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Understanding the Depth of Priestly Celibacy

First, ‘Celibacy, as a personal option made for a higher good, even one completely on the natural level, can result in a fully mature and integrated personality’. Secondly, we must note how we view celibacy in the Church: the wrong disposition of the soul is ‘celibacy is imposed from outside by the authoritative Church’; the mature disposition is one who sees it as ‘a desire to serve God with and undivided heart, and ‘freely wills total availability’ toward God’s people through a gift of self, which ‘is accepted and ratified by the Church through the bishop’. Thirdly, when it comes to the Church there are four primary reasons she calls for this discipline which stems from her Master’s very own example.

The first is ‘CHRISTOLOGICAL’ – this is the fact that the Christ was celibate and a virgin in his priestly state – hence through baptism we are baptized into Christ’s mystical body (this is the reason St. Paul hears the words from Christ, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me”(Act 9:4) this is a great mystery). Therefore celibacy seeks to model Christ who was perfect morally in his sexuality – thus showing us he is the Way. (Marriage or Celibacy are two free moral options or more precisely calls, which one answers in justice toward the Creator.)

The second aspect is the ‘ESCHATOLOGICAL’ comprehension. When the Christ is questioned about the wife who had several husbands who all died, “who will be her husband in heaven?”, the Son of God replies, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Mat. 22:30). Therefore the Christ has to correct their vision which was focused on earthly things and not heaven. Correspondingly, celibacy imitates what it will be like in heaven, while reminding those around us that it is a reality, “for we have no lasting city here, but we seek the city which is to come.”(heb. 13:14) – thus the Christ shows that he is the Truth by his authoritative teaching on the resurrection.

Then we have the ‘ECCLESIASTICAL’ reality, or those called into communion, in other terms: the Church. Here we notice the importance of the faithful and their reception of the sacraments, which leads to the building up of the kingdom of God by Holy Orders (and Holy Matrimony in another way) through baptism, confirmation, confession, and the anointing of the sick. These acts truly sanctify persons through the power entrust to the Church by Christ, “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church”(Mat.16-18). Thus celibacy is a gift of God given to anybody truly called to the priesthood and is for God’s people ‘to the point of a complete donation of oneself’. Thus God in this regard shows his creature he is the Life.

Then there is the ‘THEOLOGICAL’ reason and it is simply, “to have an undivided heart, for the sake of the kingdom, as a witness to the resurrection, an incentive to charity, a source of spiritual fecundity, a particular gift”. Thus the celibate priest, with the people of God, place full confidence in Christ, who has truly risen!

Paul Abbruscato

Paul Abbruscato

Pastoral Year
Paul Abbruscato is on Pastoral Year serving at Notre Dame de la Mer, Wildwood.
Paul Abbruscato

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