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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 Virginity of Jesus & Mary

Part of the problem in discussions about virginity and/or celibacy is that most critics have only generic dictionary definitions about these disciplines. The Christian discipline is focused upon Jesus Christ and demands a graced calling. The discipline is not arbitrary. The consecrated virgin has a real sense of vocation to a life of purity and devotion to the Lord as a bride of Christ. The religious finds his calling within the context of community and a certain charism. The celibate priest is centered upon a drastic identification with Christ. He acts in the person of Christ. Our Lord’s celibacy is a profound mystery at the heart of his identity and mission. The celibate priest shares in this mystery. The practical living out of this gift can be assisted by temperament and personal discipline (self-control); and yet, such factors alone would not distinguish it from any secular version of celibacy. It is Christ and divine favor (grace) that makes it distinctive and meritorious. This Christian celibacy belongs to Jesus Christ. Just as the ordained man can participate in Christ’s priesthood; he can also have a share in his virginity. Christ is a divine person; but he is also a perfect man, the new Adam. Despite contemporary stereotypes, the perfect male, indeed the supreme witness of manhood, is in Christ’s virginal masculinity. This parallels the perfection of womanhood in the new or second Eve, the Blessed Virgin Mary. God’s providence is not capricious. Evidently, in the eyes of the Almighty, this quality of virginity and/or celibacy was vitally important for the incarnation. What many regard as expendable and optional was regarded by God as an important ingredient in the work of our salvation. Why is sex or the mechanism for human generation avoided at the incarnation, in the daily life of Christ and finally in his resurrectional appearance? Despite Discovery Channel sensationalists, there is not the slightest hint in the Gospels that Jesus enjoyed any sexual encounter or got married. It is against this backdrop that priestly celibacy seems not only likely but is interpreted as integral to the sacramental equation.

Many models for Jesus are put forward today. While most reflect the biblical witness, a number do not. Our Lord was not a failed zealot or revolutionary. He cannot be recast as a female Messiah as certain radical feminists seek to do. These postulations are a sampling expression of the subjective mentality today; but truth is what it is, not what we might want or imagine it to be. Jesus is not androgynous, containing within himself all male and female potentialities. Some in the East thought this was necessary given the maxim, “Whatever is not assumed is not redeemed.” But God can do as he likes and it is enough that humanity should be saved, not that every individualization of mankind should be immediately realized in the Christ. St. Thomas Aquinas was infuriated by the notion of androgyny.  The scholastics suggested that the distinction between male and female humanity might be a matter of degree, with maleness reflecting the greater or higher perfection of humanity. I think the answer rests instead with the special participation of the Blessed Virgin Mother. Together, we have the new Adam and the new Eve. Mary is preserved from sin by her Son and in turn given a singular role to play at the Cross where she surrenders Jesus, who himself, lays down his life for all of us.