Why a Celibate Priesthood?

12/10/2015 Comments (48)

Jules-Alexis Muenier (1863-1942), “La Leçon de catéchisme”

The celibacy of the priesthood is one of the great signs of contradiction in our time.  Our culture stares at it in blank incomprehension, and on that blank it projects numerous fantasies to try to explain it.

So we are told that St. Paul both absolutely forbade celibacy as a mark of false religion and that he was the cause of the whole thing.  Many point to married apostles or married clergy today to say that this means the Church cannot legitimately legislate celibacy for clergy.  Most non-Catholics—and even many Catholics—are pretty sure that Jesus opposed a celibate priesthood.  We hear that it comes from “the Dark Ages” and is caused by a peculiar Catholic hatred of sex.  Some are...READ MORE

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Dealing With Disillusionment

12/06/2015 Comments (31)

Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890), “The Burial of Christ”

Sooner or later, everybody struggles with disillusionment.  It might because your bishop or priest is a screwup, a disgrace or a pervert.  It might be because you entered the Church, brimming with zeal and love for Jesus and the Faith—only to discover that the nun who seems to run your parish (there’s only a priest there every other week) resents the Church, belittles the Faith, and treats you like an ignorant hick because you take seriously and delight in the Church’s teachings.

Or maybe you have a hero who lost his faith, or sinned gravely.  Maybe you are a student who took the faith for granted and are now at a Catholic university where the prof delights in deconstructing the faith (he...READ MORE

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The Anointing of the Sick

12/03/2015 Comments (6)

Lieutenant Commander Joseph T. O'Callahan, USNR(ChC) prepares to anoint an injured crewman aboard USS Franklin (CV-13), after the ship was set afire by a Japanese air attack, 19 March 1945. The crewman is reportedly Robert C. Blanchard, who survived his injuries. (Credit: Naval Historical Center)

We Sheas tend toward the hefty end of the spectrum.  Some of that is genetics.  Some of it is how the family tends to relate to food and (fails) to govern its appetites.  Sin has a generational aspect to it.  And sin is, among other things, enslaving (as anybody struggling with addiction will tell you).  That’s why, after nearly fifty years of grappling with my renegade appetites and watching my weight balloon into dangerous obesity, I finally (after my priest suggested it), asked for the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick a few years ago.

The result was uncanny.  Quite simply, my appetite for sweets simply died and my appetite for other foods became, for the first time in my life,...READ MORE

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Ten Things to Do as a Catholic Before You're Dead

11/27/2015 Comments (16)

Bucket lists (i.e., lists of stuff you should oughtta wanna do before you kick the bucket) are hot these days.  So, canny fellow that I am, I thought I would put together a bucket list of ten things a Catholic should oughtta wanna do before he or she takes the dirt nap, lays down in the back of that long black Cadillac, and otherwise stops squeezing the plasma pump behind the sternum.

The trouble with this clever idea is that you then have to make a judgment call.  Should I give you my personal bucket list about stuff I’d like to do (which might include something like “read all the works of Shakespeare”) leading to your eyes crossing and a warm numb feeling stealing over you?  Or consider:...READ MORE

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Good Ends Do Not Justify Evil Means

11/23/2015 Comments (22)

There is an old saying that we judge others by what they do, but we want them to judge us by our intentions. That more or less sums up one of the central confusions engendered by our embrace of modernity’s Absolute No. 1 Favorite Moral Heresy: consequentialism.

Consequentialism, for anyone not fully up to speed on basic principles of Catholic moral teaching, is the belief that good ends justify evil means. Despite the fact that this notion has been condemned ever since Paul wrote Romans 3:8, most moderns and postmoderns, including Catholics, deeply believe it anyway.

Consequentialism is not a left or right heresy but a perennial favorite across the spectrum of political allegiances. It...READ MORE

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We're All Bad Catholics

11/20/2015 Comments (7)

Guillaume Bodinier (1795-1872), "Paysanne de Frascati au confessionnal"

The good news about the Catholic Church is it's like a big family. The bad news about the Catholic Church is... it's like a big family.

It’s not a secret that the big family called the Catholic Church is “one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic” while we members of the Catholic Church are often fragmented, sinful, prone to sectarianism, and often so consumed with internecine squabbling that we have no time to be apostolic.  It’s complicated and can sometimes result in a destructive feedback loop.

So, for instance, some Catholics take an accommodationist approach to the world and become sponges for whatever the going thing is in pop culture.  Stretching the word “catholicity” well past the...READ MORE

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Creating the New Normal

11/16/2015 Comments (4)

Like all the most vital things in life from deciding the fate of the nation in an election to having a child, marriage is an amateur sport.  It is designed by God to be done by people who have, by definition, never done it before and who have very little idea of what they are getting themselves into.  With voting, at least, you can learn from the last turkey you voted for and vote for somebody different in four years.  With kids, you can build up a fund of experience to draw on as you have more children.

But with marriage, you have no previous experience to draw on, except for what you learned from a) your parents and b) your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend.

Of these two sources, your...READ MORE

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Advice to My Younger Self

11/13/2015 Comments (3)

So you are about to get married!  Congratulations!  You’re looking pretty youthful back there in 1983 and I know you are excited and nervous because you’re, you know, me.  So I know what you are thinking about—and what you aren’t thinking about.

You’re amazed that somebody as great as Jan has fallen in love with you.  You had your days when you didn’t think any woman would.  And you are going to have days to come when you will be terribly afraid that Jan made a huge mistake.  Because behind that shiny young face are deep wells of anxiety about yourself, God, and what would happen if people found out what you are really like.  The very fact you feel tempted by various sins seems to you...READ MORE

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About Mark Shea

Mark Shea
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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.