Sunday 2nd August 2015

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

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Promote the common good and give workers a raise, Catholic leaders tell Congress

Washington D.C., Jul 31, 2015 / 05:31 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic leaders are calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage, for the good of low-wage workers and their families. “An economy thrives only when it is centered on the…Continue Reading

Catholic Colleges Must Regain the Art of Temperate Drinking, Says Author

July 30, 2015, at 2:40 PM  |  By Justin Petrisek  | Catholic colleges need to be mindful of the moral and spiritual state of their students, said Dr. Michael Foley, associate professor of patristics at Baylor University, in an interview…Continue Reading

Last Catholic priest at US base in Antarctica leaves post

A Catholic priest who served at the U.S.-operated McMurdo Station in Antarctica was told he will have to leave his post due to declining attendance and budget cuts. Father Dan Doyle, who lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, would spend summers…Continue Reading

Jamestown Excavation Unearths Four Bodies and a Possible Catholic Reliquary

Could a mysterious box unearthed in historic Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in North America, point to a Catholic connection with the foundation of the United States of America? While Spanish and Portuguese exploration, settlement and conquest of…Continue Reading

Catholic officials, others react to Boy Scouts’ decision to allow openly gay leaders

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The top leaders of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting have made an uneasy peace with the Boy Scouts of America’s decision July 27 to allow openly gay troop leaders and employees to serve in their ranks…Continue Reading

The Remnant REALLY? . . . Is This How We Support Fellow Catholics Battling A Cause We Should All Be Behind?

Planned Parenthood Hires PR Firm to Run Damage Control After It’s Exposed Selling Aborted Babies

The Planed Parenthood abortion business is so desperate to put out the public relations fires that have developed in the wake of it being caught numerous times selling the body parts of aborted babies that it has hired a top…Continue Reading

More than Half of Young Catholic Families Are Latino Despite Recent Decline

More than half of young Catholic families (53 percent) identify themselves as Latino or Hispanic compared with 32 percent of all Catholics, according to a recent survey. Could the presence of Hispanic families in the Catholic Church indicate Latino congregational…Continue Reading

New York Catholic churches closing after decades of service

Parishioners in New York are losing their churches as the Catholic Archdiocese carries out an aggressive consolidation plan. The cuts are driven by declining membership, fiscal insolvency of churches, and fewer priests, according to church officials. While there are 2.8…Continue Reading

Kenyan President to Obama: You Will not Impose The ‘Gay Rights’ Agenda In Kenya

We need to speak frankly about these things” says President Kenyatta in response to Obama’s statement that Kenya must share the same values as the United States on sodomite rights issues. Kenyatta, at the press conference this morning in Kenya,…Continue Reading

Nancy Pelosi: Ignore Planned Parenthood Selling Aborted Babies, Investigate Pro-Lifers

nancyp

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has no interest in digging deeper into the revelations that the Planned Parenthood abortion business is selling the body part of aborted babies Instead, she wants the Obama administration to investigate the pro-life activists who…Continue Reading

Carly Fiorina to Planned Parenthood: You Deny Ultrasounds to Show Women Life Within Them, but Use Ultrasounds to Preserve Organs of Their Dead Babies

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 . . .

Canada’s Bishops Urge Faithful to Respond to Government Consultation on Euthanasia

Canada, July 31, 2015 (ZENIT.org) Staff Reporter Canada’s bishops are calling on the faithful to respond to a government consultation on euthanasia. Earlier this month (July 17), the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Peter MacKay, and Minister of Health, Rona Ambrose, announced the establishment of an External Panel of experts who will consult with stakeholders and with all Canadians on options for dealing with the Supreme Court of Canada’s lifting of the prohibition…Continue Reading

US Bishops Respond to Planned Parenthood Videos

Washington, D.C., July 30, 2015 (ZENIT.org) Kathleen Naab The Center for Medical Progress released today its fourth video exposing Planned Parenthood’s use of fetal tissue, with the results of its investigation attracting growing national and international attention. On Wednesday, the chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities released a brief statement about the videos. Cardinal Seán O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, cited Pope Francis’ teaching on abortion and said that the heart of the…Continue Reading

BREAKING: Court blocks pro-life group from releasing some new fetal part footage

July 29, 15 (LifeSiteNews) – The California Superior Court has issued a narrow temporary restraining order preventing the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), a pro-life group, from releasing further undercover video footage taken of three top-level staff of StemExpress. CMP is the organization behind the series of three videos released over the past three weeks exposing the alleged harvesting and sale of body parts from aborted babies by Planned Parenthood – body parts that are…Continue Reading

4th video shows Planned Parenthood director negotiating fetal body parts

July 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Workers in a lab are seen sorting through body parts on a dish: a heart, stomach, kidney, and legs. And then a medical assistant suddenly announces: “It’s another boy!” This is just a little of the macabre and heart-wrenching footage in the newest undercover video showing alleged harvesting and sale of body parts from aborted babies by Planned Parenthood, released Thursday morning. The newest video also shows a Planned Parenthood…Continue Reading

Hillary Lies Again

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO In a column I wrote in early July, based on research by my colleagues and my own analysis of government documents and eyewitness statements, I argued that in 2011 and 2012 then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waged a secret war on the governments of Libya and Syria, with the approval of…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . An Excellent Guide To Answering Anti-Catholic Attacks

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Five Anti-Catholic Myths: Slavery, Crusades, Inquisition, Galileo, Holocaust by Gerard M. Verschuuren (Angelico Press: 2015; 181 pages, $16.95 print edition). Available at http://angelicopress.com/. In this book the author sets out to investigate just how it has come about that anti-Catholic myths about particular topics have managed to become so deeply embedded…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Homosexuality And The Church Crisis”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For electronic copies of previous articles on homosexual “marriage,” the special rights agenda and the role of homosexuality in the Church crisis, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + “Facts are stubborn things,…Continue Reading

Defend The Little Sisters Of The Poor — And American Liberty

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate distributes his column. All rights reserved.) + + + No group in the United States today is making a stronger stand for liberty than the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic nuns dedicated to running nursing…Continue Reading

Aggressive Obama, Passive National GOP . . . Is Third-Party Option Starting To Look Better?

By DEXTER DUGGAN House Speaker John Boehner said the recently released sting video of a national Planned Parenthood official at lunch, munching away and chatting about how to “crush” unborn babies to harvest their organs for money, was “disgusting.” Republican Boehner finally seemed to have found his voice in a Washington where he usually blends…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Four Marks Of The Church — Catholicity

By DON FIER Part 4 “The Church is catholic,” proclaims the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), firmly and without hesitation. “She proclaims the fullness of the faith. She bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation. She is sent out to all peoples. She speaks to all men. She encompasses all times” (n. 868). Moreover,…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: In the wake of the latest Planned Parenthood scandal involving selling the body parts of aborted babies (see LifeNews.com to view the videos of interviews with Planned Parenthood officials), this is an opportune time to contact not only your legislators about ending taxpayer funding of this conglomerate that kills more than 330,000 babies a year, but also to…Continue Reading

Our Journey Through The Desert

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Nineteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: 1 Kings 19:4-8 Eph. 4:30-5:2 John 6:41-51 In the second reading today St. Paul instructs us to do nothing that will grieve the Holy Spirit. In his brief list of offenses that would grieve the Holy Spirit, St. Paul includes bitterness, fury, anger, reviling, shouting, and all malice.…Continue Reading

Obergefell V. Hodges . . . “To Sin By Silence . . . Makes Cowards Of Men”

By FR. PETER MITCHELL (Editor’s Note: Fr. Peter Mitchell is the pastor of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Greenville, Wis. He gave this homily on the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time, June 28 — two days after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.) + + + “To sin by silence when they…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . Like Love, Assent To Faith Is A Matter Of The Will

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Reaction to my column last week titled “Where Is There Room to Disagree With Jesus? In Hell!” included the following note from a Facebook follower. Kim wrote, “Perhaps the question posed to you was not worded correctly. How about this onea. . . . Is there a line where Catholic teachings are not something Catholics…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Martha

By CAROLE BRESLIN A popular pilgrimage among the Catholics of southern France takes visitors to the Grotte de la Sainte-Baume, located in the hills of Provence about 20 miles east of the port of Marseilles. To reach this holy site, the driver must cover miles of winding, ascending roads to the foot of the mountain. Then the pilgrim ascends a…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Bridget

By CAROLE BRESLIN One of St. Teresa of Calcutta’s most quoted sayings would fit with this column’s saint, “God hasn’t called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful.” What encouraging words for anyone seeking to do God’s will, knowing that the cross, the setbacks, and the obstacles are all part of working for the Kingdom of…Continue Reading