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Posts Tagged ‘Sexuality’

La Belle Dame sans MerciINTERLOCUTOR: Catholics are puritanical in their attitude toward sex.

ME: No we’re not.

INTERLOCUTOR: Prove it.

ME: Okay. (more…)

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KateriTekakwithaThere has been some buzz recently — in the media and elsewhere — about the status and value of celibacy among priests and religious in the Catholic Church.  Some have intimated that the Church is poised to change this particular discipline — namely, that those ordained to the priesthood or consecrated to the religious life as nuns or brothers are forbidden to marry.

Such intimations are over-hyped.  I do not see any dramatic changes to this coming during Pope Francis’ pontificate, nor any time soon.

Nevertheless, it has to be clearly understood that clerical and religious celibacy is a discipline, not a doctrine.  The latter, from the Church’s perspective, is unchangeable, because doctrines pertain to the core truth about God, the Church, and humanity.  Disciplines pertain to how these truths are applied in particular historical and cultural contexts; these can be changed any time at the Church’s discretion, and often have been changed over the centuries.

The rules on clerical/religious celibacy have indeed changed since the early days of Christianity.  Could they change again?  Absolutely.

However, I fervently hope that they do not.  Let me explain…

It saddens me that so many of us have so great a misunderstanding of what celibacy is all about.  Once, when I affirmed that priests in the Catholic Church vow never to marry or have sex, someone asked me: “Why would anyone ever want to do something like that?”  It strikes people as unlivable, and even inhumane.

Like many other issues that come up frequently, the Church’s teaching on celibacy is inseparable from the Catholic understanding of human sexuality.  Contrary to popular belief, sex is not “dirty” or “taboo” in the mind of the Catholic Church.

From the Catholic perspective, it is not that the secular world values sex too highly.  If anything, it is that it values sex too little.  Sex, under the right circumstances, is one of the most beautiful, sublime, and sacred phenomena on earth.  To explore its full depth and breadth would require another full post.

If people “neither marry nor are given in marriage” in heaven (Matthew 22:30), it is only because by then, human marriage and sexuality (which go hand-in-hand, by the way) will have fulfilled their purpose.  Human sex reflects — nay, images — the love and union of the Blesséd Trinity, God in Three Persons.  The total self-gift of husband and wife to one another reflects Christ’s total Self-Gift to His Bride, the Church, into which all mankind is called…a gift that will finally be consummated at Christ’s return at the end of time.  The creation of a new human life through the sexual act reflects the fertile love of God, Who has given mankind the awesome privilege of participating with Him as “co-creators” of immortal souls destined for eternal joy.

Sex is a wonderful and glorious thing; but its purpose is essentially anticipatory.  It is a sign, a preparation, a foretaste, an “appetizer” of things to come…of a joy that surpasses all understanding.

FranciscanAmong the faithful, there are some people who say, “You know what?  I can’t wait for the end of the world to experience this joy.  I want to live the life of the Kingdom in the here and now.”

Such people are well aware of what they are giving up in order to do this, and they know that this kind of life is much harder here on earth than in the joy of heaven.  Yet they are pleased, in response to the conviction of a Divine calling, to become “eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:12).  In this way, they become an eschatological sign — a presence of the Kingdom in the midst of the world.

Escriva_at_Mass_1971 And when our priests take on this discipline, it becomes a particularly wonderful sign.  Here we have men who in a unique way make a living sacrifice of themselves, consecrated wholly unto Jesus Christ for the benefit of the flock.  Sure, it’s a great sacrifice to forego having a family.  But let it never be supposed that the priest is without a family; indeed, the family of his parish, or diocese, or universal Church (in the case of the Pope) owes so much to his spiritual fatherhood.

Let me briefly recap: Celibacy is not essential to the clerical vocation, and the Church can change it at any time; but I hope She will not, as it would deprive the Church of an inestimable treasure.

That’s my $0.02 for the day.  Take care.

Images from Wikipedia

 

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Taking a break from the sci-fi posts to share a brief video featuring popular writer and speaker Christopher West.  If you ever wonder what the true Christian vision of sexuality is (and it may surprise you!), you will find this video well worth your time.

If you don’t watch the whole thing, I would recommend at least watching the first 3 minutes and 44 seconds.

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