I today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 19, Jesus gives His teaching on marriage. In it, He speaks about those who have “freely renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.” This speaks directly to the practice of celibacy for priests and men and women religious. In light of that, I want to share the chapter in A Minute in the Church about this subject.
Many people, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, think that one of the root causes of all the problems in the Church today, is priestly celibacy.
Celibacy has been a discipline for the ministers of God’s Church for many centuries. And remember, it is a discipline…not a doctrine or a dogma. So why does Holy Mother Church continue the practice? Let’s go the Bible for the answers.
First of all, remember that Jesus and many of the Apostles were celibate. In Matthew 19:12, Jesus talks about those He has called who have “…freely renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.”
St. Paul, who was also celibate, makes his position very clear in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35. “An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided.” And the Catechism explains the practice very well in 1579 and 1580.
You see, priests, in a sense, are married…to the Lord and His Church. These men, our spiritual fathers, renounce the goods of marriage to be radically available to us, the family of faith. Are we loving, supporting, and praying for our priests as much as we should?
For further study:
1 Corinthians 7:32-25
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