The ordained priest, who is the instrument of The Priest, Christ Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Prince of the Most Profound Peace, has charge of the marriage bed shared by Jesus and His Bride, the Church.
Look, I am NOT a follower of slimy interpretations of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. The saint was clear that this is about mercy based on JUSTICE.
The ordained priest, acting in Persona Christi (in the Person of Christ) keeps the bride perfect in purity by his administration of the Sacraments. He prepares the Bride for Christ with Baptism and Confession. In his office as Eunuch, the priest does what the Lord does in preparing, metaphorically, the Bride for marriage. Scripturally, the doctrine proclaimed is as strong as the images provided in, e.g., Ezekiel 16:6-14…
And when I passed by you, and saw you weltering in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live, and grow up like a plant of the field.’ And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full maidenhood; your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare. When I passed by you again and looked upon you, behold, you were at the age for love; and I spread my skirt over you, and covered your nakedness: yea, I plighted my troth to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord GOD, and you became mine. Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you, and anointed you with oil. I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with leather, I swathed you in fine linen and covered you with silk. And I decked you with ornaments, and put bracelets on your arms, and a chain on your neck. And I put a ring on your nose, and earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown upon your head. Thus you were decked with gold and silver; and your raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and embroidered cloth; you ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful, and came to regal estate. And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor which I had bestowed upon you, says the Lord God.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Calvary is where the marriage of Christ and His Bride, the Church, is celebrated and, so to speak, consummated, that is, by way of mercy founded on JUSTICE. The priest is ordained to be an alter-Christus, another Christ. But there is only one Christ, one Priest, one Lord, one King, one Bridegroom, in whose Person the ordained priest acts (in Persona Christi). The ordained priest has a priestly character in Christ’s image that is far different from all other Christians’ ‘royal priesthood’.
The celibacy, the chastity, the continence and even perhaps the virginity he can enjoy finds its fulfilment in the charity of this wedding of Jesus and His Bride of which the eunuch priest is officially in charge and in which he participates, being married to the Church by the Sacrifice he offers, by the marriage vows he pronounces in Persona Christi, 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. Total self-giving to the other. The priest is in love with the Church, also his Bride, through, with and in Christ Jesus.
From the Congregation for Clergy:
“Through Him, with Him, and in Him, the priest becomes the servant of mankind. His very being, ontologically assimilated to Christ, constitutes the foundation of being ordained for the service of the community. Total commitment to Christ, aptly effected and witnessed through celibacy, places the priest at the service of all. The marvelous gift of celibacy is clarified by, and draws inspiration from, assimilation to the nuptial gift of the crucified and risen Son of God to a redeemed and renewed mankind.”
Note that this nuptial gift has nothing of the sexual about it, nothing of a pornographically fallen eroticism that is so often effervescently spoken about these days by some few in glowing terms, making the Last Supper and particularly Calvary some sort of sexualized experience even for Christ. That’s the most blasphemous perversion of the Theology of the Body of Saint Pope John Paul II. Blasphemy.
The begetting of children, the primary end of any marriage, is wrought in Christ’s marriage with His Bride, the Church, not by sexual activity, but by way of JUSTICE: He took on the consequence of the guilt we incurred because of original sin, death, which is also the worst we can give out, and is, therefore, exactly what we deserve in justice… He took this on and, standing in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, He had the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, to tell our Heavenly Father: “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”
This is how He begets the children of God, usurping the rights of Adam over us, and then the rights of Satan over us. Satan had rights over us because Adam was obedient to Satan instead of God. But the Lord transformed us from being the members of the fallen body of Adam that had been given over to Satan into the members of His Mystical Body. To become the members of His Body is marriage terminology of Saint Paul.
Saint Paul speaks of the Body of Christ, for this we become by way of the Eucharist, coming from the Last Supper and Calvary. These are united by Christ’s usage of the present participles: This is my Body now being given over for you… (eδιδόμενον) This is the Chalice of my Blood now being shed for you (ἐκχυννόμενον).
The priest, in acting in the Person of Christ, pronouncing these words, must himself be at the ready and in fact be laying down his life for his Bride, the Church, all in total self-giving for the other, the height of matrimonial love for the other. Here’s what Saint Paul has in Ephesians 5,22-33 (RSV):
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Note that the purity of chastity for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven brings with it a lively silence of heart and soul, an openness to listening to the Incarnate Word whom the priest preaches and whom the priest brings upon the altars where the nuptial joys of the Paschal Mystery are celebrated. The ordained priest rejoices by means of His obedience to the Incarnate Word, obedience meaning to be so transformed by that to which one listens that one’s life is conformed to this. The Father speaking the Word into us – that Word which resounds in the ever so lively silence of the chaste heart and soul – so transforms us into another Christ, an alter Christus, that there cannot be loneliness, only purification… and abundant innocent joy, beatitude and goodness.
Perhaps the fact that it is the bridal chamber of Christ’s own marriage with His bride, the Church, by way of His two wedding vows at the Last Supper, as manifested on Calvary — the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass — that is meant for His Apostles, His priests, when He says in the passage about the eunuchs, the keepers of the bed, of the bridal chamber: He who is able to make room, let him make room. He who is able to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the Bride of Christ in Persona Christ (in the Person of Christ), let him offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
We miss so much of this because of bad translations. When Jesus, in parables, speaks of His Apostles as “wedding guests”, the real translation is “sons of the bridal chamber.” When Jesus speaks of His Apostles as Eunuchs, He actually says that they are to be Keepers of the Bed, that is the wedding of Christ with the Church, which is an exercise of mercy founded on JUSTICE, Jesus on the Cross, which is the Holy Sacrfice of the Mass and the Sacraments which flow from the Sacrifice: Baptism, Confession…
NOBODY BUT NOBODY speaks of these things unless it’s blasphemy on the one hand or just total mayhem of sexual licence on the other.
In all of this, we have forgotten about Jesus. Priestly celibacy is all about Jesus. He came into this world to die. And THAT’s how He married His Bride, the Church. Being a “Eunuch” is all about laying down one’s life for the Church, the Bride of Christ.
By the way, all priests are married. So…
- Priests should stop whining that they’re not married. Those who do are liars. They are afraid to lay down their lives for the Church. They see no reason to do so. They don’t love the Church. They couldn’t care less. It’s not about the Church for them. It’s only about their own sexual license. Where are the martyrs, you ask? You won’t find any martyrs among the whiners.
- Laity should stop telling priests condescendingly that they should be married. They already are married. If only they knew it, and we wouldn’t be in such dire straits.