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THE PRIESTHOOD


 


 

THE DIGNITY OF THE PRIESTHOOD REQUIRES CELIBACY 

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 family.

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. 

Pagans, Agnostics, 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?

 

 

 

 

 

(12-12-02)

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                                                                                        - Teresa of Avila

 


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