Tuesday, October 04, 2005

the words of consecration and married vs. celibate priests

As was reported yesterday, Angelo Cardinal Scola has reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s discipline of celibacy for her priests. Since ordination I find myself more and more in agreement with what the Church is saying about this, more so than when I was a lay person.

And I know this comes from having the experience of presiding at the Eucharist. Since my ordination earlier this year, the more I preside at the Eucharist, the more I see the wisdom and the “suitability” of having a celibate utter those words of consecration.

Why? Well, I think those words, “This is my body which will be given up for you...” and “This the cup of my blood...it will be shed for you” speak of totality—-a total giving and offering of oneself.

And whenever I utter those words at Mass now, I can’t help but make those words my own: me, offering myself to God by offering myself totally to those I am serving. I feel that I am helping to make present the person who first uttered those words two thousand years ago.

The fact that I have vowed myself to celibacy, vowing to give myself totally to the people I serve, makes those words really come alive today, right now, for those people who hear me pray those words.

And so, after reading the news item concerning Cardinal Scola yesterday, I thought to myself, “Would a married person have been able to utter those words, and have them carry the same significance and meaning?”

I thought, “Hmm, perhaps yes. And if he were a marvelous speaker, that person would probably make those words resonate for the assembly more than I ever can.

But with that married person’s vow to give his body to his wife–-his whole self to her–-wouldn’t his praying of the words of consecration become somewhat of a mere re-enactment of Jesus’ words?

I mean, yeah, married persons, just like celibate priests, are called to give their whole selves to God (and many are more successful doing that than some priests). But, isn’t there something lost when a married individual offers the same words?”

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