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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 – Love Not Hatred of Our Humanity

Marriage and celibacy as symbols both reveal and conceal. When properly realized they reflect unity in God, divine creativity, and foreshadow the kingdom. When disfigured by sin and weakness, they place the very mysteries they are suppose to reflect into doubt and become a kind of anti-symbol: manifesting chaos or confusion, human and natural destruction and earthbound hopelessness.

No Christian symbol should utterly eclipse or disguise another. The married couple need not look down upon celibacy as unnatural or impoverished. The celibate should not see himself as radically disconnected or specially enlightened to married couples with their sexual lives and families.  He is human and celibacy is a natural human lifestyle. Just as the “everything goes” hedonist violates the boundaries of decency; the prudish might develop a disgust for the physical and sexual.  The way certain rigorists speak about their celibacy, it sounds a little bit like science fiction.  It is as if they imagine themselves as inhuman aliens stranded on a planet with pathetic creatures more preoccupied with sensual and erotic pleasure than rational thought and spiritual pursuits.  A literary reference for this might be Dr. Henry Higgins in the play Pygmalion.  He coldly uses people and postures being a superior human, above most men and all women, along with their pointless pursuits at romance. Such an attitude might lead to a harsh bachelor’s life but would not be conducive to true Christian celibacy.  No one should hate his humanity.  This is particularly true for the celibate priest given that he participates in the one priesthood of Christ Incarnate.  He signifies God-made-man.  He gives a Eucharist that is the body and blood of a divine person, but offered to us in the Lord’s risen humanity.  Disgust toward our human nature is hatred of Christ.

Celibacy has significant meaning largely due to the fact that marriage and sexual love are deemed to have tremendous value. Take away this value and the cost of sacrifice goes along with it. The modern hedonist may not be all that far from his opposite, the restrained woman-hater. How is this? While there is a contemporary preoccupation with the flesh, there is a disconnect with the human psyche. We see this quite clearly in the contraceptive mentality. The essential “you” is reduced to something invisible that is pushing the buttons and yanking the gears to the robotic body that gives pleasure but is regarded as somehow extraneous to the person. Life becomes like the playing of a full-time video game. We become voyeurs even over ourselves. This separatist thinking has become contagious; the escape to fantasy and sex without consequences are the fruits.