Tag Archives: bridegroom

The Celibacy Myth:Loving For Life: Part 4

Continuation of the outline of the book: The Celibacy Myth: Loving for Life; Charles A.Callagher and Thomas L. Vandenberg. St Paul Publications. England. 1987

This is an excellent book written mainly for Catholic priests but it has relevance for all celibates.

 Chapter3: Bachelor or Bridegroom?

A priest or Christian leader should not be described as a ‘man of God’ but a ‘man of God’s people’ and Celibacy is a way of loving for life” …When living in relationship with his people, his (i.e. the priest’s) basic human emotional needs for love, belonging and self-worth will be met.

The more we lose ourselves in love and move in self-giving, the more we find our identity as people. Marriages that are successful are not based on ‘my-need’ but on self-giving.  It is no good getting married for what is ‘in it for me’. ‘Give and it shall be given to you’ is a recipe for successful marriage i.e. you have to be the one who initiates the affirming and loving process. It is all too easy to compensate for lack of relationship by busyness, career etc. – and before you know it the relationship drifts apart.

Priests become leaders in order to express self-giving to the people of God. It is not a job, it is a relationship; the priest is taking a Bride.  As the priest offers himself totally up for his people, his own heart is filled. He does not think in terms of self-fulfilment but in terms of what he can give to the Bride. Celibacy can only be understood in terms of love commitment to the church – not in terms of what has to be sacrificed. A celibate’s needs are fulfilled among the people of God.

When a celibate senses a need in himself to be loved, he must reach out in love to his people. He must take responsibility for meeting his needs, and he does so by giving of himself.” As celibates we need not fear our negative feelings of loneliness and anger. They are God’s call to us – into a deeper relationship with His people. Priests must not compensate for unmet needs by being needlessly busy.

As celibates, we have to fight the independent spirit. It’s easy to withdraw and become aloof – especially when one’s self-esteem becomes low.  At such times, like a married man has to rekindle his love for his wife, a faint-hearted celibate “can choose to refocus his attention on his beloved people by loving beyond his hurts and disappointments. When his sense of self-esteem is wanting, a priest can remember that he is part of something bigger than himself and can choose to affirm, praise, and build up his spouse, the people of the church.”

celibacy myth




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Posted by on Fri 22nd Feb 2013 in Books


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Living life to love

A friend of mine suggested I post some words to a song I wrote recently.  The first bits that came were a few chords, a rhythm and some wo o o o o’s, but a few days later I got thinking…  Both my parents are in their 70s now and before long I’ll be hitting 40. I suddenly started to grasp just how short our life on Planet Earth is and felt so grateful for knowing God in my life.  It also made me want to give my best for the next 40 years or so, as it’s the only chance I’ve got and there’s the whole of eternity to enjoy.  So, here they are…(without the wo o o o o’s)

Flowers fade, but Your love remains; we’re growing older, but You stay the same.

Time’s passing by like the blink of an eye; want to give us my life for others God.

We’ve only got one life to live and there’s and endless stream of love to give.

When I die, my life has passed me by, I want to say that I walked with You my Lord.

Each passing day, help me to live Your way, so I’m storing some treasure up above.

We’ve only got one life to live and there’s an endless stream of love to give.

When we stand there, New Earth’s breezes in our hair, a perfect bride at Your side;

Round us there’ll be those we helped to be free.  They’ll be weaving together worship harmonies.

We’ve only got one life to live and there’s an endless stream of love to give.

So let’s give it!

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Posted by on Tue 30th Oct 2012 in Snippets


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Quote – John Chrysostom: the bridegroom

‘You have a heavenly bridegroom, indeed for whom it is well worth making any sacrifice here on earth.’

John Chrysostom 344? – 407

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Posted by on Tue 28th Aug 2012 in Quotes


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A crucified life: John Chrysostom: fourth century celibate leader

Sunset in Istanbul (once Constantinople)

‘God does not refuse it [the gift of celibacy] to anyone who asks Him for it with fervour … this gift is granted to all those who wish for it and who ask for it.’

‘The root and flower of celibacy is a crucified life.’

To celibates: ‘You have a heavenly bridegroom, indeed for whom it is well worth making any sacrifice here on earth.’

John Chrysostom 344? – 407

Soon after his death this celebrated leader of the eastern church gained the virtue name Chrysostom, meaning ‘golden mouth’, due to his great eloquence and ability to preach the gospel in a way that everyone could understand.

John Chrysostom was born in Antioch, Syria, and his father, Secundus, was chief commander of the imperial troops there. Secundus died young and the care of his young family was left to his wife, Anthusa, who was only twenty. She was a devoted Christian and never remarried. One of John’s pagan tutors, on seeing her courage in widowhood commented, ‘God, what women these Christians have!’

Around the year 374, John retired to the mountains near Antioch and for four years lived with some monks who lived in community there. Describing the experience he says, ‘The cold words mine and thine were banished … no one possessed anything as his own and the quality of life there was as different from the world as the security of a peaceful harbour is from the most tempestuous ocean.’ Later he lived as a hermit in a cave but ill health caused him to return to the city.

In 381 John became a deacon, in 384 he was ordained a priest and in 398 he was appointed, against his will, Archbishop of Constantinople but, from the start, his no-compromise stance and his powerful and controversial preaching made him enemies as well as friends. The previous bishop of Constantinople had lived at great expense but John lived very frugally and gave all excess money to the poor and sick of the city. Not only did he sell the luxurious furniture belonging to his extravagant predecessor, he even smelted down some sacred church vessels and gave the proceeds to the poor. He started many hospitals in the city which were staffed by priests whom, he insisted, had to be not only of holy character but full of tenderness, compassion and wisdom too.

John reformed the priesthood and with his eloquent, fiery, persuasive preaching, fearlessly attacked unholiness in the church. Yet, underlying this, was a tender and passionate love for his flock. He could describe himself as their ‘slave’ and said that same slavery was his delight. Particularly knowing his special care and oversight were a very devoted group of celibate women belonging to his flock led by a certain woman, Nicareta, and in his preaching he never tired of recommending that celibacy chosen for God’s sake was the better way, for those who were called to it. He wrote:

God does not refuse it [the gift of celibacy] to anyone who asks Him for it with fervour … this gift is granted to all those who wish for it and who ask for it.”

John was a man of action, sending missionaries abroad and serving the underprivileged in his home city, Constantinople. Yet, undergirding his powerful ministry and great productiveness was a heart which loved quietness, contemplation and prayer.

John Chrysostom wrote a good deal, and included amongst his writings are three small works, entitled: ‘On Virginity,’ ‘To a Young Widow’ and ‘Single Marriage’. In these he sets out his views on the single life. For him celibacy was not so much about abstinence but about giving oneself wholesale to purity and finding a special consecration to Christ.  It is not an easy way, he writes, for ‘one must walk on burning coals without being

a crucified life

scorched, on a naked sword without being wounded, since lust is as overpowering as fire and steel.’ But these temptations, writes John, can be overcome and the rewards one finds in the celibate call are beyond any price. Indeed, through the power of the Spirit the gift of celibacy can have a transforming effect on human beings. ‘The root and flower of celibacy is a crucified life,’ John writes to celibates and yet, ‘You have a heavenly Bridegroom, indeed for Whom it is well worth making any sacrifice here on earth.’

John’s outspokenness against the city’s vices won him enemies, not least the Empress, Eudoxia, who secured his banishment from Constantinople on two occasions. The second time he was exiled he was dispatched to the far reaches of the empire where the inhospitable climate caused his weakening strength to finally fail. If he had had a thousand lives he would be ready to lay them all down for his flock, he had said at his first banishment and now, on the eve of his death he had a vision of a former martyr standing before him saying: “Be of good courage, brother John; tomorrow we shall be together.”

And so he died, greatly venerated; his remains were eventually taken in honour first to Constantinople and then to Rome.


Posted by on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 in Historical


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