POMETTO: Living in chastity, living in joy

May 23, 2023

A stained glass window depicts the Holy Spirit as a dove. (Photo by Philippe Lissac / Godong)

The Church often gets a bad rap because it sometimes tells people not to have sex. The Church encourages teenagers to practice abstinence and wait for marriage. The Church tells individuals struggling with same-sex attraction that they should not act on those inclinations. In the world’s view, these messages seem harsh or “judgey,” and many people believe that the Church is then sentencing these individuals to a life of sorrow and loneliness.

As a single woman in my 40s, I need to set the record straight. I firmly believe that embracing chastity and living it well leads to a life full of joy!

Both the Church and the world would probably agree that the secret to finding fulfillment and joy in life comes down to one word: Love. “All you need is love,” sang the Beatles. “So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love,” wrote St. Paul to the Corinthians. All people are seeking to find love in life. The problem is that the world forgets that love means so much more than just sex! True love — the love that Christ calls us to — is so much deeper and richer than the world’s narrow definition.

In my own life, I have experienced love in so many ways. Love is found in my family — parents, siblings, nephews and nieces. Love is found in my community — friends that God placed in my life to both challenge me and support me along the journey. Love is also found in those whom I serve, the young adults of the Archdiocese.

As a single woman, I have a level of freedom to follow where God leads each day and encounter each of these loves as opportunities arise.

This could mean planning a spur-of-the-moment trip to Wisconsin to visit my brothers and their families. It means I can easily shift dinner plans to eat with friends after Sunday Mass. It also means I have time to visit the young adults at a recent Charis retreat and hear the stories of how God is working in their lives. Christ has filled my life with so many people and so many ways to love that it overwhelms me at times.
St. Paul writes that “an unmarried woman … is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit” (1 Corinthians 7:34). As an unmarried woman, my one main purpose in life is to stay connected to Christ and follow where He leads me. He continues to lead me on a grand adventure that has been beyond anything I could have imagined for myself.

We are all called to live in love. The whole of our lives is meant to be situated “in relation to the God who loves us,” writes Pope Francis in Christus Vivit (248). “The salvation that God offers us is an invitation to be part of a love story” (252). No matter what your current state in life may be, God is calling us to a life full of love and full of joy.

If the Church is inviting you to live in chastity — either permanently or for a brief time — do not be afraid! Instead, be on the lookout to find love entering your life in ways beyond romance.

If we say “yes” to God’s call to follow in this way, He is faithful, and He will lead us to the life of love that is promised to all those who follow Him. 

Angela E. Pometto serves as the director of the Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry.