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.
Callagher and Vandenberg tell us that it is not the job a priest does that is important so much as who he is and how much he loves. It is not a contract that unites the priest with his congregation but rather a covenant of love (in the same way that marriage is a covenant of love and not just a contract).
We must look at the way Jesus treated His disciples and follow Him.
“I am in your midst as one who serves you (Luke 22:28).
“I call you friends (John 15:15).
Relationships were of great importance to the apostle Paul. It is love that must be central to the life of a priest.
Being faithful in marriage is not just about abstaining from sex with another person. It is something positive, a real giving of one’s self to one’s partner with enjoyment. Celibacy is the same – it is something positive, a gift lived out with joy. It is delight in one’s people. It, like a faithful marriage, goes far beyond duty. Celibacy should not be a burden.
Chapter 6: Fellowship or Communion
We can have intimacy in relationships without sex. “Intimacy involves … the willingness to disclose oneself to others, to become somewhat vulnerable by being honest about one’s self … and a willingness to let others become a part of and an influence on one’s own life.” Joseph Bernardin: Towards a Spirituality of Marital Intimacy. Origins 10/18 (16 Oct 1980).
“Living celibacy, then, like living marriage, requires constant effort. There is nothing automatic about it.”
Sometimes it is easier to pour out love than to receive love: “When he is loving, it is on his terms; he is in control. But when he is receiving love, he must give up control and allow his people to love him on their terms.” We must receive love in order to live out our celibate gifting and be there for the people. Jesus said to Peter, ‘Do you love Me?’ It was important for Him to feel loved. We too, must allow ourselves to be loved.
The role of leadership in the Church is to love purely and to bring about a greater brotherhood amongst the people of God. It is from the love-communion between God’s people that the mission of the Church must flow. Celibacy must be a catalyst for a stronger church-brotherhood, a living communion of people that love.
“Just as a married man must evaluate his success as a husband in terms of how happy his wife is, a celibate priest must evaluate his success as a celibate in terms of how happy his people are.” A priest who loves will bring out both goodness and joy in his people. Celibacy is not about heroism and self-sacrifice so much as about belonging to a people, a belonging that is characterized by warmth and tenderness. Those who are full of love will always make others feel good about themselves.
Celibates need a love relationship – with the people of God. Celibacy is all about loving a people and that takes self-giving and hard work. The people must sustain a priest’s celibacy by loving him too.
“In a very real way, their (God’s people) priest’s ability to live celibacy is in their hands.”