Friday 22nd September 2017

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

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

blogger

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

21 Sep 2017

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics for which he provided his illuminating insights are the Message of Our Lady of Fatima, an appraisal of the situation in which the Church finds herself in contemporary times, and the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy. (This interview appeared in three parts in The Wanderer in August 2017.) + + + Part 1 Q. We are in the midst of…Continue Reading

Bishop Schneider: priests must resist pressure on Communion for remarried

Bishop Schneider said that priests should ‘lovingly and respectfully’ tell their superiors that they cannot abandon the Church’s perennial teaching Bishop Athanasius Schneider has said priests have to follow the Church’s constant practice on Communion, even if their bishops and…Continue Reading

Popular priest disinvited from Catholic University’s seminary after protests over his LGBT book

The Rev. James Martin, a popular priest who published a book earlier this year encouraging a bridge between the LGBT community and the Catholic Church, has been disinvited from giving an address at Catholic University’s seminary. Martin, who was planning…Continue Reading

Latin Mass fans celebrate 10-year anniversary _ without pope

Fans of the old Latin Mass descended on Rome on Thursday for their annual pilgrimage, facing indifference to their cause, if not outright resistance, from none other than Pope Francis. Ten years after Pope Benedict XVI passed a law allowing greater use of…Continue Reading

Pro-gay Vatican adviser gets Catholic group suspended from Twitter

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A faithful Catholic lay apostolate was suspended by Twitter last week after Vatican adviser Father James Martin complained about a tweet that teasingly stated the pro-gay Jesuit had been bested in a theological…Continue Reading

Durbin, Feinstein and Catholic judges

Washington is currently embroiled in one of its “gotcha” controversies, which often arise when minor missteps are blown into major crimes. It’s a game both parties and a variety of activists play whenever they see political advantage in it. The…Continue Reading

Pope issues new directives on revision, translation of liturgical texts

Vatican City, Sep 9, 2017 / 08:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy See has released a new “motu proprio” from Pope Francis outlining a shift in the responsibility of local bishops and the Apostolic See for the revision and approval…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke ‘treasured’ work with deceased dubia Cardinal to oppose ‘gravely harmful confusion’

ROME, September 6, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke paid tribute today to fellow dubia signer Cardinal Carlo Caffarra on his passing after a long illness. In a statement to LifeSiteNews, Burke said he was “deeply saddened” by the 79-year-old’s…Continue Reading

Some Personal Reflections on the Late Cardinal Caffarra

As Steve Skojec reported this morning, our beloved Cardinal Carlo Caffarra died today, in Italy. Our hearts are broken over this news since he was such a lovable and charitable and truthful man for us. Just to know that he was out…Continue Reading

Remarks by President Trump at Signing of Day of Prayer Proclamation

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Americans have always come to the aid of their fellow countrymen.  Friend helping friend, neighbor helping neighbor, stranger helping stranger — we’ve seen it perhaps more so than at any time, so vividly at…Continue Reading

Bishop Schneider: The Pope who ‘seems to’ permit adultery bears a ‘grave responsibility’

POLAND, August 31, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia “seems to” go in the direction of a pastoral “discernment” that “allows the adulterers to continue in adultery,” says Bishop Athanasius Schneider. The consequences for many could be…Continue Reading

REPORT CARD: Faithful college praised for financial aid; Praying for Notre Dame; ‘Pride Prom’ at Marquette

With college affordability becoming an increasingly prominent (and problematic) issue, Thomas Aquinas College’s recognition by The Princeton Review’s national Financial Aid Honor Roll is especially refreshing. “We are pleased that, once again, The Princeton Review has featured Thomas Aquinas College in its annual guide,”…Continue Reading

JEFFERSON CITY’S CATHEDRAL SCHOOL RESISTS LGBT POLICY

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (ChurchMilitant.com) – The flagship school for the diocese of Jefferson City has updated its handbook with clear Catholic instruction to counter the LGBT agenda being foisted on schools. Just in time for the new school year, St. Joseph…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  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 150 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

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope: “Doctrine” does not come before mercy

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “The door that leads to encounter with Jesus is recognizing ourselves as we are, the truth. Sinners. And He comes”. “I want mercy and not sacrifices” said Pope Francis at Mass this morning at Casa Santa Marta, commenting on the gospel song of the day recalling the conversion of St. Matthew to return

Pro-Life Speaker Ben Shapiro Answers Pro-Abortion Student’s Question With an “Epic Takedown”

Popular conservative author and speaker Ben Shapiro continued to impress his audience Thursday at UC Berkeley when he rapidly refuted a young man’s abortion arguments. Shapiro’s speech at the liberal California university drew massive media attention because of the violent protests that have broken out on campus during past conservative speakers’ talks. The university and local police increased security, and several people were arrested Thursday. Inside the sold-out auditorium, Shapiro received a huge applause when…Continue Reading

Cardinal Sarah: Reverent liturgy is essential to fighting the culture of death

ROME, September 15, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – One of the chief antidotes to a world “marked by the blight of Godless terrorism, of an increasingly aggressive secularism” and an “advancing culture of death” is to restore primacy to God in the Catholic liturgy, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said Thursday. The cardinal was speaking to an international gathering of cardinals, priests, religious and laity at the Fifth Roman Colloquium on Summorum…Continue Reading

Pope to new bishops: ‘Discernment’ means avoiding ‘rigid’ answers to moral questions

ROME, September 14, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis told a group of newly ordained bishops that “authentic discernment” cannot be reduced to repeating “rigid” moral formulas to persons whose situations “can’t be reduced to black and white.” Discernment, the pope said, “can’t be reduced to repeating formulas such as ‘high clouds send little rain’ to a concrete person, who’s often immersed in a reality that can’t be reduced to black and white.” He cautioned bishops…Continue Reading

Catholic leaders defend Trump after Pope challenges his pro-life views

September 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-life Catholic leaders are defending President Trump against Pope Francis after the Pontiff questioned Trump’s pro-life views, despite the fact that Trump has racked up major pro-life accomplishments during his short time in office. “If Pope Francis is so concerned with the commitment of others to the defense of preborn children, he should consider his own words and actions, as well,” said Michael Hichborn, founder and president of the Lepanto…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

A Book Review … Reflections On Our Lady’s Message Of Fatima

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Fatima and the Triumph of Mary: Reflections on the Fatima Message, by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, (World Apostolate of Fatima, 2016); 228 pages, $17.95 available via:http://giftshop.wafusa.org/browse.cfm/4,2578.html. Fatima and the Triumph of Mary is a compilation of articles by Fr. Andrew Apostoli which originally appeared in the World Apostolate of Fatima USA…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Dispelling The False Images Of God

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN The Light Shines on in the Darkness: Transforming Suffering through Faith, by Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ, Ph.D. (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2017), 543 pp. $19.95. Available from www.ignatius.com or 1-800-651-1531. For anyone who struggles to make sense of human suffering or to reconcile the unconditional love of God with the weight of…Continue Reading

Who Were The Colombian Martyrs Beatified By Pope Francis?

By ELISE HARRIS ROME, Italy (CNA/EWTN News) — During his six-day visit to Colombia, Pope Francis beatified martyrs Bishop Jesus Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve and Fr. Pedro Maria Ramirez Ramos, who provide testimony as the country heals from decades of conflict. Bishop Jaramillo was killed by Colombian Marxist guerrilla forces in 1989, while Fr. Ramirez was…Continue Reading

20 State Attorneys General Lauded… For Opposing Pro-Abortion Judge Orrick’s Gag Order Against CMP

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — “It is definitely very encouraging, and it’s great news” that 20 state attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to oppose the gag order against videos by pro-life investigators, an official with one of the law firms representing David Daleiden and the California-based Center for Medical…Continue Reading

Preparing To Enter Into The Awesome Mystery Of The Mass

By JAMES MONTI For every Catholic, there can be no more important event in one’s spiritual life than Holy Mass. For in the mystery of the Holy Eucharist we encounter our God in a more intimate manner than in any other sacrament, sacramental, or form of prayer. I recall hearing of a modern writer who…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. At Our Lady’s July 1917 appearance at Fatima, she stated that a war greater than World War I would break out during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI. Ambrogio Ratti chose the name Pius XI when he became Pope in 1922. No doubt Our Lady knew he would be known as Pius XI, but why didn’t she say “the…Continue Reading

The Radical Call To Follow Christ

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Sixth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Ezek. 18:25-28 Phil. 2:1-11 Matt. 21:28-32 In the second reading today, St. Paul says we are to have in us the same attitude as Christ. As we continue through the reading we can see the attitude of Christ is marked by humility, obedience, and charity. This essentially repeats…Continue Reading

Professor Josef Seifert… Amoris Laetitia’s “Immense Threat” To The Moral Teaching Of The Church

By MAIKE HICKSON (Editor’s Note: In light of Professor Josef Seifert’s recent essay examining some of the dangerous logical consequences of Amoris Laetitia — an essay for which he was dismissed from his teaching position by the archbishop of Granada — Dr. Maike Hickson of OnePeterFive.com reached out to the Austrian philosopher to ask him some additional questions about not…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Can Division In Worship Bring Unity Of Faith?

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Pope Francis has given authority through a new motu proprio, Magnum Principium, issued this month, to local bishops’ conferences to approve translations of the liturgy from Latin into local languages. By doing so he hopes to accomplish a couple of things. First, as we know by now Pope Francis places full trust and confidence in…Continue Reading

God The Sanctifier Of Men… Other Christs

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 3 In a previous article, I mentioned that sanctifying grace makes us brethren of Christ. It is, by the way, one more reason to have devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of us, our common Mother. The reason is quite simple to understand: Christ is the Head of the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Thomas Villanova

By CAROLE BRESLIN Our Lord drew amazing men and women from the population of Spain to protect that country from the ravages that swept through Germany and the Scandinavian countries in the Reformation era. Two events marked by Augustinian monks sparked these events. In Germany, an apostate Augustinian monk who fell from grace led hundreds of thousands into error —…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Simon De Rojas

By CAROLE BRESLIN The subject of this article lived in a time of great saints, great Spanish saints, so it is not surprising that he is little known. St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) who wrote the Spiritual Exercises, St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) who reformed the Carmelites and wrote The Interior Castle, and St. John of the Cross who wrote…Continue Reading