Posted September 12, 2012
Book: The Charism of Priestly Celibacy: Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Reflections
Edited by John C. Cavadini
Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN. 2012 pp. 183
An Excerpt from the Jacket:
With contributions from Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M., Archbishop Allen Vigneron, and Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti, The Charism of Priestly of Priestly Celibacy, a timely collection of reflections on priestly celibacy, explores its biblical, historical, and theological roots and affirms what current studies of priests reflect --- that despite its challenges; celibacy has been a grace for priests personally.
The value of celibacy is often questioned, yet recent surveys of priests demonstrate that more than 75 percent of them feel personally called to celibacy and find it a source of grace in their lives. This rich collection of reflections was presented as a symposium at the University of Notre Dame in 2012 and offers both priests and lay Catholics a deeper, theologically based appreciation of celibacy as a charism or gift of the Holy Spirit. With contributions from leading authorities in scripture, Church history, theology, pastoral leadership, and psychology, this collection offers what one contributor describes as a "reversal of mindset," a reframing of the issue for today.
An Excerpt from the book:
The Marks of True Celibacy: Humility, Freedom, and Joy
If celibacy is a charism, then it must be lived charismatically, that is, the way a person usually relates to a gift – above all with humility. "What have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?" (1 Cor 4:7). The martyr Ignatius of Antioch wrote, "If anyone is able to persevere in chastity to the honor of the flesh of the Lord, let him do so in all humility. If he is boastful about it, he is lost." Some fathers, like St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and St. Bernard, ended up even saying that "an incontinent person who is humble is better than a proud celibate."
Celibates are more exposed than other people to the temptation of pride and self-sufficiency. They have never knelt before a creature acknowledging their incompleteness and their need for the other; they have never, like a beggar, stretched out their hand to another human being, saying, "Give yourself to me because I, by myself, am not complete," which is what a young man says when he declares his love to a young woman.
To live chastity with humility means not presuming on one's own strength, recognizing one's vulnerability, and leaning only on God's grace through prayer. St. Augustine said,
"I believed that continence lay within a man's own powers, and such powers I was not conscious of within myself. I was so foolish that I did not know that, as it is written, no man can be continent unless you grant it to him. This you would surely have given, if with inward groaning I had knocked at your ears and with a firm faith had cast all my cares upon you."
The Table of Contents:
1. Dimensions of priestly celibacy
2. Friends of the bridegroom: the biblical foundations
3. The origins and practice of priestly celibacy in the early church
4. Configured to Christ: celibacy and human foundation
5. The virginity of Jesus and the celibacy of his priests
6. The fatherhood of the celibate priest
7. Beloved disciples at the table of the Lord: celibacy and the pastoral ministry of the priest
8. A recent study of celibacy and the priesthood: what do the data tell us?