10 Reasons for Priestly Celibacy

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To our sex-obsessed culture, priestly celibacy seems a hard teaching of the Church, a heavy burden that must be borne with ascetic grit and iron resolve.

But that’s not how the popes of the twentieth century saw it. In their words, celibacy is the “choicest ornament of our priesthood” (Pius X), “one of the purest glories of the Catholic priesthood” (Pius XI), and a discipline that makes the whole life of the priest “resound with the splendor of holy chastity” (John XXIII). Such lofty words were inspired by the rich and profound theological reasons for a celibate priesthood—reasons worth bearing in mind as the old debate over it has flared up into the news. Here are ten of them:

1. Priests as Christ figures. Above all else, the Catholic priest is an alter Christus—“another Christ.” This is clearest in the sacrifice of the Mass, when the priest acts in the person of the Christ in offering the Eucharist. Celibacy configures priests more completely to Christ, who lived a perfectly chaste life. Thus they not only “participate in His priestly office” but also share “His very condition of living,” Pope Paul VI writes in the encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus.

2. Marriage to the Church. In Scripture, the Church is often depicted as the Bridegroom of Christ. In celibacy, the priest, as an alter Christus, witnesses through his life to the marriage of Christ to His Church. “In virginity or celibacy, the human being is awaiting, also in a bodily way, the … marriage of Christ with the Church, giving himself or herself completely to the Church in the hope that Christ may give Himself to the Church in the full truth of eternal life. The celibate person thus anticipates in his or her flesh the new world of the future resurrection,” John Paul II writes in his apostolic constitution Familiaris Consortio.

3. Spiritual fatherhood. Through celibacy, priests give themselves over wholly to the service God and His Church. Just as a father is uniquely dedicated to his children, so also the priest should be dedicated to his parishioners. As one Jesuit priest at Georgetown University recently put it in the Washington Post: “I do not have my own biological children, but I have over 6,000 here on Georgetown’s main campus! I have many sons and daughters who call me ‘Father.’” John Paul II describes this as a “singular sharing in God’s fatherhood’”(Pastores Dabo Vobis).

4. Celibacy as sacrifice. In renouncing married life, the priest also links himself with Christ’s own sacrifice on the Cross. “In a similar way, by a daily dying to himself and by giving up the legitimate love of a family of his own for the love of Christ and of His kingdom, the priest will find the glory of an exceedingly rich and fruitful life in Christ, because like Him and in Him, he loves and dedicates himself to all the children of God,” Paul VI writes. This ultimately is the purpose of human sexuality—to be a “a genuine sign of and precious service to the love of communion and gift of self to others,” writes Blessed Pope John Paul II in Pastores Dabo Vobis.

5. Celibacy as angelic purity. Celibacy is not only a sacrificial act. It is also a mark of purity. Just as Christ offered Himself as a pure and spotless victim, so should the priest. Moreover “a purity of heart and a sanctity of life” befit the “solemnity and holiness” of the office, Pope Pius XI writes in the encyclical Ad Catholici Sacerdotii. Some have described this otherworldly purity as angelic: “The priest must be so pure that, if he were to be lifted up and placed in the heavens themselves, he might take a place in the midst of the Angels,” St. John Chrysostom said.

6. Loneliness as a link to Christ. Even the loneliness a priest may experience may unite him more closely with Christ, according to Paul VI: “At times loneliness will weigh heavily on the priest, but he will not for that reason regret having generously chosen it. Christ, too, in the most tragic hours of His life was alone—abandoned by the very ones whom He had chosen as witnesses to, and companions of, His life, and whom He had loved ‘to the end’—but He stated, ‘I am not alone, for the Father is with me.’”

7. Time for prayer. As much time as those in married time spend in prayer, priests should devote even more, Church Fathers taught, according to Ukrainian Catholic theologian Roman Cholij. One basis for this view is 1 Corinthians 7:5, where St. Paul is giving advice to those who are married: “Do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self-control.” It follows that priests, who do not have another person to “return” to, should have more time for prayer.

8. Perfection of the Israelite priesthood. Catholics look back to the Old Testament priests as forerunners. They understand that the priesthood did not end with Christ—it was reborn and renewed through Him. In the Old Testament, Levite priests were allowed to marry, but celibacy was required while they were serving in the sanctuary. For the Church Fathers, the Catholic priesthood was the “perfection” of the Levitical priesthood, according to Cholij. “Hence … if the Levites practised temporary continence when in the sanctuary, so much more should Christian priests, always ready to serve, practise continence,” Cholij writes.

9. Detachment from the world. Celibacy is but one example of a broader detachment from all things of this world—something necessary in order for the priest “to follow the Divine Master more easily and readily,” according to Pope Pius XII in his apostolic exhortation Menti Nostrae. “Sanctity alone makes us what our divine vocation demands, men crucified to the world and to whom the world has been crucified, men walking in newness of life who … seek only heavenly things and strive by every means to lead others to them,” Pius X writes in his apostolic exhortation, Haerent Animo.

10. A living sign of heaven. In heaven, men will neither marry nor will women be given in marriage—instead, they will be like the angels, as Christ says in Matthew 22:30. In a special way, celibacy makes priests living witnesses to this future reality. As Paul VI put it, priestly celibacy “proclaims the presence on earth of the final stages of salvation with the arrival of a new world, and in a way it anticipates the fulfillment of the kingdom as it sets forth its supreme values which will one day shine forth in all the children of God.”

image: Zvonimir Atletic / Shutterstock.com

Stephen Beale

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Stephen Beale is a freelance writer based in Providence, Rhode Island. Raised as an evangelical Protestant, he is a convert to Catholicism. He is a former news editor at GoLocalProv.com and was a correspondent for the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he covered the 2008 presidential primary. He has appeared on Fox News, C-SPAN and the Today Show and his writing has been published in the Washington Times, Providence Journal, the National Catholic Register and on MSNBC.com and ABCNews.com. A native of Topsfield, Massachusetts, he graduated from Brown University in 2004 with a degree in classics and history. His areas of interest include Eastern Christianity, Marian and Eucharistic theology, medieval history, and the saints. He welcomes tips, suggestions, and any other feedback at bealenews at gmail dot com. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/StephenBeale1

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  • FrRamil E. Fajardo

    Great post! Thanks!

  • Anne

    Amen. God bless our priests, our spiritual fathers.

  • JuanOskar JayMaynes

    In the last 50 years it seems that celibacy has created more introverted priests and bishops. In other words, they seem frightend of the world instead of engaging and challenging it. If I am correct, why would that be? Peace……………..JO

  • patriot173

    The truth is a married priesthood is Scriptural and in the Apostolic Tradition of the Roman Catholic Church until the 10th century when celibacy was made compulsory. Please read and learn some of the history of clerical marriage which was optional from Apostolic times. There were several married popes who fathered children and grandchildren who later became priests, bishops and popes!

    Marriage and Celibacy in the Catholic Church
    From the exhaustive research of
    Clerical celibacy – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    George T. Dennis SJ of Catholic University of America
    Peter Fink SJ
    Protestant historian Philip Schaff

    Celibacy was voluntary, not imposed, in the early apostolic church:
    Mt 19,12 Jesus….”some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever can accept this ought to accept it.”

    Some of the apostles were married as St. Peter, Simeon:
    Mk 1, 30 and Lk 4,38 Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law of fever

    Phillip, one of the first seven deacons ordained in Jerusalem, had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy. Acts 21, 8-9.

    St. Paul’s letters indicate bishops, presbyters, deacons were married with children:

    St. Paul implies the apostles and brothers of the Lord were married and he was free to marry and have a wife (gunaika) with him on his journeys just as they did.
    1 Cor 9.5 Do we not have the right to take along a sister (adelphe), a wife (gunaika), as do the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas (St. Peter)?

    I Tim 3.1-2-4 Presiding elder (episcopos, ordained by imposition of hands, power from God) “must not be married more than once…having children….manage his own family. The literal Koine Greek of the New Testament reads, “the bishop (episkopon )….to be a husband of one wife (gunaikos)…”

    Ti 1, 5-6 “….appoint presbyters (elders=priests=episcopoi) in every town on condition that a man be blameless, married only once….with believing children…” The literal Koine Greek of the New Testament is “ …the elders…(presbuterous) to be a husband of one wife (gunaikos)…”

    In the third century, there is simply no clear evidence of a general tradition or practice, much less of an obligation, of priestly celibacy-continence before the beginning of the third century. There is no clear evidence that celibacy had apostolic origins. During the first three or four centuries no law was promulgated prohibiting clerical marriage. Celibacy was a matter of choice for bishops, priests and deacons. As Paul’s letters indicate, there was no obligation to celibacy after marriage, since they had children.

    Third century records a number of third century married bishops in good standing and c414, clerical marriage was in vogue. Only after the third century bishops, priests, deacons were not to have intercourse ONLY before partaking of the Eucharist.

    St. Hilary of Poitiers 315-68, Doctor of the Church, was a married bishop and had a daughter named Apra.

    Popes of the fourth, fifth, sixth centuries:
    –Father of Pope Damasus I 366-84 was a bishop.
    –Pope Felix III 483-92 whose father was almost certainly a priest, was the great-great grandfather of Pope Gregory I the Great 590-604.
    –Pope Hormisdas 514-23 was the father of Pope Silverius 536-37

    Except for periods before celebrating the Divine Liturgy, conjugal relations, by priests and deacons married before ordination, were allowed. Celibacy and perpetual continence was mandated only for bishops.

    In the tenth century, most priests were married, lived with their wives and raised families and ordination was not an impediment to marriage. Therefore, some priests did marry after ordination and most rural priests were married and many priests and bishops had wives and children.

    It was at the Lateran Council (1123), Canon 3 forbid the clergy to live with women other than family relations. Canon 21 absolutely forbid marriage after ordination.

  • patriot173

    “…..has created more introverted priests and bishops…..”

    and worse, acoholics, child abusers, mistresses on the side, a safe hide for homosexual abusers of boys….and a severe shortage of priests, but not married deacons whose numbers are soaring in the USA.

  • JohnnyVoxx

    The numbers of priestly vocations and vocations to consecrated religious life for women (sisters, nuns) is climbing dramatically and sharply at present in the United States, especially among the TRADITIONAL orders. The Catholic Church will thrive and be the supernatural force it has always been to the extent it maintains its Catholicity. The more it “conforms” to the world, the worse off it (and everybody else) is.

  • Jack

    That is why you don’t get history lessons from Wikipedia…….. Truth is, few (not most) priests were ever married. It only became canon law to prevent the multigenerational abuse of having your children become clergy; of course this is significant because of the church and state being nearly one the same at those times.

  • Baptismal Vows

    Common historical mistake. Celibacy is rooted in Christ and the first apostles. The first apostles and successive married priests lived continent lives (as implied in the article). Continued sexual relations with wives was an aberration, not the rule. It was always expected that married priests remain continent (human sex drive made that difficult for many). Came to point where Church simply stopped ordaining married men and ordained only single men. I suggest a second look at historical references. “Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy” comes to mind. Also, “Celibacy in the Early Church”, and “The Case for Clerical Celibacy” are just a couple more books. Google them and dare to consider another point of view.

    Here is a synopsis:

    On the terrain of historiography, a reinterpretation has asserted itself that has overturned the prevailing opinion, according to which in the first centuries celibacy was a free choice of a few bishops and priests, while the majority of them were married, and only from the fourth century on, and only in the West, celibacy gradually began to be imposed by law, until it was definitively established at the Council of Trent.

    The new historical reconstruction, which has had its most notable scholarly proponents in Christian Cochini and Alfons M. Stickler, demonstrates instead that celibacy was already being observed in apostolic times, and was a universally recognized law for centuries in the Church, in both the West and the East. This law was made concrete both in the impossibility for celibates to marry after priestly ordination and in “continentia,” meaning the interruption, for married men, of sexual relations with their wives after ordination.

    According to this reconstruction, it was the Eastern Churches that relaxed the prevailing discipline in the seventh century, but only for priests and deacons, not for bishops. And only for the different degree of “continentia” imposed on the married clergy.

    In the East, the interruption of sexual relations with one’s wife after ordination was restricted to periods before Eucharistic celebrations, as for the Levites in the Old Testament before their service in the Temple.

    In the West, however, the “continentia” required after ordination for a long while remained perpetual, with the removal of the wife herself, given her consent, and with a growing preference for ordaining celibate rather than married men to the priesthood. Until the near disappearance, after the Council of Trent, of the ordination of the latter of these.

  • Anonymous

    Great article!

  • Marty

    If the church gets too elastic in its teachings and ostracizes those who want to keep the Catholic teachings on morality and doctrine, then the church will fracture into different denominations like the protestants, ignoring the pope and setting up bastions of their own belief systems. After the last council, we have had nothing but confusion and fracturing and dissenting voices. Pope Francis says that we should not look to feel safe and secure in the church but should keep searching. Well, I like a secure and safe family and I do not want to search anymore. I love tradtional teaching and I will tune out any authority which tells me that I have to give up what I am happy with. I can love people as friends without having to agree with their lifestyles or have an elastic conscience. I want doctine and boundaries. I do not want liberalism to the extreme and if someone makes me feel that he is pulling the rug out from me, I will tune him out and go on with the faith I have believed in for decades. I have wandered enough and refuse to have to be pushed off the boat to wander more.

  • Marty

    That is since the council. I remember that priests were holy and I really appreciated them before the council and when the sexual addiction society of the late sixties came up and drastic changes in the liturgy happened, Catholic identity went down the drain and that is when priest “lost it.” Meet the fssp priests and you will find holy men who are very much like the pre council priests and I think even better since they have come through the liberal sludge and have found Catholic identity with the fssp. The post conciliar era is the real reason for all the problems in the church today. I am with the fssp parishes and I am old enough to remember as an adult what the church used to be like and I much prefer the era of Pius XII. I know one thing–I will tune out any liberal who tries to change me to be what he is.

  • Marty

    Once again, it is not celibacy that caused this but the liberalization of society in accepting the sins of abusers, etc. The council was hijacked by liberals who relaxed the rules in the seminaries and caused the pedophile problem which is more of a homo problem. Whenever you relax rules, you open a pandora’s box of evil. All these evils you mentioned are in all groups, public schools, scouts, clubs for kids and everywhere. Of course it has infiltrated the churches, too. It is not celibacy but relaxing of moral standards and an opening up to easing on sins that caused all these problems.Even married men today can be pedophiles. Watch “catch a preditor” on TV and you will find many men who have been married or are married who are doing these things now. Lowering moral standards and political correntiveness, and liberalizing judeo christian standards are the reason for all the problems.

  • Joe

    I guess you were at his wedding…
    Not possible.

  • Mooknino

    It is always to tiring to see the same posts from the ignorant catholic masses. The apostles were married and priests were married in apostolic as well as present times. Celibacy has not always been the norm whereas a married clergy has survived since the apostles. Our orthodox brothers have had it this ways always! We have many married catholic priests today. Many with dispensations from Rome and others that were converts and eastern rite priests that have functioned for millennia. Get the facts straight. As to whether priests are or were holy back then or now only God knows. Let this issue drop. Allow married men to be ordained to e priesthood and all this will stop. Remember, just because someone is a married priest it will not automatically make him a liberal. As a matter of fact, most converts who are married catholic priests tend to be more orthodox than the celibates.

  • Searching for answers please

    i have a question regarding the comments. does this mean that the married priests being brought into the Church today are not permitted to enter into physical union with their wives anymore?

  • Theodora

    Since about half of marriages end in divorce today, what will happen when priests divorce? Parenthood would also be a problem if they follow the Church’s teaching on birth control. They could have very large families and who will pay to educate them as priests do not make a lot of money? Practically, married priests will have very complicated lives trying to fulfill duties of father, husband and pastor and maybe alimony payments, too.

  • Baptismal Vows

    Yes and no. I personally do know of ordained married men (both priests and permanent deacons) who remain with their wives in a continent relationship after ordination or (in the case of Anglican priests) full initiation into the Catholic Church. This is a discipline of the Church and a personal discipline of these individual men and their wives. They are not required to remain continent in marriage – that is the Church doesn’t say one way or another – continence is implied but not enforced. The Church does require however, that married ordained men can not remarry in case of annulment or death of spouse. They must remain celibate.

  • Florin S.

    Sept. 19, I’ve noted for a while now Mooknino that you troll Catholic sites so you can bash traditional Catholic teachings about which you know or care little or nothing. If you want to learn, then welcome; if you want to divide, please troll elsewhere.

  • PGMGN

    Marty: I’m with you. Elastic to the point of no boundaries means precisely that. No boundaries. I’m thinking (hoping) our current Pope has a language barrier issue or perhaps difficulty defining words properly. Not sure if he’s dumbing things down on purpose, but it helps no one. You can’t sugar coat folks into the Church only to surprise them with Truth once you think you’ve got them. They either won’t accept Truth at that point or else they’ll lose respect because you lied to them.

    That said, I’m hoping the Pontiff means ‘searching’ in terms of forever seeking to deepen your spiritual life and not ‘searching’ in terms of searching outside the One True Church.

    It gets harder and harder to give the benefit of the doubt.

  • PGMGN

    What ‘all this’ will stop by changing the traditional teaching on priestly celibacy? Your own petty annoyance with Church discipline?

    As for the ‘facts’, the poster does have the facts straight – facts that pertain to the spiritual life of priests. not just sense matters that appear to interest you.

    And who said diddly about conservative versus liberal?

    What a load of made up self-serving nonsense.

  • PGMGN

    Great job root-causing, Marty. But what you say makes too much common sense to be listened to these days. I mean, it’s all about ‘getting real’. (Translation: giving up)

    I mean, we could just ‘open’ things up and say that divorce is fine too and that it happens and we should all just get over it. The Church would ‘grow’ then and we could all be one big happy family. That would likely keep Mooknino happy.

  • PGMGN

    Very practically said, Theodora. But those promoting the married priesthood are likely the same crowd that encourage the birth control mentality albeit via NFP.

  • Anonymous

    The apostles were married before they were called. St John did not get married. He devoted his life to Jesus. I just wonder who will take care of the priest’s family while he serves at church since he doesn’t have a job to support his family. If the priest wants to get married I think he needs to step out of priesthood. As the Benedict XI mentioned, we rather have fewer priests that are pure rather than a lot but not.
    If a priest takes care ” too much” of his family members, how can he have time to take care of his parish? Celibacy must be kept.

  • searching for answers please

    valid but illicit – i don’t get it. It just doesn’t make sense to me, whose law would be broken? I’m sorry about this, i want to know. thanks

  • jenny

    “… It was always expected that married priests remain continent (human sex drive made that difficult for many). ..” what kind of sacrament of marriage is that where they do not share the same bed? What about making children? does this go against God intention for married people? Or is it called contraception? And what about the example they give to their children seeing them sleep separately ? And what woman in her right mind would marry someone she can not sleep with ?

  • jenny

    I think a married priest would be more cautious about associating abortion solely with women. We know that abortion is the easy way out for men….

  • seeking Truth

    A good point to think on. The divorce thing and all the stuff that follows is very worldly. I am hearing, ‘you are not thinking as God thinks, you are thinking as humans do.’

    A Priest’s life is not about this world, and that’s what the celibacy thing is
    supposed to be about – living the eschatological life here and now in this
    world. Please, somebody correct me if I do not understand this.

    Could we consider that there are indeed Priests out there who are faithful men living that eschatological life here and now? I think so. I believe that the men who are called to a celibate priesthood are very blessed. I think celibacy is a gift given to one who God has set aside for His purpose alone. It is my uneducated ‘guess’ that the institution mandates the discipline of celibacy as to guide the Priest to holiness. I do not disagree with this discipline as, I think, it falls in alignment with fasting and prayer. I do disagree that it be an absolute permanent mandate.

    I do not know, so I am asking, how intensive or thorough is the guidance in
    discernment regarding living the eschatological life here and now. More specifically, how open, honest, direct, and complete is the topic of mandatory celibacy addressed in the seminary?

    All in all, celibacy is not God’s Law. It is division. God calls us to chastity and the rightly ordered life. Our cooperation in the proliferation of HIS Kingdom and participation in the divine life is a yes to HIM. It’s Faith. It is indeed union with Him through and with the other.

    A Christ-centered family unit is a pretty tough cookie, and a soft, beautiful
    invasion of LOVE in this world where He has placed us together.

    Again, where is the faith in preventing procreation of some of the most faithful men on this Earth?

    Marriage is union of 3, and divorce (without truth in cause) is not an option – God is first for all. And yes, that would certainly involve growth in faith and relationship with God when He asks us to take our place in selfless love.

    I am most sincerely open to guidance and most especially from one who can offer authentic spiritual guidance. Thanks for hearing my voice.

  • patriot173

    Jenny, please refer to the historical facts, not the imagination and idealization of wishful thinking….The Sacrament of Marriage may not valid and subject to annulment unless there is consummation by the marital act. The purpose of marriage is the procreation of children and the fulfillment of natural sexual desires. Celibacy in marriage which is rare can only be valid if BOTH FREELY accept and agree to it.

  • patriot173

    Jack, what is it about history you don’t understand? Please read my post above and then get back to me with your “history”. How will you overcome the facts that priests, bishops and deacons were married and had children in the churches established by St. Paul in his letters to Titus and Timothy? And, do you deny that popes were married and had children and one great grandchild who became pope???? Get with reality and with the history of clerical marriage in the Roman Catholic Church and the Catholic Eastern Rite Church!

  • patriot173

    Anon, you need to look at the letters of St. Paul to Titus and Timothy whom he advised to choose bishops who, in the Koine Greek, “were husbands of one wife” and who had children. You also need to look at early Church history to learn they managed their clerical office and, surprise, surprise, had a wife and children to support which they seemed to do very well….And, you do well, if you can, ask the bishops of converted Anglican ministers who were reordained Catholic priests, are married. have children (one has nine children!), and are serving a parish. And, there are the Catholic Eastern Rite priests who are married, have children and serving very well their parishes.

  • Baptismal Vows

    “Illicit” basically means illegal – Church law is broken. “Valid” in this case means that although a Church rule has been broken the Sacrament still takes effect (i.e. graces of Christ still come from the Sacrament – based on the presupposition ex opera operato). A married priest can be illicitly ordained by a bishop, but if the ordination is valid the priest still has the power to say mass for example and confect the Eucharist (change to Body and Blood of Christ). This is all possible through the power of Christ in the Sacrament, which conveys grace upon the form and matter of the Sacrament and the recipient (regardless of the personal disposition of the minister).

  • Baptismal Vows

    The assumption is that since the Church only ordains men already married (i.e. a man cannot get married after ordination – must be married before ordination) the consummation (or sharing the “same bed” as you put it) had already taken place. If a man makes the decision to pursue a call to ordination after marriage, then he knows certain sacrifices must be met for spiritual and theological reasons. If a man is unable to meet these he should not present himself for ordination. In the early Church married men knew this and made a decision to remain continent after ordination. Yes some flat out left their wives (like the first apostles) and others remained with them in continence; as time passed others ignored the rule and continued an incontinent relationship with their wives, while other priests slept around, had concubines, fathered illegitimate children, etc… The point is that the Church finally had to clamp down and declare that only single, celibate men will be ordained. It’s a discipline (both ecclesiastically and personally). The Eastern Church kept the rule of ordaining married men to this day for theological, political and social reasons.

  • wardiea

    A great article backed up by great documentation. So how is it that when I read the 33 comments there is still such disagreement among you about the history of celibacy. Apparently some of you did not read the article throughly. I challenge each of you to go back to the article and scroll down to reason #7: “TIME FOR PRAYER”. There you will find highlighted ” Ukrainian Catholic theologian Roman Cholij”. If you click on it you will be taken to a talk that Cholij gave on celibacy at the Vatican attended by world Church leaders some years ago. It is an excellent history of the Church , both East and West , on celibacy with excellent footnote references to back up his talk.

    Cholij is an Eastern Ukrainian Catholic and you will be surprised at what he says about the history of celibacy in the Eastern Church .

  • Grateful

    i’ve not heard this before, i didn’t know – ‘sacrifice of Mass is consummating act of priest.’ i will think on this for quite a little while. Wow. Thank you.

    the word Church, as it relates in this conversation, is not clear enough for me. i’m hopeful you understand what i am trying to say. I know in my heart one can be married to God which encompasses His Mystical Body.

    there just seems to be contradiction, and i’m sure a lot of it is because i just am not knowledgable. With that, consider the re-ordained married clergy within this Body. Is their marriage recognized as Sacramental? Do you see where i’m confused? I don’t know how to say it, i’ll keep thinking/searching. thanks so much

  • Baptismal Vows

    It is all beautifully mysterious. Sure “Church” is just a word. It has many implications. Try to think of it as a body. Basically God the Father “married” or became one with His creation (Covenant) fully and completely through Christ (as the ‘Word became flesh’ – divinity and humanity were consummated completely, fully and eternally). Christ the Son therefore, is the groom and we (the body – the Church) are His bride – we humans (creatures – adopted sons and daughters) become one with and united to God (the Father and creator) in a consummated marital covenant fully and completely, body and soul, matter and spirit through Christ – a total union between humanity and divinity (I always get chills contemplating the mystery of this). This takes place on earth for humanity today fully and completely through the Sacraments (matter and form) – Christ Ascended to heaven at an historical period of time but His Real Presence is here today through the sent Holy Spirit both physically and spiritually in the Sacraments. Therefore, the Church can also be seen as a Sacramental union with the Triune God (Mystical Body). To experience the fullness of faith and union with God (as much as it is possible on earth) humanity should be fully initiated Sacramentally into the Body (Church) through faith (both physical body and spiritual soul). When Christ raises His body (the Church) on the last day and after all purgation takes place, then those united to the Body (Church) Sacramentally (Grace – the Holy Spirit) will experience full union with the Triune God in a heavenly relationship – Christians are really Trinitarians.
    The Mass is the consummating act because the priest (acting as both the bridegroom and bride – sacrificial priest and victim in the Person of Christ) confects the sacrifice of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. The perpetual union of humanity and divinity are represented on earth in the Mass (the book of Revelation explains this well). We experience the reality of humanity and divinity being consummated and grow closer to God when we consume Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist. Our physical bodies and souls experience the unity of the Real Presence.
    Understood this way, it is better for a man not to be consummated to anyone else but God alone if he is to be a priest. It’s a bit of a dualism – married and engaged in consummate activity to a woman and the Body of Christ – it’s a mixed message.

  • Grateful

    Yes, it is beautifully mysterious. Thank you. Not sure i understand your last paragraph, something is just not right. I’ll keep thinking on it. Again, thanks, i so appreciate your time invested in this answer.

  • Still Grateful

    okay, another thought. we are the Body of Christ. does that make sense?

  • Baptismal Vows

    Makes perfect sense to me. The Holy Spirit lives within you. Peace

  • seeking Truth

    i’m confused, lost, not seeing what you are saying. something is not right and i just don’t have the words at the moment. I’m going to keep praying, thanks ~

  • My Two-cents

    While I agree the value of celibacy, I find it problematic to make celibacy a mandatory condition for the priesthood. As a church, we have developed a beautiful theology around the sacrament of marriage and family but we haven’t been faithful in implementing this vision into the daily lives of Catholics. Within the sacrament of marriage a man can serve as an “alter Christus” and potentially be an outstanding candidate for holy orders. In the end, the priesthood is a holy sacrament and marriage is also a holy sacrament. By making celibacy mandatory, we are saying that the sacrament of marriage is an impediment to the reception of another sacrament (holy orders). This is a contradiction that I find deeply troubling and I believe that the church will be wrestling with this contradiction in the coming years.

    Wouldn’t a married priest serve as a model of how to live in a “sex-obsessed culture”? It’s not a question of whether celibacy is a legitimate choice– it is and we have countless examples of people who have used celibacy as a vehicle to holiness. The issue is that marriage is also a vehicle to holiness (as stated in Vatican II) and should not be an impediment for the reception of holy orders.

  • jenny

    Why are you so mad?

  • patriot173

    Jenny, “Why are you so mad?” is the projection of your own anger onto me. In other words, YOU are angry that I should so clearly point out the historical FACTS which forcefully deflate your idealization of celibacy in the Church. Nowhere can you point out in my post my being “mad” (which by the way is the word used to describe a person’s irrational state of mind.) I was only trying to educate you to the truth in Scripture and History. No ill-will or “mad”ness intended.Please educate yourself and refer to 1 Timothy 3:1-2, Titus 1:7, 1 Peter 2:25 all describing marriage of the Apostles, priests, bishops and deacons in the Apostolic Early Church. There was marriage with wife and children in the Catholic Church up to the 10th Century when it was enforced human law for men who wanted to become priests.

  • Fabian

    Priesthood as social ladder.

    Many priests in Ireland became so because their mothers wanted them to be priests.

    Instantly raised higher status in the social circle – community – with a son a priest or daughter a nun. This notion they were all holier than thou pre VatII is wholly dishonest to say the least.

    You’re all either living in cloud cuckoo land, seeing through rose tinted glasses or on drugs.

    Maybe all three.

    Yes I was there and I am not meaning to suggest there were not many good and holy priests too.

    But this notion that it was all better is unadulterated BS and a lie.

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