Is the priesthood a higher calling than marriage?


#1

I’d like to know! Some people have told me that this is Church teaching, while others have said that it is not.


#2

Your survey needs more options. A calling into the religious life is a calling by Jesus. Just as a calling into the married life and a calling into the single life. God has choosen a life for everyone of us and they are all equal. We are all called to be holy.


#3

There is no varied dignity amoung callings. If one is called to marriage, it is to serve God. If one is called to the presbyterate, it is to humbly sever God. If one is called to a single life, It again is to serve God.

Certain callings invest a person with certain powers and authorities, but that does not make one better or higher, it just makes one more able to serve, they are tools with which to glorify God.


#4

The highest calling one can have is accepting the calling that God gives you.

Not all are called to a life of celibacy – this gift is only given to some, and those that are offered this gift should receive it. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery." The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.” But he said to them, “Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”

Matt. 19: 9:12


#5

The calling to the religious life is a higher calling because it asks more of a sacrifice from those who embrace it. And, the priesthood is the highest calling because he is a minister of the altar by whose hands Jesus Christ is made present in the consecrated bread and wine.

However, marriage is an equally valid calling. It does not ask those who marry to sacrifice children and a home of one’s own and other things denied to religious and many priests. But, as all us married people know, it is no cake walk even so and takes special grace to live out our marriage vows.

I believe this is the view of the Church, but I’m afraid I don’t have a source for you. Maybe someone else will. :slight_smile:


#6

[quote=Brain]There is no varied dignity amoung callings. If one is called to marriage, it is to serve God. If one is called to the presbyterate, it is to humbly sever God. If one is called to a single life, It again is to serve God.

Certain callings invest a person with certain powers and authorities, but that does not make one better or higher, it just makes one more able to serve, they are tools with which to glorify God.
[/quote]

Certainly the priest himself is not better or highter because of his calling any more than the president of the USA is necessarily a better man than his fellow politicians. But, the priesthood is a higher calling. See my other post for the reasons why. :wink:


#7

CCC - 1120 The ordained ministry or ministerial priesthood is at the service of the baptismal priesthood. The ordained priesthood guarantees that it really is Christ who acts in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit for the Church. The saving mission entrusted by the Father to his incarnate Son was committed to the apostles and through them to their successors: they receive the Spirit of Jesus to act in his name and in his person. The ordained minister is the sacramental bond that ties the liturgical action to what the apostles said and did and, through them, to the words and actions of Christ, the source and foundation of the sacraments.

When we die, we are no longer married. When a priest dies, he is still a priest. Even if he goes to hell, he is still a priest. Therefore, the vocation to the priesthood is a higher calling. It leaves an indelable mark, forever. Marriage does not.


#8

In Pope JP’s biography, he is very clear the the two callings are distinct, prepare for a different aspect of Heaven (love for the individual/God vs. love of the universal community, both of which we will do in Heaven), but equal.

I may not have explained this completely accurately but hopefully you get the drift (or read the book :D)


#9

[quote=awalt]In Pope JP’s biography, he is very clear the the two callings are distinct, prepare for a different aspect of Heaven (love for the individual/God vs. love of the universal community, both of which we will do in Heaven), but equal.

I may not have explained this completely accurately but hopefully you get the drift (or read the book :D)
[/quote]

This is what I was thinking! I think the book was “Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way,” or something to that effect. He clearly says that vocations are equal. I’ve also felt that way; everyone is different, God wants something different from each of us, but we’re all necessary.


#10

Many people like to think marriage is a lesser calling than being called to be a priest. They are wrong. Marriage is a vocation that is equal to that of the priesthood. It’s a call to holiness which requires saints to be able to live it. Our Lord tells us that heaven is a marriage banquet. If marriage is a lesser vocation what does that tell as about heaven? Are we going to suggest that heaven is somehow “less than” because it is about a marriage and our souls are going to be united with God in something that marriage symbolizes in this world? No. Marriage is extraordinarily dignified.

As stated in previous posts, JPII’s biography makes it clear that although the callings are distinct they are equal.


#11

My calling to my vocation will be higher than to another vocation. Your calling to your vocation will be higher than your calling to another vocation.

The priesthood is a higher calling than marriage for people called to be priests. Marriage is a higher calling than celibacy for people called to be married.

There, we all win. :stuck_out_tongue:

-Rob


#12

All vocations are born in Christ, and this is what is expressed by every anointing with Chrism-- from Holy Baptism to the anointing of the head of a bishop. This is the source of the dignity common to all Christian vocations, which, from this point of view, are all equal. They differ according to the role that Christ assigns to each individual within the community of the Church and the responsibility attached to the role. Great care must be taken so that "nothing is wasted" (John 6:12): no vocation should be wasted because all are valuable and necessary.

From Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way, John Paul II (excerpt from, section “Vocation,” subsection, “Sacred Chrism,” page 37).

It occured to me that this book was in my house and that I had never read it. I started reading and chanced upon this.

-Rob


#13

You know at first I felt the priesthood is a higher calling and still do due to, especially is done according to vows, give up all for the Church and God. But then again where would the church be without marriage to create priests. What is greater the created or the creators via God? Children are created by God via people not eggs or seeds. The priest must subject himself to his parrents. Then again which came first the chicken or the egg???


#14

Priesthood is the ministerial office which is a participation in Jesus Christ’s Priesthood. Ordination does not effect a superficial change in the status of men within the Mystical Body of the Church; there is a real and indelible character now on their souls identifying them as joined to Christ as His priest to His people, the Church.

A priest has this indelible character on his soul even when he doesn’t act, e.g., a laicized priest is a non-functioning priest, so character is not simply equal to function and function is not the origin of the objective dignity of the priest in the result. By Holy Orders the soul of the candidate already indelibly marked for Eternity in Baptism and Confirmation as a child of God is conformed objectively to the High Priest Jesus Christ by an ontological change which confers supernatural powers not available to the baptized or confirmed. This conformation of the soul objectively to Christ is the source of the dignity of the priest. That it is intended as a service is another point; but even if never used, he is a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. This is no abstract doctrine.

A few years ago there was the amazing story of a seminarian for the New York Archdiocese who was discovered to be dying of cancer. By a remarkable series of providential happenings, Rome granted the ordination of the young man which occurred just a couple of hours before his death! He never functioned as a priest nor could he, and it was known that he never would when the indult was granted personally by the Pope. Yet this young man remains a priest forever.

So there is an ontological change, not just functional orientation in the soul of the ordained objectively configuring his soul to the Priesthood of Christ as a victim-priest and that is the source of the priest as a sacred person set apart for the worship of God and the salvation of man within the Church. He never loses that being-set-apart-for-that-reason in conformity with Christ. Not even should he go to hell - it will always be seen. Some priests like St. Philip Neri and St. Padre Pio could always know, by a special supernatural gift, who was a priest dressed as a layman when no one else could, as can the angels (and demons). This is regardless of whether the priest is in a state of grace or not. This is why even a disreputable priest is treated with a certain dignity by the Church because of this character on his soul. It is also the reason why a priest does not rely on his subjective service to the faithful or his personal talents or charisms in being a priest, but on what Christ has done to his soul by ordination.

In the Church the priestly office places its members in a qualitatively superior position to the laity with superior powers and authority over the laity, meant for a greater service towards them, thus having a superior dignity. That is not clericalism. Clericalism is when one thinks that because of this superior supernatural status one’s human qualities are automatically superior, e.g., that priests know better about everything or have authority in non-Church matters like politics.

To recognize that the clerical state of ordination gives the recipient of it a greater dignity which is to be publicly recognized does not mean either clericalism or a diminution of the mission to serve. This mission to serve is ordered primarily to offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice and the other Sacraments, especially the forgiving of sins, as well as teaching the truth faith and guiding the faithful in attaining virtue and sanctify of life. It is primarily the laity’s privilege to sanctify all human life and bring faith and virtue into it, indeed into the whole world.


#15

Christ is present in the Sacrament of Marriage.

Christ is present in the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

To me there is no difference as for as level of calling. Christ is Christ. He’s not more Christ in one sacrament over another.

I went to the ordination of some priests in our diocese not too long ago and the bishop in his homily told the newly ordained priests, that they would soon be off to their assigned parishes, and would soon discover that there were many, many of the laity who were far holier than themselves.


#16

Of course it’s not a matter of greater holiness, but of an objective reality. Subjectively a given member of the laity may be far more holy than a given priest.


#17

From the Council of Trent, the Twenty Fourth Session, on the Sacrament of Matrimony, Cannon X

history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct24.html

CANON X.-If any one saith, that the marriage state is to be placed above the state of virginity, or of celibacy, and that it is not better and more blessed to remain in virginity, or in celibacy, than to be united in matrimony; let him be anathema.

The call to the Priesthood is certainly a higher calling than that of Matrimony. It is not to say that Marriage is not important, but one who gives up his life, a wife, a family, etc. to serve God without worldly distractions is following a higher calling.

Also, St. Paul teaches the supperiority of a call to celibacy and service to the Lord-

1 Corinthians 7:32-35

32I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord.
33But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife,
34and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
35I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction.


#18

i will say that the natures of the voactions are both ordered towards love but are the reversal of eachother fundamentally.
Marriage is a consolation that contains many sacrifices, “it is not good for man to be alone” and so Adam was consoled with a wife. But after the fall there was strife between the sexes and also the issues of survival taht could cause men and women to make sacrifices for one another.
Orders is a sacrifice containing consolation. a priest must give his whole self in sacrifice to God and God’s people, perhaps suffer loniness and (today esp, bt in the past as well) public distain, offering it up to christ. His call to be an alter christus is wholistic, he must love and suffer as christ did. But perhaps from fellowhip with the lord in sacrifice, and the love of his parishoners, he may find joy and consolation. Just as the married may find sacrifice in the life they lead.


#19

[quote=StCsDavid]Christ is present in the Sacrament of Marriage.

Christ is present in the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

[/quote]

That’s a very good point. Christ is present in both. They are distinctly different callings but neither is above the other.


#20

[quote=Mt19:26]Many people like to think marriage is a lesser calling than being called to be a priest. They are wrong. Marriage is a vocation that is equal to that of the priesthood. It’s a call to holiness which requires saints to be able to live it. Our Lord tells us that heaven is a marriage banquet. If marriage is a lesser vocation what does that tell as about heaven? Are we going to suggest that heaven is somehow “less than” because it is about a marriage and our souls are going to be united with God in something that marriage symbolizes in this world? No. Marriage is extraordinarily dignified.

As stated in previous posts, JPII’s biography makes it clear that although the callings are distinct they are equal.
[/quote]

And since those who started up the notion that the priesthood is a higher calling, were themselves priests, one may not unreasonably suspect that they were not wholly disinterested in their thinking :smiley:

Why does either have to be superior to the other ? Why can’t they be different, complementary, but equal, each with something different to do for Christ in His Church ? Why the jockeying to be “top dog” ? Now, if one of thm insisted on being inferior to the other, and on wanting to serve, rather than to be served… ##


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