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Gene Yeo wrote:

Hi guys,

I was raised Roman Catholic and still hold true to most of the core beliefs. I'm actually in a bit of a struggle right now. I'm trying to enlist in the US Army Guard, and then go to school and become ordained. However, I also feel a very strong pull toward marriage, and I believe that the world will always need examples of good Christian families.

To top it off, I have trouble understanding why a faith so devoted to the family won't let its priests marry. I understand the historical reasons, and I understand some of the doctrinal ones, but it simply doesn't sit right with me. I considered becoming a Deacon, but the Church doesn't ordain Deacons to become Chaplains. So here I am, stuck in this in-between phase.

I'd be interested in your Free Rosary for Protestants program.

It's not for me. I have a friend that I've been taking to Mass with me, and I thought it would be a nice way to explain to her some of our prayers and some of the symbolism. She was brought up Baptist, and doesn't understand a whole lot about the Church. She's still a bit shy about taking any Catholic Catechism classes, mostly due to what she's been told about Catholics, but I think this might help understand that we aren't what she's been told we are.

Thank you very much for responding. I must admit, I didn't think this service was real. I've seen so many things that are just an attempt to get personal information to sell.

It's nice to know that there's someone on the other side of my web page.

Sincerely yours,

Gene

  { Why would a faith so devoted to the family life, not allow priests to marry? }

Mike replied:

Hi Eugene,

You said:
I was raised Roman Catholic and still hold true to most of the core beliefs. I'm actually in a bit of a struggle right now. I'm trying to enlist in the US Army Guard, and then go to school and become ordained. However, I also feel a very strong pull toward marriage, and I believe that the world will always need examples of good Christian families.

To top it off, I have trouble understanding why a faith so devoted to the family won't let its priests marry. I understand the historical reasons, and I understand some of the doctrinal ones, but it simply doesn't sit right with me. I considered becoming a Deacon, but the Church doesn't ordain Deacons to become Chaplains. So here I am, stuck in this in-between phase.

I definitely understand your struggle. I have a Methodist convert to the faith who is trying to discern a calling to the priesthood versus a religious life/brother versus a family.

We must remember that Our Blessed Lord created every single person, for a specific purpose in life. Our job is to discern that calling, and I believe that the Holy Rosary is a very powerful Christian weapon for doing that. It's a Scriptural prayer!

About the Catholic Priesthood:

A celibate priesthood is a disciple of the [Western|Roman] Church, not a doctrine.

  • Could it change in the future? <Yes.>
  • Will it probably? <No.>
  • Why?

Ask any married Protestant Minister : ) I've heard them say to us:

You guys would be crazy to do something like that.

Why? Let's stand back and look at the situation.

What would be the obligations of a married priest?:

  • He has to celebrate all the sacraments:
    1. Baptism
    2. Eucharist
    3. Confirmation
    4. Penance
    5. Anointing of the Sick
    6. Marriages, etc.
  • He has to educate and catechize the parish and parishioners who may be at different faith levels
  • He has to take care of and oversee the finances and properties of the parish
  • He has to oversee and administer to the needs of various ministries within the parish.
  • Hospital visits and nursing home visits would be a given must
  • He has to meet periodically with other priest and the bishop on occasion.

And in the meantime, what would the wife be saying but:

  • Where's my husband?
  • What about our children!

Despite the married priesthood in the Eastern Catholic Rite, mainly over in Europe and Asia,
a case can be made that the Latin Rite priest is already married: to the Church.

Who are his children? <His parishioners.>

The amount of pressure this would put on Catholic priests in America to meet the physical and spiritual needs:

  • of his parishioners, and
  • his biological wife and children would be overwhelming.

Married Catholics can become deacons, but if their spouse passes [hopefully into eternal life],
they would have to remain celibate. The Diaconate is the very first Order in in Holy Orders.

I would find a priest that is loyal to the Holy Father and Magisterium and talk to him about your situation.

I used to run a free Rosary for Protestants program that sent Rosaries to seeking Protestants and non-Christians but no longer have the financial or operational means to do this anymore. Nevertheless, if you wish get your hands on a free Rosary just Google for one.

It's a great devotion because whether you are a Catholic Christian, Protestant Christian, or non-Christian, we are meditating on the lives of both Jesus, Our Lord, and Mary, His Mother and it has many blessings attached to praying it.

 

Keep praying the Rosary and thinking about things in a nearby Adoration Chapel.

Hope this has helped a little.

Mike

John replied:

Well for starters Mike, I think you need to clarify two things.

The Church has never allowed priests to marry, be it in the Eastern or the Latin Rites.
This holds true in the Orthodox Church as well.

The Church, however, has ordained married men; and there is a difference.

Second, besides the hue and cry of traditionalists to make more of this than a pastoral practice, there is no theological or sacramental reason why the Roman rite won't ordain married men: It is simply a practice that for several hundred years has better served the Western Church. There is absolutely nothing holier about a celibate priest, nor is a married priest any less a priest.

It has been simply more practical in the West to have a celibate priesthood. The purpose of the Church is to propagate the Gospel, so if the Church thinks a priest can better serve that purpose by being celibate, than it's the Church's prerogative to use that discipline. If tomorrow, the Church comes to a different conclusion, then it will change its discipline.

It's useless to try and make up theological reasons for the celibate priesthood. God calls men to be priests; he does so in East, as He does so in the West. God gave authority to His Church to set disciplines and practices.

To try and make arguments based on theology gets a bit sophomoric. It's like saying hymns in the Key of C Major are holier than hymns in the Key of G Major, unless they are accompanied by pipe and organ.

It's twaddle!

John

Mike replied:

Hi John,

You said:
Second, besides the hue and cry of traditionalists to make more of this than a pastoral practice, there is no theological or sacramental reason why the Roman rite won't ordain married men.

  • I didn't mention a theological or sacramental reason why, so what is incorrect with
    my answer?

I did mentioned a practical reason.

My point to Gene was:

  • Do you have the time to be the father of your immediate biological family as well as a father to the souls within your parish?

Mike

John replied:

Hi Mike,

I only meant to emphasize the fact that it's only a practice.

John

Gene replied:

Wow Mike,

It looks like I've hit a bit of a deeper discussion.

I can see all the problems that can occur with having a married priest, but I believe that they aren't a whole lot different from a married Protestant pastor. The view that I've seen of the Deacons that are married is that the husband and wife work together. I can definitely see the problems that you would have if the spouse weren't willing to be helpful, understanding, and supportive, but I don't really see that being an issue.

  • Isn't that what we'd look for in a spouse anyway?

I know the original reason for having a celibate priesthood was to help prevent the title of priest from being something passed down from father to son, instead of how it should be but such things are far, far beyond our times.

While I do understand the value of traditions in the Church (indeed, it's one of the things that has kept me in the faith for so long), I have trouble seeing why the call to marriage would prevent me from ministerial service.

  • Since it's very unlikely that the married priest discipline will change, is there any chance that bishops will allow Deacons to be ordained into the Army Chaplaincy?

Mike, I'm really enjoying our discussions, and praise to God that such a small thing has opened up such great fellowship.

I'll keep you in, and add John to, my prayers.

Gene

Gene replied:

Mike and John,

Mike said:
My point to Gene was:

  • Do you have the time to be the father of your immediate biological family as well as a father to the souls within your parish?

Of course you do! Your parish is simply an extension of your family anyway, and we are all kin under Christ.

I've seen quite a revival of the deacon program here in the United States, and it allows much more. I think I'm looking for an efficient spread of the work load. Yes, there's going to be a lot more work on the priest but the parish isn't just a stagnant body. It's a family. Responsibility for things like hospital ministry, study groups, church administration, and the like, shouldn't be only on the person of the priest anyway; it will cause burn-out, in even the most devoted believer.

While the priest should have a part in all of these, it is the parish that should pull together and share the work load. The shepherd doesn't grow the wool, after all. He just guides the flock.

Gene

Ann replied:

Hi Mike,

I just have to put in my two cents.

Years ago in the 1920s, my grandparents, who were not Catholic, had a four-year old child who was stricken with diphtheria.

As the child lay dying, my grandparents called my grandmother's Baptist preacher. He apologized profusely, but refused to come since he was afraid he might take the germs back to his own children. My grandfather then contacted his Episcopal minister, then another minister, and another.

No matter what the denomination, the answer was the same ... until my grandfather's brother who had become Catholic called a Catholic priest. The priest came immediately, and told my grandparents he was free to stay as long as needed because he had no family to worry about.

Ann Jones
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