THE DIGNITY OF THE PRIESTHOOD
A priest is supposed to stand
between God and man. How can this be if he is inferior to the celibates he
is mediating for? A priest is an Alter Christus. How can he be such if there
is no semblance whatsoever between him and Christ?
A priest is supposed to preach
that the entire Evangelical life can be lived. How can he convince others
when he, himself, does not live it to the full?
Celibacy for the attainment of
the perfection of chastity is necessary for contemplation, i.e. thinking
about the things of God. How can the people expect good answers about
spiritual matters from someone concerned in pleasing his wife and engaged in
the things of the world?
Men do not judge a priest as
one arrayed in flesh nor as one with a human nature, but as an angel and one
without infirmity (St. John Chrysostom). So, let those be introduced to this
dignity far excel others in eminence of spirit. We don't need many priests.
We have too many, in fact. What we need are a few holy priests. The early
Church had very few, yet she shined in unrivalled splendor. The few martyred
priests of Japan sustained the priestless Catholics of Nagasaki for hundreds
of years. And when asked what signs would make them recognize the true
religion, one sign was a celibate priesthood.
Celibacy gives the priest free
access to God. And, since great temptations are hurled at him to agitate his
soul who aims for the priesthood, he will need the protection of celibacy;
otherwise, he is lost. Continence, purity and chastity, though all are
required of all Catholics, must be found in an eminent degree in a priest.
A priest is looked up to
because he is a celibate. But why must we look up to him? Because we wish to
make representations before God's throne. And shall we risk using anyone and
risk earning God's wrath instead? No, we must use the best.
The Catholic Priesthood was
designed by Christ himself for this purpose. . .to be mediator between God
and man. So, like Christ, he must have no children, that all may become his
children. This makes people look with awe--that he has dedicated all his
time for them. We know it is otherwise with married pastors, as shown in
other sects. People know they have to earn for their family's sake. And when
the interest of his family and parishioners collide, he will side with his
A married priest is always
viewed as a ruined man, though, out of charity, we do not say so. And
legalizing their marriages does not change the picture. A married priesthood
is always a fatal decision. For as long as he cannot point to the personal
sacrifice he has made of leaving father, mother, brother, sister and the
married state for the spiritual benefit of the Church, he and his cause are
lost. He sinks to the level of ordinary man. He becomes a man who has made a
profession of his priesthood rather than a vocation. He leaves his family to
please God and takes a wife to please whom? Himself, I presume.
A celibate priest is a sign of
a man ready to bear hardships; a married priest is a sign of a man poised to
have a good time. Celibacy is witnessing to a disinteredness for the things
of the world; while marriage is a sign of longing for the world and the
things in the world.
Protestants, Anglicans, and Hindus are not impressed by Catholic arguments;
but all are impressed by the celibacy of the Catholic priesthood. We need a
priest who can intercede for us before God. Shouldn't we demand greater
piety, greater purity, continence and chastity from him?