From the Pastor – August 4, 2013

There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, ‘Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!’”
But God said to him, “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?”
Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God. (Lk 12:18b-21).

A few years ago I spoke to a Catholic group in Baton Rouge.  Although my talk was about the Apostolicity of the Church (being founded on the Apostles and the current bishops being their successors), at the end a man asked me a question about clerical celibacy.  “Father, why do priests have to be celibate” was the simple question.  Unfortunately, celibacy is looked upon as some sort of cancerous disease.  And the idea of celibacy is perceived as strange and abnormal.

I won’t go through my entire response to the question, but I do want to mention two points.  First, Jesus was celibate.  He came to pour himself out for the life of the Church.  He didn’t give Himself to one woman in an exclusive, permanent, life-giving relationship.  He gave Himself to all of us.  So the short answer about celibacy is that priests are called to follow Jesus as perfectly as possible.  Not giving ourselves to a wife means that we are able to give ourselves to many others, whether the poor or the rich, the sad or joyful, or the sick and dying.

Secondly, the life of a priest is always meant to point to Heaven.  You recall that we’ll all be celibate in Heaven?  In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus reacts to a hypothetical situation about a woman who is married seven times on earth:  “Are you not misled because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God?  When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven.”  (Mk 12:24-25)  So the way that a priest lives points to Heaven.  Priests (and women religious) live in this world as though it’s a passing thing.  We try to be rich in what matters most to God, rather than what matters most to the world.The lesson for today’s Gospel isn’t necessarily a call for everyone in our parish to sell their possessions.  Some might have that call – to be a priest or religious – but some are called to have families and provide for their future.  But it is a call to remember that earthly possessions aren’t what matter to God.  What matters to God is love.  And charity on earth shows a trust in God that echoes to Heaven.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty