Experimenting with celibacy


This might be a silly question, but is it possible to experiment with celibacy?
I understand that there is the whole not romantically involved aspect, but when I have read some of Fulton Sheen and others, it appears that there has to be more than the absence of a romantic relationship, but I am not sure how that would look exactly, or how to try it. Is there any recommendations for how to experiment or try out celibacy?


Not sure quite what you mean Celibacy is what is right for all unmarried people, period, So how can you “experiment” with it?

Not married then you must be celibate. Period. Stay chaste and pure until you marry. Period,


By wanting to “experiment with celibacy”, I am currently single, but it is out responsibility and exhaustion, and not a commitment to God. Recently I have started thinking that I should give a celibate life a more serious consideration, but aside from perpetual singleness, I don’t know what it would entail, and I was hoping for some direction or resources to help me make a more informed decision.


You mean deciding never to marry? That is what it entails for every Christian.


A celibate life is one that is lived without any sort of “special attachment” towards another person - not to say you don’t have best friends or the such; but essentially, you commit to not dating or trying to initiate dating (e.g. flirting).

Ultimately, by not committing to one person, Christians believe that you then free yourself to commit to better loving all and keeping yourself focused on God.


I’m not quite sure what you mean… if you are single, you are obligated to live chastely, which in your state of life would be celibacy.

Do you mean a type of consecrated celibacy, or refraining from relationships in the first place? It’s true that for this, it’s more than an absence of a relationship. I think what sets apart simple celibacy from committed celibacy for Christ, is that in the second case, it’s something chosen, with the end of loving God more exclusively. Both aspects need to be present I believe. Some people take a private vow (temporary or perpetual) with the help of their spiritual director. But it’s certainly possible to just try to live in this way to see if it’s from you, if you feel drawn to it for a spiritual reason.

However, I think it’s something that a person needs to have the proper motivation for, and also they should be drawn towards the idea of giving themselves fully to God / loving Him more exclusively / devoting self to contemplation, or poverty, or some other work for God. It needs to have a spiritual reason, and based on that, they person would begin to live this life.

Hope that helps, God bless you!


I think I see what you mean now… I think the way I would answer this is that we don’t really view it as “perpetual singleness” in terms of just being single, but… giving your chastity to God for the sake of loving Him more, which leads to a more exclusive, deeper relationship with Him. Many people wouldn’t call it being “single”, but being in dedicated chastity or consecrated chastity. Some just make a commitment in a prayer or a resolution, some make a promise, others make a private vow (which is serious because it means if they break it, they not only sin against chastity, but against faith too), others still make a public vow (like nuns or monks or hermits or consecrated virgins).

As you might see, it’s different from simply being single and it’s done for spiritual reasons :slight_smile: often before making any commitment, a person would of course discern such a life by trying to live it. Maybe that is what you are interested in doing?

The way a person might start trying it out is simply saying something to God like “dear Lord, I would like to try and live in perfect chastity and celibacy for love of You. I want to give You myself completely and to give You the love that I would have given to an earthly spouse. I surrender this to You Holy Will, and I ask that you help me to discern if you would like me to live in this way or to marry. Help me to guard my heart to not give it to any creature, but to love You alone”.

I just made that up but I’m trying to show what ideas can be potentially communicated in this :slight_smile: this is my own understanding of course. I would recommend doing some research on the topic, for example: religious-vocation.com/ even though the link is specifically about nuns and monks, the idea of perpetual celibacy can apply to people in the world too, who make such a choice. A person in this type of life would need to not only not date or marry, but also seek detachment from everything that is not God, - they need to live to please Him alone, not others or self. It’s a journey though to get to this and of course it would be extremely imperfect at first, that’s not something to worry about :slight_smile: maybe it could help this person to begin by spending more time in prayer.

It’s important to see what your reasons are. They should be spiritual and about wanting to love God. If they are more to run away from relationships, being tired from relationships, etc, then maybe it would be wise to date a break from dating, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they have this type of vocation. This type of life is a supernatural calling and a grace from God, as vocation means “calling”. :slight_smile: most people have a natural vocation to marry of course, and others are called to be priests/monks/nuns/consecrated people in the world, but everyone is called to be saints. :slight_smile:

anyway just elaborating on the idea! God bless you


There’s a book by Fr. Dubay that I’d recommend.
I wrote about it at: ourfranciscanfiat.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/book-review-and-you-are-christs/


Try to look into getting yourself a spiritual director.

It is challenging but worth it.


You don’t experiment with celibacy; you are or you aren’t.

Celibacy is the state of being unmarried, full stop. You are, until you get married.

In celibacy, as in all other life geometries, one is called to be chaste. Outside of marriage, this means forgoing a sexual relationship. But anybody not married should already be doing that.

So there’s really nothing to “experiment” with, beyond, possibly, not looking for a romantic partner.



Look into the scapular of our lady of mount Carmel


: QUOTE=GEddie;14144865]You don’t experiment with celibacy; you are or you aren’t.

Celibacy is the state of being unmarried, full stop. You are, until you get married.

In celibacy, as in all other life geometries, one is called to be chaste. Outside of marriage, this means forgoing a sexual relationship. But anybody not married should already be doing that.

So there’s really nothing to “experiment” with, beyond, possibly, not looking for a romantic partner.




Go out of your way to try to see persons of the opposite sex as daughters/sons.


I see your point, but for a young person? And filial affection does carry responsibility and is a tie. Which celibacy does tend to negate?


Or, if one is young, as younger brothers/sisters.



I really like this Monica!

I am a privately (and finally) vowed 32 year old celibate woman. For me, it was a 3 year process led by God. First year, I said alright no marriage but fought with God about it. Since then it has been a gradual school in loving men as brothers and not craving approval, attention, affection or love from then.

Some people actually do temporary vows for a year and renew them. I made one formal private vow 16 months ago, two years after I first knew that I was supposed to be celibate. Prior to the vow I lived celibately (no dating) but hadn’t totally committed to it. From the church’s view any priest can dispense me from this vow. I however consider it a permanent and irrevocable promise and total offering to God.


Picked up “and you are Christ’s” and started reading that last night.


I’m happy to hear about someone making a private vow like that. Have you ever read “Mystery of Love for the Single” from TAN publishers? Its about private vows mainly (or in general celibate life in the world) - and its a great book. It gives advice on living it out as well in everyday situations. God bless you!


Thank you for sharing your story with us all about celibacy. I took a private vow this year to remain celibate, and I too had lived a celibate life before taking that vow. Celibacy can be taken as a vow only to be broken upon marriage, or it can be as you said, a permanent and irrevocable promise and total offering to God, which is why I took a private vow. I may speak to my priest about taking a more formal vow (in his presence).

Has anybody else taken a vow of celibacy in the presence of a priest?


First of all, it is not necessary to make a vow to live out a life in celibacy in the laity. One can if one feels called to do so (spiritual direction). It is not necessary to make the vow with witnesses, even a priest. Nor is it necessary to have a Home Mass as I have done. Mine has been a very long journey indeed … and an up and down type of journey that has rewarded me more than I ever could have expected or imagined.
Even if one does make a vow or vows during Mass, the vow remains a private vow in Canon Law…even if one makes a vow or vows with witnesses, it is still classified as a private vow and one remains in every way in the lay state of life - not consecrated life.

I have made private vows of poverty, chastity and obedience - how to live them out (other than the possibly obvious) is incorporated into my approved rule of life (spiritual director priest and religious). I have a quite specific way of life. My Archbishop gave permission for a Home Mass for me to renew life private vows. His comment was “This is good way to do it”. My way of life is a very ordinary secular type of life - a sort of ‘face in the pews’ type of life (exceptionally ordinary) rather than seeking position in The Church of any kind, I am just one of the parishioners who helps out now and then like the rest. I do not make my vows generally known. My way of life is not to stand apart but to be with.

All in all my private vows are now over 30 years or so standing. Initially, I made a private vow renewed each year. Then I sought advice from a priest who knew me very well re making private vows to the evangelical counsels for life. He gave his approval, but I made my life vows very privately without witnesses other than Heaven. By that time, a whole way of life had just unfolded in my path.

At my Home Mass two years ago on the Feast of The Assumption I had family and close friends only present. Roughly 20 people. It was followed by a light supper.

I was married for 15 years before my marriage collapsed and subsequently, I was granted annulment. For me, celibacy was a journey in that initially it was not easy and a struggle, but as time passed, it became easier. At now 71years of age, I think probably biology might have clicked right in and even made it easier. I would not know for sure on that score - only that celibacy is now my conditioned state of existence in every way and does not bother me at all. In fact, it completes and fulfils me as much as I could be, I think, on this earth. For me, celibacy is not any sort of “don’t do” it is an entirely positive experience of giving to God and neighbour as a Joyful state of being - and The Lord returns “one hundredfold” and much more.

Celibacy in the final analysis is a gift from God - otherwise the simple fact is that it would be impossible to live out.

I live alone very happily and loneliness would have to be probably the rarest of the problems I could come across…very rare indeed and only in very short experiences, very short and quite rare. Patches I could count on one hand easily. The Cross.

Personally, I would certainly not advise anyone to consider making any kind of private vow or vows without sound spiritual direction and on an ongoing basis. Private vows are vows to God and hence a serious matter and the person is obliged to fulfil the vow or vows under the virtue of religion. Also, I would advise that one really understands what one is doing and why and what it all means in detail - hence spiritual direction.

Pope Benedict did point out that spiritual direction is not only for priests, nuns and religious - it is also for laity who take their Catholicism and spirituality, The Gospel, quite seriously. One might stumble along, as I do…

Mark Chapter 17 vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/__PW4.HTM
":Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

17 Jesus heard this and said to them (that), “Those who are well do not need a physician, 11 but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners”

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.