Cantalamessa’s Meditations on Celibacy by Deacon James Keating

Notes from Deacon Keating’s talk on Virginity: A Positive Approach to Celibacy for the Sake of the Kingdom of Heaven by Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap

Celibacy & Sacrificial Love

  • One can live out sacrifice only if sacrifice is an offering to someone – a personal dimension, an affective adherence to the person of Christ. If you do not know how to sacrifice and die in your body, then you will make other people suffer and die.
  • Jesus’ most masculine virtue was endurance (Von Balthasar) – choosing to love – ability to take that in our body – advancing the suffering in his body.
  • Celibates must become experts in dying. And in doing so shows how not to cling to this age, but, instead, to receive the power of the resurrection through reception of the divine love in Christ’s mysteries.
  • At the altar – where you feel most like a man in your self-giving.
  • Mystery of love = giving up the ego for the welfare of the other –> this is the only way through which you can counsel couples who want to love each other more.
  • You meet Christ in the sacrifice.
  • GREAT LIE = When we suffer, we are abandoned.

Celibacy & Prayer Life & Romance

  • Your prayer life is connected deeply to celibacy lived out joyfully.
  • Romance for celibate = depths of contemplative spirituality –> putting different kind of music on for your prayer, new candles (like married couples) = your needs to engage senses to have romance with God. The need to go beyond my flesh as a celibate.
  • Talk about romance and your needs for it in spiritual direction.

Celibacy & Simplicity

  • Pure simplicity – ONLY GOD SATISFIES. You have chosen to carry in your heart the universal cry that nothing satisfies but God.
  • Universal problems of married couples – complexification of their lives, clinging to this Age. We need to embrace celibacy as deeply as a couple embraces the conjugal act –> leads to great simplicity.

Questions to ask

  1. What has been your experience of celibacy?
  2. Where am I choosing to serve myself?
  3. What are the interests of the bride? What is best for my wife?
    • The priest’s mind is constantly focused on the bride. We need to decimate the bachelor mind and make room for the beauty of the priestly celibate mind.
  4. What are the needs of the little ones?
  5. Have you experienced the joy in the Father?
  6. Have you fully received your vocation? Is it a thing of beauty and joy for you? Have you received in personally from God?

Celibacy & this Age

  • Celibate priests look like idiots when they cling to this Age – you look like an idiot because your whole life has set you up for wisdom and you now look like a fool – the Church is rooting for you so that you become an expert in dying.

Celibacy & Marriage

  • The deepest fantasy of married couples in love is to die together, heart attack at same time –> but they don’t and live alone, either praying or dying and kicking.
  • Celibacy lived well becomes a healing and a liberation for all married people.
  • TIP = teach couples in marriage prep how to pray. No spiritual life, then they will make idols of their spouses. or else they will see they aren’t god and begin to look for another god.
  • p.39 most complete unity when spouses suffer together.

Celibacy & Giving

  • * “DON’T BE AFRAID TO GIVE TODAY” * –> We are always tempted to think that when we give we lose, that God is simply a taker. It is in self-donation that there is a simultaneous receptivity. Nothing lost in the gift to God.
  • “I just want to say out loud, some times I’m afraid to give because I don’t think I’ll receive.”
  • You have been chosen & you are choosing to be a symbol that everyone longs to imitate –> God’s desire for us and our desire for God. The eschatological breaking in your body.
  • Celibate’s life – carrying the burden of God’s restlessness for you and yours for God.


  1. […] Also: Cantalamessa’s Meditations on Celibacy by Deacon James Keating […]

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