"One day in my dorm room I was praying to God about what I should do with my life, and I just felt that I was called to religious life, and so I said, ‘Okay, I’ll do whatever you want.’
And then I wanted to listen to my favorite song, so I went on YouTube and searched for it, put on my headphones, and played it. But instead of the song coming on, I heard the words ‘Will you marry me?’”
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That’s an interesting question!
Our idea of marriage is of a temporary (ending with the death of the first spouse) and sexually exclusive relationship between two human beings of total self-giving from which new lives can arise.
But that form of marriage is just a shadow of True Love because it’s between two limited, fallible beings. If you’re going to talk about God’s love for us, you have to drop some of the characteristics and intensify others…
The temporariness isn’t there, since love of God isn’t limited to this life — your soul is immortal and God is eternal — so we drop that.
Our relationship with God isn’t sexual, so the sexual exclusivity gets dropped.
The total self-giving part, though, gets intensified: You’re called to far deeper intimacy with God, completely free of human ups and downs on his part, than you can possibly imagine.
And does new life arise from it? Sort of. Your life gets intensified by it, because you’re achieving all the fulfillment that he dreams of for you, and in particular as a religious sister your relationship with him results in a form of spiritual maternity for many of his children that is very real.
So anyone who tells you that they don’t understand this form of “marriage” is, unfortunately, in the dark on the greatest bit of news they could ever receive… but
What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived;
the things God has prepared for those who love him… (1 Corinthians 2:9)
God bless you!
- Father Shane
Good question! There are a few basics that Scripture gives us, though a lot of it is still veiled in mystery for us here below.
We already know that there is no more marriage in Heaven: “When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven” (Mark 12:25). Jesus presents this as the solution to why none of her previous husbands is married to the woman who married seven brothers, so though our loved ones are hopefully there in Heaven, marriage ends with the death of the first spouse.
We also know that, once a priest, you’re a priest “forever” (Hebrews 7:17). Somehow, Holy Orders puts a sign and seal on one’s soul that lasts into eternity. (Baptism and Confirmation do also, of course!) Holy Orders, of course, is only for deacons, priests and bishops, not religious brothers and sisters.
If you’re understanding the message of 1 Corinthians 7:25-38, that might be a sign that you’re being called to what’s “better.” Jesus himself implies that the message of celibacy isn’t given to all to understand, but “Let anyone accept this who can” (Matthew 19:12).
May God bless you abundantly as you seek the place he’s preparing for you in his Kingdom!
- Father Shane
You know how they say the shortest questions have the longest answers? Well, this one sure proves that!
Here’s an article that goes into all the basics that might help you out a lot… may God bless you abundantly in your quest to discover where he wants you to serve him and his Church!
- Father Shane