One of the most common questions I hear from my non-Catholic friends concerns the priesthood and the issue of celibacy. I mean come on! We’re in the 21st century, and weren’t the apostles married and all that blah blah blah.
Genuine concerns. To them the Catholic Church seems a bit antiquated and rigid. For me, it’s all about perspective. Sometimes I am so excited about what has been given to me in my heritage and what I can see on this high hill of mine. The only thing about the “hill” in my mind and heart is that you have to come down once in a while and love people. Everyone can benefit from a bit more charity. In listening, in explaining, in seeking, and in embracing.
This passage from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and his Sacramentum Caritatis (The Sacrament of Charity) really struck me.
It is not sufficient to understand priestly celibacy in purely functional terms. Celibacy is really a special way of conforming oneself to Christ’s own way of life. This choice has first and foremost a nuptial meaning; it is a profound identification with the heart of Christ the Bridegroom who gives his life for his Bride.
The reasoning I have found myself often giving is that a priest has to be free to serve the people at all times with his whole being, but I understand that is only part of a rich tradition.
Pope Emeritus Benedict’s words reminded me of what a beautiful and strong connection priests have to Our Lord. In imitating His life, they have chosen celibacy for themselves, not to deny themselves of something, but to claim something for themselves: a life mirroring that of Christ’s. And they not called to love any less than the rest of us. They are called to bring Christ to the world in the love of the Bridegroom.
It just fills me with warm fuzzies.