The encyclical of Pius XII on virginity says that the “Pharisees proudly flaunt[ed] their physical integrity” and that they rejected marriage out of spite for their calling. I was wondering where this knowledge of that sect comes from. Thanks

This is what the encyclical actually says:

  1. Those therefore, who do not marry because of exaggerated self-interest, or because, as Augustine says,[15] they shun the burdens of marriage or because like Pharisees they proudly flaunt their physical integrity, an attitude which has been condemned by the Council of Gangra lest men and women renounce marriage as though it were something despicable instead of because virginity is something beautiful and holy, - none of these can claim for themselves the honor of Christian virginity.[16]


He quotes Augustine and another document. See references 15 and 16.

  1. S. Augustin., De sancta virginitate, c. 22; PL XL, 407.
  1. Cf. can. 9; Mansi, Coll. concil., II, 1096.

Back in the days of the Pharisees I guess you could flaunt your virginity, puffing yourself up before others. Not much chance of doing that in todays world though. :wink:

The Catechism of Trent, in the preface to the chapter on marriage, says the greatest happiness in life is contemplating God. I remember my grandfather saying the greatest joy for him was holding his kids for the first time. For me, although I’ve enjoyed contemplating truth and how it reflects God, would have to say my first kiss was the happiest moment of my life. I was wondering how the Church could teach with certainty on this. Is She only referring to what Aquinas refers to as “ecstasies”?? Or are nuns much more likely to be happy than the rest of us?

I can’t speak for the catechism. But the contemplation of God I think has many ‘levels’ all the way up to the beatific vision. I think it is probably talking about prayer and deep communion with God, not just thinking about something.

Where is that in Trent? I couldn’t find it in session 24. At any rate, nuns don’t necessarily contemplate God any more or better than laity do. The “vision” of God is said to be man’s highest end, the source of total satisfaction, unending bliss. Other, created or earthly things, are good-very good- but won’t give us a satisfaction that endures-they’re simply not enough to complete the job, to quench the thirst we all have by our natures. This understanding has been arrived at by the revelations God has granted culminating in the advent of Jesus, as well as individual experiences that believers have been granted down through the centuries, some of which the Church has embraced as being true witness to the beatitude we’re called to. The “problem” is that the “experience of God” is ineffable, outside of anything we know in our daily lives here on earth:

**But just as it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him.” God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. ** 1 Cor 2:9-10

This is what the disciples were trying to convey, what they had seen and heard, even if only as a glimpse compared to the final Vision:

**“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” **1 Cor 13:12


“As it is the duty of the pastor to seek the holiness and perfection of the faithful, his earnest desires must be in full accordance with those expressed by the Apostle when writing to the Corinthians: I would that all men were even as myself, that is, that all should embrace the virtue of continence. No greater happiness can befall the faithful **in this life **than to have their souls distracted by no worldly cares, the unruly desires of the flesh tranquillised and restrained, and the mind fixed on the practice of piety and the contemplation of heavenly things”

The Church teaches that the best thing that one can do with sex desires is offer them up completely instead of having marital relations. Sex is for those who need it. I am not sure what to think when writers like Tim Staples say that grace pours down on married couples when they have sex. If they want to have sex because it feels good that is not a virtuous act, nor a sin. But if someone does it for the other out of charity (what this society calls “pity sex”) then the grace is given during the decision to go have sex. It is actually more difficult to be moderate about sex in marriage than to completely give it up, so actually the married people have the possibility to be greater then nuns, but Augustine and Jerome said this is very hard; near impossible not to commit an imperfection of excess in the bedroom. The encyclical of Pius XII mentioned says that it is NOT the physical pleasure itself that keeps someone in a lesser place of sanctity. That what I didn’t understand at first. Its the choice to sacrifice the whole thing that gives virgins there special place. People who were always virgins are only special because they had the commitment longer. If they have a wet dream, it does not take away from their place spiritually, maybe through temptation, but its not like the pleasure pushes one further from God. Still, moments of “seeing only a reflection as in a mirror” of God must be amazing in this life to be better than sex with one’s wife.

It would have been normal for a Pharisee to be married.

That’s why I was wondering what the Pope (quoting Augustine I guess) was saying


Having read the text, I wonder if it’s a translation/grammar problem where the flaunting of physical integrity isn’t associated with supposed Pharisee virginity but rather something wrong in and of itself.

St. Paul was a Pharisee who never married. He wrote it was better for him to be single to do the work the Lord called him to do.

Well, aside from the fact that, to me, he’s just a character in some book :slight_smile: . . . one unmarried Pharisee wouldn’t mean that my statement that it would be normal for a Pharisee to be married is incorrect.

OH! “they shun the burdens of marriage or because LIKE Pharisees they proudly flaunt their physical integrity”. Not “like THE pharrisees did”. Its talking about pride in general

The parable in Luke shows at least one of them is clearly worried about the adulterous state of his contemporaries. That the Pharisee’s worry is held as a form of contempt in the parable might indicate that the use of the word “spite” in reference to rejecting marriage is possibly derived as not much more than a stone’s throw away from what we can now glean from the word as written.

“In order to acquire this perfect mastery of the spirit over the senses, it is not enough to refrain from acts directly contrary to chastity, but it is necessary also generously to renounce anything that may offend this virtue nearly or remotely” Pius XII’s encyclical. Just finished reading it. It says what Augustine and Jerome pointed out

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