Celibacy, chastity, charity

By: Fr. Roy Cimagala

“VOS estis lux mundi.” That’s Latin for “You are the light of the world,” words addressed by Christ to his disciples, telling them how they ought to be. (cfr. Mt 5,14 ) Pope Francis used these words as the title to his Motu Proprio Apostolic Letter that deals with how the Church officials should go about cases of clerical sexual abuse, a screaming scandal in recent times. This was released on May 7, 2019.

In that document, the dioceses are asked to propose a system on how to report, investigate, judge and do other actions pertinent to such delicate cases. I am sure that once this system is  put in place, there will be more transparency on the part of the  Church regarding these cases, and hopefully will lessen, if not  eliminate these scandals.

Of course, that wish may largely be considered as a pipe dream. Man is man and whether one is a priest or layperson, a Pope or a farmer, very honorable in stature or not, we should not forget that we are all made of the same stuff. We have the same hormones and libido running through our body, giving impulses and urges, etc., especially during one’s adolescent stage when things can get volcanic in intensity.

We may have impressive qualities, but let’s never forget that we all have feet of clay. We have a treasure in vessels of clay.

The person who may look like an angel and a virgin during the day may turn into a demon and a maniac in the night.

We just have to be realistic about this condition of ours and try our best to do something about it. There’s always hope. God is always in control. Where sin has abounded, God’s grace has abounded even more. (cfr. Rom 5,20)

Yes, that’s all that we can do—just try and try, struggle like a good soldier. But we actually can do a lot in this department. First, we have to understand that especially for priests and bishops, celibacy is a matter of living chastity well, and chastity, in turn, is a result of genuine love that comes from God, and not from the urgings of the flesh, nor the many seductive conditionings of the environment, etc.

This basic equation should be imparted as early as possible in everyone, starting in the family which is the first center of formation for all of us, and especially when one starts his priestly formation in the seminaries.

Let’s hope that parents take this responsibility seriously, especially these days when there are more challenges and issues regarding human sexuality. Most likely, parents themselves also need to be given the proper formation in this regard by the Church.

The seminary formators and spiritual directors should already be proven experts in this area and masters in the virtue of priestly celibacy, chastity, and love. Let’s hope that with their mere presence and example, seminarians can already get inspired and feel reinforced in their desire to live the virtue of chastity in celibacy, a virtue that should spring out of genuine love.

The formators and spiritual directors should get to know the seminarians thoroughly well, and give them the proper guidance. They should try their best to win the confidence and friendship of the seminarians so that a candid look into the seminarians’ spiritual life, especially in the area of continence, chastity and capacity for celibacy can be assessed properly.

The formators and spiritual directors should know whether there is genuine love for God and souls in the seminarians’ heart, or at least know how to help them develop such love. They should know at least the state in which these virtues are lived by the seminarians, so that proper guidance can be given.

This is, of course, a delicate task to carry out, for which a lot of spiritual and supernatural means have to be used without neglecting the appropriate human means.

Email: roycimagala@gmail.com