Wednesday 25th May 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.

34% of “Pro-Choice” Women Who See This Viral Video Turn Against Abortion

A new four-minute viral video is causing over a third — 34 percent — of “pro-choice” women surveyed to view abortion “less favorably.” And 28 percent of pro-choice women who watched the video stated there should be more restrictions on…Continue Reading

‘Biblically wrong’: Oklahoma lawmakers urge Obama’s impeachment over transgender bathrooms

Lawmakers in Oklahoma have introduced legislation calling for President Barack Obama to be impeached because of his administration’s support for transgender bathrooms. Another bill calls for a declaration of emergency in the state. In a measure called Senate Concurrent Resolution…Continue Reading

Oklahoma legislature passes bill making it a felony to perform abortions

Lawmakers in Oklahoma approved a bill Thursday that would make performing abortions a felony and revoke the medical licenses of most physicians who assist in such procedures. This sweeping measure, which opponents described as unconstitutional and unprecedented, now heads to…Continue Reading

Unanimous Win for Little Sisters of the Poor at Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the government cannot fine the Little Sisters of the Poor.  The Supreme Court vacated the lower court rulings against the Little Sisters, accepting the government’s admission that it could meet…Continue Reading

Conservatives outraged over Obama transgender directive to public schools

The Obama administration’s directive Friday that every public school provide transgender access — or face the loss of federal funds — drew swift and strong condemnation from conservatives, with one public official blasting it as presidential “blackmail.” The administration’s directive…Continue Reading

Pro-Life Leaders Decry Scandals, Urge Catholic Colleges to Reject Culture of Death

Concerned by recent high-profile events at Catholic colleges featuring pro-abortion leaders — including Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, Bill Clinton, Wendy Davis and Vice President Joe Biden — 31 Catholic and pro-life leaders joined a statement urging Catholic colleges to “stand firm…Continue Reading

ACLU launches campaign to strip Catholic hospitals of federal funds

NEW YORK, May 9, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Catholic hospitals across the U.S. are “withholding emergency care” and denying “essential health services,” the ACLU is alleging in a new campaign. They also inflict harm on “transgender and gender-non-conforming patients” “when seeking…Continue Reading

Harvard Law Professor Says Pro-Life Christians Should be Treated Like Nazis

Every day, it seems, the United States is becoming a more hostile environment for people with pro-life and conservative positions. Abortion activists constantly challenge pro-life laws, stall abortion industry investigations, force religious objectors to pay for abortions and attack life-affirming…Continue Reading

Obama plans new push for transgender rights in schools

The divisive and politically combustible issue of bathroom access for transgender individuals is about to become further inflamed, as the Obama administration is expected in coming weeks to aggressively reinforce its position that transgender student rights are fully protected under…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: Notre Dame is Wrong

Notre Dame’s Great Scandal: Honoring Vice President Biden By Thomas McKenna, President of Catholic Action for Faith and Family: The University of Notre Dame has announced that they intend to confer the Laetare Medal, an honor given to Catholics “in…Continue Reading

DoJ to North Carolina: You Have Until Monday to Reverse Bathroom Bill

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory received a letter from the Department of Justice that gives him until Monday to reverse his state’s controversial bathroom bill, reports The Hill. The DoJ said the law is in violation of the federal Civil…Continue Reading

Lavender Graduations Harmful to Students at Catholic Colleges

At least eight Catholic colleges across the country are hosting “lavender graduations” this spring — many of them as part of an annual campus tradition — to celebrate and honor students with same-sex attraction (SSA) or who identify as lesbian,…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 . . .

Commentary

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .      

Today . . .

Catholic College Presidents Hopeful for Resolution in HHS Mandate Challenge

The presidents of two Catholic colleges involved in the U.S.Supreme Court challenges to the HHS mandate applauded the Court’s recent decision to vacate all lower court rulings and expressed their hope that a positive resolution for religious freedom would soon be reached. “I am pleased that Supreme Court has offered us a way forward which doesn’t require us to participate in the provision of the services which – See more at: http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/CatholicEducationDaily/DetailsPage/tabid/102/ArticleID/4914/Catholic-College-Presidents-Hopeful-for-Resolution-in-HHS-Mandate-Challenge.aspx#sthash.MOQCZdCV.dpuf

Pope Francis: Christians live God’s love with joy, astonishment

(Vatican Radio) No Christian can exist without joy: that’s what Pope Francis said in his Homily at Mass Monday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta guesthouse. The Pope stressed that even through life’s difficulties, the Christian knows he can trust in Jesus and find hope. The Pope also reminded the faithful they should not allow riches to dominate their lives because they ultimately lead to sadness. Christians live in joy and amazement because…Continue Reading

Pope Angelus: The Holy Trinity, where there is love there is God

(Vatican Radio) “The feast of the Holy Trinity invites us to engage in the daily events to be the leaven of communion, of consolation and of mercy.” Those were Pope Francis’ words during his Angelus address on a sunny Trinity Sunday from his studio above St Peter’s Square. Drawing inspiration from the Gospel of St. John, the Pope said that Jesus knew how to be close to the realization of the Father’s plan, which will…Continue Reading

Pope emeritus: Third Secret of Fatima was released in full

popeben

(Vatican Radio) Pope emeritus Benedict XVI has said he never told anyone the publication of the “Third Secret of Fatima” in the year 2000 was incomplete, and confirmed the document was published in its totality. A Communiqué was published Saturday by the Holy See Press Office on various articles regarding the “Third Secret of Fatima.” “ Several articles have appeared recently, including declarations attributed to Professor Ingo Dollinger according to which Cardinal Ratzinger, after the…Continue Reading

Pope: Understanding for sinners, no negotiating the truth

(Vatican Radio) Announcing the word of God should never be dissociated from the understanding of human weakness. That was Pope Francis’ message during the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. Commenting on the Gospel passage in which Christ speaks with the Pharisees about adultery, he said the Lord overcomes the human vision which would reduce the vision of God to a casuistic equation. The Gospel, the Pope said, is full of examples of the…Continue Reading

Cicero In An Election Year

By JUDE P. DOUGHERTY In the midst of the turmoil that characterized the mid-decades of the last century, the English jurist Sir Patrick Devlin wrote, “If a society’s laws are based on a particular worldview and that worldview collapses, the laws themselves will crumble.” His 1965 book, The Enforcement of Morals, is still worth reading…Continue Reading

Eastern Orthodoxy And The Particular Judgment

By JAMES LIKOUDIS In previous articles (The Wanderer, July 3, 2014; June 25, 2015), it was observed that: “Perhaps to the surprise of some Catholic ecumenists, Catholic doctrine regarding the Particular Judgment remains obscure, confused, or even denied among the Eastern Orthodox. They have no clear official teaching that the just go to Heaven immediately…Continue Reading

Obama To Visit The Land Of State-Owned Enterprises

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate provided this column. All rights reserved.) + + + President Barack Obama will visit Vietnam, which his own State Department last month certified is still controlled — four decades after the fall of Saigon — by the Communist Party.…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Why Should Pro-Lifers Be Concerned About Dissent?”

By BRIAN CLOWES (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

Sharpening The Mind With Words

By DONALD DeMARCO My biology teacher of many moons ago took perverse delight in terrorizing his students while they were taking an exam. “Plagiarism,” he would bellow, “is arousing the suspicion of the proctor.” He enjoyed the sound of his own voice and repeated this warning many times. He intended it to be more intimidating…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Cardinal Mueller Reminds The Church Of Her Marriage Doctrine

By MAIKE HICKSON Part 2 (Editor’s Note: We are publishing this commentary from Gerhard Cardinal Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as reported by Maike Hickson, in two parts. The first part appeared in last week’s issue. (OnePeterFive graciously gave The Wanderer reprint permission for this article. All rights reserved. See: www.onepeterfive.com/cardinal-muller-reminds-church-marriage-doctrine/. (Dr. Hickson, born…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Spiritual Exercises

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The way the human body physically works can teach us something about virtue and the way God’s grace works spiritually for each of us: We must use it to grow it. As I reminded our Life Teens and their families at Mass recently, if they slack off on physical exercise during the summer, come fall…Continue Reading

The Marvel Of The Catholic Church . . . One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 1 After investigating the Inquisition, now we take a good look at the greatest marvel on this side of eternity: the Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ, the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. To rule a country is not an easy job. That is why no head of state these days can…Continue Reading

The Seven Sacraments — Categories And Effects

By DON FIER Each of the seven sacraments, according to the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church, was personally instituted by Christ during His visible stay on Earth. As we saw last week, the details of institution for some — even the precise words for administration — are taken directly from Scripture. However, as Christoph Cardinal Schönborn states in Living…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. What is the official standing of Fr. Nicholas Gruner, who believed that the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary had not been done properly? He was known as “the Fatima priest,” but I always thought that title belonged to Fr. Robert Fox. — M.S., Kentucky. A. Fr. Gruner died at the age of 72 on April…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Augustine Of Canterbury

By CAROLE BRESLIN A Celtic cross erected in 1884 marks the spot in Ebbsfleet, Thanet, East Kent, where St. Augustine of Canterbury is said to have landed in 597. While some form of Christianity in England may be traced back to the times of the Roman occupation, it did not become a strong presence until the arrival of St. Augustine,…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Crispin Of Viterbo

By CAROLE BRESLIN In March 1986, Pope John Paul II visited the Basilica of Our Lady of the Vine (Oak) located in Tuscany, Italy, to proclaim our Lady patroness of the Diocese of Viterbo. The tradition of visiting the image of Our Lady of the Oak began 600 years ago in 1417 when Mastro Baptist Magnano Iuzzante commissioned an image…Continue Reading

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