A personal defense of celibacy

[ 34 ] January 5, AD 2012 |

I had debated about writing this post for a couple of reasons.  Partly because part of what I’m going to write about is personal, and being someone who lives in my head a lot of the time the concretely personal is a bit difficult to write about.  But also because clerical celibacy, that is the vow of celibacy taken by the priests here in the West, is in fact a discipline that Mother Church has decided that the Western men who have taken Holy Orders must conform to this discipline.  This is thus a matter of prudence, and such is open to debate.   As such I was hesitant to write this, but I am up against the deadline.  So here goes.

The views on this discipline both pro and con have some good points to argue.  However strongly one views the issue it should always be maintained that celibacy is in fact open to debate, and as such since there is room for disagreement.  Neither has the upper hand at least in the sense of which position is more “Catholic.”  We are free to argue about this so long as the authority of the Church is respected.

Having said this my personal conviction is that the discipline of clerical celibacy is a net positive.  The reasons for this stretch from the practical to the spiritual.  But for me there is one reason that from my personal perspective that stands out.  It is not by any means a definitive or debate-settling reason.  But for me it shows the importance of this ancient discipline.

In the waning days of my college years I like many of my fellow graduates struggled with that question, “What now?”  This combined with my preexisting depression created one miserable soon-to-be graduate.  In the midst of this I felt at one point a calling to the priesthood.  So much so that at the gentle nudging of one of the priests at the student Catholic Center I flew  to D.C. for a vocation retreat.

Now one may be thinking that the discipline of a celibate life would be an obstacle.  For some it is.  In my case however this was not an issue.  Being in my current state of depression I knew that I could not handle a marital relationship or those relationships that lead to the married life.  I also had enough sense to know that ditching the Catholic “prohibition on non-marital sex” was probably the worst thing I could do at that point.  So in essence I was already living a “celibate” life, at least how I understood it.    And since I was already living one and not going insane, plus this inkling of a calling to the religious life led to the inescapable conclusion that I was meant for the priestly vocation.

Now this silly line of reasoning is simply typical of my state of mind so I ask those reading to refrain from pointing out the obvious.  This is not what is important.  What happens next is.

While the concept of a celibate life did not bother me a number of other attendees had issues with it.  The question came over and over again.  “How does one live a celibate life?”  The answer surprised me.  “Cultivate relationships.”  In order to live a life of celibacy a religious must cultivate relationships with others.  The deeper the better.  Not only was this advised, it was essential, I was told.

This bothered me quite frankly.  The whole reason why I chose my professional career (software development) and now considering the priesthood was because I wanted to avoid  such relationships.  That I would have to “work harder” to cultivate such relationships as a priest was dumbfounding.

But this made me realize what had been wrong with how I was approaching the vocation question in general.  Due to some experiences in my past (not direct experience but via proxies) I had developed an attitude of keeping people at arm’s length.  Initially it was a coping mechanism, but finally it got to the point that I was not able to develop deeper relationships even if I wanted to.  And I did not want to.  I did not see this as a problem but simply an aspect of my personality.  It wasn’t until this new information was presented to me that I began to see this as a problem.

But this revelation would not have been possible without the contrast between the celibate life of the religious clergy and the martial one.  That the idea that one needs to develop bonds with others, and that this development is work, is presented (in a paradoxical sense) more clearly in the celibate life.  This idea is hidden to some degree by married life because one can  simply assume (like I did) that those who were called to the married life would develop this bond naturally.  While this is true in some respects, that this development must also be a conscious effort on the part of the spouses was hidden from me.

This revelation forced me to confront this weakness of mine.  Without overcoming this obstacle I would not have been able to enter the married state I am in now.  As such it is quite correct to say that a calling to the priesthood eventually led me to the married state.  And that the contrast between the celibate life and the married life led me to realize one of the main obstacles to my true vocation.

I know that this is not a definitive reason.  There are many better arguments that are applicable universally.  But to me the revelation of the need for relationships was (and could only be) revealed to me through the celibate life.  And as long as Mother Church decides that this discipline is worth the trial, it can count me as one of its staunchest defenders.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Colin-Gormley-e1313149728861.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Colin Gormley is a 30 something Catholic who is married. By day he is a contract worker for the state of Texas. By night, or whenever he’s trapped with his wife in her biology lab, he blogs about the Catholic faith from an apologetics perspective. He often strays into politics given the current debates in the country, but he tries to see all issues with the eyes of the Church. His website is Signs and Shadows.[/author_info] [/author]

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About the Author ()

Colin Gormley is a 30 something Catholic who is married. By day he is a contract worker for the state of Texas. By night, or whenever he’s trapped with his wife in her biology lab, he blogs about the Catholic faith from an apologetics perspective. He often strays into politics given the current debates in the country, but he tries to see all issues with the eyes of the Church. His website is Signs and Shadows.
  • http://Themanwhowouldbeknight.com Ryan Kraeger

    This is a very powerful and well written post. You are right, the question of celibacy is up for debate, academically. It is not in actual practice, at least not in the Roman rite, but for those who doubt, be aware that the Catholic Church’s new Ordinariate for the Anglican rite allows married clergy.

    The idea of relationships being essential to the practice of celibacy is counter-intuitive at first, but it jibes with what I’ve learned in actual practice. I will have to give it more thought.

  • http://hereisthechurch.wordpress.com/ Allie Terrell

    Well said. You are right that there are more universal arguments out there, but your current one does well to inform everyone on the topic of celibacy regardless of being called to the religious life or not. Even those discerning marriage would do well to read this.

    The whole reason why I chose my professional career (software development) and now considering the priesthood was because I wanted to avoid such relationships.

    Having done my undergrad in CSSE, this made me chuckle. I entered the field along the same premise, and now I seek out relationships in my work, so much so that my specialty is human-computer interaction and I want to teach – anything to stay away from coding all day by myself!

  • http://yahoo lucille muzeroll

    Im all for married Priest. I believe they should have a choice. I think they would understand married problems much better and raise strong an great children who may then selves want to serve the lord. If all Priest were allowed to marry and have children can you imagine how many catholic Christians there would be in the world today. What is sad is they live alone die alone in some nursing home with out family most times I do not believe a loving God would want that as he made women so that man would have a companion. Its so sad when i see priest growing old with no family around him to share his life an love with. Im a convert at 21 now 81 and my heart goes out to the poor lonely souls that should have his flesh an blood around him in his old age !!

  • joseph williams

    The rule of celibacy was not originally part of our Lord’s plan & it truly should be optional.Too much emphasis is placed on it however & the fact that a man who is married from another denomination can become a priest seems confusing to many. The military is comparable to this situation because priests are soldiers who defend the church & lead souls to Christ.There are several branches of service with each having different duties & various training for the job expected. One does not fit all callings: there are people who are pilots,some are submariners,etc. each job is very important to the defense as a whole.While we all know many great priests we also know the others.I suspect the true reason for celibacy is CONTROK ( this may never be admitted too)the military deals with this by stating verbally that “if we wanted you to have a wife we would have issued you one” All this said let us pray for our priests and pray for more GOOD,HOLY ones.

  • I hear you

    celibacy is NOT up for debate. the model and mandate is clear. You are not here “modeling” a disciple or an apostle or worldly opinions…your priesthood calls you to be, to imitate, to model Christ that was equally upheld and practiced by Blessed Virgin Mary and St Joseph. The Holy Family live a life of celibacy. Those whose reality of Christ is corrupted will argue against celibacy and that it is okay to abandon this gift of grace. It is NOT okay. No one can serve 2 masters you will hate one and love the other. celibacy is the greatest sign of fidelity and it is the greatest sign of love. also it is the greatest sign of single-hearted devotion. it is a greatest sign of eternal love and incorruption for this love is not affirm in flesh. just as a man born his children the conjugal act of the flesh through blood and water, the priest bores his family too through his conjugal love of celibacy with his spousal church…the priest children are born in spirit and truth for man children are bored in sin but the priest children are conceived immaculately…oh no you say? then recall the souls you have baptized. celibacy is the better part and
    reaffirms all thing passes except love. celibacy makes heaven present on earth. celibacy is trinatarian in nature. celibacy is not barren or sterile. to maintain arms distance to assure ones celibacy is no different than a married person rebuffs his senses when it threatens his faithfulness to marriage. marriage is a consecration to another. celibacy is consecration to God. celibacy distances no one for the family of the priest includes born and unborn, living and the dead, young and old, men and women, rich and poor, sick and healthy, powerful and weak, and from every walk of life, even angels and saints. the priest household has the largest family on earth. it is sad to see those encouraging abandoning a critical element of the priesthood which facilitates the pouring out of oneself.

  • Juan Oskar

    What I don’t understand about celibacy is the “Biological Urge”. Suppose after ones ordination he had to abstain from coughing?

  • Claudia McClung

    Nuns don’t marry!! All we need is a bunch of divorced priests paying child support. What happens to the family when they are moved from place to place. Who comes first, the church and its duties or the family?

  • Gospa

    Celibacy is a gift that God gives to those who truly want to be priests. Being a priest is a calling, not necessarily for everyone. It is a total dedication of one’s life to God, without reserve. No one is forced into it. There is sufficient time to decide to make the choice. Also, as far as anyone who thinks priests should be married, think again. If that were so, you would be supporting the family of the priest,If you needed an appointment with him it would be subject to his family life and you might have to wait a longer time to get one than if he stayed celibate.A priest is totally dedicated to ministering for God and attending to the spiritual needs of God’s people.Be appreciative that he is there when we need him, because of celibacy.

  • enness

    Julian, I didn’t realize that coughing involved an act of the conscious will. Whoops! Well would you look at that, somehow I tripped and fell into bed — where did my clothes go?

    ;)

  • Deacon Tom

    Actually, historical evidence seems to indicate that continence among those married men who became priests and deacons in the early Chirch was the norm. Also, the historical evidence surrounding the Eastern Churches’ permission of marriage for their clergy is that it was a mistaken interpretation of earlier councils. The council of Trullo simply misapplied or misunderstood earlier councils from North Africa.

    Finally, in times of persecution the Eastern clergy have largely caved into the governments because of the vulnerability of their wives and children. It is very tough to face martyrdom when your family will be left without a husband / father. In the West we have had many priest-martyrs because they have that same radical freedom that Jesus did to follow the Father’s will, even if that be unto death.

    While the issue has not been definitively proclaimed by the extraordinary magisterium of the Church, it will only be strengthened as time goes on and I would caution anyone against hoping for a married clergy any time. It simply is not going to happen.

  • Juan Oskar

    I am not debating celibacy. If the Church teaches it, who am I to argue? But my comment has not fully been responded to and I don’t want to get to graphic. The sexual drive or ‘urge’ of a man is so strong, even with no marriage, or relationship with a woman, will he not satisfy it in the “Other way” (The M word) and is that still true celibacy?

  • Juan Oskar

    I am not debating celibacy. If the Church teaches it, who am I to argue? But my comment has not fully been responded to and I don’t want to get to graphic. The sexual drive or ‘urge’ of a man is so strong, even with no marriage, or relationship with a woman, will he not satisfy it in the “Other way” (The M word) and is that still true celibacy?

  • Dorothy Daly

    When a man has a true vocation from the Lord to the priesthood, all he need to do is pray and ask Jesus for the will to fight temptation. Jesus does not ask the impossible of anyone,but does ask for prayer and promises to hear our prayers. And of course He will help us to do His will.

  • Juan Oskar

    Hi Dorothy. I agree with you a 1000% in the abstract. And your name being Dorothy I assume you are a woman. But I/we need to get clear answers from ‘male’ priests which I have never received. I don’t think our young seminarians are getting clarity on this issue, or would have 100,000 priests left since Vatican II if it were a “True Vocation”? There seems to be an undercurrent of unspeakables in The Church which sometimes leads me to think that I’m asking to many questions.

    Deacon Tom has another point. Celibacy is for martyrdom. There were many things I would have done differently in my life if I hadn’t had a family, but do bishops and priests need to be martyrs in the Western world? Don’t most of them retire and have pensions?

    NOTE* Sorry about putting my last post up twice.

  • savvy

    Marriage and religious life are both ways of serving God. Distinct, but valid.

    Some people are called to give up everything to follow God. The concept is that you are stripped of everything, so you can only depend on God. Peter told Jesus he had given up everything to follow him. Check out Jesus response to him. Paul too said, he preferred to be celibate, so he could only belong to God.

    The conflict starts when some others come in with a list and throw a fit when they do not get it. They have misunderstood the point of a religious vocation.

    Apostolic tradition, ordains married men as found in the Eastern churches, but once a priest’s wife dies he cannot re-marry. This is followed in the Orthodox church.

    In the Orthodox church, Bishops, nuns and monks still have to be celibate.

    So, if it works for them, the question is what is up with us?

    It stems from bad catechesis, the failure to understand the meaning of vocation, and just cracks in formation/discernment.

    Celibacy also has a spiritual value that is not being taught, once agin, the fault lies with Catechesis.

    It is also preferable if those pursuing a vocation live in a community, or a religious order rather than alone.

    Our culture prefers individualism to stronger community units.

  • savvy

    “but do bishops and priests need to be martyrs in the Western world? Don’t most of them retire and have pensions?”

    Juan, the key lies in not things, but in not being attached to them, because God is the only person we are supposed to be attached too. This holds true for all people.

    The closer you get to God, the closer you get to other people too, in ways that are healthy and positive.

    In both marriage and religious life, one needs commitment.

    This is the reason why Orthodox Jews formed communities where they could live, not influenced by secular ideas.

    I am not saying Catholic should retreat from the culture, but that they should first understand their own faith, to be strong enough to combat the pitfalls they might encounter in the world.

  • Martha Dancy

    I am a single 74 year old woman who never found the right person to marry because of circumstances. There is no guarantee that a person will not be alone in old age. Priests are not the only ones who have no family. Many other people are alone, too, and somehow manage, if they have a close relationship to God and have good friends, they can handle single life OK. Just because one is married is no guarantee that he or she will be married later. Also, children do not always hang around to help in many cases.There are hardships in marriage as well as in single life. I have lived under both married and single clergy and from my experience, there is nothing as wonderful as a fully dedicated kind compassionate and faithful celibate priest who gave up everything for the church as Christ did.
    I was a protestant in all my young life but was fascinated by many things in Catholicism. I admired the fact that anyone would give up all for me. I think that vatican II liberalism destroyed some of the idea of sacrifice that the old church had and therefore, in a sex ridden society, many priests lost their vocations and left. In our traditional rites, like the fssp, I find the priests to be faithful and loyal to their vows. They are surrounded by respect from the laity and have the lovely traditions that give them the boost they need to remain faithful. These priests have helped me to remain faithful to the church as a single person. In the protestant church, I felt like an outcast as a never married single person, but in the Catholic church, I feel right at home. There is a place for everyone there. I am thankful for the sacrificial lives of the priests who have remained faithful.

  • Father Matthew

    I unfortunately do not have a lot of time right now to address this, but wanted to make a few comments. First of all, I am a Catholic Priest although I have not been ordained long. Second of all, for my Master’s degree I wrote on celibacy in the priesthood so it’s a topic that is near and dear to my heart.

    On the overall matter at hand, I’m in complete agreement with Deacon Tom. Yes, it is theoretically a undecided question that is open for theological debate. However, there is very clear evidence that celibacy was not simply added in the 1200’s but has been the long standing teaching of the Church. In fact, the Council of Elvira (which was held in 306 AD) makes reference to the ancient tradition of celibacy. Well, technically it was continency which is being married but not having sexual relations. The practice of continency was mandatory for men who wanted to become priests. There is plenty of evidence that both husbands and wives were asked to make the promise of continency before the man could be ordained.

    I highly encourage anybody who truly wants to investigate more deeply the foundations for priestly celibacy to read the book “The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy” by Christian Cochini. It is an exhaustive look at the matter and lays it out quite well. It is also extremely dense and difficult to work through. A much simpler (and shorter) book to read that is also good is “The Case for Clerical Celibacy” by Cardinal Afons Maria Stickler. It is not as thorough as Cochini’s book but still good at getting the basics across.

    Now, I’d also like to briefly answer Juan’s question about “biological urges” as it is a valid question. At no time in life are we ever free from temptations. It is part of the human condition that we experience the effects of Original Sin for our entire life. However, temptation does not equal sin. Are “urges” there? Of course! Especially in a world like ours which has hyper-sexualized women and our entire society. On a side note for you women: if you truly want to help your priests (and other men in your life) be good and holy men, then help them out and dress modestly! Anyway, the fact of the matter is that we are all called to live chaste lives – whether married, single, priest or religious. Yes, even married people are supposed to be chaste within their vocation (obviously in their case chaste does not mean no sexual relations). Using your example, Juan, given that “m” (as you put it) is grave matter that could be a mortal sin, all of us are called to resist that tempation (or at least confess it if we fall into it). Now, to the question you asked. How can an unmarried man who is getting no other “relief” resist the temptation. The answer is exactly what Dorothy said. By constantly turning to our Lord for assistance. Even more so, I find that for many men a deep relationship with the Blessed Mother can be a huge assistance as well. Do the temptations necessarily go away? No. However, there is not a need to fall into the temptation if there is a true understanding of the total gift of self for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. All life is called to be a sacrifice. Priest’s should be preaching that from the pulpit continually, and if we ask that of the people of God, how much more should we be striving to live it ourselves.

    Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to imply that any priest who has fallen into sin due to “urges” is a horrible person. He is a sinner who needs to reconcile himself with God and pray all the harder for strength to resist future temptation. The whole idea of being unable to control our urges is a lie that has been perpetuated upon us for many years. We CAN control our urges, but only if we rely on the strength of our Lord.

    Anyway, that got far longer than I intended. As I said, it’s a topic near and dear to my heart. I’d like to finish with this thought. Pray constantly for your priests! Pray that they are able to remain in the state of grace and in the love of Christ. Pray that they can continue to be the faithful witness who has sacrificed his life for the kingdom of God. Yes, we may not be martyrs in the Western world they way we typically think of martyrs. However, all of us, whether priest or not, can be white martyrs by dying to self each and every day.

    God Bless all of you.

  • C

    With the prohibition on birth control, I believe parenting a potentially large family presents a conflict for the married priest, and is hugely unfair to his wife and children. A flaw of our current culture is that it already diminishes the role of the father to the point where countless mothers do most of the parenting, even in intact families, where there is not a parish in competition! His children deserve a full time father.

    Also, a priest needs to be emotionally available to his flock. The wife nudging him to take the midnight call could just as easily discourage him from taking it. How could he be neutral in cases of marital dispute between two parishioners. All this is more difficult if he enters the marital state. The priest should be holy (“set apart”).

  • Eiliseo

    Do you feel like you ever got deeply catechized in the reason St. Paul the Apostle gives for celibacy in 1 Cor. 7:32-35, which is duly and expounded in consensus by the Church Fathers?

    “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife,and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”

    Where is there mention of the need for “deep relationships” on the horizontal level here, or in the Church Fathers’ commentary on the passage? There is none. Because the value of celibacy is how it orders us more fully to a deeper love of God, nourished by a deep prayer life.

    For those who struggle to live celibacy, grace is what is needed. And grace is acquired through prayer, not increasing “deep relationships” with your neighbors.

    And as St. Jerome, Father and Doctor says, if anyone lacks the gift, let us not think that the Lord will not grant it to those who genuinely ask for it, for those who seek will find, those who ask will receive, and to those who knock the door will be opened.

  • Juan Oskar

    IMHO Everyone on this thread are on the same ‘page’ or agreement. I accept what Christ says through His Church even if I don’t understand. Fr. Matthew, (With all do respect) you wrote all the right things but it almost sounded like a term paper. You are probably young and let me tell you…The next 50 years of the celibacy are going to be hell but we’ve got your back in our prayers. *Side note:* Recently I’ve had a priest friend be ‘erased’ because of a mere accusation.(I digress) Our beloved priests are on their own. (Here on Earth) There will be no back-up from the Church hierarchy…so maybe that’s the modern day martyrdom?

  • savvy

    Yes, it’s sad to see innocent priests suffer because of the actions of the guilty. At the same time people should not take “voluntary” vows they cannot keep. It’s like when a man knows he is going to marry a particular woman, and then a few years down a line, meets someone else and runs off with her.

    In both cases it’s the breaking of vows.

  • savvy

    Juan,

    This is why we need to pray for our priests even more.

  • Laurie

    In order to understand the concept of celibacy, may I recommend to everyone JOHN PAUL II’s THEOLOGY OF THE BODY particularly his audience texts Nov 11, 1981-July 14, 1982. This is the best explanation of the true motive of celibacy I have come across and is entirely scripturally based.

  • R Johnson

    I have a sister who married an Orthodox priest 15 years ago. They had 2 children who live with their father because his wife had emotional problems which did not respond to therapy and they divorced. He wishes now he never married because of the emotional and domestic burden on him (he cannot remarry).
    I know a fine, happily married Anglican Priest who became Catholic when his children were teenagers. From my observations, to be a priest’s wife is a special and very demanding vocation, inasmuch as while being supportive, the wife must “stay in the background” and never “take sides” in parish issues. The now-grown children have told me that they always had to accept that parish matters came first, and that they had to “share ” their father except for the rare family vacation. They were also aware they were always “under scrutiny” and that their behavior reflected on their father, which made them all leave home to live at distance in order to establish their own identities. Having a priest as a husband as father is often a hardship on a family, as they must in practice usually “come second” to the priest’s pastoral vocation. Some celebated priests have commented that they personally thought they would have no energy for a family unless they would stint on their commitment as pastors.

  • Dorothy Daly

    One does not have to be a male to understand what temptation is. The devil is after us all and watches us to see where our weakness is. The Lord allows us to be tempted in order that we may grow stronger and overcome them. The more we show our love for Him by resisting sin, the more grace He gives us. We are all called to self-control. That is where our victory is and we all are in a war.

  • http://www.ourmotheroftheeucharist.org Lilla Marie

    I want to thank Fr. Matthew for the sharing. Wow! Very grace-filled and inspiring. I as a woman, have been in the celibate life for 20+ years. And I so agree with all that was shared. To add my own addition regarding Juan’s comment on the “urge”, and also the author’s section on developing close relationships I say:
    First of all, no man is an island. Certainly what has allowed me the grace to live a celibate life with deep joy, and ever-deeper communion with our Divine Bridegroom, is primarily prayer… especially the prayer before the Eucharist, with and through the Heart of Mary, Spotless Bride; in order that I can be most disposed in receiving Him in Holy Communion.*
    That being said, I am still not an island, and, in the wisdom of the Church, one does not become a hermit or recluse unless they have had healthy relationships with others and are very emotionally/psychologically/spiritually mature. Grace builds on nature. I know in my life I tried for a time to live “God alone.” But, I tended toward over-spiritualizing, and our Lord showed me clearly that I was being called to foster healthy relationships with others, always seeking to have Him as Source and Summit, but allowing friendship with others to aid me in developing in ways I hadn’t during my formative years.
    Thus, developing healthy relationships with others,as our Lord and Mother have inspired, has been a tremendous grace in my life, and has allowed rooms in my heart to be exposed more and more deeply to the love and truth of Christ. I’ve become more real and true to who God has created me to be, taking off masks that I kept up for fear of not being accepted by others…
    Sorry this has been so long, but in closing I must add the most important point… what a grace the feeling of aloneness, and especially also, the “urge”, can allow for in the life of a celibate. If seen as a stepping stone, it can make way for greater and greater capacity for espousal union with Christ/the Trinity; because, the urge and the alone feeling are but concrete physical feeling of the deeper longing of the heart to be deeply touched by God. And, so, when the physical, sexual “urge” can be transcended to a deeper “intercourse of the heart” with God, this is what is meant to give life, grace and meaning to the celibate vocation. And, this communion of love with God is then meant to be shared with the spiritual children, drawing them into this communion as well.
    And it is this grace that allows my heart to continue to blossom in ever greater joy of the Divine Love of God.
    Addendum: It could be,if a celibate has an “urge” that is too strong to control, it can be a sign of repression. Fostering good and healthy spiritual friendships that allow us to share deeply who we are can be a great aid in preventing such repression or nipping it in the bud, lest it build up and come out sideways.

  • savvy

    Lilla Marie,

    Thank you for sharing, I am a woman discerning a vocation to the religious life and I know that it takes a whole person to live this life. Not a needy person who looks to others to fulfill their emotional needs.

    Marriage is not going to make a person whole overnight. Even a healthy marriage needs people who are whole.

    My application process involves a medical, psychological, and personality tests.

    If the church had done this screening before, perhaps these things would not have taken place.

    There is also a generation missing, because most convents have either old or very young people.

  • Mark

    In the “Poem of the Man-God” by Maria Valtorta, Our Lord states: to be Christ-like one must conquer and overcome all weaknesses in life..
    The first vice in life to overcome is sensuality, when one accomplishes this, all other vices will be easier to overcome!!
    Celibacy is a frame of mind for everyone to obtain not just Priest. We need Our Priest to lead the way, it’s important for this road to be taken!
    It’s only my personal opinion, I believe that sensuality is an extension of the “Original Sin” !

  • Father Matthew

    Juan said: “You are probably young and let me tell you…The next 50 years of the celibacy are going to be hell but we’ve got your back in our prayers.”

    First, I greatly appreciate prayers. We all need them and we need to support each other. Second, yes I am young…well, younger. I’m actually a later vocation and am currently pushing 40. In the grand scheme of things, I do agree that is young. However, I’ve been living the celibate life my entire life (okay, let’s not count the first 15 or so). In that time, I’ve never viewed being celibate as a “hellish” experience. It’s a total gift of myself to the Lord. Can it be hard? Sure. Hellish? That seems too strong. Will I change my mind after 50 years? I can’t answer that right now. However, I can say that by viewing celibacy as not only a sacrifice but a gift it gives me the hope and positive outlook on a difficult life to enable me to continue to turn to the Lord for the strength that I know I’ll need.

    Gotta run to meeting…God Bless.

  • savvy

    What disturbs me is that not so much those priests who give up their vocations. It’s not wrong to figure out that something is not for you, but that they end up blaming everybody else for it. The church, the community, God etc. Fr. Matthew please don’t do this.

  • http://virtuouspla.net/ Colin Gormley

    I want to thank all those who provided comments. Much food for thought. A special thanks to the religious who have taken the vow to provide their insight.

  • savvy

    I would also like to add that religious life is lived out in a specific community, with specific rules that differ from community to community. Lay Catholics are subject to the precepts of the church, but don’t live in specific communities with specific rules.

    Drastic change would make it hard for both to learn from each other.

  • Juan Oskar

    I don’t have a strong ecclesiastical vocabulary so I’ll stick with the work “Hellish”. Today my wife and I are celebrating 33 years, and believe me it hasn’t been all ‘la la land’. Over the decades we have seen many marriages fall by the wayside, we have seen many, many priests leave or simply disappear. I joke, the reason our marriage has worked is because of ‘Low Expectations’. God is our Father but sometimes acts like an older brother. Just when you think things are going well, i.e. You’re keeping the Commandments, doing the Sacraments, NFP is working great etc. He SMACKS you on the side of the head so that you don’t become too comfortable. I know I’m preaching to the choir. Have we all not tasted Heaven and hope for eternity with Christ? And, have we all not had a glimpse of ‘da hot place’? ;) Peace amigos…………..JO