Friday, February 9, 2018

Sunday Sermon, January 28 -- The Theology of Priestly Celibacy (Sermons on Priestly Celibacy, part 1 of 3 -- Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

St Paul says, "I should like you to be free from anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided." (1 Corinthians 7:32)

Inspired by the readings of the next three weeks, we will be preaching a series of sermons on priestly celibacy, indeed on clerical celibacy. This week, we consider the theology behind priestly celibacy; next, the history of clerical celibacy (for deacons, priests, and bishops); and finally, an example of celibacy in the life of a saintly priest.

Celibacy is a great gift, and a source of much joy. In fact, celibate priests are generally happier (according to surveys) than most married men in the USA -- thus, celibacy is not a burden or a cause of sorrow, but is shown even by the secular studies to be a means of gaining great happiness and fulfillment.

There are three reasons often given for priestly celibacy: Married priests wouldn't be able to focus as much on their ministry, they would have to be paid a great deal more to support their families, and they would not be able to be sent as missionaries. These are all good reasons, but they are not the best reasons or the real reason.  Even if some men could perform the work of priestly ministry while being married, even though some parishes could afford to pay the priest more, and even though some priests will never be sent on mission - still, it is better that the Church maintain priestly celibacy in the West.

Celibacy is an imitation of Christ Jesus. Jesus was a celibate priest, and his example shows us that celibacy is tied to the very nature of the priesthood. The priest, in his very person, is consecrated to the Lord for worship - even as the Church building is set aside from the world for the sake of divine worship, the priest is set apart for worship by the gift of celibacy.

Listen online [here]!


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