Thursday, January 29, 2015

Priestly Celibacy

I've often wondered why priests weren't allowed to get married. I mean wouldn’t they have a much better idea of what we parents have to go through with our spouses and kids? But after a little research I've found that I was quite mistaken. You see, the Catholic Church doesn't forbid anyone from marrying. The Church simply chooses those who have already made a vow of chastity.

You see, everyone is free to decide whether or not to take a vow of celibacy. The Catholic Church of the Roman Rite, this congregation is member of this rite, chooses whom to lay hands on for priestly ordination. This practice is a tradition that could change since this practice is not a divinely ordained practice. It is simply a small‘t’ tradition that began from very early on in Christian history.

Personally, it would surprise me greatly if the Church did change its practice of only ordaining men who have previously made a vow of celibacy. It would surprise me because both Paul and Jesus encouraged the celibate life for those who were called to it. Jesus said:" For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.’ (Matt 19:12)

Paul himself recommends celibacy for those who can live this kind of life since their priorities will be divided. Isn’t it better to have a priest that is able to pick up and go wherever, and whenever, he may be needed, including foxholes, without the worry of being absent from their wives and kids? Paul put it this way in his letter to the Corinthians: “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.

Here’s a somewhat lengthy excerpt from on the goodness of celibacy in the priesthood.

Most Catholics marry, and all Catholics are taught to venerate marriage as a holy institution—a sacrament, an action of God upon our souls; one of the holiest things we encounter in this life.

In fact, it is precisely the holiness of marriage that makes celibacy precious; for only what is good and holy in itself can be given up for God as a sacrifice. Just as fasting presupposes the goodness of food, celibacy presupposes the goodness of marriage. To despise celibacy, therefore, is to undermine marriage itself—as the early Fathers pointed out.

Celibacy is also a life-affirming institution. In the Old Testament, where celibacy was almost unknown, the childless were often despised by others and themselves; only through children, it was felt, did one acquire value. By renouncing marriage, the celibate affirms the intrinsic value of each human life in itself, regardless of offspring.

Finally, celibacy is an eschatological sign to the Church, a living-out in the present of the universal celibacy of heaven: "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven" (Matt. 22:30).

God Bless

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