or The Grass is Always Greener
or What Would You Really Do if You Were Celibate (notice my usage of the subjunctive)
Fr Dwight Longnecker, former Anglican priest and now married with children Roman-rite Catholic priest, wrote a beautiful post titled Celibacy, Lust & Love last week. And then this exchange occurs in the comment box...
Fr Longnecker said: The superiority of celibate priesthood does not negate the good of marriage for a priest. My marriage is happy and my ministry as a priest is happy, but without denigrating marriage at all, my priesthood would be even fuller and more dedicated without the responsibilities of wife and family.
I said: This is the conclusion that I don’t understand- HOW does having a wife and family diminish your ministry? Is it because you can’t run off to Haiti at a moment’s notice?... because all priests I know get about 8 hours to sleep and then 4 or more hours a day that are not directly related to ministry.
Do you feel diminished because you sometimes think of your wife during a staff meeting at school (she’ll find what Mr. X said funny…I have to remember to tell her during dinner…) instead of thinking of the latest Mass collect? Is your ministry diminished because you decide to play Nerf guns with the kids instead of staying another hour at the chancery…talking shop with fellow clergy after the meeting? Is your ministry diminished because you decide to grocery shop with your wife instead of golf with buddies? I’m not ‘anti-celibacy’ by any means…but let me tell you- the fact that my husband has to support wife and family makes him wake up at 3 in the morning to go anoint someone at the hospital…passing 8 sleeping celibate priests on the way
Fr Longenecker responded: By being free to not be concerned at all about money and also being free to live more simply and move anywhere instantly.
My question now is: Speaking generally to all married priests with these dilemmas- Would you really be free to not be concerned about money and would you really move anywhere instantly if you didn't have the responsibilities of a wife and family? Or is it just a thought- knowing that being burdened with wife and family makes it impossible to change ministries instantly- Not that you would ever do that.