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ELEISON COMMENTS CXXXI (Jan.16, 2010) : UNDESIRED CELIBACY.

Last Sunday’s Feast of the Holy Family may be a suitable moment to quote a reader’s question arising from the pronouncement of “Eleison Comments” three weeks ago that, normally speaking, an unmarried man is a “zero” while an unmarried woman is “less than a zero”: what about a man or woman who might have liked to get married, but for whatever reason either could not or did not do so ? Not everybody that does not marry has a religious vocation, the reader added.

I began by replying that unnatural loneliness is all too normal today. Modern life, especially big city life, causes not only marriages not to happen which should happen, but also many marriages which have happened to come apart. That is one punishment amongst many others of liberalism, which by glorifying individualism engenders an inaptitude to live in the married state. Liberalism also glorifies freedom from all ties, and the marriage bond is nothing if not a tie. “Hence the collapsing birth-rates of the Western nations and the suicide of once Catholic Europe. It is all immensely sad and immensely serious.”

I continued : “Obviously to call all men “zeros” is a colorful way of saying that, firstly, we are all before God minute creatures, and secondly, men are not nearly as great as they think they are. (Two Russian proverbs say that a man without a woman is like a garden without a hedge (to surround it), or like a man out in January (in Russia) without a fur cap !) To go on to call women “less than zeros” is a likewise provocative way of saying that firstly, contrary to the dreadful disparaging of their complementarity by the enemies of God everywhere today, women are not the same as men, and secondly, they are more profoundly dependent on men than men are on women – see Eve’s punishment in Genesis III, 16: “Thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee”. But the “zero” and “less than zero” are not primarily to provoke but to be put together in an eight, to demonstrate graphically the natural power of the union of marriage.”

Alas, today many a priest comes across young women who would love to marry but can hardly find a young man that strikes them as fit to be a husband. The young men seem all too often virtual dishrags, washed out by a liberalism which dissolves their minds by which God meant them to lead. Liberalism does not so easily undo the instincts and emotions which God makes natural to woman, although when it does, the results can be even more terrible.

In conclusion, I referred to the Eighth Station of the Way of the Cross, where Our Lord consoled the weeping women of Jerusalem (Lk. XXIII, 27-31): such a punishment, he warned, would soon come down on deicide Jerusalem as would make them envy the women who had never had husband or family. In our own day that is not a reason not to marry, but it may be a consolation for anyone to whom Providence has not given to marry but who might have liked to, because coming down upon us in what cannot be the too far distant future is… tremendous reason to start putting now more trust than ever in God’s unfailing Providence…

Kyrie eleison.

London, England

Stephen Heiner
truerestoration.blogspot.com
But the “zero” and “less than zero” are not primarily to provoke but to be put together in an eight, to demonstrate graphically the natural power of the union of marriage.”

I prefer the imagery of joining the two zeroes at the sides, as Eve came from Adam's rib, and creating infinity. 
Fr. Peter Scott's beautiful and thoughtful considerations on the single state, which can be found in The Best of Questions and Answers, published by Angelus Press, at pp. 191-193, are much more charitable -- and more Catholic -- than Bishop's Williamson's assessment. 

Kyrie eleison, indeed.

St. Joan of Arc, "less than zero," pray for us.

:owl:
i am very glad that the consecrated single state (whether in the world or in the religious life) is regarded by the Church as a more perfect state of life compared to marriage. I guess its just me being very weird, but i cannot comprehend why so many women around me are anxious to get married (Fr. Daniel Cooper SSPX made the same comment in one of his sermons on the religious life and the zeal for souls) Maybe when i reach 25 i will start thinking differently...
(01-19-2010, 08:07 AM)karyn_anne Wrote: [ -> ]i am very glad that the consecrated single state (whether in the world or in the religious life) is regarded by the Church as a more perfect state of life compared to marriage. I guess its just me being very weird, but i cannot comprehend why so many women around me are anxious to get married (Fr. Daniel Cooper SSPX made the same comment in one of his sermons on the religious life and the zeal for souls) Maybe when i reach 25 i will start thinking differently...

A lot of girls think it's going to be a fairytale and Prince Charming is going to sweep her off her feet and make all her dreams come true, and this fantasy probably prevents some girls from considering the religious life.  That said, marriage is the natural vocation, most people are meant for it, and so much people have a natural inclination to pursue it.
(01-19-2010, 07:37 AM)ImpyTerwilliger Wrote: [ -> ]Fr. Peter Scott's beautiful and thoughtful considerations on the single state, which can be found in The Best of Questions and Answers, published by Angelus Press, at pp. 191-193, are much more charitable -- and more Catholic -- than Bishop's Williamson's assessment. 

I read through Bishop Williamson's message thinking how insightful and wise it was.  I was surprised to see that  you found it uncharitable.  :o
"Unnatural Loneliness."  A very good descriptive term. 
(01-19-2010, 02:41 PM)cgraye Wrote: [ -> ]
(01-19-2010, 08:07 AM)karyn_anne Wrote: [ -> ]i am very glad that the consecrated single state (whether in the world or in the religious life) is regarded by the Church as a more perfect state of life compared to marriage. I guess its just me being very weird, but i cannot comprehend why so many women around me are anxious to get married (Fr. Daniel Cooper SSPX made the same comment in one of his sermons on the religious life and the zeal for souls) Maybe when i reach 25 i will start thinking differently...

A lot of girls think it's going to be a fairytale and Prince Charming is going to sweep her off her feet and make all her dreams come true, and this fantasy probably prevents some girls from considering the religious life.  That said, marriage is the natural vocation, most people are meant for it, and so much people have a natural inclination to pursue it.

I got enough rude wakeup calls with regards to the Prince Charming thing long before i celebrated my 19th birthday. In the words of an SSPX priest: "I can't understand why so many girls will choose a human spouse when they can choose Our Lord, if only they consider the possibility that they might have a religious vocation." Anyway i can understand the terrible loneliness of singlehood if a love for God is not present. Friends and family and material interests can only fill that void so much, for we are made for God.
(01-20-2010, 06:45 AM)karyn_anne Wrote: [ -> ]In the words of an SSPX priest: "I can't understand why so many girls will choose a human spouse when they can choose Our Lord, if only they consider the possibility that they might have a religious vocation."

I still just don't understand this attitude.  If a majority of Catholic girls were to choose Christ over a human spouse, then a majority of Catholic boys would have a life of solitude to look forward to, whether they like it or not.  Not that Catholic girls should be more concerned with what a Catholic boy wants than what God wants, but I don't undestand why so many Catholics don't seem to realize that lots of religious vocation inherently equals the decline of the Catholic Church, at least in population.  So, is the great plan of the SSPX that all Catholics will choose Christ, find themselves celibate and in convents, and in a generation or two the rest of the sinful world will find itself with no chance of salvation because its only means has decided to go Shaker?  Obviously, I'm being a little crass here, but only to emphasize the point that there is a glaring logical conclusion here that is sitting right in the faces of those Catholics who like to wistfully imagine the beauties of consecrated celibacy while ignoring its inevitable outcome.
(01-20-2010, 10:47 AM)Melkite Wrote: [ -> ]Obviously, I'm being a little crass here, but only to emphasize the point that there is a glaring logical conclusion here that is sitting right in the faces of those Catholics who like to wistfully imagine the beauties of consecrated celibacy while ignoring its inevitable outcome.

If Catholics were having large families, many could choose celibacy and many would still remain to marry.  The population of Catholics would increase.
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