Catholic On Campus

Ah, college.  The time of life where we dedicate hours to studying, reading, and banging our head against the wall in frustration.  When a majority of our budget goes to tuition, books, and a ridiculous amount of coffee.  In the midst of this crazy time, we also may have to encounter face-to-face anti-Catholic bias from our teachers, friends, family or roommates.  How do we deal with these issues?  While each incident most definitely requires it’s own judgement, I’ve decided to present the Catholic counter to many questions you may be asked during your time on campus (and even after graduation!)

The first topic…..Priestly Celibacy.

This is a big one.  I’ve been on a college campus and have run across this topic quite a bit.  Unfortunately, it’s usually brought up as a last resort from people making an anti-Catholic argument – a final stab, if you will, concerning the celibacy of priests.  This has become increasingly popular due to the sex abuse scandals (particularly those involving minors) in the Church.  Let’s take a look at the basics of priestly celibacy in order to establish a good foundation.

Point One: Priestly Celibacy is not a dogma or doctrine of the Church

If the person you are discussing this subject with knows their Bible, they will inevitably direct you to Mark 1:30, which says, “Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her.”  Following a logical thought process, one can assume that you can’t really have a mother-in-law sans a wife.  Your questioner may also point out that since Peter was married, he couldn’t have been the first pope, or that Catholics invented the idea of a celibate priesthood, and the concept isn’t biblical.  

It is here that you can shock their socks off by telling them that celibacy is not the norm for a lot of Catholic priests.  For instance, Eastern rite Catholic priests are typically married, as well as those in the Orthodox and Oriental. Granted, there are restrictions, such as if one is married upon ordination, following the death of one’s wife, remarriage is not allowed.  Also, Eastern bishops are not allowed to be married.

So where did this practice come from?  Priests and bishops have taken a vow of celibacy in the Western and Latin Church since the middle ages. Yet even here there are exceptions – someone who is a Lutheran minister who converts to Catholicism and is ordained a priest can still be married.  

Moral of point one: Priests taking a vow of celibacy is not a concrete dogmatic practice of the Church.  Rather, it is a disciplinary rule practiced by members of the Church.  

Point Two: Priests do not take a vow of celibacy because they believe sex is bad.

No one gives up something they do not desire.  A prime example of this is found during Lent.  When your little brother tells you he decided to give up peanut butter for Lent, and you know that he hates peanut butter, you have to smile at his “sacrifice.”  It’s like giving up homework for Lent.  Big deal.  

The real sacrifice comes when you give up something you want.  So, if I was to give up coffee for Lent, it would be a struggle (and you probably would only want to talk to me on Sundays).  So, for a priest to take a vow of celibacy does not mean that he thinks sex is bad.  Rather, he is directly saying with the action of this vow, “Sex is a beautiful gift of God.  Marriage is a beautiful way in which humans are able to interact with God in concern to bonding and procreation.”  The act of sacrificing this ability to interact physically with other humans and with God in the procreation of the soul in fact points to the glorious gift of sex and marriage in the Christian life.  

Point Three: Celibacy isn’t only for priests.

While we most commonly think of priests or other religious who have taken a vow of chastity when we said the word “celibate,” the term actually applies to a lot more people than we realize.  If you are unmarried, you are called to be celibate.  The Catholic Church recognizes that the only place for sex is marriage between a man and a woman.  So if you are a priest, you shouldn’t be having sex.  If you are a single, you shouldn’t be having sex.  If you are divorced sans annulment, you shouldn’t be having sex.  People are called to chastity – regardless of their vocation. Ultimately, sex is a marital blessing, not a free-for-all-whenever-you-feel-like-it activity.  

Point Four: Priests who sin does not a Catholic Church ruin

Catholicism is not defined by a handful of men who do not understand what it means to be a priest.  The Church in no way ever glorifies or celebrates the decision that a vowed priest has made to break his vow of chastity with anyone.  There have been examples in the Church of attempts to cover up or ignore obvious issues of abuse (either of minors or adults).  In no way is this practice condoned by The Church as a whole.  To prove this point, Pope Francis has recently spoken out concerning the sex abuse scandal in the Church, and has formed a committee to discuss how to deal with post-abuse victims, how to better screen for seminary, keep up on priests with issues and provide support to the Church.  

Point Five: It’s not just Catholic Priests.
Catholic clergy aren’t more likely to abuse children than other clergy or men in general.
 According to the best available data (which is pretty good, mostly coming from a comprehensive report by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2004, as well as several other studies), 4 percent of Catholic priests in the USA sexually victimized minors during the past half century. No evidence has been published at this time that states that this number is higher than clergy from other religious traditions. The 4 percent figure is lower than school teachers (at 5 percent) during the same time frame and perhaps as much as half of the numbers of the general population of men. (Do the Right Thing,, March 24, 2010)  

Point Six: It’s about anticipation of a sweeter song.

Catholic celibate priesthood is an incredible way of anticipation of the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 22:30 says “For in the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in Heaven.”   While marriage here on earth gives humans a taste of what Heaven will be like and an incredible opportunity to interact with God in the creation of another soul, it is just that – a taste.  Heaven is a complete adoration and giving to God out of complete trust.  When people who are married go to Heaven, they have a vocational change – their marriage was able to bring them closer to Heaven, and now that goal has been reached.  But when those who have pledged their earthly lives to God reach the goal of Heaven, they have the easiest transition of all – they have been practicing for this their entire lives!

Hopefully this helps give a basic knowledge for the case of defense for the Catholic position of priestly celibacy.  If you have any questions, situations where you have had to defend this subject that you’d like to share, or other thoughts, please post so in the comments below!

God bless!

Chloe M. 
“See anything, old chap?”

In Search of “Fairness”

One of my all time favorite parables in the Gospels is found in Matthew chapter 20.  In it’s simplest form, the story basically runs as such:  There is a man who owns a vineyard, which is in need of labor.  He goes out to find workers in the early morning.  Some people agree to work, and after settling on a wage they both agree on, they head into the fields.  The work continues to be in need of laborers, so the owner goes out multiple times during the day to hire more people.  At the end of the day, he pays everyone.  The morning workers began to become agitated because those who worked less time still got the same monetary compensation.

I always remember thinking, “Why are they so up-tight about this?  It’s the owner’s money, he can do whatever he wanted to with it.”  Now that I’m out in the “real world,” I’m beginning to sympathize more and more with the morning workers.  

We try to define “fairness” quite a lot in this society nowadays.  We are told to treat everyone equally, everyone should get the same portion, and we all just need to agree and get along.  What is the definition of fairness?

The dictionary has over twenty entries in attempt to define the word “fair.”  What is basically boils down to is “Just and honest, consistent with rules and logic.”  Yet we tend to define it as “everyone gets the same thing.”  How boring.  Ho – hum.  We all get the same thing.

NO!  God’s fairness in your life doesn’t mean that you get the same thing as your coworkers, classmates, siblings or best friends.  Do you not know that you were created as a beautifully unique child of God? Do you know that every person that has ever walked or will walk this earth does so because they were loved into existence by God? That the only thing that keeps your blood coursing through your veins and air rushing through your lungs is because God. Loves. You.  

Fairness doesn’t mean everyone gets
the same cookie-cutter treatment. 

Amazingly, love is not simply one of God’s characteristics.  He’s not tall, dark, handsome and loving.  His very essence is love.  Due to this, every one of His children is surrounded by love.  Yet because of their unique traits (meaning we all aren’t robotic clones of each other – there is some beautiful differences existent in humans) we each are loved differently.  

The point I’m trying to get at here is what is fair for one person is not fair for another person.  God treats all of His children fairly, but the fact that we try to use “fairness” as a blanket statement goes against who God is.  God is not a blanket statement kind of guy.  He is a treat-you-as-uniquely-as-you-are kind of loving Dad.  
Every child in your family is not loved the same way – yet they are all loved.  The freedoms granted to some children are not given to each other.  For instance:  I leave every morning and go to class.  I pull out the garage in a truck that I am given the privilege to drive (not the right).  However, my little sister who is two years old does not get to drive the truck, as much as she wants to.  Yet her truck driving privileges (or lack thereof) does not mean that our parents love me more and her less.  Both of our driving statuses are “fair.”  Yet they are not “identical.”  Thus, fairness should not connote equality.

God has  plan for your life that is as beautiful and amazing as you are.  Its not going to look just like everyone else’s plans, though.  It’s going to be incredible.  Trust Him….even when it doesn’t look like you think it should.

God bless,

Chloe M. 

It is neither celibacy nor promiscuity. It applies to every aspect, stage, and area of every life. It is often looked down upon, misunderstood, and everyone has a different opinion on it. But what is it? Chastity. To combine holiness, which is supernatural, with our very natural bodies. Chastity is striving for a healthy body and soul. Pope John Paul II once said,

“Only the chaste man and the chaste woman are capable

of true love.”

– Pope John Paul II

At first, these words seem a little harsh. C’mon, only chaste couples are capable of true love? It’s not a very casual statement. After all, chastity can not only be a touchy subject, but it is- let’s face it- hard. It may not be hard to ask yourself, “how can I treat my physiognomy with holiness today and use it to lead others to Christ?”, but it sure is hard to actually treat oneself and others with holiness in practice. 
For example, when you marry someone, you love them body and soul. To borrow a definition from Saint Thomas Aquinas, love is wanting the best for the beloved.

Obviously, the absolute best is union with Our Lord. It’s a simple but difficult truth, as wishing somebody heaven means you also wish them holiness. If I were in love, I would want my partner to be as holy as humanly possible, right? The hard part is that, if we ladies want our husbands or boyfriends to follow Our Lord, we must deny them certain things in turn, as they must deny us. 

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you<span style="font-weight: bold; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”>
    by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
    until it so desires. -Song of Songs 2:7

But what does chastity have to do with love? Precisely that. I used to think that the commandment not to sleep with a man unless you’re married to him was a little strict, but it actually makes so much sense. When you are sexually involved with another person, you are joined into one (Genesis 2:24; a woman’s body actually releases a ‘bonding hormone’). So you are giving a piece of yourself, whether you love them, they love you, or not, and you are taking a piece of them (in this way, contrary to what those weird scientists keep telling us, God has sort of designed us for fidelity; who’d have thought?). Pleasure is all very well while it lasts, but if you give yourself away continually, how much will be left to give to your spouse? In much the same way, even if one is already in love when they become intimately involved, one is disrespecting the soul and body of the beloved, although they are trying to show love. Not only does it send the message that one is perfectly okay with sex outside of marriage, but also that “you please me, but are not worth a promise of faithfulness”. That is not real love or real respect; it is not an expression of ‘freedom’. It is a grave degradation of our sacredness as human beings. Our bodies are living tabernacles- we receive Jesus in the Eucharist with them!

You are not your own. You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your bodies. -1 Corinthians 6: 19-20

Ladies, don’t give yourselves to situations that, far from leading to true love and happy marriages, lead away from them. It not only involves one partner in sin for submitting to the relationship, but encourages the other to sin because they are not shown that there is a better way to love. Chaste love is saying “no”, even if you both want to. Chaste love is not based on cheapened intimacy, or sex that is devoid of beauty, but on God’s plan to give a complete ‘gift of self’, to each other exclusively, in holy matrimony. To love chastely is to wait, falling in love with the heart and personality of another so that they can love the body with more awe and reverence once they have married it. 
Beautiful as it is, chastity seems absolutely impossible at times. Do we really have to nix intimacy until we’re married? And why is it so dang hard to find modest clothing nowadays?! 

The thing is that chastity is impossible. For us. But not for Him. With His guidance, chaste living becomes a challenging, but wonderful, journey of dignity and great joy. Chastity is divine, of of God’s greatest gifts to His people. I can’t imagine being gladly chaste on my own, but I know that I can with Christ. We all can. And our relationships will lead to Paradise because of it. 

 “Chastity is a difficult, long term matter; one must wait patiently for it to bear fruit, for the happiness of loving kindness which it must bring. But at the same time, chastity is the sure way to happiness.”

Pope John Paul II 

*This post was provided by the lovely Grace. Grace is an introverted writer-person who likes cats, busy with surviving high school and converting to Roman Catholicism (Tiber Swim Team ’14, baby!). She is struggling with chaste living, and considered it a great honour to write this post. Pax et bonum.