WHAT IS CELIBACY
There is celibacy, purity,
chastity and continence. For non-theologians, there shouldn't be much
difference between them. Let's just say that these are different angles of
the same thing.
But, more specifically,
chastity is when reason chastises concupiscence. Chastity is the moderate
use of bodily members according to reason for the attainment of supernatural
Purity is an expression of a
circumstance of chastity; purity and chastity are used interchangeably.
Virginity is continence
whereby integrity of the flesh is vowed, consecrated and observed in honor
of God who made both body and soul.
St. Ambrose used the words
virginal chastity to describe integrity free of pollution, the essence of
which is abstaining from pleasure for the sake of holiness. He used the
words virginal chastity because mere virginity without chastity as its goal
is useless; in fact, marital chastity is superior to mere physical
virginity. It is virginal chastity that is more pleasing to God than marital
chastity. Martyrdom and monastic life are also considered superior to
Marriage is inferior to
virginal continence and holy widowhood. To say that marriage and virginity
are equal is Jovinian heresy. Christ's preference is clear: He chose a
virgin for His mother, a virgin for His foster father, and a virgin for His
Celibacy is the renunciation
of marriage for the more perfect observance of chastity. Its essence is the
preservation of the innocence of baptism. So Joseph Valokolamsk urged
parents to see to it that their children were either married or monks at 15,
otherwise they would lose their purity. And they are to blame.
Celibacy was foreshadowed in
the Old Testament in circumcision, a symbol of spiritual castration. This
consists in cutting-off all carnal pleasures. Virginal chastity, on the
other hand, is the angelic life in the New Testament, a way of life over and
above the angels, in that the angels obtained their virginity as a gift, man
Celibacy is witnessing that
the perfection of the Gospel is livable. If one Catholic teaching is not
livable, then probably the rest are not.
The reason for celibacy is
mystical, therefore, difficult to understand and appealing to very few. It
is true that it is difficult to practice, even impossible, for one living a
life of minimum prayer and maximum exposure to the world.
But majority of priests
believe in the need for celibacy. Yes, all priests would like to get
married; but most believe that if they are to be of service to the Church
they must be celibates.