Reflections on celibacy

Yesterday was my 3rd anniversary of ordination to the deaconate. On that day I accepted to become a “servant,” in obedience to my bishop and his successors. I also made a formal promise to remain celibate for the rest of my life.

People often see celibacy as a terrible burden imposed upon priests, and I know some priests do live it that way — but I am not one of those people, and to be honest, as I was preparing for my deaconal ordination, I did so with great joy in my heart. Even within its “constraints” I have found my commitment to be a tremendous source of inner freedom.

Those who know me know that I wear a gold band on my left hand. Yes, it looks identical to a wedding band, except that inside is inscribed “Deaconate, May 25, 2001”. I put on this ring because I wanted to have a visible sign, easily recognized by the community, that I was in a committed relationship of love. It has occasionally raised a few eyebrows. When I travelled to Florida in January, the U.S. border guard asked me why I was going on vacation without my wife. I was surprised and replied, “I’m not married,” so he asked me why I wore the wedding band. We actually had a bit of a chat about it, and about the meaning of celibacy — I think he was genuinely intrigued (or perhaps just bored by the routine up to that point). At any rate, it was a great chance to witness about it, and to boast of my Beloved.