Homily: Marriage is Good, but Celibacy is Better


#1

Ave Maria!

Aug 16 - Homily - Fr Ignatius: Marriage is Good, but Celibacy is Better (video)
Our Lord says that marriage is good, but remaining celibate for the Kingdom is better. Father explains how a religious vocation is given by the grace of God alone, but also points out how "everyone who asks, receives", how saints say that we should simply ask for this grace of perfect chastity - to just try it, embrace it, strive for it...

Also, here is a good page on marriage and celibacy that quotes from saints, popes, the Catechism, and councils. religious-vocation.com/index.html. Ave Maria!

In the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary,

Friar John Paul


#2

I read the quotes from the second website. Thanks! :) Very good information.


#3

That is correct, but to avoid confusion I would phrase it “marriage is good and celibacy is better.”

Both are (potentially) holy states of life, and different people are called to one or the other.


#4

[quote="Aelred_Minor, post:3, topic:336514"]
That is correct, but to avoid confusion I would phrase it "marriage is good and celibacy is better."

Both are (potentially) holy states of life, and different people are called to one or the other.

[/quote]

Yes. I thought we had moved beyond marriage as a second-class vocation. That's clearly what the "but" says to me.


#5

. I understand the virtues of celibacy in the church, but the OP clearly states that Christ said that "marriage is good but celibacy is better" I can find no references other than what he says about celibacy in Matthew:
*Matthew 19:12 * For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it. (DRA).
Christ makes no comparison to marriage whatsoever! Can anyone please find me the source of were he says celibacy is better than marriage?

PS Not being anti-catholic, I am currently in the process of conversion and trying to find answers to doctrine that confuse me or I don't understand. I appreciate helpful answers.:thumbsup:


#6

[quote="Tarpeian_Rock, post:4, topic:336514"]
Yes. I thought we had moved beyond marriage as a second-class vocation. That's clearly what the "but" says to me.

[/quote]

I thought the same thing.


#7

It's in the Pauline epistles (1 Corinthians Chapter 7) that singleness is called the better vocation, because 1) it has less anxieties and 2) a single person is in a better position to focus on pleasing God, versus being divided with pleasing their spouse. It is not something that applies in all cases, because Paul tells us that if you struggle with burning passion, then marriage is superior to non-marriage. The best vocation is the one that bears the least anxieties and causes a person to become the least divided within their life, so that they are in the best position to be devoted to God. It depends on your particular gifts which vocation is the most prudent, and also in light of the reality that we live in a very imperfect world where we are tempted with many things. It is not proper to think of it in terms of 1st class or 2nd class, as though it were part of some kind of military ranking or corporate ladder. Singleness is the most ideal because it is the most direct, uninterrupted way of being close to God. This is the ultimate state we will be in when we become citizens of Heaven, and we are bound together as siblings, gods and goddesses, princes and princesses, serving and worshiping God.


#8

[quote="Tarpeian_Rock, post:4, topic:336514"]
Yes. I thought we had moved beyond marriage as a second-class vocation. That's clearly what the "but" says to me.

[/quote]

Regardless of whether the word "but" or "and" is used, the fact remains that Christ never uttered them at all regarding marrage and celibacy!


#9

Celibacy as part of a calling to the priesthood or religious life is a “higher calling” since it is not a calling from “nature” but from “grace.”

This does not mean marriage is lesser. It is natural. From the order of nature. Note that in marriage the spouses administer the sacrament to each other.

With ordination, or in taking sacred vows the person marries Christ.

Being a lay person is not lessor. Being married is not lesser. In fact we often fail to live UP to our calling as lay people and spouses.

We are called to make Holy our homes and the society we live in.


#10

[quote="TheBurningBush, post:8, topic:336514"]
Regardless of whether the word "but" or "and" is used, the fact remains that Christ never uttered them at all regarding marrage and celibacy!

[/quote]

This is addressed in 1 Corinthians chapter 7.


#11

[quote="TK421, post:10, topic:336514"]
This is addressed in 1 Corinthians chapter 7.

[/quote]

Please forgive my persistent stubbornness TK but my central point remains valid, both the OP and the link categorically state that Christ said celibacy was better than marriage, this is not the case, he never said it and never implied it. The words in Corinthians are by Paul not Christ, but even here Paul at no point says that celibacy is better than marriage or that it makes you a better Christian. He says that it is better to remain unmarried [for some] because it gives them more time to devote to spiritual work. Was St.Peter, Prince of the Apostles a lesser Christian because he was married? I think not.

Agape to you TK.

PS I love and treasure the Roman Catholic church, :)


#12

Hi TheBurningBush, I agree that the choice of words in the OP and the link are sort of misleading, though not deliberately ] and that a person unfamiliar with scripture could easily assume that Christ stood up and said… " marriage is good, but remaining celibate for the Kingdom is better." which of course
as you have said, he did not say. I noticed from a previous post that you said you lived in Northern Ireland like me. How are your family, friends and church members taking your conversion process? I admire your courage, it cant be easy for you becoming a Catholic here.


#13

Thanks for your interest Didascalia. It has been, and is a challenging process. I love the Presbyterian church, but I need more, specifically a church that recognises transubstantiation and confession. I have been to quite a few work groups and weekend retreats which I find very spiritual and uplifting. My minister has been very good about my feelings,and I have promised her that I will still attend our regular Tuesday prayer meetings and Thursday evening bible study group after conversion. If you want to talk some more e-mail or message me. :thumbsup:

ps thanks for agreeing about the op :slight_smile:


#14

Some church fathers made some analysis of the bible text about this topic, like St Chrysostomos (on virginity) did this really well. The result was that Jesus said this between the lines.


#15

:thumbsup:I agree. The issue is really discussed and debated out in some detail on Phatmass Phorum here (the same OP was recently posted):
phatmass.com/phorum/topic/130790-homily-marriage-is-good-but-celibacy-is-better/page-1


#16

Well, assuming you accept the authority of scripture, I don’t see any authoritative difference between Christ or between Paul. Although Paul is a man, he is speaking by will of the Holy Spirit, who is God. Whether or not it was explicitly covered in the gospels isn’t of much interest to me.

Whether or not somebody is a lesser Christian by being married depends on their particular circumstances. I do believe there are people - perhaps more than we realize - that just go along with getting married and having children because it is the predominant path to take. Other people are much more inherently suited for it.

The best vocation to take is the one that will cause the least division in your life in serving God. In a vacuum, the answer to this question is always “do not marry”. This may sting the pride but I don’t see how you can wiggle around what is being said. However in the context of the immorality, trials, and tribulations in this world, it may often be more prudent for a person to marry than to not marry. Each person has their gifts. Some one gift, the other that.

So yes, St. Peter may have been less than what he could have been as a result of him marrying earlier in life, although celibacy was not so overtly encouraged until post-Christ. Given his particularly exciting and awesome experiences in life - becoming an apostle while our Lord physically walked the earth - it shouldn’t be surprising he felt compelled, as with the others, to live a single life dedicated to the mission afterwards.


#17

[quote="TK421, post:16, topic:336514"]
Well, assuming you accept the authority of scripture,** I don't see any authoritative difference between Christ or between Paul.** Although Paul is a man, he is speaking by will of the Holy Spirit, who is God. Whether or not it was explicitly covered in the gospels isn't of much interest to me.

Whether or not somebody is a lesser Christian by being married depends on their particular circumstances. I do believe there are people - perhaps more than we realize - that just go along with getting married and having children because it is the predominant path to take. Other people are much more inherently suited for it.

The best vocation to take is the one that will cause the least division in your life in serving God. In a vacuum, the answer to this question is always "do not marry". This may sting the pride but I don't see how you can wiggle around what is being said. However in the context of the immorality, trials, and tribulations in this world, it may often be more prudent for a person to marry than to not marry. Each person has their gifts. Some one gift, the other that.

So yes, St. Peter *may* have been less than what he could have been as a result of him marrying earlier in life, although celibacy was not so overtly encouraged until post-Christ. Given his particularly exciting and awesome experiences in life - becoming an apostle while our Lord physically walked the earth - it shouldn't be surprising he felt compelled, as with the others, to live a single life dedicated to the mission afterwards.

[/quote]

I beg to disagree, Christs authority is the same as Pauls...are you kidding?:eek: You say that Paul was speaking through the authority of the Holy Spirit and god , but in the passages referring to married couples he is clearly giving a very personal opinion, born by comments like..." I wish everybody could be like me"...referring to his celibacy. This is clearly Pauls desire and not gods, because god told us to take wives and multiply. In verse 6 of chapter 7 he confirms its his own opinion and not gods command by saying " I say this as a concession, not as a command. **" When Paul wants to know its a command by god he straight tells us every time without exceptio ie verse 10 of chapter 7 10 **To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.

To suggest that Peter could have been a better disciple if he had been single and celibate is shocking! Not only is the implication that celibate people make better Christians it also infers that Christ made an error in judgment in picking a married man in the first place!

At what point did Peter leave is wife? I believe according to tradition as recorded by
Clement of Alexandria in his Strmanteus the following account of Peters wife martyred before his own eyes during the Neronian persecution at Rome..... Clement writes... **"They relate that the blessed Peter, seeing his own wife led away to execution, was delighted on account of her calling and return to her country, and that he cried to her in a consolatory and encouraging voice, addressing her by name: 'Oh thou, remember ,the Lord!' Such was the marriage of these blessed ones,* and such was their perfect affection towards their dearest
friends."*
Very evident from the above that Peter and his wife never parted company!


#18

[quote="TheBurningBush, post:5, topic:336514"]
. I understand the virtues of celibacy in the church, but the OP clearly states that Christ said that "marriage is good but celibacy is better" I can find no references other than what he says about celibacy in Matthew:
*Matthew 19:12 * For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it. (DRA).
Christ makes no comparison to marriage whatsoever! Can anyone please find me the source of were he says celibacy is better than marriage?

PS Not being anti-catholic, I am currently in the process of conversion and trying to find answers to doctrine that confuse me or I don't understand. I appreciate helpful answers.:thumbsup:

[/quote]

It will help if you read passage in context:

The RSV-CE reads: 3 Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” 8 He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.”[a]

10 His disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

I'm sure some people interpret it differently, but Jesus certainly does seem to be affirming the disciples' statement that it is better not to marry, but redirecting the idea away from their negative reaction to his prohibition of divorce and instead to what we would call the evangelical council of chastity (meaning in this context celibacy).

All three evangelical councils, poverty, chastity (meaning celibacy), and obedience, are things that are spiritually helpful and specially recommended by Jesus Christ, but they are not necessary for salvation nor are all people made for them.


#19

We are all called to the evangelical counsels - each in accord with his/her own vocation. Obviously, the practise of the married person in observing poverty for example is not the same as that radical poverty practised in religious life. The obedience of a married person is not the same in details as that in religious life. The married are called to martial chastity, not celibate chastity.
It is through the observance of the evangelical counsels in accord with our own vocation that we travel that road to the perfection of charity.

Catholic Catechism

915 *Christ proposes the evangelical counsels, in their great variety, to every disciple. The perfection of charity, to which all the faithful are called, entails for those who freely follow the call to consecrated life the obligation of practicing chastity in celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, poverty and obedience. It is the profession of these counsels, within a permanent state of life recognized by the Church, that characterizes the life consecrated to God.
*
1973
Besides its precepts, the New Law also includes the *evangelical counsels*. The traditional distinction between God's commandments and the evangelical counsels is drawn in relation to charity, the perfection of Christian life. The precepts are intended to remove whatever is incompatible with charity. The aim of the counsels is to remove whatever might hinder the development of charity, even if it is not contrary to it.32

1974 The evangelical counsels manifest the living fullness of charity, which is never satisfied with not giving more. They attest its vitality and call forth our spiritual readiness. The perfection of the New Law consists essentially in the precepts of love of God and neighbor. The counsels point out the more direct ways, the readier means, and are to be practiced in keeping with the vocation of each:
[God] does not want each person to keep all the counsels, but only** those appropriate to the diversity of persons, times, opportunities, and strengths**, as charity requires; for it is charity, as queen of all virtues, all commandments, all counsels, and, in short, of all laws and all Christian actions that gives to all of them their rank, order, time, and value.33


#20

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