Consecrated Virginity
Monday, August 31, 2009
By Father Mark Mary

For all of the boldness and arrogance of modernity, there is a deep sense of insecurity. We like to play by our own rules and profess liberation from past cultural hang ups on sexuality, gender and marriage. But deep down there is an experience of the hook up culture not delivering on its promises.

I recently read a young womans testimony about losing her virginity. After a short relationship that had become based primarily on sex, her boyfriend lost interest in her. She suffered pain and emptiness; she writes, The love I had offered was destroyed. There was nothing more to give. I realized I had been used in a disgusting manner, for I had given away what was most precious to me, and received pain and suffering in return.

There is a great temptation today to make sex a thing, disconnected from our inner self to use it solely for pleasure and empty it of meaning. In effect we hear, It is simply a pleasurable experience that doesnt really unite people in any meaningful way. But what if we believed that conjugal love was an image of Trinitarian love? The love between a man and a woman images the very love within the Trinity; a giving of oneself to another.

If I were to give you the deepest part of myself, my love, my affection, the fullness of my personality, my very body how could that be in any other context but the lifetime commitment of marriage? It is like saying that I will be madly in love with you for the next couple of months and then I am on to someone else. How appealing is that? God calls us to Him for all eternity. This speaks to us of the committed love we are to have for one another in marriage.

A few weeks ago, we had Judith Stegman on Life on the Rock speaking about consecrated virginity. She said that women have a special sense of being a gift. When God calls a woman to consecrated virginity, she is giving her virginity with her entire self to the Lord. She is making a gift of herself to God, saying that she belongs to Him alone, that she is dedicated solely to Him. She embraces in a concrete way, in the here and now, our future heavenly existence.

Have we lost sight of the gift we all possess? Have we lost sight of the gift that we are worthy of receiving from another? We diminish the greatness of sexuality by taking it out of the context of love and marriage. Oftentimes, we push the physical before the spiritual, hoping that the physical intimacy will lead to a fuller love, but the common experience is that it overpowers and destroys a burgeoning love. Without the commitment of the matrimonial vows, sexual desire, alone, degenerates into a mere using of one another.

The consecrated virgin is an image of the love that the Church, the bride, has for her bridegroom, Jesus Christ. It speaks to us of the preciousness of what we have to offer God, to love Him, to give ourselves to Him. In the end, isnt that what He wants from us: our love?

We stress our good works and the service we do, but the one thing that only we can give Him, which is truly unique to us, is our love. The good works and zeal for the kingdom is an expression of our love, but it is not primary. Consecrated virginity proclaims to the world the great dignity God has bestowed on man: that He calls us to love Him and that man, himself, is worthy of love.

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