Sunday 7th February 2016

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Priestly Celibacy: Unnatural? Or…Supernatural? The Levitical Priesthood

July 5, 2014 Frontpage No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 2

The second type of priesthood in the Old Testament was the Levitical priesthood. It was established by God on Mount Sinai — whereto Moses took the people to offer sacrifice to God. There is one aspect of the Levitical priesthood that is often overlooked by those who read the Bible through anti-celibacy eyes: God our Lord imposed three conditions for the people to receive the priesthood, to become a priestly kingdom, a holy nation (Exodus 19:3-6).
They were to a) be sanctified, symbolized by the washing of their garments (verse 10); b) keep themselves away from the holy mountain, and not even touch it, under penalty of death — it was God’s sanctuary, and, as they were not yet priests, they could not approach the sanctuary (v. 12); c) not touch their wives for three days (v. 15). There we have marital continence, as a condition to receive the priesthood. They were to remain “celibate” as it were, away from their wives, for three days: Then they would receive the priesthood.
What happened? Well, we know the story. They not only did not do as God had commanded, but fell into spiritual adultery — idolatry — with the famous golden calf, a pagan god of Egypt, and became involved in the practices of the Egyptians, which involved singing, dances, and most likely orgies, as it is euphemistically suggested by the fact that the people were naked (verse 25).
Moses was angry with them, and said, “If any man be on the Lord’s side, let him join with me” (the Lord’s side is chaste, continent). “And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.”
The Levites, by Moses’ order, killed 23,000 idol-worshipers and, as a reward, Moses said to them, “You have consecrated your hands this day to the Lord.” Since then, only the family of Aaron received the priesthood in perpetual ordinance (Exodus 29:9).
This is a very important point: All the males of the other eleven tribes were forever excluded from the priesthood. They did not fulfill the conditions to become priests (washing of garments, keep away from the mountain-sanctuary and not to touch their wives). They had a chance to redeem themselves by answering to Moses’ call, but since only the Levites responded, every man of all the other tribes missed out on a unique privilege: to be a priest of the most high God. Amazing how God takes very seriously our lack of seriousness!
Levi and his sons were consecrated priests in a way that seems to prefigure aspects of the Catholic Ordination. It included having them dressed in a special vestment and a girdle. Then an anointing with oil would follow, then a consecration of their hands, and they would be priests to God by a perpetual ordinance (Exodus 29:4-10).
The point I am making here is that God asked only three things from the men who were going to be consecrated to the priesthood, and one of those things was precisely marital continence — here we have a third hint of the future counsel of perfection to celibacy in the Church of the New Testament.
The fourth hint of celibacy happened during young David’s flight from his tempestuous father-in-law. Old King Saul had something against David, and decided to send him to the other world. Saul’s son and good friend of David, Jonathan, warned the potential victim of the danger and encouraged him to flee (1 Kings 21 or Samuel 21).
David and his party of friends left for Nobe and met Abimalech the priest, and asked him for food. Unfortunately, they had no “common bread” but only the “holy bread,” the breads of the proposition, which could only be eaten by the priests. Abimalech established a condition for David and his friends to eat the holy bread: to have been continent, or more precisely, “clean, especially from women” (verse 4). David replied in the affirmative and specified that he and his friends had been continent for three days. Then, “the priest gave him hallowed bread” (verse 6).
Isn’t that interesting? To eat the “holy bread,” which was but a symbol of the Eucharist to come, they had to have been continent from their wives. Since the priest ate of the hallowed bread, he also had to be continent. There we have a fourth hint in the Old Testament that God our Lord was pleased to have continent priests when they ate the “holy bread,” prefigure of the Eucharist.
A fifth hint in the Old Testament in favor of marital continence is in the Book of Tobias. The Archangel Raphael asked young Tobias to remain continent with his newlywed wife for three days prior to consummating their marriage. And his explanation was remarkable indeed (Tobias 6:16-22):
“Then the angel Raphael said to him: Hear me, and I will show you who they are, over whom the devil can prevail. For they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the devil has power….And when the third night is past, you shall take the virgin with the fear of the Lord, moved rather for love of children than for lust, that in the seed of Abraham you may obtain a blessing in children. . . .
“Then Tobias exhorted the virgin, and said to her: Sara, arise, and let us pray to God today, and tomorrow, and the next day: because for these three nights we are joined to God: and when the third night is over, we will be in our own wedlock. We are the children of saints and must not be joined together like heathens that know not God” (8:4-5).
My point here is that since God our Lord is pleased with continence, even among the married, how much more wouldn’t He be pleased to see continence among his priests, who minister in His sanctuary? It’s just another hint.
And by the way, I would strongly recommend couples to be married to read the Book of Tobias. It will be very helpful to them to orient their married life. In other articles, we’ll see how St. Paul goes much further into the issue of counseling celibacy.
The prophet Jeremiah spoke of a “New Covenant” between God and His people, “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers.” This New Covenant would not only supersede the first one, but also perfect it. Instead of animal bloody sacrifices, there would be a clean oblation, of which Malachi prophesied in his book. Malachi also says that in that New Covenant, those who offer the clean oblation (the priests) are called to be “the angel of the Lord of hosts.”
It is interesting to remember that Jesus compared the resurrected to be like the angels of God in Heaven, who “neither marry nor be married” (Matt. 22:29-30).
A holy calling indeed, as St. Paul refers to the priesthood as God’s holy calling in his Second Letter to Timothy: “I admonish you that you stir up the grace of God which is in you, by the imposition of my hands….Be not ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but labor with the gospel, according to the power of God, who has delivered us and called us by His holy calling” (2 Tim. 1:5-9).
Next article: Celibacy in the New Testament.

+    +    +

(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

Comment on this Article:

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading

‘Justice has been served’ – Bishop Conley on why he invited Bishop Finn to Lincoln

Lincoln, Neb., Feb 5, 2016 / 11:29 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln defended his decision to allow Bishop Robert Finn, former bishop of Kansas City, Mo., to take a position as chaplain of a community of…Continue Reading

Marco Rubio, David Daleiden; Chi-Town priest ‘outs’ himself

The young investigative journalist and pro-life activist David Daleiden – whom GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio recently defended – will present himself before Judge Brock Thomas in Houston on February 4. Peter Breen, special counsel for the Thomas More Society,…Continue Reading

Catholic Italy mobilises as conservatives mount last stand against same-sex unions

It has been 2,000 years since Romans gathered at the Circus Maximus to watch chariots roar around the racetrack, but a new battle was brought to the ancient site on Saturday . Clutching banners reading “We defend our children” and…Continue Reading

New documents prove Planned Parenthood profited from selling aborted body parts: pro-life group

HOUSTON, January 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A pro-life organization has released documents that may show Planned Parenthood illegally profited from the sale of aborted babies’ body parts, furthering a Texas state investigation and possibly triggering a new grand jury in…Continue Reading

TRUMP’S SPOKESWOMAN MUST APOLOGIZE

Bill Donohue comments on a remark made by Donald Trump’s national spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson: On December 18, 2011, Katrina Pierson sent the following tweet: “Just saw a commercial from Catholic Church stating that Catholic Church

Faithful Catholic Education Offers Understanding of True Freedom, Says Archbishop Lucas

Catholic education prepares students to live a life of faith, but also offers students a true understanding of God-given freedom in an environment in which they can grow in virtue, said Archbishop George Lucas of the Archdiocese of Omaha, Neb.,…Continue Reading

NFL star who refused to meet Obama over abortion gives powerful talk at March for Life

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 22, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – All the speakers at the 2016 March for Life play a pivotal role – but only one was regularly called an MVP. Matt Birk, the former center for the Minnesota Vikings and the…Continue Reading

2016 March for Life heats up blizzard-stricken Washington (PHOTOS)

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 22, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The blizzard snows are falling on the nation’s capital, layering the city in a blanket of frost that could be two to three feet thick by tomorrow morning. But for awhile this afternoon,…Continue Reading

SPECIAL REPORT: Planned Parenthood Offices Located Near Half of Catholic Colleges, Alarming Pro-Life Leaders

Half of all four-year, residential Catholic colleges in the U.S. are within five miles of Planned Parenthood facilities, a study by The Cardinal Newman Society has found. Catholic pro-life leaders warn that the close proximity of these Planned Parenthood centers…Continue Reading

81 percent of Americans support dramatically stronger pro-life reforms: Poll

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – An overwhelmingly majority – including two-thirds of self-described “pro-choice” Americans – would support greatly strengthening laws that protect the unborn, according to a new poll released this morning. In all, 81 percent of…Continue Reading

New initiative aims to make Catholic men ‘watchmen’

For years, Chad Crow has attended the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ annual conference for men. And the father of four, who is a parishioner at Transfiguration in Oakdale, said that he and other men who attend the conference…Continue Reading

Vatican Parishes Are Now Welcoming Refugees

Diocese of Rome Responds to Holy Father’s September Invitation for Parishes to Host a Family of Refugees January 15, 2016  By ZENIT Staff Responding to Pope Francis’ appeal this September, Vatican parishes have begun welcoming refugee families. In his Sept.…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

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope’s Angelus reflection: Trust in the word of the Lord

(Vatican Radio) Do not be afraid but trust in the word of the Lord: that was Pope Francis message to the crowds gathered in a windswept St Peter’s Square on Sunday for the recitation of the Angelus prayer. The Pope based his reflections on the Gospel reading which tells the story of Jesus calling his first disciples by Lake Galilee. After fishing all night without a catch, they are washing their nets when Jesus gets…Continue Reading

Christie and Bush attack Cruz, Rubio for being too pro-life

Fr. Mark Hodges WASHINGTON, D.C., February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-lifers across the nation are scratching their heads and saying, “With friends like Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, who needs enemies?” Their frustration comes from both Christie and Bush attacking other presidential candidates as unelectable because they are pro-life without compromise. This morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie attacked Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio for not favoring aborting children conceived in…Continue Reading

INTERVIEW: Padre Pio In Rome: Saints as Living Icons of Divine Mercy

Stefano Campanella, Director of Padre Pio TV and Author of Publications on the Friar of Pietrelcina, Reflects on Significance of the Historic Transfer •February 4, 2016•Osvaldo Rinaldi• Stefano Campanella, born in 1964 in Putignano, Italy, lives with his family at San Giovanni Rotondo. He has been a parliamentary journalist and Vatican expert. Currently, he serves as director of Padre Pio TV and heads the press office of the religious province of Sant’Angelo and Padre Pio…Continue Reading

Pope: The Faith is the greatest inheritance we can leave

(Vatican Radio) The most beautiful inheritance we can leave to others is the Faith: that was Pope Francis’ message during Holy Mass on Thursday morning at the Casa Santa Marta. In his homily, he invited us to not fear death, because the course of life continues. Thinking about death illuminates life The day’s first reading tells the story of the death of King David. “In every life there is an ending,” the Pope said. This…Continue Reading

The Pope: consecrated life must be close to the people

pope301

Vatican City, 2 February 2016 (VIS) – The following are extensive extracts of the Holy Father’s extemporaneous address to the participants in the Jubilee of Consecrated Life, which took place yesterday in the Paul VI Hall. This afternoon in St. Peter’s Basilica he will celebrate the Mass to conclude the Year of Consecrated Life. “I have prepared a text for this occasion regarding the themes of consecrated life and three of its most important pillars:…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “How Dissenters Attack The ‘Holiness’ Of The Church”

By BRIAN CLOWES Conclusion (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of the book Call to Action or Call to Apostasy, consisting of a detailed description of the current forms of dissent and how to fight them, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.)…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . The New Literalism And Fundamentalism

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

Sources, Methods, And Lives

By JUDGE ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO This has not been a good week for Hillary Clinton. She prevailed over Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses by less than four tenths of one percent of all votes cast, after having led him in polls in Iowa at one time by 40 percentage points. In…Continue Reading

Is A New Era Upon Us?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Whoever wins the nominations, the most successful campaigns of 2016 provide us with a clear picture of where the center of gravity is today in both parties and, hence, where America is going. Bernie Sanders, with his mammoth crowds and mass support among the young, represents, as did George McGovern in…Continue Reading

Fire From Ice

By DONALD DeMARCO One of the most improbable ways of getting a fire started is by using ice. That’s right, using ice. No survivor’s manual would be complete without describing how this can be accomplished. First, one finds some clear ice and then shapes it into a disk that can be used as a lens.…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

An Apologetics Course . . . Hostility Against The Church

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 40 Fourth objection: Why do so many people have hostility to the Catholic Church? Reply: Why was Jesus the object of hostility from so many people? In simple terms, the Pharisees may have refused Him as they could not accept His doctrine and felt threatened by His power to perform miracles. The Sadducees may…Continue Reading

Life Everlasting — The Particular Judgment

By DON FIER In concluding our examination of the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on article 11 of the Creed, we saw that in order “to rise with Christ, we must die with Christ” (CCC, n. 1005). Death, with all the mystery which surrounds this common fate of all mankind, is the gateway to everlasting life.…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I know that in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we are supposed to practice more fervently the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. Most of these are fairly easy to understand, but I wonder about the one that says we are to “admonish the sinner.” How can one do that without judging another person, which we’re not supposed to…Continue Reading

One Truth, One Lord, One God

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER First Sunday Of Lent (YR C) Readings: Deut. 26:4-10 Romans 10:8-13 Luke 4:1-13 In the Gospel reading today we hear about Satan tempting our Lord. In the third temptation the Devil offers all of the kingdoms of the Earth to Jesus if He would just bow down and worship the tempter. In response, our Lord quotes…Continue Reading

Pope’s Address To Roman Rota… Proclaim The Truth Of God’s Plan For Marriage

VATICAN CITY (ZENIT) — Below is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ January 22 address to the tribunal of the Roman Rota in the Vatican. In his talk, the Holy Father affirmed: “The Church, in fact, can show the indefectible merciful love of God to families, in particular those wounded by sin and by the trials of life and, at…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Boleslava Maria Lament

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Catholic Church observes the Church Unity Octave from January 18 through January 25. For each day of the octave, we pray for a different form of unity. For example, on January 18, the intention is for the return of separated Eastern Christians to communion with the Holy See. Another day the intention is for the restoration…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Vincent Pallotti

By CAROLE BRESLIN Throughout the history of the Church, beginning with Christ Himself, disenfranchised youth have found a friend in the followers of the Lord. St. John Bosco and St. Philip Neri come to mind. There is another saint who also helped both young men and young women, St. Vincent Pallotti, a man born and raised in Rome during the…Continue Reading