Tuesday 28th April 2015

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

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 . . .

Cardinal Burke criticizes German cardinal’s ‘ridiculous’ claim that German Church is not a ‘subsidiary of Rome’

ROME, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In an interview today with the prominent German newspaper, Die Welt, Cardinal Raymond Burke criticized Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who suggested German Catholic dioceses are not a “subsidiary of Rome” on the question of Communion…Continue Reading

Scandalous Commencement Honors Announced at Eight Catholic Colleges

At least eight Catholic colleges have announced scandalous speakers or honorees at their 2015 commencement ceremonies, according to The Cardinal Newman Society’s annual review of college graduations. Many colleges wait to release the names of their honorees and speakers, so…Continue Reading

Charlotte’s Catholic bishop bans PFLAG event with LGBT-affirming nun from Uptown church

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An upcoming speaking engagement with an LGBT-affirming Catholic nun will have to be relocated after news Monday that she and the event have been banned from an Uptown church by Bishop Peter Jugis of the Roman Catholic Diocese…Continue Reading

Pope Francis accepts resignation of Bishop Robert W. Finn

Vatican City, Apr 21, 2015 / 04:47 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph has resigned, nearly two and a half years after being the first U.S. bishop convicted of a misdemeanor in failing to report…Continue Reading

The IRS Assures an Atheist Group It Will Monitor Churches

It was bad enough, as I wrote here last August, that the Internal Revenue Service appeared to reach an agreement to monitor the pulpits of ill-favored churches. What’s worse is that the IRS, directly counter to Freedom of Information Act…Continue Reading

ISIL video purports to show killing of Ethiopian Christians

A video purporting to show the killing of Ethiopian Christians by Islamic State-affiliated militants in Libya has been released online. The 29-minute video appears to show militants holding two groups of captives, one by an affiliate in eastern Libya known…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke Responds to Recent Criticisms

In an Italian-language interview, the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta said, ‘I am not against the Pope; I have never spoken out against the Pope. … My purpose is to serve the truth.’ Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke,…Continue Reading

‘Prominent’ Catholics attacking Archbishop Cordileone are big donors to Pelosi and pro-abort Democra

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, April 17, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Big donors to the Democrat Party and pro-abortion Nancy Pelosi are among those publicly harassing San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone for protecting Catholic identity in the area’s Catholic high schools. A big-ticket…Continue Reading

American Sisters accept Vatican reforms on doctrine, theology

Vatican City, Apr 16, 2015 / 04:15 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a joint report marking the conclusion of a multi-year mandate for reform, members of the LCWR have agreed to corrections called for by the Vatican, and said they will…Continue Reading

Cardinal George, archbishop emeritus of Chicago, dies at 78

DEVELOPING: Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago from 1997 to 2014, died Friday at the age of 78 after a long battle with cancer, the Archdiocese of Chicago has confirmed.

We Must Pray For And Defend This Good Bishop

bishopcord

I call on all the readers here to pray and offer fasting and alms for the spiritual defense of Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco. Will San Francisco be the Alamo of the Church in these USA? Today, in the ultra-liberal…Continue Reading

Prominent Catholics call on pope to oust S.F. archbishop

In an unprecedented move, more than 100 prominent Roman Catholic donors and church members signed a full-page ad running Thursday in The Chronicle that calls on Pope Francis to replace San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone for fostering “an atmosphere of…Continue Reading

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 subscribe 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 names new Archbishop for Santa Fe

(Vatican Radio) The Holy Father has named Bishop John C. Wester as the new Archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Bishop Wester has been serving as Bishop of Salt Lake City, Utah. At the same time, the Holy Father has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Michael Sheehan from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, in conformity with canon 401, paragraph 1 of the Code of Canon Law. Biography of Archbishop-elect John…Continue Reading

Pope ordains priests for diocese of Rome

pope763

Vatican Radio) On Sunday, Pope Francis presided over the ordinations of priests for the diocese of Rome in Saint Peter’s Basilica, reminding them they are ministers of unity in the Church. Most of the 19 men ordained 26 April were part of Roman seminaries, including the Pontifical Roman Seminary, the Redemptoris Mater diocesan college, and the Madonna del Divino Amore seminary. In off-the-cuff remarks during his homily for morning Mass, Pope Francis had advice for…Continue Reading

Massive Earthquake Strikes Nepal

POPE762

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is praying for the victims of a major earthquake in Nepal. The major earthquake, which  measured 7.9 on the Richter Scale, shook Nepal just before noon on Saturday, causing major damage to the densely-populated Kathmandu Valley. Officials fear hundreds of people have died. The quake’s epicenter was 80 km northwest of the country’s capital, Kathmandu. The quake toppled a 100-year -old temple, split roads, and razed houses and buildings. Among the…Continue Reading

Pope is a modern-day St George fighting the forces of evil

pope761

(Vatican Radio) Monsignor Guillermo Karcher is an Argentinian priest and pontifical usher and has known the Pope for over 20 years. It was he who held Pope Francis’ microphone when he addressed his first words to the world from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica following his election. In an interview with Vatican Radio marking the Pope’s name-day of Jorge or George, Monsignor Karcher described the Pope as a modern- day St. George because “he…Continue Reading

A San Francisco Priest Who Defied Tyrants

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.) + + + Every San Franciscan — and every friend of freedom — should learn about Eugene Fahy, a native of Northern California who took a stand against tyrants and never…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Lucia And The True Message Of Fatima

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary: Biography of Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart O.C.D., by Carmel of St. Teresa, Coimbra, Portugal (World Apostolate of Fatima, USA, 440 pages, $19.95 — available from publishers: www.bluearmy.com at http://giftshop.wafusa.org/). A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary, which runs to…Continue Reading

Church Leaders . . . Pour Out Prayers, Mourning For Cardinal George

CHICAGO (CNA/EWTN News) — The death of Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, OMI, on April 17 was met with an outpouring of prayer, as well as gratitude for the life and service of the prominent Church leader. Archbishop Blase Cupich, who now heads the Chicago Archdiocese, remembered his “beloved” predecessor in a press conference shortly…Continue Reading

Obama’s Republican Collaborators

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN The GOP swept to victory in November by declaring that this imperial presidency must be brought to heel, and President Obama’s illicit seizures of congressional power must end. That was then. Now is now. At this writing, Congress takes up legislation to cede His Majesty full authority to negotiate the largest…Continue Reading

Natural Selection And The Natural Law

By DONALD DeMARCO These two expressions — Natural Selection and Natural Law — sound very much alike. Yet their implications are radically different. In fact, they differ to the degree that matter differs from spirit. Charles Darwin’s major opus, The Origin of the Species, is immensely influential. Despite its influence, few have read or properly…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A New Lepanto: “Prayer Will Deliver Us”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “Terrors, terrors on every side.” The Passion of Christ which we just celebrated in the most intense way during Holy Week is followed closely in the Triduum by the Lord’s total victory over sin and death in His glorious Resurrection. Although His triumph is already completed in Himself, His suffering continues to be worked out…Continue Reading

Did Jesus Christ Found A Church? If He Did, How Can She Be Identified?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 3 The Church is indefectible because of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of the Church’s indefectibility: He promised the apostles that He would send the Holy Spirit to them — the Paraclete, the Advocate, the Counselor — to bear witness to Him, Jesus; to remind them…Continue Reading

Origin, Foundation, And Mission

By DON FIER Part 2 The beginning of the Church in the mind of God can be traced back to the creation of the world. As taught by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), “God created the world for the sake of communion with his divine life” (n. 760). Christoph Cardinal Schönborn states the same notion with different words:…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I would be interested in your analysis of the enclosed article that was in my parish’s Sunday bulletin. — F.W.R., Florida. A. Here is the text of what appeared in the bulletin: “Addition to homilies/reflections on the daily Scripture readings at daily Mass. It is permissible, according to the Roman Catholic liturgy regulations, that any competent lay person may…Continue Reading

Our Hearts Will Be At Peace

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fifth Sunday Of Easter (YR B) Readings: Acts 9:26-31 1 John 3:18-24 John 15:1-8 In the second reading, St. John says that if our hearts do not condemn us, then we have confidence in God and we will receive from Him whatever we ask. We live in a relativistic society where very little is seen as…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Isidore Of Spain

By CAROLE BRESLIN Saints come from all walks of life. There are scholars and illiterate, rich and poor, men and women, religious and laity, kings and peasants. There are those who are more active in their faith and those who are more contemplative. Despite the widely varying backgrounds of the saints, they all have several things in common. First of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anselm

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Anselm was born in France near the Swiss Alps around 1033. At the age of 15, he wished to enter religious life by joining a monastery. Sadly, his influential father was so against it that the monastery refused to accept him. This so discouraged the youth that he drowned his sorrows in worldly pursuits. He deeply…Continue Reading