by Celes Amorin Gianan, DD, PhD
At the height of the open table discussion, if not the resolution, of the long contested issue on CELIBACY that has been so coercively linked with the Ministerial Priesthood of Christ, that is, that a priest is to be single, bachelor, or unmarried, and staying otherwise, one cannot be and become a priest, may I, at this point in time, humbly share with us this paper-proclamation entitled “CELIBACY IN THE CHURCH: DEEPER INSIGHTS, WIDER HORIZONS”.
CELIBACY in the Church Catholic, an aged discipline of the Catholic Church is so powerful a WORD that it adds more meaning to the exercise of the Ministerial Priesthood of Christ by those who are in Holy Orders. It is so powerful a DISCIPLINE that it gives more power as it informs and forms the minds and hearts of Christ’s fellow workers in their great desire to take full and active part in the Ministerial Priesthood of Christ. It is so powerful an INFLUENCE that it empowers those in the Holy Orders to greatly impact the people of God become much more of His own great possession, become much closer to Him, become much more zealous in proclaiming His Words and declaring His Works to the world. It is for this reason, then, that CELIBACY must be maintained and sustained in the Catholic Church as an aged discipline of the Church Catholic. It is for this reason, too, that CELIBACY must be lived out by those who have been and are in the Holy Orders if only to keep them in the Ministerial Priesthood of Christ more creative and productive, more redemptive and reconciling, more inspiring and empowering.
However, given its controversial impact to the Church Catholic, the chief issue that this paper-proclamation seeks to address and resolve is not whether CELIBACY be removed from the Catholic Church or retained, nor should CELIBACY be made compulsory or optional. The unique and distinct issue that the exponent seeks to put in space and in time vis-à-vis the so-called CELIBACY is to RE-DEFINE its meaning within the context of Faith and to RE-DIRECT its practice in pursuit of a new direction towards bringing people and God in the so-called “FUSION OF HORIZONS” and “METHODICAL HARMONY” in the Body of Christ, the Church indelibly marked as One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.
Re-define its meaning and re-direct its practice . . . if only to keep CELIBACY as God’s PRECIOUS GIFT to the Church … if only to value its purpose-driven POWER in the Catholic Church and to practice it driven with a SENSE OF MISSION.
This paper-proclamation shall begin trying to explore and expose the very meaning of the word CELIBACY. Etymologically, the word CELIBACY is a combination of two words blended together to form a beautifully sounding terminology. For the purpose of bringing out the very meaning of this word, the exponent wishes to make use of the Latin word COELIBATUS. Other linguistic users of the word opt to use the Latin word for it but spelled as CAELIBATUS. This is with the belief on the evolution of words as space and time do speak. The root words of the word being spoken about here differ in spelling. They differ in spelling simply because they differ in meaning. The root word of COELIBATUS is derived from the Latin word COELUM which means heaven or anything related to what is heavenly. Whereas, the root word of CAELIBATUS is derived from the Latin word CAELEBS which means bachelor or unmarried or single. It is a noun in its 3rd declension the gender of which is masculine [Source: Oxford Latin Dictionary (OLD)]. And so, indeed, the word COELIBATUS comes to the fore.
Both CAELIBATUS and COELIBATUS as spelled differently have the same ending word, that is, BATUS but it takes on for both a different meaning. In the word CAELIBATUS, the word BATUS to mean BATH takes on the meaning of IMMERSION and has a different connotation or association of meaning when applied to both terms. When a person is a CAELIBATUS, such person immerses in the state of being single or unmarried or bachelor. When a person is a COELIBATUS, such person, may he or she be single, bachelor or unmarried, married, immerses in the world of things that are heavenly while still here on earth or things that would bring one to Heaven and, thus, get closer to God who is both in Heaven and on earth. In here the distinction is so clear and obvious because being single or unmarried or bachelor is NOT an ASSURANCE that one can become heavenly in his or her orientation in life. Thus, it is not a guarantee. However, one can be and become heavenly in his or her orientation may he or she be single, unmarried, bachelor or he or she may be married.
What we see in these two words is the contra-distinction between the two. Yes, there is a distinction between the two but we also see that which is contrary in its application and contextualization.
In ages past, the church has always maintained and associated CELIBACY with the concept of being single and unmarried, in short, being bachelor. In other words, in ages past the Church subscribed to the idea of CELIBACY as “not allowed to marry” or “cannot marry” and its application is to and for those who are in the Holy Orders. So, embracing such a discipline, clerics in the Roman Catholic Church are not allowed to marry because it runs contrary to their state of life being or having been elevated and ordained to the Ministerial Priesthood of Christ. Precisely, such concept runs contrary in its application and contextualization to those elevated and ordained to the Ministerial Priesthood of Christ because they are now supposed to acquire and re-inforce an “ecclesiastical status” by virtue of Sacred Ordination after having been raised from their “civil status” which they possessed before receiving Holy Orders. It must be noted that when one is ordained to the Ministerial Priesthood of Christ one is chosen from among many and being set apart for the cause of God and in the promotion of things that are heavenly. CAELIBATUS worded as such is in its proper sense a “civil status”. Is this not a form of something that is contrary to the ecclesiastical status which the ordained cleric acquires and reinforces during their Sacred Ordination? Being single … unmarried … bachelor is universally accepted to mean a CIVIL STATUS. Theologically and canonically, to let the ordained person or cleric observe CAELIBATUS as their state of life is a subtle and unjust way of reducing them to a lay state and remain in that state, thereby, bringing into their consciousness that they are single and enjoy being single and reap the fruits of the exercise of their ministry for their own personal satisfaction which, in effect, drives them to accumulate more and more earthly possessions and, worse than that, it drives them to engage and get involved in a numberless vices that sadly are corrupting clergymen. The whole world can testify and is a witness to this. The whole world is badly affected by this. Cases of sexual abuse, for example, done by clergymen and are being brought in the open by those who have been victimized is a worst testimony of what kind of breed of clergymen the world is seeing in our contemporary times … breed of clergymen that are losing sight of things that are heavenly and, much worst, losing sight of that ORIENTATION and DIRECTION that leads to HEAVEN.
As the exponent of this paper-proclamation, I would like to invite the wider Body of Christ to reflect on this and raise our thoughts unto the thoughts of God and pattern our ways unto the ways of God. I join now the entire Body of Christ and together we start re-defining CELIBACY. This indeed is what is needed for us to remain closer to God as we treasure THIS PRECIOUS GIFT to His Church. As I have mentioned from the very start of this paper-proclamation that the issue that we are seeking to address is not whether CELIBACY be removed or retained, not whether CELIBACY be made compulsory or optional. The main issue, I seek, is to re-define CELIBACY for us to gain DEEPER INSIGHTS on and about it and to see its WIDER HORIZONS.
May I now bring us to the other word that I mentioned earlier, that is, the word CELIBACY as COELIBATUS. The word COELIBATUS is a combination and a blending of two Latin words COELUM and BATUS. COELUM means heaven or refers to things that are heavenly. Whereas, BATUS is a Latin word which is associated with the meaning of BATH or IMMERSION. When one is COELIBATUS, then, the person immerses in the world of heavenly things, lives them out, and proclaims such heavenly things to the world so that through this the world may see and thus glorify our Heavenly Father. CELIBACY taken and understood in this fashion brings about the very DIGNITY and INTEGRITY of this PRECIOUS GIFT that God gives to His Church. And, therefore, it must be preserved with all reverence not just to this Gift itself but more so to the Giver of this Gift no other than God Himself.
Yes, CELIBACY is an aged discipline in the Church but it is not too late to RE-DEFINE it NOW and reap its benefits as we go through ages in the life and operations of the Church, the Body of Christ. Re-defining CELIBACY at this point in time in this fashion occasions us to pursue a new brand of discipline in the Church. Re-defining CELIBACY in this fashion is our humble act of highlighting the very ECCELESIASTICAL STATUS it gives particularly to those in the Holy Orders. To embrace CELIBACY as COELIBATUS and lives it out shall be very beneficial to the life of the Church, the Body of Christ. We need the grace of God to be able to pursue this new brand of discipline in the Church. Let us believe God’s grace is sufficient. His love is everlasting. We may have repeatedly failed to live out CELIBACY for ages and have caused sever harm and damage to the Church but God’s love for us is everlasting and as He promised He will be with us now and forever. Let us, then, focus not on our CIVIL STATUS but on our ECCLESIASTICAL STATUS for, indeed, our TRUE CITIZENSHIP is not here on earth but in Heaven.
Deep, indeed, are the insights that CELIBACY sheds light on us. The deeper are our insights on CELIBACY, the wider our horizons would become. The wider our horizons, the more we see God at work in us. The more we see God at work in us, the more we appreciate the value and purpose of things heavenly, in this case, CELIBACY.
In broader and wider horizons, may I now bring us to consider CELIBACY as a CHURCH DISCIPLINE to be faithfully observed not only by those ORDAINED to the Ministerial Priesthood of Christ or by those CONSECRATED to the Sacred Office of the Episcopacy but more so by all BAPTIZED people for, indeed, we were or are all baptized unto Christ who is our Mediator to the Father in Heaven, our final dwelling and destiny in life. Our faithful observance of this particular peculiar Church Discipline so-called CELIBACY as COELIBATUS brings into our consciousness that our life, may we be single, bachelor, unmarried or married, should be lived out always in keeping with heavenly things or with the things of God. Our life is aimed not in gathering earthly possessions but on treasuring heavenly possessions. Sacred Scriptures, in Matthew 6: 19-21, instruct us, saying, “Do not store up treasure for yourself here on earth where moth and rust destroy it, and where thieves can steal it. Store up treasure for yourself in heaven with God where no moth or rust can destroy nor thief come and steal it. For where your treasure is, there also your heart will be”. This is indeed what CELIBATE LIFE is all about and what it entails. It has NOTHING to do WHATSOEVER with the CIVIL STATUS of being single, bachelor, unmarried or married. It has SOMETHING to do with our ECCLESIASTICAL STATUS as baptized people being baptized unto Christ, Head of the Church, His Body. Our immersion in the Church is our immersion too in things heavenly.
At this point in time in the history of the Church, this is high time for the Hierarchy of the Church and we, as People of God, to re-define our understanding of CELIBACY as COELIBATUS, an ECCLESIASTICAL STATUS in contrast to CIVIL STATUS, and re-direct our way of life in pursuit of HEAVENLY things towards the direction that leads us all to HEAVEN.
To live a CELIBATE LIFE is to live a life of FUSION OF HORIZONS as we stand in relationship with God and as God stands in relationship with us. Such relationship brings forth an experience of a heavenly life. To live a CELIBATE LIFE is to follow a pattern of METHODICAL HARMONY, patterns that would bring us into a harmonious relationship with God and with one another where the foretaste of Heaven is best experienced.
CELIBACY, thus, as an aged discipline of the Church is now RE-DEFINED and RE-DIRECTED with a LIVING HOPE that it may serve BEST the interest and purpose of the Church.
God loves all of us. God bless. – drcelamgia_phd, Founding Disciple, CENTER FOR FAITH AND REASON
Email: celesgianan@gmail.com

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