Gazing upon the immense beauty, Father,
that you have imprinted upon us
in the gift of human sexuality,
an incarnation of your own glory,
of the intimacy between you and your Son
in the embrace of the Spirit of Love,
the question arises also:
how is virginity a fulfillment of this gift?
I know and feel it, clearly,
deep within my own heart,
but to express it is much more difficult.
It is a mystery so awesome, so amazing,
yet I am afraid it is so little understood.
People often tend to think
that the choice for a life of chastity
is forced upon one from the outside,
or, at least, that it is embraced merely as a “means,”
allowing the space for pastoral service
and the availability to others, unreservedly.
It is all of these things, sure,
but it is so much more than this.
And it is certainly not forced from the outside.
For me, it has sprung up, spontaneously,
with ever greater fullness, from within.
How can I express what I feel
when I gaze upon your beloved daughter,
beautiful and radiant with your image,
and joyfully let go of her,
entrusting her to your hands?
It is one of the purest joys I know,
this poverty of empty hands,
this obedient reception of your gift,
this virginity of heart and body
which is aflame with wondrous fire.
To reverence, in deep awe and love,
the sanctuary of mystery in every person,
finding and embracing it, my God,
in and through you alone,
in a way not less profound, but more,
foretaste, in faith, of the new creation yet to come,
when we shall all be one in your embrace.
Yet this, too, is but secondary,
this gazing with a chaste and loving gaze,
contemplating with spiritual eyes
the glory of divinity veiled in human flesh.
The primary, all-enfolding gift
which has drawn forth this gift from within me,
—which has summoned me not only to remain a virgin,
but to become a virgin more, returning to this sacred place—
is the invitation to intimacy, my God,
with you in the deepest of nuptial love.
What is this…to say that I am your spouse?
Yet it is, simply, true.
It is like the three chosen disciples
ascending Mount Tabor with your Christ,
stepping away from all the things below
to be alone with him…
and to see his glory shining,
and your voice echoing from the cloud:
“This is my Son, my Beloved.”
It is like Mary Magdalene
coming to the tomb in the early morning
to anoint with oils the body of the Crucified,
only to find him risen, gently calling her name,
and to cast herself at his feet, grasping them,
which she washed with her tears and her hair before.
It is like this gift which she made, contrite,
yet full of hope and trust in him,
when she broke the alabaster jar,
spilling out, recklessly,
what could have been used in so many other ways.
But you rejoice, dear Jesus, in this gift,
for your Heart is so sensitive—so thirsty!—
for the love that we can offer you,
yearning to welcome us into your embrace
and to give yourself entirely to us.
This chaste transformation and union, offered to every heart,
is so awesome, so amazing.
Everything else within this world,
truly, pales in comparison with it.
The inmost heart and spirit are aflame with an ardent fire,
kindled from the furnace of your own eternal love—
most often veiled in lowliness and humility,
present in the poverty and imperfection of our world,
but there nonetheless, fully, as your precious gift.
And even the body is not cast aside,
for you have made this, too, my God,
for yourself, and fulfill it in an awesome way.
This, perhaps, is the most difficult of all to express…
what is intuited in the silence and solitude,
in the depths of prayer, in simple work,
and, indeed, maybe most profoundly of all,
in the pain and exhaustion of chronic illness,
burdening and dragging down the flesh.
What? What could this possibly mean?
How does this fulfill, in a deeper way,
what is expressed in nuptial union,
when the body is the vehicle of gift
between two persons, one within your love?
…To gaze silently upon the Crucified
is to begin to understand.
What gift of the body
has ever been as great as this?
What acceptance of the other
has ever reached this degree?
What fruitfulness has there ever been
that bursts forth so purely and abundantly?
Indeed, what beauty, breaking forth,
can compare to this overflowing love?
…weaving together the hearts of all
in the gift of the Body and Blood of Christ,
passing beyond the veil of death and shining out,
radiant, in the light of the Resurrection.