How do priests remain celibate?


I know this is a silly question and no I’m not attracted to a priest :slight_smile:

I am in great awe that priests make a vow of celibacy and am wondering…how do they do it? Do they keep their vows?

I have so much respect for their marriage to the church and have a great love for priests…but I always wonder…how do they do it and are they successful???

I am married and yes, sometimes I feel tempted, but I take my marriage vows very seriously…but a priest lives a life almost alone…no family, no physical contact with anyone…I remember when I was single and I was so lonely! I couldn’t bare it. I had lots of friends and all, but I felt empty still.

This is why I have so much love and respect for priests.


The vows that a priest takes, and makes with all of his heart, is to value Heaven more than earth. The more you reflect on, and value Christ’s promises of eternal life with Him and the Father, in the company of the Holy Spirit, mere human companionship fades. This is the marriage that they were called to, just as we were called to our vocation of marriage. As you are chaste in your marriage, so are the priests. I agree that the dedication to their vows is most admirable. Remember that they also admire your dedication to your vows.

Christ’s peace.


“Celibate” within the clergy normally means unmarried, so priests remain celibate by not getting married. Celibacy also implies chasity, which I think is more at the heart of your question?

How does a priest remain chaste? I wish I knew for sure, but my guess is Love of God more than love of pleasure.

What helps me as a sinner is to look to my priest as a reflection of the holiness I want and a model of a Godly life. I know that they struggle with this temptation, for they are human and we all struggle. Some have even given in to temptation, yet they are (for the majority of priests) successful in keeping their vows.

It is just another example of why I love our priests and hold them in such high esteem.


My priest says “Celibacy is not really the biggest problem, but obedience is”.

How they remain celibate? I guess the question can be asked to all - how do we avoid lust and flesh temptation? Through praying and denying oneself, controlling feeling, etc …


Well, first off, he of course stays away from obvious near occasions of sin, such as places where he will see women dressed immodestly, music which glorifies sex outside of marriage, and that sort of thing.

Even unintended violation of chastity requires opportunity, privacy, and secrecy. It is a wise priest who denies himself these, by only meeting with women when there will be no opportunity for him to have private or secret time alone with one of them.

Temptation may also follow the deprivation of legitimate needs. A wise priest does not allow himself to give so much and take so little that he becomes overly needy in an emotional sense. He does have friends and a social life and an appropriate amount of recreation. He also keeps company with other priests, men who are seeking to flourish within the same circumstance.

Finally, but most importantly: a wise priest does not neglect his relationship with the Lord. He does not take on so many responsibilities that his own spiritual life is neglected. Chastity cannot be lived, apart from a life of grace.

Of course, a married man or woman could wisely follow the same advice!


I just recently read an article addressing this issue. It is important to talk and discuss with other priests.


I’ve had priest friends tell me that just having another priest whom they respect saying, “yes, it is difficult” is affirming. They didn’t mean just the celibacy. It is like having friends who are married saying, “yes, marriage can be difficult, but it is so worth it”. Knowing that you are making the best of a difficult situation is so much better than worrying that you are having a difficult time with something that “should” be easy for you.


And don’t forget that our prayers help too! We all need to be praying for our priests. They have a VERY tough job. And where would we be without them?


It’s not just priest that live as celibates…In God all things are possible…some people have greater sex drives than others…I suspect someone that couldn’t live without sex would choose another vocation


As one person once said, “I didn’t practice celibacy, I perfected it!”

With prayer and will power and more prayer, and even more will power, it’s actually not as hard as some may think.

Some people use an “alternative” to celibacy that doesn’t involve a second person (use your imagination) but that’s a mortal sin and not an option.

Being single and considering a religious vocation, I have to say prayer and will power and prayer. And people praying for people like me.


They maintain their vows, those that do that is,I suppose for the exact same reason or reasons a married couple remains committed to each other or someone remains a virgin until married. Maybe even for the same reason a soldier goes into combat willingly knowing that he could die, or a Police Officer arrests someone trying to bribe him rather than taking the bribe,

Commitment. integrity and a belief in what you are doing and the life that you are living.

I had a good friend who was a Priest for many many years. He confided in me that remaining celibate wasn’t difficult for him as long as he remembered that he was first and foremost a priest and not just another member of the community, and that he was responsible for the spiritual guidance for many others…


This is true and in fact, the process for entering the priesthood, the vocation director will have a person contemplating the priesthood, go through a psychological profile, in order to help discern whether their sexual drive is not conducive to the priesthood.



That is doctrinal and it’s all very fine, but it doesn’t address the concrete, psychological part Serap is asking. They are alone.

I was once read, back in college, statistics on celibacy vow breakings and they don’t seem to be uncommon (that was a long time ago, so I don’t remember actual numbers nor the name of the studies). At first I was surprised, even shocked. But then one has to look within and ask oneself “How much have I failed in this or that?”. Look what I do and my burden isn’t comparable to the one they carry. Thier sacrifice compared to mine should put me to shame. And it does.

The proverbial beam in my eye…


An interesting enough question. My response in recent years is that the older you get, as a male, the easier it gets.

I’ve spent a few years celibate as an adult. It’s doable. Not easy, but doable. First thing, forget all the culture telling you that you constantly must have sex. I think there’s social pressure to have a lot of sex. . . and many will conform to these social expectations.


I agree. It is my opinion age has a lot to do with age. Dastardly hormones!


Oops! I meant: “It is my opinion it (sex drive control) has a lot to do with age.”


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