We had another Young Adult Theology of the Body gathering this past week. The session was entitled “Celibacy for the Kingdom”. Here are some questions and answers that give you a synopsis of the content:
-What is a “eunuch for the Kingdom”?… It is someone who freely forgoes married life in order to devote all of his or her energies and desire for love and union onto the marriage that alone can satisfy – the marriage of Christ in the Church.
-Why does the world generally scorn celibacy?… Since the world has taken its eyes off eternity, it thinks sex is our ultimate fulfillment and therefore cannot understand why anyone would “give it up”. The world is also bound by lust. It can’t imagine any other way to think about sex. We’ve come to believe that unless we indulge lust we condemn ourselves to physically and psychologically damaging sexual repression. The world knows nothing of the redemption of sexuality that frees us from the bonds of lust and enables us to be a sincere gift to others, whether in marriage or in celibacy for the kingdom.
-How is it that celibacy participates in the kingdom of heaven?… The celibate person devotes himself to the ultimate marriage, that of Christ and the Catholic Church which will be consummated in the kingdom of heaven.
-What are the supernatural reasons (versus the temporal benefits) for a celibate priesthood?… Celibacy for the kingdom is a witness to a supernatural love. The natural love of man and woman is a beautiful gift of God. But there is a greater love still – the supernatural love of God to which the celibate man or woman devotes himself or herself entirely.
-Why is celibacy (properly understood) not a rejection of sexuality, but a living out of the deepest meaning of sexuality?… The deepest meaning of sexuality is that it points us to the marriage of Christ and the Church. “For this reason… the two become one flesh.” For what reason? “This is a great mystery, and it refers to Christ and the Church” (Ephesians 5:31-32). Christian celibacy, when properly understood and lived, does not reject this “great mystery” of sexuality. Far from it, it embraces it to the full. The celibate man or woman who lives his or her vocation rightly devotes all of his or her sexuality to the union that alone can satisfy – the marriage of Christ and the Church.
-How is every man called in some way to be a husband and father?… Whether married or celibate, men cannot deny the meaning of their sexuality which calls them to be both a husband and a father. In a mystical kind of way, the celibate man marries the Church and bears numerous spiritual children through the gift of self.
-How is every woman called in some way to be both a wife and mother?… Whether married or celibate, women cannot deny the meaning of their sexuality which calls them to be both a wife and a mother. In a mystical kind of way, the celibate woman marries Christ and bears numerous spiritual children through the gift of self.
-Does the world see marriage as a legitimate outlet for lust? If so, what might be the ramifications of this?… When marriage is viewed as a “legitimate outlet” for lust, spouses condemn themselves to a life of serious dissolution. The deep longing we have for love can never be satisfied by lust, only chronically frustrated. Lust, In fact, is the root cause of marital disharmony and breakdown.
-How does this view of a “redeemed sexuality” (where our ethos is actually changed towards that which is truly good) affect your view of celibacy?… With a redeemed perspective on sexuality, celibacy can actually be understood as something that complements and informs the married state.
-How can someone commit “adultery in the heart” with his or her own spouse?… Marriage does not legitimize lust. If a husband or wife treats his or her spouse merely as a means of selfish gratification, that spouse commits “adultery in the heart” with his or her own spouse. Marital union is meant to be an expression of divine love, not a lustful, selfish using of the other.
So there is a summary of the latest session of Theology of the Body. On another note, I will be away July 4-15th for vacation. I’ll be on an “exploratory pilgrimage” in the northern part of Spain with the tour organizer who organized our recent pilgrimage to Rome. I will serve as a translator, as need be. I will definitely be praying for all of our farmers at the tomb of St. Isidore in Madrid. Please pray for a safe and fruitful trip.
Have a Blessed 4th of July!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,