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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Appreciating celibacy

A few years ago, I was fortunate to have caught Sherry Wedell facilitating the Called and Gifted Workshop here in Melbourne, a workshop that she developed with Fr. Michael Sweeney at the Siena Institute. In the workshop, participants like me are instructed on the gifts of the Holy Spirit -- what St. Paul calls charismas, and the sadly often forgotten, ignored or unknown calling for all Christians to be prophets of God, leaven, salt of the earth. I repeat what the institute tries to emphasize here: we are called and gifted by God.

One of the gifts discussed was that of celibacy, which St. Paul mentions in 1 Cor 7. It was not completely surprising when I found that this could be one of my gifts, for the simple reason that I'd long suspected it. No, it does not make me especially pure or chaste -- virtues that even married people can practice, by the way -- it simply means that I could be predisposed to a celibate life. I say that I could be because, for obvious reasons (I am happily married with three kids), there was no reason to delve into this possible gift. So we'll never know for sure.

But while I may or may not have that gift, I do have very strong opinions about it and how it relates to priests. Obviously, many among the priesthood have similar opinions to mine, particularly about how celibacy is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and how it rightly belongs among those who are most especially called to the service of Christ. Even married priests seem to share this belief. Like this one.

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