Wednesday 18th October 2017

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Priestly Celibacy: Unnatural? Or…Supernatural? The Biblical Foundations Of Celibacy: Summing Up

February 1, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 6

The Catholic priesthood is God’s holy calling (2 Tim. 1:5-9) to some men to follow Jesus’ footsteps more closely (St. Augustine). The priest is called to be an angel of the Lord, always keeping His Law in his mouth (Mal. 2:7). A truly celibate priest is one who is a real man, who understands human nature and offers a sacrifice to Heaven for the sake of a higher good: the promotion of the glory of God and the salvation of souls. He acts in persona Christi, in the person of Christ, in the imitation of Jesus Christ as perfectly as possible, including in Jesus’ celibacy.
The Old Testament provides hints about God’s desire to have a future celibate clergy. For instance, the sacrifice offered by Abel was pleasing to God, and, according to Jewish tradition, Abel was most probably a celibate. Melchisedech, the King of Salem and a Priest of the Most High God, offered a sacrifice of bread and wine to God, and Scripture suggests that he had no family (Heb. 7:1-3). The men whom Moses took to Mount Sinai to receive the priesthood had as one of the conditions to be continent from their wives for three days prior to the priestly consecration (Exodus 19:5).
When David, accompanied by some friends, was fleeing from King Soul’s anger, he asked for bread from the priest Abimalech, who had only the “holy bread” of the proposition, which only priests could eat. Abimalech’s condition for David and his friends to eat it was to confirm that they had been continent from their wives (1 Kings 21 or Samuel 21:4-6).
In the New Testament, the Jewish sect of the Essenes lived a monastic life in the desert, adopting strict dietary laws and a commitment to celibacy. St. John the Baptist’s lifestyle indicates that he had lived with them. Thus, the forerunner of the celibate Redeemer was also a celibate man.
St. John came in the spirit of Elias (Matt. 3:1-3) the great prophet who appeared alongside Moses on the day of the Transfiguration. Now Elias was the celibate prophet par excellence.
The Holy Family — Jesus, Mary, and Joseph — was composed of three celibates!
Jesus praised celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom in the parable of the eunuchs (Matt. 19:12).
The young rich man was invited to give his goods away and follow Jesus had to have been celibate, otherwise he could not leave his wife and children uncared for (Matt. 19:21).
Jesus told the Sadducees that in the Resurrection people shall neither marry nor be married, but shall be as the angels of God in Heaven (Matt. 22:29-30) — thus praising celibacy as a state approaching the angelic.
Among the apostles, only St. Peter is mentioned as having had a mother-in-law but no mention is made of the wife or children. Therefore, he was probably a widower.
St. John wrote in his Gospel that there are also many other things which Jesus did; which, if they were written down, “the world itself would not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25). Jesus spent the forty days after the Resurrection giving a crash-course on theology, apologetics, discipline, etc., to the apostles, the first College of Bishops. No wonder that celibacy grew naturally among them.
St. Paul taught celibacy to the laity in a radical manner: “It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (1 Cor. 7:1) and “I would that all men were even as myself: but everyone has his proper gift from God.…Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Christ was celibate, and St. Paul imitated Him and was celibate himself.
“I say to the unmarried, and to the widows: It is good for them if they so continue, even as I” (1 Cor. 7:1-9).” “Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife” (1 Cor. 7:24-27).
“He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided” (1 Cor. 7: 32-40).
Among the Early Christians, the bond of absolute celibacy was regarded by the Fathers of the Church as a kind of spiritual marriage which weds the soul of Christ. St John Chrysostom — among others — placed any violation of chastity by a consecrated soul on a par with adultery.
St. Jerome taught: “The virgin Christ and the virgin Mary have dedicated in themselves the principle of virginity for both sexes. The apostles were either virgins or remained continent after their marriages. Those persons chosen to be bishops, presbyters, or deacons, are either virgins or widowers; or certainly, having once received the priesthood, they remain forever chaste” (AD 392-393). Likewise St. Epiphanius (c. AD 375) and Tertullian (c. AD 200).
Still during persecution times, the discipline of clerical celibacy was proclaimed by the Council of Elvira (AD 300), and there are no historical records about any revolt, complaint, protest, coming from clergy or laity. Celibacy was already so common among the clergy that the Council of Elvira dealt with the remaining exceptions of married men being ordained to the priesthood.
The discipline of priestly celibacy is part and parcel of the Christian understanding of the grandeur of the priestly state, as demonstrated by Sacred Scripture, the faith of the early Christians and early councils. Among the Eastern Catholic Rites there are both celibate and married clergy, but bishops are never married, not even among the separated Orthodox Churches. But they constitute a very small minority compared to the Latin Rite.
The glorification of celibacy in the heavenly Kingdom is noted in the book of the Apocalypse:
“And I beheld, and lo! A lamb stood upon Mount Zion, and with him 144,000, having his name, and the name of his father, written on their foreheads….And they sung as it were a new canticle, before the throne, and before the four living creatures, and the ancients. And no man could say the canticle, but those who were purchased from the earth. These are they who are virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were purchased from among men, the first fruits to God and to the Lamb” (Apoc. 14:1-5).
In the Lord’s Prayer we say, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” If in Heaven virginity for men is glorified, why not also on earth?
Pius XII summed it all up in Sacra Virginitas: “If priests and religious, and all who are in any way consecrated to the service of God, observe perfect chastity, they do so because their Divine Master remained a virgin for the duration of His life on earth.”
And as recently as June 2 this year, Pope Benedict XVI told hundreds of clergy members in Milan Cathedral during the Seventh World Meeting of Families: “The shining light of pastoral charity and a unified heart is sacerdotal celibacy and enshrined virginity . . . .Without a doubt, Jesus’ love is for all Christians but takes on particular significance for the celibate priest and for those who take up the vocation of a life of devotion,” he said on the second day of his visit to Milan.

+    +    +

(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.

Callista Gingrich confirmed as US Ambassador to the Vatican

Washington D.C., Oct 16, 2017 / 04:46 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Callista Gingrich, wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, as the next U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. The vote was 70-23. In a…Continue Reading

Pope Francis canonizes 35 new saints

(Vatican Radio) Inviting all faithful to practice Christian love every day, Pope Francis on Sunday canonized 35 new saints, nearly all of them martyrs, holding them up as models who “point the way”. To the over 35,000 pilgrims gathered in…Continue Reading

President Trump: Our ‘religious heritage’ will be ‘cherished, protected, and defended’

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – President Trump said this morning that his administration is “stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values” in a rousing speech at the Values Voter Summit. In his first major speech to a socially conservative conference…Continue Reading

Capuchin Priest Who Ministered Under Soviet Rule Moves Closer to Sainthood

VATICAN CITY — On Monday, Pope Francis advanced nine causes for sainthood, including a Capuchin priest who ministered underground across the Soviet Union for nearly 40 years. Father Serafin Kaszuba was born June 17, 1910, in Zamarstynów, near Lviv, in…Continue Reading

Notre Dame student fears losing birth control coverage under university health plan

The Trump administration’s plan to roll back mandatory insurance coverage for birth control faces a new federal court challenge. Washington state’s attorney general sued Monday to stop the new rules from taking effect. California and Massachusetts have already filed similar complaints. Last…Continue Reading

European Nation to Unite in Prayer for Its Salvation

On Saturday, October 7, up to one million Poles are expected to line the country’s border to pray the rosary. They will be joined in prayer by many others in Poland and throughout the world. This extraordinary display of public…Continue Reading

A big-money Catholic group just said it’s yanking all of its cash out of fossil fuels

A coalition of 40 Catholic institutions on Tuesday announced a decision to pull their money from — or block future investment in — fossil fuels. The Global Catholic Climate Movement called it the biggest collective announcement of divestment by Catholic…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke Returned to Vatican Court, but not as Prefect

VATICAN CITY, September 30, 2017 (LifeSiteNews): Pope Francis has reinstated Cardinal Burke as a member of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court. Cardinal Burke, dismissed as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura nearly three years ago, has been appointed to…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke to offer Mass at conference exactly 100 years after major Fatima miracle

BUCKFAST ABBEY, United Kingdom, September 29, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Exactly 100 years after the “miracle of the sun” at Fatima, Cardinal Raymond Burke will offer Mass at a Marian conference celebrating the centennial of the messages of Our Lady to…Continue Reading

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN POPE AND CARDINAL A ‘CARICATURE’ SAYS BURKE, BUT CATHOLICS WANT CLEARER PRESENTATION OF DOCTRINE

‘I find universally that there’s a great deal of confusion, also people feeling that the Church is not a secure point of reference’ Cardinal Raymond Burke has told an Australian newspaper that media portrayals of his relationship with Pope Francis…Continue Reading

Chicago cardinal extends invite to Fr. Martin amid cancellations

After a series of speaking appearances were canceled in recent weeks, Jesuit Fr. James Martin received a fresh offer Friday from Cardinal Blase Cupich to address his Chicago archdiocese over two nights during the coming Lenten season. The Windy City…Continue Reading

Pope Francis, Fr. Martin, and Faith without Reason

As anyone who follows things Catholic knows, a “filial correction” of Pope Francis was made public yesterday. The document, initially signed by forty scholars, priests, and bishops, had been delivered privately to the pope in July. No response was forthcoming.…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 invites prisoners to lunch, they break free instead

Bologna, Italy, Oct 17, 2017 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- They were supposed to be having lunch with Pope Francis. During his Oct. 1 trip to Bologna, the Holy Father was scheduled to dine with 20 prisoners from a local drug rehabilitation facility, along with refugees and the poor of the area, during a “Lunch of Solidarity” at San Petronio Basilica. Instead, two of the Italian prisoners shirked their invitation for what they saw as…Continue Reading

A biblical interpretation of Fatima’s Miracle of the Sun

BUCKFAST ABBEY, England, October 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Miracle of the Sun which took place in Fatima, Portugal, exactly one hundred years ago today (on October 13, 1917), was one of the most extraordinary events of the 20th century. An estimated 70,000 people witnessed the Miracle of the Sun, both believers drawn by the Blessed Virgin Mary’s promise to the three shepherd children the previous July that she would perform a miracle in October,…Continue Reading

“Together Around the Table”: German Catholic Initiative Invites Protestants to Communion

Ecumenism has gone wrong one more time in Germany and has escalated into denial of the truth about the Eucharist: in the German Diocese, Stuttgart-Rottenburg, an initiative by a Catholic theologian has invited Protestants to receive Communion on a large scale. “Here on sight, we begin with a hospitable Church by inviting each other openly and cordially to Communion and the Celebration of the Last Supper [Abendmahl]” reads the “Ravensburger Manifesto” signed on October 8.…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: ‘The apostasy of faith in our time rightly and profoundly frightens us’

DEVON, England, October 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The crisis in the world 100 years ago when Our Lady appeared at Fatima continues today and has also infected the life of the Church, Cardinal Raymond Burke said yesterday. Addressing a Fatima conference in England coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the final apparition, Cardinal Burke said the faithful should be realistic about the great evils besetting the world and the Church, but be full of hope…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood sues Missouri for requiring women be informed about abortion risks

October 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are pushing back against a law that tightens abortion regulations in Missouri, filing suit against the state this week to block a requirement that abortionists themselves inform mothers of the medical risks. Planned Parenthood Great Plains, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri are seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction blocking the…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic. . . The Many Assaults On The Rule Of Law

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly] in Crisis. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president…Continue Reading

A Book Review… The Spiritual Riches Of A Heroic Priest

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN With God in America, by Walter J. Ciszek, SJ; editors John M. Dejak and Marc Lindeijer, SJ. (Loyola Press: Chicago 60657, 2016), 253 pp.; $19.95. Available from www.loyolapress.com or call 1-800-621-1008. An anthology of Fr. Walter Ciszek’s unpublished works in the form of writings delivered at retreats, reflections on biblical passages, letters…Continue Reading

On The Importance Of Placing Second

By DONALD DeMARCO The second, to be mathematically precise, is the time required for a cesium-133 atom to complete 9,192,631,770 oscillations. A lot more can happen within a second than most people realize. Science’s notion of exactitude has little in common with the ordinary man’s understanding of life. Fascinating as this fact is, as well…Continue Reading

A Movie Review… What God Has Planned For Us

By REY FLORES God has very interesting ways of bringing people together. The reasons are sometimes a complete mystery, until He reveals His plan to us in His own time. It is then that we realize that many of the hardships and pains that we go through are part of His bringing us closer to…Continue Reading

Our Lady Of Fatima: The September Apparition

By FR. SEAN CONNOLLY (Editor’s Note: This is the eighth in a series of articles on the one hundredth anniversary of our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima. Fr. Connolly is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.) + + + The Mother of God’s appearance to the three shepherd children at Fatima on August 19…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Two Academics Enter the Lists Against The Filial Correction

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK, M.A. The battle is joined and the duel of the academics over the fate of the Filial Correction is heating up. On one side of the ring we have Robert Fastiggi, Ph.D., and Dawn Eden Goldstein, STD. On the other side we have, as of this writing, 235 signatories of the Correction. Many of these…Continue Reading

The Sacred Liturgy . . . The Liturgy Of The Church Militant

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 3 Have you, Wanderer reader, even attended Mass in one of the Eastern Rites of the Church? If you haven’t, look online for a parish of the Byzantine Rite to see how beautiful the worship of God can be among our Eastern Rite brethren. Just make sure it is Catholic, and not Orthodox, because both…Continue Reading

Scriptural Basis Of The Sacrament Of Holy Orders

By DON FIER Part 3 In our previous installment on the scriptural background for the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we examined the circumstances leading to a shift in the Old Testament from a priesthood entrusted to the heads of households and patriarchs to a ministerial priesthood divinely delegated to Aaron and his descendants within the tribe of Levi. Likewise, we…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Writing in a recent parish bulletin about “the current mania for tearing down statues and stifling free speech by cultural ingénues ignorant of history and logic,” Fr. George Rutler of the Church of St. Michael in New York City pointed out that those concerned about some of our Founding Fathers owning slaves ought to be concerned about the…Continue Reading

There Is Only One True God

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Ninth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 45:1, 4-6 1 Thess. 1:1-5b Matt. 22:15-21 In the Gospel reading today, the Pharisees and the Herodians, who would normally be bitter enemies, found a common enemy and teamed up to trap Him. Although they acknowledged that our Lord taught the way of God in accordance with…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Catherine Of Alexandria

By CAROLE BRESLIN The list of saints is long, and includes both men and women from all walks of life and from all disciplines. For some saints, there is a plenitude of documents and accounts of their lives from which we can draw much information. For most of the saints from the early centuries of the Church, however, there is…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Edward The Confessor

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the Middle Ages, England not only endured the raids of the Vikings, but also suffered from the raids initiated by Denmark and Normandy to control the small kingdom across the straights. Battles and intrigues were frequent, leaving little peace until the time of King Edward the Confessor. Even his reign experienced the plots and conspiracies so…Continue Reading