Thursday, May 14, 2009
The Purity of the Celibate
Just to answer that eternal question about states in life:
Not all the states of life are equal. Some are more perfect than others. They can be classified according to their level of perfection. All are ordered, however, to some task of common usefulness; all are to be justified by their mode of serving the general good of the Church.
All things being equal, it is not the state of marriage that profits the Church the most. There is more perfection and happiness, as she herself declares it, in remaining keeping celibate than in living in the married state. The Church is here the simple echo of the Gospel: "The disciples said to him, 'If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.' But he said to them, 'Not all men can receive this precept, but only those to whom it is given...There are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it" (Mt 19:10-12). And St. Paul: "Now concerning the unmarried, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. I think that in view of the impending distress it is well for a person to remain as he is" (1 Cor 7:25-26).
The purity of the celibate is the purity of the body drained, in a certain sense, by the spirit; it is the absorption of the exigencies of instinct by shoe of the spirit. Virginity makes the body similar to the soul and the soul similar to God. When the number of the elect is complete, the law of reproduction will cease and the law of the spirit will manifest all of its power in the flesh of men: "For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given i marriage, but are like angels in heaven" (Mk 12:25). The purity of married persons is the purity of the body ruled by the spirit, the regulation of the exigencies of instinct by those of the spirit.
~ Charles Cardinal Journet, Theology of the Church, pp. 264-265