Friday, December 9, 2011

Celibacy - Chosen in Freedom and Love

We recently received a comment on our blog regarding celibacy and the Catholic priesthood to which we would like to respond and explain the Church’s teaching on this subject.  First, we would like to thank the person who posted their comment.  Our growth as Christians comes especially in times of questioning and seeking the truth, so we are grateful for this opportunity to share about the topic of celibacy.

Sr. Julie and Jessie with Seminarian Eric and Fr. Patrick
I would first like to address the issue of when celibacy became part of God’s will for humanity.  Our primary example of celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom comes straight from the source – Jesus.  Jesus’ entire life was spent in obedience to His Father’s Will and dedicated to carrying out the work of His Father, and during the 33 years He spent on this earth, the Catholic Church teaches that He was celibate.

Jesus also gave a direct teaching on celibacy, found in Chapter 19 of The Gospel of Matthew.  The Pharisees questioned Jesus about divorce and remarriage, and Jesus explained to them that divorce was only allowed because of their hardness of heart, so anyone who divorces his wife ‘except for sexual immorality’ and marries another is committing adultery.  Because of this, Jesus’ disciples then state that maybe it is better not to marry at all.  But Jesus disagrees with them, explaining that there are only some who are called to be unmarried, and says the following:

“But He said to them, ‘All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.  He who is able to accept it, let him accept it” (Mt 19:11-12).

There are a couple of statements Jesus is making about celibacy in this passage.  First, celibacy is not for everyone.  Being a celibate is a call by God to particular individuals to whom God will give the grace to live out this particular state of life, which is why ‘all cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given.’  Second, celibacy must be freely chosen by the person whom God has called. ‘He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.’  Thirdly, Christian celibacy is not an end in itself, but is a sign of the Kingdom of Heaven.  ‘There are eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake’ – men and women who freely respond to God’s call to be celibate for the sake of the Kingdom.  These men and women, called by God, serve as a sign or foreshadowing of what our life in heaven will be like, where “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels of God in heaven” (Mt 22:30).  They witness to the reality that all of humanity is created to one day be in total union with God in heaven – and these men and women express that reality by consecrating their lives to God while still on earth, desiring not marriage in this life, but marriage with our Eternal Bridegroom in the life to come.

So, with the ideas in mind that celibacy is a call by God which must be freely chosen for the sake of the Kingdom, we want to look at celibacy within the Catholic priesthood.  First of all, celibacy is a discipline of the Roman Catholic priesthood, not a doctrine of the Catholic Church.  There are churches in communion with the Roman Catholic Church, in particular the Eastern Catholic Churches such as the Ruthenian Byzantine Church we belong to, that allow for married men to discern and be ordained to the priesthood.  Both are valid disciplines and both are in communion with the Holy See in Rome.  In both cases though, the key to celibacy or marriage in the priesthood is that it must be freely chosen.  No one is forced to become a priest – they must freely choose to enter into discernment, which the Church ratifies by accepting that person into the seminary.  With that free choice comes the knowledge that to be ordained a Roman Catholic priest, you must remain celibate or in the Eastern Churches, you may be married prior to ordination but if your wife precedes you in death, you may not remarry.  Therefore, marriage is not forbidden, in the case of the Roman Catholic Church, but is freely given up to embrace the gift of celibacy for the sake of building up God’s Kingdom here on earth.

Celibacy is not a burden, but is truly God’s gift to priests and religious men and women.  When celibacy is freely chosen in response to God’s call, God provides the grace each day to embrace that life of single-hearted dedication to Him.  As priests and religious men and women, we are called to obedience to God’s will for our lives, including celibacy, just as Jesus was called to be obedient to His Father’s will, which also included remaining celibate for His entire earthly life.  God asks us no more than He asked of His own Son – that we be willing to freely lay down our lives for one another, just as Jesus has done for us.  It is with great joy, ardent love, and much fervor that I proclaim my ‘yes’ to God’s call to celibacy as a nun, in obedience to the wisdom of the Catholic Church, whose foundation is Jesus Christ.  Glory to Jesus Christ!  Glory to Him Forever!


  1. Why, what an impressive answer! But I see no "angels or demons"! Shucks, I was kinda looking for another Dan Brown script!

  2. Glory to Jesus Christ!

    Well written! That was one of the best articles I have read on the topic of celibacy. Thanks for posting.

    Chris Watkins

  3. beloved sister,

    you said that

    "First of all, celibacy is a discipline of the Roman Catholic priesthood, not a doctrine of the Catholic Church."

    DISCIPLINE sister is a very important thing to posses if a person is a Church Leader. allow me to quote the statement of Apostle Paul:

    "For since a church leader is in charge of God's work, he should be without fault. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered, or a drunkard or violent or greedy for money. He must be hospitable and love what is good. He must be self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined." (Tito 1:7-8 Today's English Version)

    Disciplined Church Leaders should "love what is good" and they should be "holy".

    Let us now ask the same Apostle, what is the "good" things that should be "loved" by the "disciplined" Church Leaders??? Apostle Paul answered:

    "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good." (Romans 7:12 New King James Version)

    well look at that,the "commandment" is "good".. so the "disciplined" Church Leaders should love the "commandment".

    Furthermore sister, what can make a person holy??(remember that being holy is also a characteristic of a "disciplined" Church Leader)

    this time,allow to quote the statement of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ.. here in John 17:17

    "Make them pure and holy through teaching them your words of truth." (Living Bible)

    it is clear on the statement above of our Lord Jesus that the "words of God" can make a person holy.

    therefore.. disciplined Church leaders should based their "discipline" on the commandments and the words of our Lord God..

    where are the commandments and words of God written?

    "and you remember that ever since you were a child, you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living," (II Timothy 3:15-16 Living Bible)

    the commandments and words of our God is written in the Holy Scriptures. The Holy Scriptures can "correct faults" and "give instructions for right living" these are all essentials in making a program of discipline to be followed. DISCIPLINE SHOULD BE IN ACCORDANCE TO WHAT THE HOLY SCRIPTURES ARE TEACHING.

    Celibacy.. can you find this discipline in the Holy Scriptures?
    we can find its meaning in the Holy Scriptures.. but not as a commandment of God.. but as the doctrine of the demon (I Timothy 4:1,3 New King James Version)

  4. .....and the battle.....continued on......

  5. Dear rovitos,

    I appreciate your zeal for the scriptures, but I have to question whether you read my post or not. I did, in fact, reference in scripture, where Christ gave a direct teaching on celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom. Please refer to the Gospel of Matthew I quoted above.

    To your reference of 1 Timothy Chapter 4, you keep referring to 'the doctrine of demons' which includes forbidding marriage. As I stated above, no man is forced to become a priest, which means no man is 'forbidden to marry,' but freely gives up marriage as part of becoming a Roman Catholic priest. The freedom of choice here negates your insistence that celibacy is a doctrine of demons.

    Please also refer to St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians. In Chapter 7, St. Paul also addresses celibacy, stating that "to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do." But he goes on to state that it is also acceptable to marry. Both the vocation of celibacy and marriage are good and holy, but require God's grace to be lived out according to God's unique plan for each of us.

    May God bless you as you continue to seek His Truth.


  6. thank you very much for your kind answer sister jessie...

    Apostle Paul's statement in 1 Timothy 4:1,3 tells not just about "forbidding to marry" but also "abstinence from meat" here is the full satement of Apostle Paul on the verses:

    "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;.....Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth."

    members of the Catholic Church do fasting and abstinence from meat during Holy Week. sister, this is really intriguing... priests and nuns are not allowed to marry and Catholics are not allowed to eat meat during Holy Week...... these practices fit the Apostle's definition of the devil's doctrines...

    furthermore, in chapter 7 of I Corinthians, Apostle Paul is speaking to the Christians in Corinth. If he is addressing to celibacy on the said chapter, does it mean that he is encouraging all the Christians in Corinth to become priests and nuns?

    and by the way..., if celibacy is a discipline for your Church Leaders, does it mean that Apostle Peter, your Church's foundation and First pope (according to Catholics), was not well disciplined for he has a wife??? is that it??

    1. Dear Rovitos

      It seems you misunderstand what is being said here. Abstaining from food for a certain period (fasting) is not evil, even Jesus did this. Choosing to live a celibate life is not evil either, its a matter of choice and is only evil when taught as biblical doctrine as opposed to a choice.


  7. Have a Blessed Christmas and let all hear "Christ is Born"!!! And please pass the roast beast....I am in Whoville and shall eat what I am served at that moment, and fast another day.

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  9. Jesse,
    thank you for this heartfelt and educational post. It is wonderful to see the many ways in which the faithful are called to fulfill the greatest of commandments.

    Just as there is evidence for the calling to celibate life in the scriptures, so too is there evidence that we are called to fast. Matthew 9:14, Mark 2:20, and Luke 5:35 all explain when and why the followers of Jesus are called to fast. Fasting gives us a chance to prepare our hearts for Jesus and to live in humble anticipation of His return.

    If one feels that abstinence from meat would violate his conscience, I suggest that a meeting with his spiritual director would be helpful in finding other ways of fulfilling the call for fasting, just as any others who may be physically unable to perform the recommended fast. We are reminded that fasting is more than dieting and is to be performed out of love.


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