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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.”

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Posted by on Fri 22nd Feb 2013 in Books

 

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The Celibacy Myth: Loving for Life: Part 3

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

Chapter 2: Matrimony and Celibacy: Adversaries or Allies?

 celibacy mythCelibacy and marriage have a great need for each other.

Celibacy, according to the New Testament, is for the Church, for furthering the Kingdom of God. Marriage, too, is for the Church, for furthering the Kingdom.

Celibacy is not a private affair between oneself and God; neither, is marriage. Both are to enrich the Church.

 “When a priest it totally taken with his people, absorbed in them, then celibacy becomes ”of course’ instead of ‘I have to’.” In this way celibacy is no different from faithful marriage. A faithful man promises commitment to one woman and that ‘narrowness’ enhances that one relationship.

It seems that the higher marriage is upheld, the more too is celibacy – and visa-versa. Both marriage and celibacy are a calling, a sacrament. To uphold the sacredness of one is to uphold the sacredness of the other.

Matrimony and celibacy are church experiences; they are complementary life styles meant for each other.”

Celibates need a relationship, friendship, with happily married couples – not just with ones who need their advice because they have problems.

Of both celibacy and marriage: Together, they are reeling from the shock waves of a society that has turned its back from the very notion of commitment itself.” Where marriage fails, so will celibacy and visa versa.

To be continued.

 
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Posted by on Fri 15th Feb 2013 in Books

 

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The Celibacy Myth: Loving for Life: Book Outline: Part 2

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.

Chapter 1: Privation or Privilege

Christian celibates do not concentrate on what is to be  given up but on what is to be received and moved into. Celibacy is not a privation but a privilege.When people talk about celibacy they seem to view it as something negative e.g. abstaining from marriage, not having sex etc. but this is not a definition of what celibacy is.

Celibacy is about relationship – the relationship of a priest with his people. He is especially given over to his people in the way a married man is particularly given over to his wife and children.

Celibacy is nothing to do with ‘a job’ or even having more time for ‘the job’. It is far more than that. There must be a real quality and depth of relationship between a priest and his people – a relationship that is far more than doing the job. It is about commitment and a deep bonding with a people.

“Rather than being the operator of a spiritual filling station, a priest is more like the conductor of an orchestra who enables the talents of his people to emerge for the glory of God.”

 A priest does this because he is in communion with his people. A priest is not above his people, but is in the centre with them. He is like a father in a family; there is value in what he does for his people, but it cannot replace who he is with his people.

Celibacy must facilitate this relationship (between priest and people) and from that the Bocelibacy mythdy of Christ (the church) is built up.

This series, outline of ‘The Celibacy Myth’, to be continued.

 
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Posted by on Fri 8th Feb 2013 in Books

 

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The Celibacy Myth: Loving for Life: book outline

celibacy mythThe Celibacy Myth: Loving for Life; Charles A.Callagher and Thomas L. Vandenberg. St Paul Publications. England 1987.

 This book is an excellent inspirational book on celibacy, particularly written for Catholic priests. However, it has great relevance to men and women who feel called to celibacy from every tradition.

 Below is an outline of the book (and will be in several parts).

 Introduction: Celibacy is for the Church, it is to further the Kingdom. Celibacy does not imply that marriage is second class. Indeed, Celibacy and marriage are to be equally supportive of each other.

 A commitment to celibacy only thrives through relationships. If the Church’s central focus ceases to be relationships then celibacy will lose its power and meaning:

 “The point of celibacy is not to show people how to live alone but to facilitate their living together. Celibacy is not an excuse to hang a ‘Do no–Disturb’ sign in front of the parish house. To the contrary, it is a gift of the Spirit that invites a priest to be accessible to his people. While he is bound to benefit personally, celibacy is ultimately for the sake of his people and for the building up of the church as a community of faith. Of its nature, celibacy is not meant to be lived in private. It is a call to relationship.”

However, a relationship with God is also all-important:God alone is the reality that can give purpose and meaning to a celibate’s life. Without a life of communion with Jesus, he is bound to lose his way.”

The way for celibates is not so much about God entering our lives but us entering God’s life.  We do not merely want to live for Him, but to live His life for the sake of others.

To be continued

 
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Posted by on Fri 1st Feb 2013 in Books

 

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Three Questions About Celibacy

Ann outside Coventry Jesus Centre where she works


Recently a young woman emailed the Undividedblog with questions about Christian celibacy.

Ann Hawker (living in Coventry and a committed Christian celibate for 32 years), Steve Moseley (living in Warwickshire and a committed Christian celibate for 27 years) and Iain Gorrie (married with three children and living in Coventry) give their answers.

 


How do you keep an undivided heart?

Ann: Find ways that work for you to help you be aware of the love of God both personally and for people generally so that you don’t grow cold inside. Worship is one way of doing this.

Have an attitude of service so that you seek out ways to help others and don’t get too absorbed with yourself.

Steve, living for Jesus

Steve: I throw myself into Kingdom life! Celibacy is all about a relationship with God and devotion to the church – a “marriage” with the Kingdom of Jesus. If that sense of being “married” is lost, then you’ve become divided. In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul talks about being free from “cares” – the power of natural demands that can sap your spiritual energy, dim your clarity of heart and vision, and compromise your devotion to the Kingdom of God.

Leaders and pastors can have many cares without having a spouse or kids! Protecting my celibate gift, sharing my heart with other celibates, worship and feeding my spirit are all important if I am to stay free from cares.

Also, in order to keep your celibate heart fresh you must embrace the cost now, today. The cost changes as you go along. For example in my late twenties being unable to have children was not for me a cost. Later, in my mid-thirties, the cost suddenly hit me! I had to bring the natural desire to have children painfully to the Cross. Over several years of surrendering, the Spirit took hold of the natural desire and transformed it so that I could become a spiritual father.

Does celibacy work outside of Christian community?

Ann: A call to celibacy can be received and maintained in whatever lifestyle setting you find yourself in.  However, in order to carry the wholeness and fruitfulness of celibacy it is important to have many different opportunities for wholesome relationships and human interaction and a sense of purpose and fulfilment.  This is probably easier within a fairly close community structure but can be achieved within a broader sense of community.  Celibacy is not at its best if it is simply a denial of something rather than an opportunity for something greater which in most cases would mean service and connection with others around.

Steve: I used to think that celibacy would only truly work within a Christian community like our own in the Jesus Fellowship/Jesus Army. However, in recent years I have seen many examples of celibates living on their own who are finding real fulfilment in their celibacy. Of course everyone is different but the crucial thing is relationships – whatever their living situation a celibate must be well related, knitted in to the Body of Christ and able to express their gifts and ministry.

Is celibacy really a ‘higher or harder’ calling than marriage?

Ann: It is a “harder” call in the sense that marriage is a more normal condition and standing against the natural tendency of romance, sexual gratification and close intimacy is a very real challenge.  There is also a great deal of fear of loneliness and of being without support in times of need that leads to a drive to find some kind of “special” relationship.

Steve: Higher: We need to differentiate between the gift and the person. Jesus is of course the model celibate and to be like Him must be the highest. He made it clear that not everyone could receive the gift (Matthew 19:10-12) but there is no suggestion of superiority for those who do. In 1 Corinthians 7 the words “do better” are referring to those who are “betrothed” or engaged to be married and are able to wait patiently for their wedding day. This is not referring to celibates. So, clearly the gift is the highest but in no way does it make celibates superior. The history of the Church is full of highly fruitful married brethren – it’s what you do with your gifts that matters.

Harder: For the majority of people marriage is the “natural” choice. Are we prepared to live differently and oppose peer pressure and all the natural expectations of parents, friends and the world around us? Celibacy in this sense is certainly a harder choice. Being able to trust your emotional life to God is a very big thing. However, no one would claim that natural life is easy!

Iain and his wife, Ruth

Iain: As a married person I find celibacy very inspiring, and would say that marriage and celibacy are very different callings. 1 Corinthians 7:38 says, “He who does not marry does better”. I would think that some aspects of celibacy are harder, like not having a special/exclusive companion, needing to deny your sexual desires, overcoming the expectations of others for a marriage partner etc. It’s hard to give a definitive answer as everyone’s different!

 
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Posted by on Fri 30th Nov 2012 in FAQ

 

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