Thursday, January 24, 2013


Since September, I've hosted a super-secret-don't-tell-or-go-t'Hell Vocation study group. We are following the book, "To Save A Thousand Souls" and the conversations have been very good.

This week, we talked about some of the "fears" a man may have concerning choosing his vocation to the priesthood. The book, written by Fr. Brett Bannen, describes some specific fears:

A man in this stage is assessing specific fears now: the fear of celibacy, the fear of not being a holy priest, the fear of loneliness, and the fear of preaching in front of people. (p 153)
I add two more and subtract one. My two additional fears are "fear of investing in the process of death and dying" and "fear of economic insecurity". The fear of preaching isn't the same level fear as the others. The group, of anonymous secret men, agreed.

I'll address the fears over the course of the next few weeks.


Celibacy is an ultimate act of singleness. The celibate conscientiously chooses not to have a partner in marriage nor to be sexually involved with another person. The writers of the 70's-90's sort of muddied the waters by saying, "everyone is sexual" but come on, guys, really. We know we all have either men parts or lady parts. We know we have gender. When we talk of sexuality, we're talking about good ol' fashioned COPULATION. Or  as the kids know it "Chika chika bow wow".

To be afraid of celibacy is valid. There are some "fear factors":
1. If you are celibate you miss out on "living life to the fullest" as one of the mystery men said. Arguably, sexual activity ("doing it" as the groovy hip priests say) is living life to the fullest because it's how we get...well..LIFE! The experience of sex however is seen as being something like a "rite of passage". One young girl told me she had sex because she just "wanted to get that out of the way". Inoculated for small pox. Braces. Driver's license. Loss of virginity. Done, done, done and DONE!
Being the thexy is like this every day. Or so I hear.
When you aren't sexually active, you are missing out on something. But then again, that's not always a bad thing. You are missing out on this great unitive, procreative, romantic, cosmic, primal expression between two people that speaketh a language beyond tongues.
And you're missing out on the cloying, nagging guilt afterwards. The indecision of how to end it. The stratetizing on how to not see that person again or how to not be all "gooey" when you see them again. The worry on how to keep it going. The jealousy and self-doubt when the act is not repeated or repeated often. The rationalization on why that was a good idea and how you're really totally good with it when you may not be. And then there's the fear of STD's, unwanted pregnancy and maybe even AIDS (remember AIDS?).
So, yeah, you miss out.
Sex is not supposed to be a negative experience. It's God's gift to us. The balance is to be both sexually responsible and faithful to the Lord. It's not really drama-sexy that way, I know. But that's what it is.

2. In a psychological head-bender, what if celibacy means that you are afraid of life and not wanting to take risks so celibacy is the greater evil because it is fear based but you really want to have sex? If you truly discern a vocation, then believe me, you will have some real, honest-ta-goodness MINDBLOWING doubts. Courtesy of the devil himself. Really, he cares enough to mess with your mind if you want to do good. So this doubt is more of a paralyzing fear that makes anything good seem like it's a sad, pathetic reaction to being alive.
Yes, we all want to have sex. It's in our hardware. We want to copulate, procreate, rinse, repeat. All of us.
But most of us consider time, place and value of such a thing.
There are times in our lives when it is a very important idea. An all consuming, night sweat inducing period of our lives when we think of our futures, the opposite sex and what it would be like to be...that way...with them We think about it. We fantasize about it. We're all "OH WONDER WOMAN I LOVE YOU"...umm..

Wow. What was that?
Beautiful. Mediterranean. Sparkly. Sighhhhh.
There are also times when it is appropriate. The "biological clock" is ticking or we know that we are mature enough to accept the responsibility of a sexual relationship, most likely in marriage.
And there are places. Places such as when we settle down and figure we want to create a life in a town or city. We have a sense of permanence in our job or career. We want to share that with someone.
Value is the final component. Sexual relationships are of value.
Negatively, we are willing to put our finances, personal health and reputation on the line because we gots to have the thexy.
Positively, we see the relationship with another person as an addition to our lives, for a lifetime. This is such a value we marry the person. Again, putting our finances, personal health and reputation on the line but in a grace-filled sacrament instead of being reckless.
So a man thinking of celibacy has to consider the time, place and  value of sex. Breathe deep and consent that it doesn't have such a position in his life. Serving the Church is of greater worth in his time, place and value system.

3. You are weird if you don't have sex. Yes, you probably are. But classic argumentation also proves that those who have sex can be weird too.
Something very wrong is about to happen. In a not so GRRR-EAT way.

Thus endeth my discussion on fear one.

And I am totally over Wonder Woman. In case there was a doubt.