Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. These are some of the first words I ever learned to sing in Sunday School, some of the first words I remember ever learning. Jesus loves me, this I know. My calling to celibacy is not me holding on, white-knuckled, to a faint hope that God might take notice of me if I act heroically enough. No, it is the submission of trusting love that is elicited from me by the love of Another, by the love of God in Christ.
I have recently picked up again Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose. I started reading it a few years ago after a friend gave it to me when I moved to the Hudson Valley of New York. It tells the story of Susan Burling Ward who, upon marrying her husband Oliver, leaves behind her home, family, …
But what if celibacy can actually point to a more comedic vision of the Christian life? What if celibacy points us to the deep comedy of the gospel?
There is a beautiful passage near the beginning of one of Augustine’s great works, De Trinitate, in which Augustine writes: “Dear reader, whenever you are as certain about something as I am go forward with me; whenever you hesitate, seek with me; whenever you discover that you have gone wrong come back to me; or if I have gone wrong, call me back to you. In this way we will travel along the street of love together as we make our way toward him of whom it is said, ‘Seek his face always.’”
Coakley seeks to turn Freud “on his head” and make the case that it is not sex which is fundamental and our desire for God “ephemeral” but in fact, just the opposite. “[I]t is God who is basic, and ‘desire’ the precious clue that ever tugs at the heart, reminding the human soul—however dimly—of its created source.”² Coakley helps us to see that desire is more fundamental than sex. Her central theme woven throughout is that ascetic practices, namely that of prayer, reorders desire and the notion of selfhood in relation to the Trinity.