Father Joseph Lopez, JCL, is
Vocations Director for the Diocese of Corpus Christi.
Those who have this concern should read St. John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.” The sainted pope offers the perfect solution. If this is an overwhelming read, there are other sources that can break the topic down to a more simple explanation. On the web, www.theologyofthebody.net is a good source. In print, consider Christopher West’s book “Theology of the Body for Beginners: A Basic Introduction to Pope John Paul II’s Sexual Revolution.”
Celibacy is a gift from God to his chosen few to help them understand their call to the Kingdom of Heaven. Selected thoughts from Pope John Paul II’s audience talks in March 1982 provide a good understanding of why God calls priests and religious to be celibate.
Pope John Paul II points out that one cannot live a celibate vocation without being chosen by God and given the gift of his grace. This is good news! If you are called to a priestly or religious vocation, God will grant you the grace needed for an abundant, joyful, celibate life.
“Those able ‘to receive it’ are those ‘to whom it has been given’,” the pope said. These words point out the importance of personal choice and also the importance of the particular grace, that is, of the gift which man receives to make such a choice. “It may be said that the choice of continence for the kingdom of heaven is a charismatic orientation toward that eschatological state in which men ‘neither marry nor are given in marriage’,” Pope John Paul II said.
He goes on to say that by accepting man’s efforts, God crowns his work by giving a new grace. From the start, this aspiration is his gift. “Being anxious how to please God” is man’s contribution in the dialogue of salvation begun by God. All of us who live our Christian faith take part in this conversation.
St. Paul pointed out in 1 Corinthians that a man obliged by the marriage promise ‘is divided’ (1 Cor 7:34) because of his obligations to the family (cf. 1 Cor 7:34). Conversely, it evidently follows that a person not bound by marriage possesses an interior integration, a unification that allows him or her to dedicate his or her life entirely to the service of the Kingdom of God in all its dimensions. This presupposes abstaining from marriage, to singularly dedicating oneself in service to the Kingdom of God.