Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Priest Needs Friends

A seminarian I know was introduced to a fellow classmate at his Italian language school and after hearing that he was a seminarian, asked, "Molested any children recently?" Obviously the man had a distaste, maybe even hatred towards Catholicism and the sex abuse scandal made it all that much easier to hate. Yet it is interesting to hear people blame things like the sex abuse scandal or alcoholic priests on celibacy. Celibacy is supposedly so unnatural, so happiness destroying, it drives priests to sexually abuse children and abuse alcohol.

One thing you quickly learn in the seminary is how much focus and attention is paid to living a healthy celibate life. It isn't easy . Neither is the married life. But through the grace of God and good formation it is not only possible, but it is life giving and soul-saving powerful.

But back to the subject at hand, are priests, because they are celibate oppressing their own sexuality and living a mediocre existence? If you trust studies, you will have to agree that the Catholic priesthood has one of the highest rates of satisfaction among occupations. Priests love their lives. But don't they get lonely or depressed from being celibate? Yes and no - not if they follow the wisdom of most priests who have a family of relatives as well as many families and friends they have met along the way. Further, every priest should be in a support group of priest that meet once a month as well as develop fraternal connections with the entire presbyterate of the diocese. But a certain loneliness is a part of everyone's life, even a priest. A man with a huge family can still find himself alone. And some of that aloneness is good because we share it with Christ. Priests who fall into the bad habits are like people in any occupations, they often isolate themselves. This is always a first step towards bad news since man is made for relationship, not isolation.

As well, a result of celibacy is the ability to give oneself 100% to ministry, not working 9-5 but 24/7. The priest enters into the lives of his people at any moment and acts as the Christ in the flesh. No wonder job satisfaction is so high! You are truly doing things that matter.

Don't think celibacy is too much because you will find yourself alone. Just the opposite. You will find yourself at the center of the greatest family you have ever known.

No comments: