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Q & A with Father Anthony

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How do I overcome my fear of celibacy?

Kevin asks:

Dear Fr Anthony,

I have been getting depressed on my degree, wondering what I could do in life when I graduate which is also meaningful. For a long time now, I`ve found myself considering the priesthood but found myself being scared off by the celibacy. I know that looking after souls as a priest would be an extremely worthwhile life but I`m really afraid to talk to my priest about it. I vaguely considered becoming Anglican or Orthodox but realized that it would have been a terrible reason to convert. What can you advise in my position?

Thanks!


Dear Kevin,

 Your fear of celibacy may stem from any one or a combination of several sources, so I think what will help you most is to get a spiritual director who can help you sort through them. This will mean either overcoming your fear of talking to your priest about it, or finding someone else who is prudent and whom you trust and with whom you have less difficulty in opening up.

When we consider what it entails, it is natural to be scared by celibacy, even if it is what God is calling us to live. Christ told St Peter that it can only be understood only when God gives us the grace to. Now, one of the reasons we find it difficult is because we tend to focus on what we are giving up, and not on the value of what we are doing, giving, offering, or the good to which God is going to turn our gift, or the many ways he will bless us for it. In other words, if we limit ourselves to looking at the cost (what we are giving up) we miss much of the value and meaning of celibacy.

Other times a person’s fear could be the result of an instinctive understanding that celibacy is truly beyond him, and therefore not what God is asking of him. The problem is telling the difference between this reality and the natural fear we spoke about above, and that is why it is so crucial to have a spiritual director. In all of this it is very important to remember that the consecrated celibacy of a priest is essentially supernatural in essence. It is much, much more than simply not marrying, or the pragmatic benefit of having more time to give to souls.

We also need to pray so as to grow in our appreciation of the value of celibacy and to see it as a gift; to begin to think as God thinks and not as the world thinks. Christ himself chose to be celibate (he was way beyond the usual marrying age when he began his public life), and in getting to know him we begin to enter into his mindset, identify with him and become more able to imitate his choices, enlightened and strengthened by grace.

A practical element that can help you is to read what the Church teaches about the charism of celibacy (in the Catechism and in the various Church documents on celibacy and consecration).

God bless.

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