‘Vow of Chastity for the Sake of the Kingdom’ by Franciscan Sister Patricia Linssen

Franciscan Sister Patricia Linssen presented a reflection on the ‘Vow of Chastity for the Sake of the Kingdom’ at a recent summer 2011 Francisan Sisters of Christian Charity Community Meeting. Find here a segment of her talk. .

On July 15 and 16, 2011, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity contemplated symbols of religious profession: rose, ring and crucifix.

We’ve spent time on poverty and obedience. Now let’s look at chastity. To begin, I’ll be using words about our vow of chastity. Words are helpful. They convey ideas or share thoughts and feelings.  In the case of our vows, beyond the words, there have to be attitudes and actions that convey the reality of the vows in our lives. We’ll consider these later. At this point, what can words help us to recall?

Let’s go first to our Third Order Rule. In Chapter IV we read: “Professing chastity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, they are to care for the things of the Lord and they have nothing else to do except to follow the will of the Lord and to please Him. In all of their works the love of God and all people should shine forth.” (Rule IV, 15) Our own Constitutions, in the section on consecrated chastity begins with this sentence: “We, who are drawn by the Holy Spirit to vow chastity voluntarily for the sake of the kingdom, should esteem it as an exceptional gift of grace.” (Const. II, c)

“For the sake of the kingdom” – what does this mean? Well, the “kingdom” is the reign of God, where the love of God and neighbor rules, where we are in right relationship with God and with each other. This means NOW, TODAY, AT THIS TIME and it also witnesses to the life of all of us after this earthly life.

By our vow of chastity we move into a covenant relationship with God. God consecrates us for a life of undivided love. We say “You Alone” to the Lord. “You Alone.” A married person has a spouse who is “you alone.” Our “You Alone” is centered on the Lord. We are called Spouses of Christ…

In her talk at the special breakfast for Sr. Pamela Catherine on her Profession Day, Sr. Louise described chastity this way: “Chastity allows you to expand your heart to include all those loved by God. It allows you to go beyond yourself and even beyond your need to be loved so that you can both ground yourself in loving God and reach out to others in gentleness, compassion, and love.” (Check here to read complete talk.)

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