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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 – The Celibate Caught Between Extremes

Celibacy and marriage in the Christian context speaks to human personhood. Sex is such a powerful drive that it can be corrupted and actually damage persons. When exploited, it becomes detached from the spiritual, from the self-donation and receptive activity of the marital covenant, objectifying the other instead of facilitating a subjective encounter with the beloved. Human sexuality is beautiful and profound and yet when twisted into something negative, it becomes a source of hatred, resentment, abuse, and fear. Instead of the profound, it becomes profane and hideous. One might relate this to art. While the human form and the marital embrace might be enshrined in great works of art; there is a vast gulf between this and the cheap pornography that saturates modern Western society. There is no comparison between the love of a husband and wife and that between a man who pays for a prostitute. When the body and human sexuality is reduced to a commodity, we are always contending against serious sin. Genuine bonds of marital love are an antidote to the poison. So too can we speak about priestly celibacy and consecrated virginity as beacons to the truth and healing. Embraced or offered up, human sexuality is then acknowledge as important and part of God’s plan for our holiness and happiness.

While Catholicism has not suffered the level of prudery seen in Puritan religion; she has endured the scruples of Jansenism and the Montanist hatred of the fruitful marriage bed. These matters swing from one pole to the other.  Today, while many substitute cohabitation for matrimony, there is a pervasive cynicism about marriage and its lasting vows. While in the past this might have led a person to a disavowal of marriage and all of its benefits; today men and women extract elements (sexual expression and possibly friendship) from the institution while discarding the rest. Permanence or fidelity, along with an openness to human life often accompany that which is cast upon the garbage heap. This past year, there were more couples living together than those getting married first. Children are increasingly likely to be born outside of wedlock. Half of all marriages in the United States will end in divorce. Contraception is widely used, and now made free by the HHS Obama healthcare mandate. One-and-a-half million abortions take place in our country alone annually. Everything seems to be infected by a manipulative eroticism: television and the Internet bring pornographic images into homes, sexual messages are salted throughout advertising, clothes (even for children) are sleazy and skimpy, and people make out in public with little or no reprimand. There was a time when many people took seriously the notion that sexual expression was reserved to husbands and wives in their bond of matrimony. Celibacy then was not such a giant leap since all single people were expected to be chaste. There was a general expectation that boys would misbehave and “sow their oats,” but this was regarded as a brief departure from the overall plan. It was still anticipated that they would settle down with “a nice girl,” meaning a virgin, remain faithful and raise a family. Feminism, instead of urging the boys to keep their purity like most girls, now recommends that girls be sexually active as well. Increasingly, this makes the celibate into an aberration that is misunderstood and suspected.