03 – Priestly Celibacy Series – Chastity

mudbowl faith by the sword elijah

This is the football “Mudbowl” jersey I helped to design for the “philosophers” of the seminary where I was teaching. The “name” at the top is for my own jersey only. I was one of the spiritual directors for the philosophers. Note the fiery sword of the great prophet Elijah!

As we continue our series, we’re still establishing some of definition of the terms. It’s all technical vocabulary. It’s worth the effort. Knowledge is good. Truth has good effects. Know the truth. Set the truth free in your life and you will realize that it it The Truth Himself who has set you free. Let’s talk about chastity:

Chastity— to be chaste, comes from castus, the past participle of carere, which means to [be] cut off. The meaning of “cut” is not in reference to castration[!] but refers to the result of living in a manner contradictory to the fallen ways of the world, keeping the commandments, cut off from the utter stupidity of the world specifically to be in awe before God, especially the priest (see ἁγνός – 1 Timothy 5:22).

“Do not lay hands too readily on anyone [in reference to ordination to the priesthood], and do not share in another’s sins. Keep yourself chaste.” (1 Timothy 5:22)

That term, ἁγνός, refers in its most ancient usage, going back to Sanskrit, to one who is set aside for worship. I find that to be most impressive. However, it our present usage:

Everyone is meant to be chaste, so that begetting children in the married state is living chastely. Chastity is holiness of life in regard to sexual morality. Priests are held up as examples in this regard since people have a sense that priests are to know that they are married to the Church, and are therefore to have the ferocity of spousal self-giving that is faithfulness, and this as a faithfulness in their vocation unto death to themselves so as to live for this Bride of Christ, the Church. What a travesty is bad example!

Christ “married” His Bride, the Church, at the Last Supper, with those ferocious wedding vows said by the priest today in the first person singular, acting in the Person of Christ: This is my body, given for you in sacrifice…. This is the chalice of my blood, poured out for you in sacrifice. This is total self-giving to the other, in this case right through death.

Again, if the priest does not realize that he is married to the Church by the very sacrifice that he offers at daily Mass, then surely he will be lost to all sort of sexual idiocy, at least in his spirit if not otherwise.

The sword here is double-edged. The same sword which would cut the priest off from the stupidity of the world, setting him off for worship, for offering the Sacrifice, is the very same sword which is medicinally cut him off from that worship should he fall into such grievous un-chastity that such a cutting off is merited.

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Filed under Priesthood, Priestly Celibacy, Priestly Celibacy Series, Vocations

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