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Reflections: Priests & Voctns. Sctn. (Virginity)

St. John Vianney, the Curé D'Ars (patron saint of priests)

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Reflections: 

Priests & Vocations Sctn.:

Virgins / Virginity

Wisdom of the Popes, Saints, Theologians, Other...

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Virgins / Virginity

 

Category
Quotation

Virgins / Virginity

Also See: Why Priestly Celibacy?

Warning: May contain some graphic language

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel." (Isa. 7:14)

"And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: Because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her." (Lk. 1:26-38)

"[Jesus] said to them, 'Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God who will not receive (back) an overabundant return in this present age and eternal life in the age to come.'" (Lk. 18:29-30)

"Now in regard to virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. So this is what I think best because of the present distress: that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek a separation. Are you free of a wife? Then do not look for a wife... I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction. If anyone thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, and if a critical moment has come and so it has to be, let him do as he wishes. He is committing no sin; let them get married. The one who stands firm in his resolve, however, who is not under compulsion but has power over his own will, and has made up his mind to keep his virgin, will be doing well. So then, the one who marries his virgin does well; the one who does not marry her will do better. A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whomever she wishes, provided that it be in the Lord. She is more blessed, though, in my opinion, if she remains as she is, and I think that I too have the Spirit of God." (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 7:25-27,32-40)

"Then I looked and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. I heard a sound from heaven like the sound of rushing water or a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. They were singing (what seemed to be) a new hymn before the throne, before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn this hymn except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been ransomed from the earth. These are they who were not defiled with women; they are virgins and these are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been ransomed as the firstfruits of the human race for God and the Lamb. On their lips no deceit has been found; they are unblemished." (Rv. 14:1-5)

"[T]he life of virginity is the image of the blessedness that awaits us in the life to come." (St. Gregory of Nyssa)

"[V]irginity should be esteemed as something more perfect than marriage" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"Virginity has a special reward hereafter." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.)

"Virginity can be lost even by a thought." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.)

"Virginity is natural and marriage came after the fall." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.)

"It is quite right that a good wife be praised, but even better that pious virgin be preferred." (St. Ambrose of Milan, Doctor of the Church, c. 389 A.D.)

"To sow the seeds of perfect purity and to arouse a desire for virginity has always belonged to the function of the priesthood." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"[T]he Holy Savior who came dome from heaven...deigned to fashion our salvation in a virginal workshop" (St. Epiphanius of Salamis, c. 374 A.D.)

"For virginity is not praiseworthy because it is found in martyrs, but because itself makes martyrs." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"Not because it is virginity is it held in honor, but because it is consecrated to God." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.)

"I will say it boldly, though God can do all things, He cannot raise a virgin up after she has fallen." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.)

"Christ is holiness... Christ is chastity... Christ is integrity... Christ is born of a Virgin" (St. Ambrose of Milan, Doctor of the Church, c. 378 A.D.)

"The Church flourishes, crowned as it is with so many virgins; and chastity and modesty retain their noble attraction." (St. Cyprian of Carthage, 251 A.D.)

"Hold fast, O virgins! Hold fast what you have begun to be; hold fast what you shall be. A great reward awaits you, a great recompense of virtue, the immense advantage of chastity." (St. Cyprian)

"Both solid reason and the authority of Holy Writ show that neither is marriage sinful, nor is it to be equaled to the good of virginal continence or even to that of widowhood." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"[V]irginity alone is accounted a virtue above chastity, even as magnificence is reckoned above liberality." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Can anyone esteem any beauty greater than a virgin's, since she is beloved of her King, approved by her Judge, dedicated to her Lord, consecrated to her God?" (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"What a glory it is for the Catholic Church, that she alone has the gift of this holy state of virginity, which is the source of every other sacrifice, because nothing but the love of God could inspire a human heart to vow virginity!" (Gueranger)

"If any one saith that the marriage state is to be placed above the state of virginity or of celibacy, and that it is not better and more blessed to remain in virginity or in celibacy than to be united in matrimony; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"We address ourselves now to the virgins. Sublime is their glory, but no less exalted is their vocation. They are a flower of the Church's sowing, the pride and ornament of spiritual grace, the most honored portion of Christ's flock." (St. Cyprian)

"Holy virginity and that perfect chastity which is consecrated to the service of God is without doubt among the most precious treasures which the Founder of the Church has left in heritage to the society which He established." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"By the disciple whom Jesus loved, the Evangelist means himself; not that the others were not loved, but he was loved more intimately on account of his estate of chastity; for a Virgin our Lord called him, and a Virgin he ever remained." (St. Bede the Venerable, Doctor of the Church)

"In other sciences men have devised certain practical methods for cultivating the particular subject; and so, I take it, virginity is the practical method in the science of the divine life, furnishing men with the power of assimilating themselves with spiritual natures." (St. Gregory of Nyssa, 4th century A.D.)

"If our Redeemer so loved the flower of unimpaired modesty that not only was He born from a virginal womb, but was also cared for by a virgin nurse even when He was still an infant crying in the cradle, by whom, I ask, does He wish his Body to be handled now that He reigns immense, in heaven?" (St. Peter Damian, Doctor of the Church)

"That virginity is good I do agree. But that it is even better than marriage, this I do confess. And if you wish, I will add that it is as much better than marriage as heaven is better than earth, as much better than the angels are better than men. And if there were any other way in which I could say it even more emphatically, I would do so." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, c. 391 A.D.)

"'If, however, you have married a wife, you have not sinned.' It is one thing not to sin, quite another to do well. 'And if a virgin has married, she has not sinned.' Not that virgin, however, who has once and for all dedicated herself to the worship of God; for if one of these has married she will have damnation because she has nullified her first faith." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church, c. 393 A.D.)

"[T]he Virgin Christ and the Virgin Mary have dedicated in themselves the principles of virginity for both sexes. The Apostles were either virgins or remained continent after their marriages. Those persons chosen to be bishops, presbyters, or deacons are either virgins or widowers; or certainly, having once received the priesthood, they remain forever chaste." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church, c. 392 A.D.)

"Students ought rightly to acknowledge the duties and dignity of Christian matrimony, which is a sign of the love between Christ and the Church. Let them recognize, however, the surpassing excellence of virginity consecrated to Christ, so that with a maturely deliberate and generous choice they may consecrate themselves to the Lord by a complete gift of body and soul." (Second Vatican Council)

"Virginity, the conduct of the angels, is the property of all incorporeal nature. We do not say this as speaking ill of marriage, perish the thought! For we know that the Lord blessed marriage by His presence, and we know the saying, 'Marriage is honorable and its bed undefiled.' But we say this by way of recognizing that however good marriage may be, virginity is better." (St. John of Damascene, Doctor of the Church, c. 8th century A.D.)

"Men have from their birth that which is material in virginity, namely integrity of the flesh and freedom from venereal experience. But they have not that which is formal in virginity, namely the purpose of safeguarding this integrity for God's sake, which purpose gives virginity its character of virtue." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The fruit of virginity is not only in these external works, to which it allows one to devote oneself more easily and fully, but also in the earnest prayer offered for others and the trials willingly and generously endured for their sake, which are other very perfect forms of charity toward one's neighbor. To such also the servants and spouses of Christ, especially those who live within the convent or monastery walls, have consecrated their whole lives." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"Can. 604 §1 Similar to these forms of consecrated life is the order of virgins who, expressing the holy resolution of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are mystically betrothed to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church. §2 Virgins can be associated together to fulfil their pledge more faithfully, and to assist each other to serve the Church in a way that befits their state." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"This then is the primary purpose, this the central idea of Christian virginity: to aim only at the divine, to turn thereto the whole mind and soul; to want to please God in everything, to think of Him continually, to consecrate body and soul completely to Him. This is the way the Fathers of the Church have always interpreted the words of Jesus Christ and the teaching of the Apostle of the Gentiles; for from the very earliest days of the Church they have considered virginity a consecration of body and soul offered to God." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"Holy virginity is a very special gift. Nevertheless, the whole present-day Church, solemnly and universally represented by the pastors responsible for her welfare (with due respect, as We have said, for the discipline of the Eastern Churches), manifested her absolute faith 'in the Holy Spirit that the grace of leading a celibate life, so desirable in the priesthood of the New Testament, will be readily granted by God the Father if those who by ordination share the priesthood of Christ humbly and earnestly ask it together with the whole Church.'" (Pope Paul VI, 1967 A.D.)

"Further, the Fathers of the Church, such as Cyprian, Athanasius, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, and many others, have sung the praises of virginity. And this doctrine of the Fathers, augmented through the course of centuries by the Doctors of the Church and the masters of asceticism, helps greatly either to inspire in the faithful of both sexes the firm resolution of dedicating themselves to God by the practice of perfect chastity and of persevering thus till death, or to strengthen them in the resolution already taken." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"How important Christian humility is for the protection of virginity, no one perhaps has taught more clearly than Augustine. 'Because perpetual continence, and virginity above all, is a great good in the saints of God, extreme vigilance must be exercised lest it be corrupted by pride... The more clearly I see the greatness of this gift, the more truly do I fear lest it be plundered by thieving pride. No one therefore protects virginity, but God Himself Who bestowed it: and 'God is charity.' The guardian therefore of virginity is charity; the habitat of this guardian is humility.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"Finally, virginity consecrated to Christ is in itself such an evidence of faith in the kingdom of heaven, such a proof of love for our Divine Redeemer, that there is little wonder if it bears abundant fruits of sanctity. Innumerable are the virgins and apostles vowed to perfect chastity who are the honor of the Church by the lofty sanctity of their lives. In truth, virginity gives souls a force of spirit capable of leading them even to martyrdom, if needs be: such is the clear lesson of history which proposes a whole host of virgins to our admiration, from Agnes of Rome to Maria Goretti." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"Are not consecrated virgins, who dedicate their lives to the service of the poor and the sick, without making any distinction as to race, social rank, or religion, are not these virgins united intimately with their miseries and sorrows, and affectionately drawn to them, as though they were their mothers? And does not the priest likewise, moved by the example of his Divine Master, perform the function of a good shepherd, who knows his flock and calls them by name? Indeed it is from that perfect chastity which they cultivate that priests and religious men and women find the motive for giving themselves to all, and love all men with the love of Christ." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"Augustine says (De Sancta Virginitate viii) that 'virginity is continence whereby integrity of the flesh is vowed, consecrated and observed in honor of the Creator of both soul and flesh.'... Virginity takes its name apparently from viror [freshness], and just as a thing is described as fresh and retaining its freshness, so long as it is not parched by excessive heat, so too, virginity denotes that the person possessed thereof is unseared by the heat of concupiscence which is experienced in achieving the greatest bodily pleasure which is that of [intimate marital relations]. Hence, Ambrose says (De Sancta Virginitate i,5) that 'virginal chastity is integrity free of pollution.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The greatest glory of virgins is undoubtedly to be the living images of the perfect integrity of the union between the Church and her divine Spouse. For this society founded by Christ it is a profound joy that virgins should be the marvelous sign of its sanctity and fecundity, as St. Cyprian so well expressed it: 'They are the flower of the Church, the beauty and ornament of spiritual grace, a subject of joy, a perfect and unsullied homage of praise and honor, the image of God corresponding to the sanctity of the Lord, the most illustrious portion of Christ's flock. In them the glorious fecundity of our mother, the Church, finds expression and she rejoices; the more the number of virgins increases, the greater is this mother's joy.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"[H]oly virginity surpasses marriage in excellence. Our Divine Redeemer had already given it to His disciples as a counsel for a more perfect life. St. Paul, after having said that the father who gives his daughter in marriage 'does well,' adds immediately 'and he that gives her not, does better.' Several times in the course of his comparison between marriage and virginity the Apostle reveals his mind, and especially in these words: 'for I would that all men were even as myself... But I say to the unmarried and to widows: it is good for them if they so continue, even as I.' Virginity is preferable to marriage then, as We have said, above all else because it has a higher aim: that is to say, it is a very efficacious means for devoting oneself wholly to the service of God, while the heart of married persons will remain more or less 'divided.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"There is yet another reason why souls desirous of a total consecration to the service of God and neighbor embrace the state of virginity. It is, as the holy Fathers have abundantly illustrated, the numerous advantages for advancement in spiritual life which derive from a complete renouncement of all sexual pleasure. It is not to be thought that such pleasure, when it arises from lawful marriage, is reprehensible in itself; on the contrary, the chaste use of marriage is ennobled and sanctified by a special sacrament, as the Fathers themselves have clearly remarked. Nevertheless, it must be equally admitted that as a consequence of the fall of Adam the lower faculties of human nature are no longer obedient to right reason, and may involve man in dishonorable actions. As the Angelic Doctor has it, the use of marriage 'keeps the soul from full abandon to the service of God.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"Virginity fully deserves the name of angelic virtue, which St. Cyprian writing to virgins affirms: 'What we are to be, you have already commenced to be. You already possess in this world the glory of the resurrection; you pass through the world without suffering its contagion. In preserving virgin chastity, you are the equals of the angels of God.' To souls, restless for a purer life or inflamed with the desire to possess the kingdom of heaven, virginity offers itself as 'a pearl of great price,' for which one 'sells all that he has, and buys it.' Married people and even those who are captives of vice, at the contact of virgin souls, often admire the splendor of their transparent purity, and feel themselves moved to rise above the pleasures of sense. When St. Thomas states 'that to virginity is awarded the tribute of the highest beauty,' it is because its example is captivating; and, besides, by their perfect chastity do not all these men and women give a striking proof that the mastery of the spirit over the body is the result of a divine assistance and the sign of proven virtue?" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"For virginity is a difficult virtue; that one be able to embrace it there is needed not only a strong and declared determination of completely and perpetually abstaining from those legitimate pleasures derived from marriage; but also a constant vigilance and struggle to contain and dominate rebellious movements of body and soul, a flight from the importunings of this world, a struggle to conquer the wiles of Satan. How true is that saying of Chrysostom: 'the root, and the flower, too, of virginity is a crucified life.' For virginity, according to Ambrose, is as a sacrificial offering, and the virgin 'an oblation of modesty, a victim of chastity.' Indeed, St. Methodius, Bishop of Olympus, compares virgins to martyrs, and St. Gregory the Great teaches that perfect chastity substitutes for martyrdom: 'Now, though the era of persecution is gone, yet our peace has its martyrdom, because though we bend not the neck to the sword, yet with a spiritual weapon we slay fleshly desires in our hearts.' Hence a chastity dedicated to God demands strong and noble souls, souls ready to do battle and conquer 'for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"According to Jerome (Adversus Jovinianum i) the error of Jovinian consisted in holding virginity not to be preferable to marriage. This error is refuted above all by the example of Christ Who both chose a virgin for His mother, and remained Himself a virgin, and by the teaching of the Apostle who (1 Cor. 7) counsels virginity as the greater good. It is also refuted by reason, both because a Divine good takes precedence of a human good, and because the good of the soul is preferable to the good of the body, and again because the good of the contemplative life is better than that of the active life. Now virginity is directed to the good of the soul in respect of the contemplative life, which consists in thinking 'on the things of the Lord', whereas marriage is directed to the good of the body, namely the bodily increase of the human race, and belongs to the active life, since the man and woman who embrace the married life have to think 'on the things of the world,' as the Apostle says (1 Cor. 7:34). Without doubt therefore virginity is preferable to conjugal continence." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Virginity brings us nearer to God. It seeks for a model in God Himself, says St. Ambrose, for the eternal Father is virgin and Father. God, also wishing to become Incarnate, willed that He should be born of a virgin. God has also an extraordinary love and tenderness for pure souls; it is to these, in particular, that He confers or reveals His secrets, or on whom He deigns to bestow His favors. Jesus Christ bestowed many graces on Peter on account of his zeal; but it was the virgin St. John who was permitted to lean on the breast and heart of Jesus; it was he who had the privilege of entering His divine sanctuary, and it was he from whom He hid none of His most important secrets. Confessors, martyrs, and apostles have great privileges; but it appears that to virgins only He has entrusted the privilege of following the Lamb (Rv. 14:4)... Virginity is that precious treasure to guard which so many generous souls have sacrificed their lives. The preservation of this treasure is difficult, but the loss of it is irreparable; one may recover grace when lost by sin, but virginity once lost can never be restored. Nevertheless, nothing is more easy to lose, and we so readily expose ourselves to lose this treasure, nay, it seems to me that we seek to lose it, and we even make a merit of losing that which ought to be a subject of the most poignant grief." (St. Astere)

"For the same reason the Fathers exhort virgins to love their Divine Spouse more ardently than they would love a husband had they married, and always in their thoughts and actions to fulfill His will. Augustine writes to virgins: 'Love with all your hearts Him Who is the most beautiful of the sons of men: you are free, your hearts are not fettered by conjugal bonds...if, then, you would owe your husbands great love, how great is the love you owe Him because of Whom you have willed to have not husbands? Let Him Who was fastened to the cross be securely fastened to your hearts.' And this in other respects too is in harmony with the sentiments and resolutions which the Church herself requires of virgins on the day they are solemnly consecrated to God by inviting them to recite these words: 'The kingdom of this earth and all worldly trappings I have valued as worthless for love of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Whom I have seen, loved, believed, and preferred above all else.' It is nothing else but love of Him that sweetly constrains the virgin to consecrate her body and soul entirely to her Divine Redeemer; thus St. Methodius, Bishop of Olympus, places these beautiful words on her lips: 'You yourself, O Christ, are my all. For you I keep myself chaste, and holding aloft my shining lamp I run to meet you, my Spouse.' Certainly it is the love of Christ that urges a virgin to retire behind convent walls and remain there all her life, in order to contemplate and love the heavenly Spouse more easily and without hindrance; certainly it is the same love that strongly inspires her to spend her life and strength in works of mercy for the sake of her neighbor." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"As for those men 'who were not defiled with women, being virgins,' the Apostle John asserts that, 'they follow the Lamb wherever he goes.' Let us meditate, then, on the exhortation Augustine gives to all men of this class: 'You follow the Lamb because the body of the Lamb is indeed virginal... Rightly do you follow Him in virginity of heart and body wherever He goes. For what does following mean but imitation? Christ has suffered for us, leaving us an example, as the Apostle Peter says 'that we should follow in his footsteps'.' Hence all these disciples and spouses of Christ embraced the state of virginity, as St. Bonaventure says, 'in order to become like unto Christ the spouse, for that state makes virgins like unto Him.' It would hardly satisfy their burning love for Christ to be united with Him by the bonds of affection, but this love had perforce to express itself by the imitation of His virtues, and especially by conformity to His way of life, which was lived completely for the benefit and salvation of the human race. If priests, religious men and women, and others who in any way have vowed themselves to the divine service, cultivate perfect chastity, it is certainly for the reason that their Divine Master remained all His life a virgin. St. Fulgentius exclaims: 'This is the only-begotten Son of God, the only-begotten Son of a virgin also, the only spouse of all holy virgins, the fruit, the glory, the gift of holy virginity, whom holy virginity brought forth physically, to whom holy virginity is wedded spiritually, by whom holy virginity is made fruitful and kept inviolate, by whom she is adorned, to remain ever beautiful, by whom she is crowned, to reign forever glorious.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"To all of these beloved sons and daughters who in any way have consecrated their bodies and souls to God, We address Ourselves, and exhort them earnestly to strengthen their holy resolution and be faithful to it. However, since there are some who, straying from the right path in this matter, so exalt marriage as to rank it ahead of virginity and thus depreciate chastity consecrated to God and clerical celibacy, Our apostolic duty demands that We now in a particular manner declare and uphold the Church's teaching on the sublime state of virginity, and so defend Catholic truth against these errors. First of all, We think it should be noted that the Church has taken what is capital in her teaching on virginity from the very lips of her Divine Spouse. For when the disciples thought that the obligations and burdens of marriage, which their Master's discourse had made clear, seemed extremely heavy, they said to Him: 'If the case stands so between man and wife, it is better not to marry at all.' Jesus Christ replied that His ideal is not understood by everybody but only by those who have received the gift; for some are hindered from marriage because of some defect of nature, others because of the violence and malice of men, while still others freely abstain of their own will, and this 'for the kingdom of heaven.' And He concludes with these words, 'He that can take it, let him take it.' By these words the divine Master is speaking not of bodily impediments to marriage, but of a resolution freely made to abstain all one's life from marriage and [intimate] pleasure. For in likening those who of their own free will have determined to renounce these pleasures to those who by nature or the violence of men are forced to do so, is not the Divine Redeemer teaching us that chastity to be really perfect must be perpetual?" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"We feel the deepest joy at the thought of the innumerable army of virgins and apostles who, from the first centuries of the Church up to our own day, have given up marriage to devote themselves more easily and fully to the salvation of their neighbor for the love of Christ, and have thus been enabled to undertake and carry through admirable works of religion and charity. We by no means wish to detract from the merits and apostolic fruits of the active members of Catholic Action: by their zealous efforts they can often touch souls that priests and religious cannot gain. Nevertheless, works of charity are for the most part the field of action of consecrated persons. These generous souls are to be found laboring among men of every age and condition, and when they fall worn out or sick, they bequeath their sacred mission to others who take their place. Hence it often happens that a child, immediately after birth, is placed in the care of consecrated persons, who supply in so far as they can for a mother's love; at the age of reason he is entrusted to educators who see to his Christian instruction together with the development of his mind and the formation of his character; if he is sick, the child or adult will find nurses moved by the love of Christ who will care for him with unwearying devotion; the orphan, the person fallen into material destitution or moral abjection, the prisoner, will not be abandoned. Priests, religious, consecrated virgins will see in him a suffering member of Christ's Mystical Body, and recall the words of the Divine Redeemer: 'For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you covered me; sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me...Amen I say to you, as long you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.' Who can ever praise enough the missionaries who toil for the conversion of the pagan multitudes, exiles from their native country, or the nuns who render them indispensable assistance?' To each and every one [as applicable] We gladly apply these words of Our Apostolic Exhortation, 'Menti Nostrae:' '...by this law of celibacy the priest not only does not abdicate his paternity, but increases it immensely, for he begets not for an earthly and transitory life but for the heavenly and eternal one.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

"This doctrine of the excellence of virginity and of celibacy and of their superiority over the married state was, as We have already said, revealed by our Divine Redeemer and by the Apostle of the Gentiles; so too, it was solemnly defined as a dogma of divine faith by the holy council of Trent, and explained in the same way by all the holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church. Finally, We and Our Predecessors have often expounded it and earnestly advocated it whenever occasion offered. But recent attacks on this traditional doctrine of the Church, the danger they constitute, and the harm they do to the souls of the faithful lead Us, in fulfillment of the duties of Our charge, to take up the matter once again in this Encyclical Letter, and to reprove these errors which are so often propounded under a specious appearance of truth. First of all, it is against common sense, which the Church always holds in esteem, to consider the sexual instinct as the most important and the deepest of human tendencies, and to conclude from this that man cannot restrain it for his whole life without danger to his vital nervous system, and consequently without injuring the harmony of his personality. As St. Thomas very rightly observes, the deepest natural instinct is the instinct of self-preservation; the sexual instinct comes second. In addition, it is for the rational inclination, which is the distinguishing privilege of our nature, to regulate these fundamental instincts and by dominating to ennoble them... The virtue of chastity does not mean that we are insensible to the urge of concupiscence, but that we subordinate it to reason and the law of grace, by striving wholeheartedly after what is noblest in human and Christian life... We have recently with sorrow censured the opinion of those who contend that marriage is the only means of assuring the natural development and perfection of the human personality. For there are those who maintain that the grace of the sacrament, conferred ex opere operato, renders the use of marriage so holy as to be a fitter instrument than virginity for uniting souls with God; for marriage is a sacrament, but not virginity. We denounce this doctrine as a dangerous error. Certainly, the sacrament grants the married couple the grace to accomplish holily the duties of their married state, and it strengthens the bonds of mutual affection that unite them; but the purpose of its institution was not to make the employment of marriage the means, most suitable in itself, for uniting the souls of the husband and wife with God by the bonds of charity. Or rather does not the Apostle Paul admit that they have the right of abstaining for a time from the use of marriage, so that they may be more free for prayer (1 Cor. 7:5), precisely because such abstinence gives greater freedom to the soul which wishes to give itself over to spiritual thoughts and prayer to God? Finally, it may not be asserted, as some do, that the 'mutual help,' which is sought in Christian marriage, is a more effective aid in striving for personal sanctity than the solitude of the heart, as they term it, of virgins and celibates. For although all those who have embraced a life of perfect chastity have deprived themselves of the expression of human love permitted in the married state, nonetheless it cannot thereby be affirmed that because of this privation they have diminished and despoiled the human personality. For they receive from the Giver of heavenly gifts something spiritual which far exceeds that 'mutual help' which husband and wife confer on each other. They consecrate themselves to Him Who is their source, and Who shares with them His divine life, and thus personality suffers no loss, but gains immensely. For who, more than the virgin, can apply to himself that marvelous phrase of the Apostle Paul: 'I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me.' For this reason the Church has most wisely held that the celibacy of her priests must be retained; she knows it is and will be a source of spiritual graces by which they will be ever more closely united with God. We feel it opportune, moreover, to touch somewhat briefly here on the error of those who, in order to turn boys and girls away from Seminaries and Religious Institutes, strive to impress upon their minds that the Church today has a greater need of the help and of the profession of Christian virtue on the part of those who, united in marriage, lead a life together with others in the world, than of priests and consecrated virgins, who, because of their vow of chastity, are, as it were, withdrawn from human society. No one can fail to see, Venerable Brothers, how utterly false and harmful is such an opinion. Of course, it is not Our intention to deny that Catholic spouses, because of the example of their Christian life, can, wherever they live and whatever be their circumstances, produce rich and salutary fruits as a witness to their virtue. Yet whoever for this reason argues that it is preferable to live in matrimony than to consecrate oneself completely to God, without doubt perverts the right order." (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.)

Also See: Celibacy / Chastity | Virginity (Catholic Life Reflections) | Religious / Religious Life / Religious Institutes | Why Priestly Celibacy? | Marriage, Family & Home (Catholic Life Reflections) | Celibacy/Virginity (Topical Scripture)

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