Single Catholics And The Joy Of… Celibacy?


Imagine, if you will, standing at the very edge of a cliff with thousands of feet to fall if you step off, but at the bottom, you will land safely on both feet. How do you feel? If you’re like me, you’re probably nervous and a little excited. Now, imagine you’re right on the precipice – your toes are hanging off the edge and you suddenly hold your head up high, stretch your arms out beside you, and jump! What feelings do you experience? What thoughts go through your mind?


Interestingly enough, this is how I’ve heard others describing what it feels like to make the personal commitment to celibacy. Scary! Like taking an extraordinary leap of faith into the unknown.


There are several types of single people who make this decision; those who have never been married, those who are divorced, and those who are widowed. All of them have the same decision to make, but those who are divorced and widowed must pull back tightly the reigns on a passion they’ve already been able to enjoy. Some people are never successful in getting themselves to take that leap and while others find the courage to do so and act upon the graces God has given them to succeed.


So, why is the decision to remain chaste so hard?


It’s difficult, partly because of all the media messages we receive, in particular, the biggest  lie of all that if you’re not having sex, there’s something wrong with you. But the magazines, billboards, television shows, movies and music all attack every sensibility we might have toward living a chaste life. I find this so sad because there truly is real joy in living a celibate life and I want to point it out for anyone who is struggling with the idea of committing to celibacy until marriage.


Let’s say you’re standing on the edge of that scary cliff, debating. You don’t want to jump because it’s scary, but if you don’t jump, you’ll never reach the solid ground below where you can move forward. You’ll always be stuck at the top of the cliff, unable to go anywhere, unable to make any progress. So, decide taking the risk is better than being stuck and you jump.


You land firmly on your feet and have absolute freedom to move forward. The joy you experience is in the freedom you have gained. But more than that, the joy you experience comes from exercising your free will and choosing to do someone else’s will – the will of God, of course. You could indulge in what feels good and what the rest of society says is normal, but instead, you choose to obey God. Not only is that freeing, but it brings an unprecedented clarity to your heart and mind.


I recently read an interview with Pope Francis that was done before he was the Pope, back in 2010 when he was still Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio. The interview was about the “secrets” to living celibacy for priests and seminarians. But I couldn’t help but recognize how important Cardinal Bergoglio’s words were for singles who are trying to live this way, too.


Pope Francis admits to the fact that it is difficult, but not impossible. The key is to remind yourself of the choice you have and remember God will not tempt you beyond your ability to resist:


Bergoglio: When I was a seminarian, I was dazzled by a girl I met at an uncle’s wedding. I was surprised by her beauty, her intellectual brilliance… and, well, I was bowled over for quite a while. I kept thinking and thinking about her. When I returned to the seminary after the wedding, I could not pray for over a week because when I tried to do so, the girl appeared in my head. I had to rethink what I was doing. I was still free because I was a seminarian, so I could have gone back home and that was it. I had to think about my choice again. I chose again – or let myself be chosen by – the religious path. It would be abnormal for this kind of thing not to happen (Sobre el Cielo y la Tierra [“On the Heavens and the Earth”], 2012, Sudamericana publishing company).


When we resist temtations, especially sexual temptation, it’s like reaching a new level of being human. Each time you make the choice to be chaste and resist the temptation, your level of spirituality and maturity is upgraded with powerful virtues and graces that fortify you for the next temptations that will come.


So, have no fear about stepping off the cliff and taking that leap of faith. You will land on your feet and be better, wiser, and happier for doing so.


Feel free to send me your comments, questions and disagreements to



  1. Leta-703485 May 28, 2013 Reply

    …and yes I do enjoy the celibacy…Thanks God for giving me the grace of purity…..

  2. Leta-703485 May 28, 2013 Reply

    Moral values are priceless, never outdated. I was born and raised in an atheist country. We did not dare to mention the name of God, we did not have churches or any other religious institutions, except Communist Regime, the dictator and isolated from the world. Back then, we had an extreme poverty, we were severely persecuted,going through so many trials and tests but we (my family) endured everything to protect moral values. The long story short, the beauty of the soul is when we can keep the body pure and save it for a special one and only one till the wedding day…simply as human being with high moral principles, regardless the religion we have……..I would wish all the girls to have a self-respect for their bodies and keeping it pure and save it for a special one only….then ..we would have more healthy families and the society ….

  3. Lesley-158563 May 20, 2013 Reply

    Continuing on with this cast of deeply hostile and wacky members as well as all the time wasters is a waste of money in my book. Adios Catholic Match!

  4. Karen-712407 May 20, 2013 Reply

    Um, I think, that you may have misunderstood Ed’s post.

    We can each read into someone’s post what we agree or disagree with but if we stop there with the all important ‘me, myself and I’s’ interpretation , well, then, we are not truly listening to the other and the spirit of their message are we?

    I read more from Ed’s response. I read that Ed does indeed go out within groups of people and have fun and enjoy himself within those friendships. I read by his smile, that is neither pinched or pained but genuine, that life is indeed joyful for Ed, even within the acceptance of his state in life. Ed’s response is shared with great humility and personal honesty, which is not given as a dictate to others on how to live but as a sharing on a level of deep intimacy with others so that we can learn from his experience.

    Thank you Ed for exercising the courage to share your thoughts and your life with us. I have learned from you.

    • Lesley-158563 May 20, 2013 Reply

      Why bother to be sincerely charitable and kind to the strangers on this site, when there are so many pompous and hypercritical “catholics” waiting for their chance to crawl out of the woodwork and pounce! Feeling better now dearie??

      • Karen-712407 May 22, 2013 Reply

        Your post was indeed very sincere and kind and charitable, very understanding and compassionate. My post was in response to Um’s. I apologize, this is the first time I have posted in a blog and did not notice the little ‘reply’ box that I should have clicked on before I typed my response.
        I am sorry that you have left over this, or maybe that this was a ‘last straw’. I have often felt that posts and the true meaning behind them have hurt people without intention to. I think we have to learn a way of communicating online that prevents this. Or start a blog with this intention in mind?
        sincere apologies Lesley
        (hoping one of her friends will convey this message if read)

  5. Lesley-158563 May 18, 2013 Reply


    Everyone deserves a happy, fulfilled life. Although you are cautious, I hope you will reach out to some of the women members here who can appreciate you. Life can surprise us at any age with a wonderful friendship or a wonderful romance. Please don’t hesitate to initiate conversations with the women of your age group who are still looking. Who knows, true love can come at any age and many women here say again and again that they are interested in meeting a faithful man.

  6. Ed-501357 May 16, 2013 Reply

    Here is my perspective on this topic.
    This lifestyle is a difficult one to follow as we are all made with natural instincts for a sexual relationship. This would have been a lot harder for me 30 to 35 years ago as opposed to now that I’m presently 54. Being a typical male, I have looked at women in the usual way over the years, so this adjustment would be a hard one to make. I admit that I would become weak from time to time, but I will have to admire the beauty of a woman’s soul. This would mean that I will have to avoid dances & dating as temptation is always present and instead go out as a group and to avoid being in exclusive company of a woman.

    I am grateful however that through my own conscience that only God knows, I am still a virgin at 54.

    I know what the kind of person that I’m searching for, however she is very hard to find. So now I’m turning to God for help that I may be in the right place at the right time. However if this is not to be so, then I will accept celibacy as being right for me.

    • Lisa-727959 May 17, 2013 Reply

      Hello, Ed,

      Thanks so much for your comments. We need more courageous men like you in society! I can’t tell you what a great example you are for all of us… thank you for being faithful and thank you for showing us all what the true meaning of hope is. God will bless you greatly for being faithful. And I will keep you in my prayers.

      Sincerely – Lisa Duffy

    • Matt-940775 May 18, 2013 Reply

      God bless you, Ed!

  7. Jake-404096 May 15, 2013 Reply

    Yes sexuality is natural but the fact that we as humans with free will have control over our sexuality and are not just controlled by our instincts is what makes us men and not animals. If a man desides to abstain due to a committment to god or because he is waiting for the right woman and not just any woman then that is to be admired. As catholics/christians we are suppose to be in the world not of the world, just because the world is telling you to do this or that doesn’t mean it is the right way for you or that it is gods way. You cannot blame the whole church for the failings of some of it’s members, priests fail, they are human this is not gods fault or the churches fault. God shows us the right way, it is then up to us to access the strength to follow that way. Sexuality is a good and natural thing but it takes on so much more meaning when it is used to express higher things such as love and committment rather than just lust and momentary pleasure. Any rabbitt can have sex but only a man can make love. I beleive the church may change one day to allow priests to also enjoy the committment of marriage and this may be a good thing but until then people who decide and have the strength to be celibate for their own good reasons should be nothing but respected, they have strength and will receive blessings that most people will never know. I think ithe above is a great and encouraging article you have written Lisa and I am so pleased that in this day and age there are still people that feel this way.
    Well done!

  8. Mary-732729 May 15, 2013 Reply

    It is nice to know that there are people out there that think like me! Way to go everyone 😉

  9. Martin-724239 May 15, 2013 Reply

    I am 24 years old and have been celibate all my life. Through personal struggle and the grace of god (often time very blatantly) I have been able to remain so through high school, and college. I have many male and female friends who feel my life choice is limiting or repressive in some way. What they do not understand is that premarital sex clouds everything. People stay in relationships that are unhealthy or abusive because of a clouded vision of love. To fully understand and enjoy anything in this world we must express discipline. Sex is an expression of giving rather than taking- giving of yourself to your spouse in a holy married union blessed by God. I firmly believe that anything outside of that is in the end unfulfilling. I believe that when I do meet my wife we will have the best possible sex because we are learning what we do and do not like from each other without expectations from previous encounters.

  10. Alejandro-159799 May 15, 2013 Reply

    Well, for my experience, celibacy is a choice you make but with the help of the Holy Spirit. I know sexuality is natural in the human beign but everything under God. What I can tell is once you can cope with celibacy you gain peace at your soul. It is awful to be a puppet of your sexual desires, like you have no brains at all. Celibacy is possible and it is a healthy choice but a choice under God, a choice Our Blessed Mother Our Lady of Fatima, the Immaculate ask from us. Today in my profession, women try to manipulate you using sex appeal but if have conquered celibacy, you let God to be in control of the situation. I have pets and certainly they behave better than most of the sexual people I know. As a Human Beign is great to know that you with the mighty help of God can control you emotions and your desires. Just imagine yourself with no self control at all: you get mad, you kill someone, you fancy someone, you rape her… Humans can control their emotions and thats a totally natural process that comes with age and with God’s Help.

  11. Joanna-615441 May 14, 2013 Reply

    “Each time you make the choice to be chaste and resist the temptation, your level of spirituality and maturity is upgraded with powerful virtues and graces that fortify you for the next temptations that will come.”

    Wow . . . my level of spirituality must be through the roof!!!

  12. Margaret-966879 May 14, 2013 Reply

    Thank you for this wonderful article! Even when we know that celibacy is the way to go, it’s these constant and friendly reminder articles that helps us along, too, as support.

  13. Cid-761878 May 14, 2013 Reply

    Don’t be so naive! The devil/temptation itself, exists in all of us. Two thumbs up for Leonard.

    • Susan-694830 May 15, 2013 Reply

      Cid, I don’t agree. The Devil doesn’t is NOT temptation. In what you say, that means, that those who turn to food when going through emotionally touch times, that the Devil made them turn to food?? Oh yea of little Faith. It is the Faith IS Strong, but, the flesh IS WEAK.
      This when we give into Temptation. As for those who smoke, you are addicted to the nicotine, as for finding a place to smoke, is easy. A smoker, doesn’t realize how horrible cigarettes smell, UNTIL AFTER THEY QUIT!!! And yes, I’m a former smoker. Always remember, that there are always 2 sides to every coin.

  14. Joe-368967 May 14, 2013 Reply

    This is a very tough issue. On the one hand ,I would agree that most people here (on CM) try to abide the Catholic teachings, including on this issue. However, I do think the church has to do a beetter job on this topic- I never see anything in any church bulletins about how to deal with this issue. I have always desribed it as the Cathoilic in me VS the man in me. It just seems UN natural not to want to – though I know we are suipposed to wait. Why doens’t the church do a better job at educating practicing, single, Catholics who want to follow the chuirch’s teachings?

    • Candace S. May 14, 2013 Reply

      Good suggestion Joe. I would also suggest books by Christopher West.

    • Maggie-900710 May 15, 2013 Reply

      “The Church” has already laid down the foundation regarding chastity as outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is always taught in religion and catechism classes in our Catholic Schools. I would like to suggest that to better educate the Catholic Singles, it would need to come from our homes/parenting. Remember…who is in the middle of the chURch? U R… All of us have a responsibility and we should not be putting the work on others. 😉

  15. Fish-912956 May 14, 2013 Reply

    I have found that being celibate by choice has been, for me, rather like overcoming an addiction…it seems a lot more difficult at the onset than it actually is…if you take the steps to not set yourself for failure in the first place.

    For instance, say your are addicted to cigarettes…it sounds so hard to quit. Too much effort. You’re DEPENDENT on them, you NEED them, you have maybe smoked for YEARS. But if you really analyze it, it takes a lot more effort to actually smoke cigarettes than to NOT. You have to have the money to buy the cigarettes. You have to repeatedly keep acquiring the cigarettes. You have to be in a place where you can smoke. You have to actually make the time to smoke. You have to dispose of the cigarettes butts…then what do you do about the cigarette smell on your clothes, in your hair, your breath, your hands??? it’s all a lot more effort than just not smoking in the first place….

    The same is true for alcohol…you have to have the money to buy the beer/wine/whatever. You have to physically make a trip to go to a store to get the booze. You have to have the time and place to consume the alcohol. Then you have to be sure you are not driving or making decisions under its influence. Then–if you drink too much, you have to deal with the consequences of not feeling as chipper the next day. It’s just easier to not drink the darn stuff in the first place.

    So it is with being chaste. For me, anyway. I spent years — really, decades — not giving a hoot about chastity, not even believing it was a sin to sleep around. It was just part of society and culture and I would have felt like some kind of freak to “miss out.” But the Lord has done a work in me and truly shown me the cost of such behavior. It caused me to have primarily physical relationships only, which made both parties involved view each other only in terms of what we could get from each other, not how to love a whole person. There was a lot of other collateral damage I don’t want to get into here, but primarily, I have now realized, it separated me from God. And that not only hurt Him, it hurt me. It kept me from being all that I can be through Him.

    When I felt the Lord first calling me to celibacy, I thought it would be so difficult, I doubted I could do it. But that has not really been the case. As in my illustrations of cigarettes or alcohol, it actually takes MORE effort to always being looking at relationships as sexual, believe it or not. And I just no longer put myself in those situations where things can turn physical so quickly and easily and there is no-holds barred.

    You know who is really, really good at this? The Mormons. I had a Mormon attorney and he was taught that men and women just don’t put themselves in situations where they are alone with only each other. They go out in groups or make sure they are in public places (of course, not all Mormons follow this, but it was what my attorney believed and followed). So if you don’t put yourself in situations where the circumstances invite you to feel less chaste: you are drinking… and it becomes late …and you two are alone…you’re at one of your homes…then you won’t have to deal with so much temptation.

    It’s actually not as difficult as one would think, that’s all I am trying to say. But what is key here is to ask God for strength, ask the Holy Spirit to guide and protect you, and then try to be the kind of example Jesus has taught us to be. Sometimes I actually do a gut-check and ask myself, “If I was wearing a Priest’s collar — well okay that would be weird since I’m female — or Nun’s habit, would this behavior be acceptable?” If not, then I need to pull back and extract myself and my thoughts from going further in that situation. Just me, of course, but it’s what helps me.

    • Monica-970221 May 15, 2013 Reply

      I really like your writing on this. It makes sense. Many of us Catholics fall into the category you do where we did not always follow church teachings in younger years but are now trying to follow the church by practicing celibacy. I’m inspired by your response here

    • Kimberly-967950 June 2, 2013 Reply

      This is excellent insight and I thank you for sharing. I have been divorced for 26 years, but have been trying to be celibate outside of marriage since I was 19 (I am now 56). Celibacy has always been a struggle for me, but I continue the struggle since I know it is what God wants for me in this phase of my life. I am now more aware of what my “triggers” are, and try to avoid those. With the ending of my recent relationship of one year, during which I was hopeful that it would end in marriage, I realized that we were not “equally yoked” and that he was my “drug of choice” and my “near occasion of sin” and have found true peace of body, mind, and soul since ending it. My assists are now daily Mass and the Eucharist. I also continue to pray for those in this struggle.

  16. Karen-712407 May 14, 2013 Reply

    Grace, Grace, Grace,
    None of us has the power, in and of ourselves, to be celibate. We can choose all we want but without Grace, it is not possible. We were born into a human body with all of the beauty and nature that God intended! (Thank Him!)
    Susan, I agree, being widowed the choice was made for me but I did indeed agree and choose to follow His will, again, by grace alone possible. Therefore the precipice made no sense but the safe landing, the Clarity of heart and mind did immensely! I could not have dated these past years without that clarity, the pull for love would have been just too strong. The Freedom from that pull is huge. And the “amazing spiritual peace” that you spoke of Jean Pierre can indeed be translated as ‘Joy’. Clarity, freedom and joy are great rewards and are enough if our heart does not still yearn for the Love that comes before and goes hand in hand with the physical expression that God intended. If we are on this site, our heart still yearns.

  17. Adam-837005 May 14, 2013 Reply

    Wow that was very insightful, I feel as if a lot of people could be helped with this information. Everything is well thought out with a powerful example, sure hope I’m as brave to take that leap off the cliff.

  18. Joe-960974 May 14, 2013 Reply

    The love and affection of a good Lady brings me closer to God not farther away

  19. Michael-923253 May 14, 2013 Reply

    A great resource for Catholics when it comes to the whole issue of sexuality is Christopher West’s book “Good News About Sex & Marriage.” It answers a whole host of questions from the layman’s perspective and brings the lofty theological language of Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” down to earth. It’s an excellent read.

  20. Meg-920823 May 14, 2013 Reply

    A great article.

  21. Susan-694830 May 14, 2013 Reply

    Personally, I don’t know what the big deal is. When I married, I wasn’t a virgin. I was raped, and therefore I rationalized that because my virginity was stolen, NOT given, that I was able to wear white. When my husband was called home, (very suddenly), I didn’t sit and decide well I’m going to be celibate. Yet, 10 years later, I am still celibate. It wasn’t a concious decision, it’s just something than happened. I didn’t become celibate because “God” wanted me to, Nor have I stayed celibate because of the good Lord. Satan has absolutely nothing to do with it. I haven’t been tempted, nor will I allow myself to be tempted. I must say that in the year 2013, everyone is using Satan, the way he was used when someone had Epilepsy. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!! How do you know that it’s not GOD, testing you?? May we all PRAY FOR EACHOTHER, for you will be shocked to know where Satan really is!!
    How do I know?? I’ve been there, and if you don’t believe me, ask an innocent child, who helped write the book “Heaven is for REAL”‘.

  22. Jerry-74383 May 14, 2013 Reply

    Perhaps the biggest source of temptation for those attempting to live a chaste lifestyle is ourselves. When we pray the Our Father we ask God not to lead us into temptation, yet how often do we voluntarily — even intentionally — place ourselves in situations of grave temptation?

    When you play chicken with Satan, he may let you win a few times to get you hooked — but eventually you will lose.

    • Denis-7978 May 14, 2013 Reply

      The notion of playing chicken with Satan is insightful. Kind of like addiction will make you fly then take away the sky.

  23. Naomi-825244 May 14, 2013 Reply

    I wish it was more like that. if you knew that you would land safely at the bottom and keep going, it would be so much easier to leap off in the first place. Somehow…I seem to end up half ways up the cliff over and over and over….or wish myself back on it. It’s an ongoing thing…not a once and for all deal, at least for most of us.

  24. Monica-970221 May 13, 2013 Reply

    You should probably consider another dating website. While many people would agree that the church has issues with priests the devil is alive in every church. Not all priests fall into this category. The devil also resides in other denominations where the pastor steals money, sleeps with other women besides his wife or commits other sins. Church is about your personal relationship with Christ and not worrying about what others are doing. This website is for people who are trying to uphold the church’s (and the Bible’s) teaching.

  25. Yenne-970772 May 13, 2013 Reply

    Thank you for this beautiful reflection on celibacy. It is worth my time and a source of strength in the struggle to continue to be faithful to the teachings of our Mother the Church. I am very much aware of the fact that the Church’s teachings, which are God’s laws, are there to help us find true joy here on earth and eventually in heaven. As I have heard from a modern-day saint, “Holy (chastity), in whatever state in life, is a joyful affirmation of one’s love for God.” (St. Josemaria Escriva).

    Cheers! 🙂

    • Yenne-970772 May 13, 2013 Reply

      “Holy purity (chastity), in whatever state in life, is a joyful affirmation…. ” (sorry, one word was missing)

  26. Leonard-969537 May 13, 2013 Reply

    I’m sorry I didn’t ever read this. The title is enough to turn one off. Sexuality is natural. Yet the Catholic church attempts to suppress it. They cannot even control it within their own ranks. Perhaps if they eliminated celibacy that would stop priests from diddling little boys.
    In the early ’90, Cardinal Jose Sanchez stated that over 45% of the clergy were not practicing celibacy. The Joy of celibacy? Ask a priest to tell you all about his joy. Maybe you’ll be lucky and actually be communicating with a real priest that is celibate. Good Luck!

    • Gary-936836 May 14, 2013 Reply

      Martin Luther would smack you upside the head, good sir, if Saint Nicholas himself did not do so first.

    • Monica-970221 May 14, 2013 Reply

      You should probably consider another dating website. While many people would agree that the church has issues with priests the devil is alive in every church. Not all priests fall into this category. The devil also resides in other denominations where the pastor steals money, sleeps with other women besides his wife or commits other sins. Church is about your personal relationship with Christ and not worrying about what others are doing. This website is for people who are trying to uphold the church’s (and the Bible’s) teaching.

      Reply ↓

    • Tanya-63933 May 14, 2013 Reply

      I did not know internet trolls were allowed admittance to CatholicMatch.

    • Jean-Pierre-899297 May 14, 2013 Reply

      I always hear people talking and attacking the church about pedophiles. The truth of the matter is: not a single grown man or woman wake up one morning after being heterosexuals all their life and suddenly develop a taste for young boys or young girls if you are a woman. Anyone who has that temptation has been sick that way for a long time. Just like Jerry Sandusky, he didn’t start his youth organization and just decided to molest these kids. He was that way before. My point is these people were that way before they joined the church, and they did so with the intentions they submitted to. Its where young boys and girls are available in numbers. I happen to believe that the same is true for probably other organizations such as the boy scouts for America and other organizations. I do however agree that the church should have handled the situation a lot better. but who doesn’t make mistakes, and he is who is without sin let him cast the first stone. As for celibacy, I am a 40 year old male, and I am now celibate again, and I have been for years, the only regret I have is the promiscuous life style I had at a younger age. It was not until I faithfully started praying the rosary that I had my conversion and saw my wrong ways. I don’t care if I am single the rest of my life because of my choice, what I have now is an amazing spiritual peace beyond description. Thanks be to God.

  27. Mary-784275 May 13, 2013 Reply

    Great story Lisa!
    Another thing for singles to think about is this. Just think how much your relationship and marriage will be blessed by God if you wait until marriage!!! For me, that in itself is more important and worth the wait!

    Another thought, why would you want cause the person you love, to sin??? The rewards of waiting are going to be far better than you can possibly imagine!!!!!!!!

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