The red rose has long been a symbol of romantic love. It is beautiful and mysteriously enclosed within itself, the colour of passion. As a gift from one person to another, a rose becomes a symbol of the love between them – a meaning it cannot have when it is merely found or purchased for oneself. Yet, the gift of a rose, like the gift of one’s self in love, sometimes requires suffering. One must grasp the rose and pluck it from the brambles, despite the pain, before one can offer it to one’s beloved. In fact, when it is recognized, the pain is as meaningful a gift as the rose itself.
Celibacy is a gift of oneself, in love, to God Himself. God created the garden of man’s soul, giving him romantic love in all its splendour and mystery; celibacy is mastering this love and giving it back to God – not rejecting it, but giving Him what is most valuable and beautiful. Before one can offer one’s life to God in celibacy, one must master oneself: one cannot give what one does not possess. This self-mastery means a life of suffering, but like any suffering undergone for the sake of the beloved, it becomes joyful and meaningful.