Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Sunday Sermon, February 11 -- The Fruitfulness of Priestly Celibacy, St Damien of Molokai (Sermons on Priestly Celibacy, Part 3 of 3 - Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

Review of the previous two sermons on the theology of priestly celibacy and the history of clerical celibacy.  The priest is celibate primarily because Jesus was a celibate priest - being so conformed to Christ, it is fitting that the priest should imitate the Lord in embracing celibacy. Furthermore, the celibate man offers to God an undivided heart, but the married man's heart is divided between his wife, the world, his family, etc and the Lord - since the priest is wholly consecrated to divine worship, it is fitting that his heart be given to God wholly through celibacy.

Celibacy is tied to the very nature of the priesthood, even as Christ united celibacy to the priesthood in his own person. It is a discipline which could change, but it would be horrible if it did change.

The real history of "married priests" is that the common practice in the early Church was for married men to cease living as husbands with their wives at the time of their ordination. Furthermore, even today, when a married man is ordained (for example, when a married man is ordained a permanent deacon), he makes something like a "conditional promise" of celibacy, since he is not permitted to remarry after ordination if his wife dies. Holy Orders tends towards celibacy.

We consider the joy and the fruitfulness of priestly celibacy as we look at the life of the Leper Priest of Molokai, St Damien.

“Missionary priest, born at Tremeloo, Belgium, 3 January 1840; died at Molokai, Hawaii, 15 April 1889. He was sent to the mission of the Hawaiian Islands, where he arrived, 19 March, 1864. Ordained priest at Honolulu 24 May of the same year. On 10 May, 1873, Father Damien, at his own request and with the sanction of his bishop, arrived at the settlement [on Molokai] as its resident priest. There were then 600 lepers. He not only administered the consolations of religion, but also rendered them such little medical service and bodily comforts as were within his power. He dressed their ulcers, helped them erect their cottages, and went so far as to dig their graves and make their coffins. After twelve years of this heroic service he discovered in himself the first symptoms of the disease. On 28 March, 1889, Father Damien became helpless and passed away shortly after, closing his fifteenth year in the service of the lepers.” (From the Catholic Encyclopedia)

Listen online [here]!


Post a Comment

When commenting, please leave a name or pseudonym at the end of your comment so as to facilitate communication and responses.

Comments must be approved by the moderator before being published.