Sunday 25th September 2016

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Priestly Celibacy: Unnatural? Or …Supernatural? Celibacy In The New Testament

January 11, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 3

Hints in the Old Testament point to realities in the new. In Jesus’ days there were several Jewish sects: The Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, and the Zealots were the most famous. The publicans were not a sect as such, but just the practical-minded Jews that worked for the Romans as tax collectors. And yet there was another sect, less conspicuous in the land, who practiced celibacy: the Essenes.
The Jewish Virtual Library refers to the Essenes as “The Dead Sea Sect” and states that they had emerged out of disgust with the Sadducees and Pharisees. The Essenes believed that the others had corrupted the city and the Temple. They moved out of Jerusalem and lived a monastic life in the desert, adopting strict dietary laws and a commitment to celibacy.
The Essenes are particularly interesting to scholars because they are believed to be an offshoot of the group that lived in Qumran, near the Dead Sea. In 1947, a Bedouin shepherd stumbled into a cave containing various ancient artifacts and jars containing manuscripts describing the beliefs of the sect and events of the time.
There is an interpretation that suggests that St. John the Baptist also lived with the Essenes in the desert. In fact, his lifestyle bears remarkable similarities with the Essenes. And St. John was a perfect model of the celibate prophet of the New Testament.
Here we have the first important hint of celibacy in the New Testament: the forerunner of the celibate Redeemer was also a celibate man.
Scripture tells us that St. John came in the spirit of Elias (Matt. 3:1-3; Mark 1:1-6; Luke 1:17; John 1:21), the great prophet who appeared alongside Moses on the day of the Transfiguration. Now Elias was the celibate prophet par excellence. He who brought fire from Heaven and who spoke to God on Mount Horeb, and who is honored with being the founder of the Order of the Carmelites — all celibates.
The Gospels speak little about the teachings of St. John the Baptist. We know that apart from what is written, he preached to the people many other things (Luke 3:18). Would it be a surprise if he preached chastity, continence, and celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom to the people?
The second important hint in favor of celibacy in the New Testament is the Holy Family itself — the family perfect par excellence was composed of three celibates!
In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord explicitly taught: “Do not think that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am come not to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17). The perfecting of the law was a necessary consequence of the perfecting of the priesthood. The move toward continence and chastity was seen by our Lord as perfection. We can see this in the Sermon on the Mount itself, when He perfected the Law of God on the Sixth Commandment, where He condemned adultery in the mind, and not only in the body:
“You have heard that it was said to them of old: thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, that whoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28).
He also affirmed the indissolubility of matrimony and abolished divorce and remarriage as adultery (Matt. 5:31-32).
He praised celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom: “There are eunuchs who were born so from their mothers’ womb; and there are eunuchs who were made so by men; and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take it, let him take it [understand]” (Matt. 19:12). This is no longer a hint of celibacy: It is a teaching from Our Lord Himself.
The perfection of the following of Jesus is well-known to all: Deny oneself, take up one’s cross daily and follow Him.
Remember the rich young man who asked, “What good shall I do that I may have life everlasting?” Jesus replied: “If you will enter into life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” Jesus listed them. The young man added: “All these have I kept from my youth. What is wanting in me?” Jesus said: “If you will be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven. And come, follow me” (Matt. 19:21).
This exhortation of our Lord is most important for us to understand: First, He said “if” you will be perfect, that is, it was not a Commandment, it was a counsel. To keep the Commandments is a non-negotiable point to secure life everlasting, but to will to be perfect is an exhortation, a counsel, not an obligation.
Second, he should let go of his riches, that is, be poor of material things. Now to do this, he had to have been unmarried! Otherwise, how could Jesus tell him to give away everything he had, thus leaving his wife and children in the streets, joining the line of the poor who would benefit from the distribution of his goods? No, it would be unjust and uncharitable, and Jesus is the perfection of justice and charity. Therefore, since Jesus exhorted him to give his goods away, he must have been able to do so without harming anybody.
Third, Jesus said, “follow me.” It was a call to live a celibate, poor, and obedient life. The three vows lived by the religious: poverty, chastity and obedience. The young man declined. The eleven apostles accepted it.
When Jesus was challenged by the Sadducees about the hypothetical story of a woman who had married seven brothers and they asked Him about whose wife would she be in the resurrection, he replied, “You err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be married, but shall be as the angels of God in heaven” (Matt. 22:29-30).
Celibacy here on earth enables one to imitate the lives of the angels of God in Heaven! And Jesus points out that those who understand that celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven is a praiseworthy choice in life, in the figurative language of the eunuch.
We know that He exhorted the people in general: “Be ye perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48) and for some, or many, we do not know, celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven was certainly among the choices.
Scripture mentioned St. Peter had been married, but his wife is never mentioned, only his mother-in-law. Most probably, he was a widower. Tradition tells us about the daughters of Philip, who led celibate lives themselves. St. John the Evangelist, the apostle for whom Jesus had a special predilection, to the point of allowing him to place his head next to His own chest, where he could hear the beatings of the Sacred Heart, was the virgin apostle par excellence.
There is no clear mention of the others being married, but if some of them were, they definitely counted on their wives’ agreement to live separate and meet again in the Kingdom of Heaven, since the apostles left Jerusalem to preach the Gospel in many countries. They could not have taken their wives in their trips, when they met martyrdom.
After the Resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days giving the apostles a total immersion crash course on evangelization and apologetics, about which we know nothing. Scripture is completely silent about it. St. John makes it clear that the teachings of Jesus that are committed to writing constitute only a very small part of that immense wealth of doctrine: “Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of His disciples, which are not written in this book” (John 20:30) and more precisely, “But there are also many other things which Jesus did; which, if they were written everyone, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25).
Next article: St. Paul’s teaching on chastity and celibacy.

+    +    +

(Raymond de Souza is director of the Evangelization and Apologetics Office of the Winona Diocese, Minn.; EWTN program host; regional coordinator for Portuguese-speaking countries for Human Life International [HLI], president of the Sacred Heart Institute and a member of the Sovereign, Military, and Hospitaller Order of the Knights of Malta. His web site is: www.RaymondeSouza.com.)

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Donald Trump Names Rick Santorum and Other Top Pro-Life Catholics as Key Advisers

Fresh from announcing a list of pro-life leaders who are advising him on issues that matter to pro-life voters, Donald Trump has named a group of pro-life Catholic leaders as additional key advisers, including pro-life former presidential candidate Rick Santorum.…Continue Reading

Argentine bishop threatened with prosecution for condemning ‘culture of fornication’

September 20, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Catholic archbishop of the Argentinean city of La Plata is under investigation by the country’s “discrimination” police for condemning the modern acceptance of sexual promiscuity and “unnatural” unions, according to local media sources. Archbishop…Continue Reading

First minor killed by euthanasia in Belgium after child euthanasia legalized

BELGIUM, September 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Belgium’s federal euthanasia commission confirmed Saturday the country’s first instance of child euthanasia, which became legal in 2014. Belgian media suggested the minor killed via lethal injection was 17. Some media also suggested the…Continue Reading

Donald Trump commits to defunding abortion, Planned Parenthood if elected

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 16, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Donald Trump has pledged to end taxpayer funding of abortion in the United States and to defund the nation’s leading abortion provider. In a new, personally signed letter, Mr. Trump attacked “Hillary Clinton’s…Continue Reading

Pope Francis issues motu proprio harmonizing Canon Law codes

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter motu proprio on Thursday, in which he brings the basic legal instruments that govern the Latin Church and the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome more closely into accord with one another…Continue Reading

Another “Catholic” Politician trying to redefine the Catholic Faith . . . Devout Catholic™ Kaine breaks with his church on gay marriage, with media blessing

Tim Kaine has officially joined the ranks of Devout Catholic™. How do we know? Because he says he’s Catholic, yet criticizes the church. The Democratic vice presidential nominee played weekend prophet and theologian when he told activists in the Human…Continue Reading

Bishop Morlino’s Move to Ad Orientem Masses in Madison

This past weekend the Most Reverend Robert Morlino, Bishop of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin made an announcement of great liturgical importance. Going forward His Excellency will be offering all of his Masses at the Cathedral ad orientem. Make no…Continue Reading

Longtime conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly dead at 92

phillis

Phyllis Schlafly, the iconic pro-family activist who rose to fame in the 1970s when she campaigned against the Equal Rights Amendment, has died at age 92, according to the Eagle Forum, the conservative organization she founded. Schlafly had been an…Continue Reading

Soros’ Catholic useful idiots

By Robert A. Sirico – – Tuesday, August 30, 2016 A most remarkable set of documents was coughed up recently by WikiLeaks. George Soros‘ Open Society Policy Center, it turns out, made donations to two faith-based organizations to the tune…Continue Reading

Pope Francis “gratified” by UN goals that demand “universal access to sexual and reproductive health”

Pope Francis has said that he is “gratified” by UN goals that call on member states to “ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health” by 2030. The term “sexual and reproductive health”, as generally defined, includes access to contraception, including abortifacient methods, and,…Continue Reading

Psychiatrist: The Vatican’s sex ed is the most dangerous threat to youth I’ve seen in 40 years

September 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — In recent years, the Catholic Church has been going through one of her most severe crises as a result of the priestly abuse of youth. The primary victims have been adolescent males.1  This worldwide scandal was…Continue Reading

Catholics protest at Tim Kaine’s parish: If priest won’t ‘instruct parishioners’ on Church teaching, we will

RICHMOND, Virginia, August 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Roughly a dozen pro-life activists protested Sunday outside of pro-abortion, pro-homosexual Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine’s Catholic parish. “Sen. Kaine has failed in his duty as a Catholic public servant to…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Paul Likoudis (RIP)

Sad news today, we received word that Paul Likoudis, The Wanderer news editor from 1990 to 2014 has died. He lost his battle with colon cancer yesterday, which he had been fighting for over three years. Please pray for the repose of his soul. (The Wanderer will have much more in the days to come).  

500 Catholic scholars lash back at Humanae Vitae critics

Washington D.C., Sep 20, 2016 / 03:53 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Nearly 50 years after the “prophetic” papal document Humanae Vitae, the Catholic Church’s longstanding teaching against contraception continues to promote the human good, said a group of Catholic thinkers on Tuesday. “We hold that Catholic teaching respects the true dignity of the human person and is conducive to happiness,” said hundreds of Catholic scholars in a Sept. 20 document. “Humanae Vitae speaks against the distorted…Continue Reading

“Catholic” Tim Kaine: “I Believe Women Should Be Able to” Have an Abortion

Yesterday on Meet the Press, Democratic Vice Presidential pick Tim Kaine, attempted to make his pitch to Millennials by saying that they agree with Hillary Clinton and the Democratic platform on the big issues. One of the big issues is obviously abortion. Part of what he said was: “Do you believe women should be able to make their own health care decisions, or don’t you? Millennials do, Hillary Clinton and I do, Donald Trump doesn’t.”…Continue Reading

Pope visits neonatal unit, hospice to highlight respect for life

Vatican City, Sep 16, 2016 / 11:19 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday, Pope Francis visited a neonatal hospital unit and a hospice for the terminally ill, stressing the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. The Sept. 16 visit is the latest in the Pope’s “Mercy Friday” initiatives, to spend time with various groups each month during the Jubilee of Mercy. In previous trips, he has made surprise stops at places including an…Continue Reading

Alberta bishops: No Communion for ‘remarried’ Catholics unless they practice continence

EDMONTON, Alberta, September 15, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The Catholic Church has not changed her practice towards divorced and civilly remarried Catholics — despite what the faithful may have been led to believe through the media or other sources, the Alberta and Northwest Territory bishops stated in pastoral guidelines released Wednesday. It is “erroneous” to conclude that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Holy Communion “if they simply have a conversation with a priest,” stated…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101… The Bridge Between Abortion And Euthanasia

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, “Euthanasia,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + Speaking at a conference of the Hemlock Society — an organization whose primary…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred… At The Hour Of Our Death

By JAMES MONTI The onset of autumn has deeper lessons to offer than merely the return of students to their classrooms for another semester of studies. Our Lord Himself told us to derive spiritual instruction from even the change of seasons when He compared the budding of leaves on the fig tree that presage summer…Continue Reading

Last Chance For The “Deplorables”

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Speaking to 1,000 of the overprivileged at an LGBT fundraiser, where the chairs ponied up $250,000 each and Barbra Streisand sang, Hillary Clinton gave New York’s social liberals what they came to hear. “You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” smirked Clinton…Continue Reading

A Book Review… The Limitless Wisdom Of The Parables

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN Hints of Heaven: The Parables of Christ and What They Mean for You, by Fr. George Rutler (Sophia Institute Press: Manchester, NH, 2014), 151 pp.; $14.95. Available through www.SophiaInstitute.com or 1-800-888-9344. A collection of short meditations on the 24 parables that appear in the Gospel, this book relates these stories to the…Continue Reading

A Book Review… The Cost Of Assimilation

By JUDE DOUGHERTY Shaw, Russell. Catholics in America: Religious Identity and Cultural Assimilation From John Carroll to Flannery O’Connor. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2016; 141 pp. This is a delightful book, to say the least, in part because Russell Shaw has a way of uncovering facts you wish you had known all along. The book…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Necessity Of Baptism

By DON FIER The Church’s immemorial tradition of baptizing infants demonstrates in a particular way one of the great truths of our Catholic faith — that every human person is in need of salvation. Born into this world afflicted with original sin, “a sin which is the death of the soul” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 403), even…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Following up on a recent question about how much money the U.S. bishops get from the federal government, an article in LifeSiteNews reported that the Obama Administration is pouring hundreds of million of dollars into Catholic institutions and charities. “We’ve got the most virulently anti-life administration in the history of the United States,” said international child rights advocate…Continue Reading

If It Delays, Wait For It

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Seventh Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Hab. 1:2-3, 2:2-4 2 Tim. 1:6-8, 13-14 Luke 17:5-10 I have commented many times before on the last lines of the Gospel reading today where our Lord tells us to say: “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.” Tragically, I wish that…Continue Reading

The Role Of The Sacred Liturgy In Developing A Catholic Conscience

By FRANCIS CARDINAL ARINZE Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Francis Cardinal Arinze of Nigeria, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, delivered this lecture at The Church Teaches Forum in Louisville, Ky., July 16, 2016. (The lecture is reprinted here with permission; all rights reserved. We are presenting it in two parts because of…Continue Reading

A Noble Confession Of Faith

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Sixth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Amos 6:1a, 4-7 1 Tim. 6:11-16 Luke 16:19-31 In the second reading today, St. Paul addresses Timothy in a very strong and direct manner. Calling him a man of God, St. Paul then tells him to strive for righteousness, to compete well for the faith, and to take…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Bernardina Maria Jablonska

By CAROLE BRESLIN Some people look back on their lives and see how differently things turned out from what they had planned. A professor once told his business students that very few students work in the field they studied in college. If someone had told the young Bernardina Maria Jablonska that she would be the superior of a religious order…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Aubert

By CAROLE BRESLIN Near the west coast of France just below England lies the See of Avranches. If you take a drive around the waterways for about 24 miles, you will arrive at one of the world’s most famous pilgrimages, another World Heritage Site — one of 41 in France. This place, Mont Saint-Michel, is dedicated to St. Michael the…Continue Reading