[As taught by Fr Iker]
To be obedient is always apostolic, for the kingdom of God. There are two basic Christian attitudes: the imitation of Christ in doing the Father’s will. There is cooperation at all cost. John’s gospel talks of Jesus as one with the Father. Obedience is to cooperate by abdicating one’s will. There is dedication. One is invited and one unites oneself to the divine will, with obedience unto death for the sake of the kingdom. One obeys God and not the Superior. The Superior is a manifestation but you have a responsibility to find the will of God as well.
So the three vows can be seen in relation to the characteristics of the salvific love of God and as constituting the Spirit of Christ. They are not deprivations but means of cooperating. In the vow of poverty, one cannot use the money any way one likes. The money is not mine and does not belong to me. It is always apostolic. If I have to have for my apostolate a machine that costs two millions, I will buy it and I will not say that I will not have it. The machine here is needed.
Celibacy is simply the state of an unmarried person. This can be a religious or lay, or both. Chastity is a part of the Spirit of Christ. It is the virtue regulating matters and concerning sexual life. Chastity is for both the unmarried, whether religious or not. It is also for married people as well. Virginity is the integrity of mind, heart and body for the kingdom. The most important is not physical integrity. It refers to both men and women.
In Thai, the word LOVE refers to 1. Love of concupiscence or carnal desire, 2.Benevolent friendship and 3. Radical compassion and looking out strictly for the good of the other.
The basis of living chastely is not because it is better but because of the example of Christ. You can give undivided attention to the Lord. Vowed life is not in contrast to married life but it is parallel. We do not make a vow of chastity in order to be free to work. It is not having freedom to go here and there. It is done out of love. There is a desire to join Christ in the salvation of the world. Chastity and renunciation go together. We don’t renounce our carnal desire or our sexuality. We are not angels. We are still men and women. This has to be integrated and accepted. We don’t renounce friendships. We only renounce genital sexual relationships and we renounce whatever leads to genital contact.
[Some Notes made while on retreat in Seven Fountains from 6 to 15 December 2004 with Fr Iker Villanueva, SJ.]