Why can’t priests marry? It’s a question people often ask and the requirement of celibacy has also been blamed as one of the causes of sexual abuse by priests. Our Church teaches that “The underlying logic of priestly celibacy is the same one we encounter in Christian matrimony: the total gift of everything forever in love. In a marriage, the lover gives his/her complete self to his/her beloved.” The late St. John Paul II of happy memory expressed it in a very profound way by using the term “complete self-giving of the whole person.” Marriage also reflects the love of God to us, a sacramental sign of God’s love to humanity. In the same way, the priest is called to completely give himself out of his love for the Church.
For me this is the reason we call a priest a spiritual father. Although he does not begets children like our biological fathers, but we call him father because he begets spiritual children. What does the father do? First and foremost he gives his total self for his family, for the love of his children and his spouse. In the same way, the priest is also expected to do the same but in a broader way. His total love for the Church is the fruit of his celibate life and thus generating spiritual children through the sacraments he administers, especially baptism. The priest as “Alter-Christus” has Christ as his model, who chose celibacy for himself even though among the Jews this state of life was seen as a humiliation. He did not generate children physically but loved his disciples as brethren and shared a common life with them.
Moreover, we also have to acknowledge that no one is born celibate. We are raised by our parents to get married someday. That is why seminary formation is paramount. When I decided to enter the seminary, it was very hard for my parents to understand that, I will never get married and have children. My parents were doubtful if I would survive at the seminary. Thanks God I can already see the light at the end of the tunnel. God willing this December I will be ordained a priest and be able to be at the service of God with my capacity as a priest. Temptation and human struggles will always be there, but I still believe nothing is impossible if I put my trust in God. Discipline, prayer life, and friends will help me to go through with whatever temptation I will be facing someday in my ministry as a priest. That is why the seminary always encourages the seminarians to have a circle of friends, someone who will always be there for us and people that we can share the deepest longing of our being. Celibacy is not so much of what you give; it’s about being willing to be God’s instrument, a vessel to receive his gifts and be able to share them with others. It is also allowing God to use the brokenness of my being, and thus become a wounded-healer.