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Q & A with Father Anthony



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Celibacy sounds incredibly lonely. Are you lonely?

Andy asks:

Dear Fr Anthony,

I try not to think about the priesthood. Not just because celibacy sounds nearly impossible, but also because it seems so incredibly lonely. Are you lonely? And how so? And how not?

Dear Andy,

I'll answer your questions first, and then get back to your situation.

Lonely? Definitely not! How come? Well, starting on the outside, I have many "brothers" that I live and work with who all live the same life, are dedicated to the same work, have the same ideals, are willing to help me out just as I am willing to help them, and with whom I can relax, chat, joke, hike and play. Not that life is perfect with no problems, there are many but everyone is man enough to pitch in and try to be the solution rather than complain. Then, getting more towards the inside, our faith tells us that Christ lives in us, and it is amazing what happens when you try to live that reality, especially when he has called you to be a priest. You can’t explain it in terms of human friendship for you don’t see him, the way you talk to him is very different, and he can and does ask very difficult things of you…, but when you go to him often in the Eucharist, humbly, aware of how much he has done for you, his presence becomes the anchor of your soul and your whole life. And in the spiritual battles that are a part of life you are never alone when you have a spiritual director you trust.

Now, as regards your situation. You try not to think about the priesthood because of how difficult celibacy seems to be (nearly impossible, terribly lonely). I would just like you to think about this for a moment: your fears are based on what you think the life is like, the way you imagine it has to be. The only way to overcome these fears is to look at this way of life more closely. If it is not what you are called to you will have nothing to worry about. If it is what God wants you to do, what seems impossible will be possible with God's grace, with the help of others and your own effort to correspond to what God wants. Notice that I said "possible" and not "easy". Christian life, whether as a priest or a layperson is never "easy".

God bless.

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