of chaste love in your heart because a man in love has a mind that just can’t stop thinking about the beloved and of ways to express his love. His imagination catches fire and then creativity, be it great or small, flames forth. The priest whose days overflow with prayer, sacraments, apostolic projects, reading and study has an imagination on fire with the noble and holy; he has no time for day dreaming; he has a passion and an excitement about his priesthood that acts as an atomic shield destroying many temptations within range; he has a willingness to take risks in starting new projects in his parish, school, diocese.
Loneliness if it occurs now and then is not directly related to sacred chastity but to fatherhood or rather to the difficulties of fatherhood. Which biological father, which husband and father of children has not experienced a certain loneliness and pain in life? Whether it is due to misunderstandings or rejection or any one of the thousand and one causes at work in this fallen world, such pain is simply part of the risk of loving and fathering whether as a biological or a supernatural father.
What we priests have to diagnose and remedy is when any such period of loneliness is due to the darkness that occurs when we eclipse the light of mental prayer and the spirit of hard work that brings us to reach out to souls. How could the priest who is father to his people, the one to whom they go with their deepest burdens, the teacher of youth, the solace of the old and dying ever be lonely for long? How could the priest who is seen to be a true father and friend to others ever lack for company?
But this implies that the priest is really active: confessing, visiting his people for religious reasons, teaching, forming young apostles and always asking: “What more, Lord Jesus, can I do for love of you?” It’s an application of the old proverb “If you want a friend, be a friend”: to receive a father’s love, one must give a father’s devotion.