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제목 Concerning Ordination to Sisters and Celibacy for Priests
작성자 관리자 작성일 2015-10-08


Concerning Ordination to Sisters and Celibacy for Priests


 These days some theologians, sisters, environmentalists and feminists exclaims there is the right to have the “Ordination to Sisters” and “No Celibacy for Priests”. They are forbidden by the Church. WHY does the Church forbid them to have the rights?


A  First point, this problematic of “rights” is absolutely foreign to the Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, and also foreign to the Fathers of the Church. They all teach the rights of God and the duties of men, summarized in the Ten Commandments.


 There are two important reasons why it is good to be so. The first is because the greatest Commandment is that of charity: “thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength.” (Mk. 12:30). So everything in the Church in centred on God, and not on man: man is all for God: “for all are yours; and you are Christ's; and Christ is God's” (1 Cor. 3:22-23). On the contrary, the spirit of the “rights of man” is all centred on man and no longer on God, and that is wrong from the start.


 The second reason is a simple remark of St Thomas Aquinas: the virtue of justice consists in rendering to our neighbour what we owe them, and not in claiming what they owe us: there is no need of virtue to claim what is due to us – even thieves can do that; virtue starts when you start rendering to others what you owe them! Preaching the rights of men only increases his envies and class struggle; preaching the duties of men, starting from the Love of God above all and following from it the love of our neighbour for God’s sake, on the contrary lead people to the fulfilment of their duties and thereby of their neighbour’s rights: peace and happiness ensues.
 

 So the problem is badly set from the beginning. There is no “right of women to be ordained.” I would even go further: there is not even any “right” for men to be ordained. It is a gift of God!

 
 Now if one opens his eyes on the Works of God, it is a most marvellous contemplation: God in His supreme Wisdom has done so many different things with so many deep harmonies and proportion that it is most admirable, not only in the material creation but even more in the spiritual world. But one thing is evident: God did not create all things equal: you have big stars (giants like Antares, which if it were at the centre of our Sun, the earth at its place would be burning in its flames!) and you have dwarf stars; you have giant planets as Jupiter and Saturn and small ones as Mercury; you have big mountains and small hills; you have big whales and plenty of beautiful small fishes, etc. And thank God for this marvellous diversity: it is an essential element in the beauty of God’s Work.


 Even within each species, there are not two roses exactly the same; there are not two pine trees exactly the same; similarly there are not two men exactly the same: even between true twins, mothers can discern one from the other! And God has a special plan for each one of us.


 Instead of trying to impose our views on God, we should try to conform our views to His! We learn from Him; we do not dictate to Him.

 

 We may legitimately ask Him: Why did You decide this or that? But we may NEVER say: You were wrong to do it this way or that way! For instance, the holy man Job did ask God: Why? Why did he suffer so much? Yet he never said that God was wrong in His Providence. He rather most beautifully accepted even his sufferings from the hands of God. His reaction to his two trials is most remarkable and worthy to meditate: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). “If we have received good things at the hand of God, why should we not receive evil [=sufferings]?” (Job 2:10)

 
 So the original question can be restated with much more calm and peace in this way, in four questions:

 

1/ Is a male-only priesthood revealed by God?

 2/ Is perfect chastity a requirement of the New Testament priesthood?

 3/ Why such perfect chastity?

4/ Why a male-only priesthood?


 1/ Now the Scripture is very clear on the first point, both in the Old and the New Testament: all the priests are male. Not only Aaron and his male-descendants, but even before, we see Abel, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, etc. offer sacrifices to the true God; we never see a woman in the Old Testament offer a sacrifices. Priestesses were only found in pagan devil worship, never in the worship of the God of Israel, of the most Holy Trinity!

 

  In the New Testament, our Lord Jesus Christ chose twelve Apostles all men; He did not choose His own Mother – whom he had filled with grace above all others. In other words, the office of the priesthood is not the same as sanctifying grace. Though she received more grace than anyone else, yet our Lady did not receive the office of the priesthood. In their turn, the Apostles only chose men to continue their office by the imposition of the hands; and the practice of choosing only men for the priesthood is unanimous in all the Church, East and West throughout all the centuries. That unanimity is clearly a proof that a male-only priesthood is intended by God; moreover the Church explicitly teaches so.

   
 2/ In the Old Testament since the priesthood was passed from father to son, the priests were evidently not required to be celibate! Yet it is to be noted that St John the Baptist – who was an Old Testament priest – was celibate. It is also to be noted that the Old Testament priests were staying a whole week in the Temple precinct during their time of service (see Lk. 1:23, 2 Kg 11:6-7, 1 Ch. 9:25…), and thus were obliged to abstain for that week since their wife was not allowed in the priests’ area.

 

 But in the New Testament, our Lord Jesus Christ evidently practiced perfect chastity; He chose Apostles who – from the time they followed Him – each left his wife[1] (Lk. 14:26) (with the consent of their wives, who were honoured that their husband had been called by our Lord Jesus Christ) and followed the example of perfect chastity of Jesus. The ministers of the altar of the New Testament followed that same example of perfect chastity of the Apostles: St Paul himself was clearly unmarried; he mentions that the Apostles were helped by “wife-sister” 1 Cor. 9:5, i.e. their wives followed them, but lived as a sister, no longer using of the marriage.

 

 That perfect chastity was required for the ministers of the Altar in the very first centuries of the Church is manifest in the very fact that – far from being any rebellion when the Church had to set laws about it (in 305 at the Council of Elvira), these laws were welcome as good by all, because they corrected what all considered as abuses, as opposed to the evangelical perfection required of ministers of the Altar. Now if there had been a “right” to marry for the ministers of the altar, the Church could not have suppressed it without a huge reaction: men usually do not give up such right easily!!! The truth is that ministers of the Altar had accepted willingly a life a perfect chastity at the time of their ordination and were bound to be faithful to the duties they had accepted.

 

 They were quite a few married men who had been chosen, but they knew very well that once ordained they had no longer the right to use of the marriage, they had renounced it on the day of their ordination. That was the reason why the wife had to give her consent, because clearly she was concerned too! And that explains why after the death of her husband, the wife of a priest was not allowed to remarry: because she had done the equivalent of the vow of chastity on the day of the ordination of her husband, and had to keep it after his death too. That also explains the impediment to ordination for men who had married a woman who had a bad life before their marriage: such bad life would indicate dangers that she would not keep the obligation of chastity, thereby becoming too much of a temptation for her husband.

 

 There are similar laws enacted in Spain, in Africa, in Rome, etc. Popes and holy bishops both in the West and the East fought to bring back the clergy to the standards established by the Apostles. However, in the East at the end of the 7th century (quite late!) a council caved in some bad habits of the clergy, and allowed priests who had been married before the ordination to use of the marriage even after.

 

 The successors of Peter have never recognised those canons of that Council (and some others which were already announcing the schism that came 350 years later), because they were not in conformity with the antique tradition even in the East.

 

 One sees easily in some of the annexed laws in that council that these annexed laws are logical only with the full requirement of chastity on the day of ordination. Indeed why would that council forbid widows of priests to remarry once their husband had died, except that they had done the vow of chastity on the day of their ordination? Otherwise, at the very time of the death of their husband, it imposes on them perfect chastity – which is a “yoke”, though when accepted with love is part of the “sweet yoke and light burden” of Christ – making that death even more difficult to bear. And why would the bishop be required to be unmarried and perfectly chaste? He has the perfection of the priesthood; but if it is not a requirement of the priesthood itself, one wonders why it would be imposed on the bishop? And why could not a priest marry after the priesthood? That can no longer be explained if perfect chastity is not itself a requirement of the priesthood (and thus applicable also to those who were married before).

 

 So it is quite clear from the facts of the Scriptures, and the life of the Church in the early centuries and its antique laws that perfect chastity is a requirement of the Catholic priesthood, of the priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ.


 Perfect chastity here does not only mean to avoid sins against chastity, but also to renounce to all sexual relation “for the sake of the Kingdom of God” (Lk. 18:29) – even the legitimate ones in a legitimate marriage. Indeed the Church always taught that marriage is good, but perfect chastity and especially consecrated virginity is better. “Good / better” this is the opposition that St Paul himself teaches to the Corinthians (7:38). The Church was always careful to stress that her love for perfect chastity in no way diminished the dignity of marriage, the goodness of marriage, the holiness of marriage – but simply stresses that consecrated life is worth even more, is even better and holier. Consecrated life is a sign that the Holy of holies Himself came into this world to sanctify us: that which approaches Him must be holy in a very special way. Most pagans don’t believe that it is possible; yet when they encounter it, they recognise the “finger of God” there. From the very beginning of the Church (see Acts 21:9) one sees flocks of consecrated souls, to the point that Europe became covered by monasteries in the Middle Ages, with hundreds of thousands of consecrated monks and nuns.

 

 3/ Why such a requirement of perfect chastity?

“They shall neither marry nor be married; but shall be as the angels of God in heaven” (Mt. 22:30). After the resurrection of the dead, such shall be the life of the Saints for ever, “like Angels in Heaven”. Thus the closer one become to God – who is the Supreme Spirit – the more one spiritualises oneself and thus detaches oneself from lower things (money and earthly possessions), lower pleasures (in marriage). The well-ordered and moderate use of earthly things is not sinful in itself, but it slows down the soul that is in love with God, it pulls it down; so generous souls, who want to love God “more”, who search the “greater” glory of God (motto of St Ignatius), renounce these earthly things. You have here the Evangelical Counsels of poverty and chastity; the third Evangelical Council, that of obedience, goes even further to detach from obstacles to holiness and puts oneself under the guidance of a superior on the path to Heaven.


 Now the supreme model of the evangelical counsels is our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross: who is more poor that our Lord Jesus Christ crucified, stripped of everything? Who is more chaste, more detached from pleasures of the flesh, than our Lord Jesus Christ crucified? Who is more obedient that our Lord Jesus Christ, “obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8)? On the Cross, our Lord Jesus Christ is priest and victim!

 

 Now the Sacrifice of the Cross is daily offered on the altar by the priest. St Paul writes: “We have an altar, whereof they have no power to eat who serve the tabernacle” (Heb. 13:10). Now who is the man more united with the sacrifice of the priests of the New Testament? The bishop told him on the day of his ordination: “imitamini quod tractatis – imitate what you handle, what you offer”. Hence, by the very fact the priest offers the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on the altar, he is bound in a very special way to imitate Jesus on the Cross, thus bound to the practice of the evangelical counsels.

 

 One can even say that the priest is more bound to the practice of the evangelical counsels by his very priesthood than the monk by his vows! Now that does not mean he will practice poverty or obedience in the same way as the monk, who has a local superior easily reachable for such practice, but he is bound by the spirit of these vows. This applies in particular for the counsel of chastity.


 Thus the fundamental reason why perfect chastity is required of the priest, is the very offering of the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the proper act of the priest, the act for which he has received the character of the priesthood, the act which he alone can do and no un-ordained person can ever do, the act to which all his life should be ordered and from which flows so much grace and blessings for him and all his flock. Who shall ever appreciate the unfathomable riches of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?


 When priests really love the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, they have no problem living the chastity required by their state; it is the neglect of this superior love that causes them to look for other love…

 
4/ Why a male-only priesthood?


 Now on the Cross our Lord Jesus Christ offered to His Father the supreme act of love, the supreme act of worship, the supreme practice of all virtues, making reparation for all the sins of the world, and meriting the Redemption sufficient to save all souls (though through their own fault not all souls benefit from it: some, by rejecting our Lord Jesus Christ and His law, fall into Hell). “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:13). Love is in giving; on the Cross, our Lord Jesus Christ gave everything: every honour to His Father, and everything for our salvation. So one can truly say that the Sacrifice of the Cross is a Mystery of Divine Love! It is truly a “holocaust” of love, where the immaculate Victim is consumed by the fires of divine love, “because the Lord thy God is a consuming fire” (Deut. 4:24 – Heb. 12:29)


 Now St Paul describes that mystery of divine love to the Ephesians: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it: that he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life: that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any; such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).
 

 “God is charity” (1 Jn. 4:8). Thus the very Mystery of God, the most Holy Trinity, is a Mystery of Charity; the Incarnation is a further mystery of Charity, and the Redemption by the  Sacrifice of the Cross is a Mystery of Charity. It is the mystical marriage of Christ and the Church: like Eve was formed out of the open side of the sleeping Adam, so was the Church formed out of the open Side of Christ in the sleep of death. Who represented the Church at the foot of the Cross? Mary! There she is, the New Eve, helper of the New Adam. Mary as the New Eve is a theme we find in the very earliest Fathers of the Church, such as St Justin and St Irenaeus and almost all the others after them. And Christ does behave there as the Groom, giving her a son: “Woman, behold thy son!” (Jn. 19:26)

 

 Since the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the offering of the very Sacrifice of the Cross, where Christ is as the Groom, the Mass is the Sacrament of the mystical marriage of Christ and His Church; the priest stands there in place of Christ-Groom, therefore only a man can represent that. He should immolate himself with Christ for the Church: “Vado immolari pro vobis – I go to be immolated for you!” (Good Friday liturgy).


 This is the fundamental reason why there is a male-only priesthood.

Women have another vocation, similar to that of the Blessed Virgin Mary: to be brides of Christ, to nurture life in souls: in children, in the sick, in all kinds of needy souls: to nurture the life of Christ in them, by their prayers, sacrifices and holy life, in imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


Fr. F. Laisey(sspxasia)


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[1] Except St John, whom the Tradition teaches us was the “Virgin Apostle”. Thus St Jerome says about him at the foot of the Cross: “Virgo virginem virgini commendavit – the Virgin-Christ commended the Virgin-Apostle to His Virgin-Mother.”