My name is Rayana Soares de Sousa, I am 27 years old, I am a native of Massapê, a little town in the State of Ceará – Brazil, I have been consecrated in the Shalom Life Community and I’ve been a celibate for the Kingdom of Heaven for 6 years. Today I am on mission in Lugano, Switzerland.
On November 7, 2018 I made my Perpetual Vows in Celibacy, but my story has its beginning a long time ago. When I was in my Vocational Discernment year, I felt a strong attraction and great joy when I saw the celibate brothers and sisters of the mission living a total and silent offering of self. At the age of 16 I could not describe these feelings very well, but I knew that I wanted to be like them
I joined the Community in 2009 and in 2011 in my second year of discipleship I went to the Retreat of the “candidates for Celibacy” in Fortaleza. I remember that during a homily at one of the masses of the retreat, the priest said: “Celibacy is an act of love, courage and great faith, it is as if we meet on the edge of an abyss and God who says: Jump, I support you because this is my Will!” It was exactly this voice that resonated within me and during 2012 was taking shape and conquering more and more rooms inside of my heart and life.
On December 27, 2012, after a period of mentoring, formations, retreats and discernments, I made my First Vows in Celibacy. It was the jump in the abyss of God’s mercy that chose me despite all my weaknesses and inconsistencies. It was this act of love, courage, and surrendering to God’s Will and that same act is renewed every day and it will be so until the end.
I have chosen a phrase expressing what celibacy is for me, or rather my experience with God in Celibacy as a quote for the remembrance card for the Mass of Perpetual Vows: “Jesus, You are my Life, a Life that together we choose . Your Infinite Mercy. Jesus, me in You and You in me, forever.”
It is Jesus my Spouse, it is for Him and in Him that I live, my body, my life, my love are only for Him; it is Life because celibacy is a fruitful offering, it is also a constant renunciation that bears fruit for this life and for eternity; it is the life that God has chosen for me, but in my freedom it is the life that I have also chosen to live; it is mercy that erases my so many sins and, finally, it is union, it is the divine in the human.
With great awareness and gratitude, I can look at these six years of celibacy and contemplate God’s care who saved me and who heals my wounds, his love that teaches me to love, to leave myself and to welcome the other as He himself. His forgiveness before my infidelities and failures, his gaze that made me start over.
I can say that celibacy is a life with a lot of suffering and failures because we are human and weak, with a lot of renunciations and offerings as every choice is for what is definitive, that chooses one thing and excludes all others, but it is also made of much joy , of true peace, of consolation in God, of freedom, of so many real children, of brothers and sisters and friends.
Contemplating my celibacy, I can say joyfully that nothing is missing, I am a woman fulfilled, and happy. I see the fruits, I see concrete spiritual motherhood, I see God as a Person in my life and for my sake I renew my choice by his Will all the days of my life until the end with the grace of God.