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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Priestly Celibacy – A Higher Form of Love

The Church has often deemed celibate love as of a higher order than that of marital love. This mentality is especially evident in the writings of monks, even the Augustinian and Protestant reformer Martin Luther who defected and had six children of his own. While promoting married clergy, Luther thought that sexual congress between a husband and wife was at least a venial sin. The antagonism was due to the lack of control and almost bestial passion. The marital act was heavily imbedded, no pun intended, in the perception that man was just another animal, more connected to earthly affairs than spiritual ones. Celibacy reflected something of the eschaton where Jesus said there would be no marriage or giving in marriage. We would be like the angels. The testimony of St. Paul in favor of perfect continence and the model of Christ’s life insured that the celibate model would be given preference as the exemplar for holiness of life. Married people could become saints but their carnality was remarked upon as a handicap. Obviously, the negative view could be taken to extremes. The marital act, as the consummation and renewal for the sacrament, was a holy union. The two became one flesh and we saw something of Christ’s love for the Church in their covenant. Celibacy would still be deemed as of a higher order but it would be wrong to disparage the graces that come to a husband and wife.

Today it seems that many Catholics cater to the same negativity toward celibacy and virginity as most Protestant reformers. We should not imagine that the reformers attacked virginity or urged marriage simply from principle. Celibacy created a grouping of men and women who belonged entirely to the Church. It was sometimes difficult to intimidate such faithful sons and daughters. However, earthly princes, both German and English, learned quickly that if you give a man a wife and family then his first concern, more so than not, was their welfare. They would become more dependent upon the temporal ruler and accommodate his brand of religion. This coarse and opportunistic attack upon celibacy was disguised behind allegations of hypocrisy and unnatural lifestyles, just as critics today carelessly banter charges of child molestation. The notion of a meritorious virginity was reduced to the butt of jokes.