Monday, May 18, 2009

Our Sunday Best?

With recent news stories such as Fr. Marcel Maciel fathering a child and Fr. Albert Cutie admitting to having a girlfriend the debate about priestly celibacy seems to be everywhere these days. I thought I would add my two cents. Now, clearly I have little to go on, being first of all women and second of all happily married for practically my entire adult life (I was 21 when I tied the knot!). I admit I know little to nothing about a life of celibacy or about living a life fully consecrated to God.
However, I do live in this world and that, I believe, qualifies me to at least note the immorality of it. Furthermore, that, I believe is precisely the problem. We live in a world of constant temptation, and fuzzy boundaries, at best. On my way to Mass on Sunday, I saw at least two billboards with women in string bikinis. Now, church is only 10 minutes away from my house, and in those ten minutes my children, my husband, and I were "treated" to this lovely peep show of flesh, twice! Then, during Mass, I saw two young teenage girls both wearing dresses that barely covered their upper thighs. I am not exaggerating at all. Apparently, this is the latest fashion. I could not help but wonder what their mother's were thinking letting them leave the house dressed like that. Then, to think it was acceptable to them to allow their daughters to dress that way to go to church!
Is it any wonder our priests, who incidentally are men with natural, normal desires, struggle with their vow of celibacy? It is my belief that the vast majority of our priests absolutely mean it when they vow to live a life of celibacy. They are good and holy men, who desire to serve God in the vocation they have been called to. They are willing to make sacrifices in order to do that. But they are men, and this world does not support them in their decision to follow God. Nor does it make it easy to resist the desires they must feel everyday. I look at the sexual images around us and I understand why men, all men- married, single, and consecrated, have trouble staying true to the chastity they are called to in whatever vocation they are living.
Besides the blatant sexuality all around us every single day, there also seems to me to be a lack of healthy boundaries between men and women. I recently saw, in response to a friend's status update on Facebook, a woman referring to her own fertility in very crude terms. Does she realize how many complete and total strangers are now aware of the state of such an intimate part of her life? And, did it ever occur to her that that might be information we would rather not have?!?!?!? Similarly, my husband and I have recently been privy to a conversation with an acquaintance about the private details of her fertility treatments. I felt embarrassed hearing such personal information in the company of my husband but this woman was apparently not at all embarrassed to share them. If women are willing to so openly share this with strangers and casual acquaintances would it be surprising to find out they also shared it with their parish priest? And if not this specific information, something similarly inappropriate?
Our priests are trying their best. They are, unfortunately, as vulnerable to temptation as any of the rest of us. I am not condoning anyone's sin. I am sad and upset about the betrayal of trust whenever a priest falls into the trap of worldly temptation. But, I am also mindful of their need for our support and prayers. And in addition to our prayers, our gratitude, and our appreciation, they would probably greatly benefit from a little modesty in our Sunday Mass attire!

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