Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Prophetic Priesthood and Celibacy

I read a great piece on why priests are male and celibate. I'll be honest, the article did a better job of explaining celibacy than it did for why women can't be priests. The author's main argument for that was the natural differences and how males and females complement each other. There are many more reasons than that and I was hoping he was going to go into them. Oh well.

The article, written by Fr. Damian J Ference, can be found on the Word On Fire blog here.

Back to the celibacy issues...here is the paragraph that really struck me:

Celibacy stands boldly in the face of a fallen world as a powerful witness that there is more to life than sexual pleasure, and that there is more to sex than just pleasure. A healthy celibate priest (or religious or layperson) becomes a prophetic sign that points to a much deeper and more satisfying reality than can be contained in the material world. In the spirit of St. Augustine, the healthy celibate reminds us that our hearts are restless until they rest in God, no matter how much sex we may have to try and fill them up.
I'll be honest, I haven't thought of that before. I've never had an issue with the celibacy of priests, I think it's a beautiful thing. When discussing the issue with others, my main argument for celibacy is that they are married to the Church. They enter into a sacrificial role, giving of their lives to serve the Church and to give greater glory to God.

Priests live radical lifestyles. They have chosen, for themselves, a life of celibacy. If you told the "average Joe" that there is more to life than sex, he'd probably give you a funny and disgusted look. Our world has made sex a normal part of life. It is no longer sacred and is often an act that is defiled. The "hook-up culture" runs rampant in high schools, college, and what people try to pass off as their "adult lives." Reading articles and comments about casual sex, whether the people are in relationships or not, saddens my heart.

I doubt we will ever go back to a time when sex was seen as a sacred act reserved for marriage, but maybe we can create more reverence for it than there currently is now. And that is why it is so important for priests to remain celibate. They are the world's example that there are more ways to love than just sex! Another line from the article: “He’s happy, and he doesn't have sex. How is that possible?” Sex has become trivialized and most people find it a waste of time to talk about abstinence and purity because "everyone will just do it anyway." That is not true; the more we discuss chastity, the more it becomes ingrained in the hearts and minds of teens and adults. It worked for me.

The article also related celibacy to marriage:

And this is not to say that celibacy somehow downplays the beauty and power and holiness of marital love. But the witness of the healthy celibate is a reminder to married couples that their marital love must always be celebrated as a participation in God’s love, and make present the love between Christ the Bridegroom and his Church in order to be truly satisfying.
As a person who will be entering into the sacrament of matrimony in nine months, I find that quote beautiful. Sex is not about pleasing your partner, rather it is to be an expression of true love and, as stated, a participation in God's love. The act of love for a priest is his celibacy. The act of love for husband and wife is sex. And yes, it is very difficult to wait, but that wait is definitely worth it.

No comments: