While there are other sins that compromise the ministry of the Priest, the sins of SEXUAL IMMORALITY deal heavy blows to the life and ministry of the Priest. This is partly because his very *Ministerial Integrity and Fertility* are hinged on CHASTE CELIBACY.
Although Catholic Priests are forbidden from having Biological Children, however, they are called to be “Spiritually Fruitful” through a life of Chaste Celibacy; described by the Council Fathers as “Spiritual Fertility” (Cf. LG n. 42). Thus, lifestyles that are contrary to the above render them “Spiritually Unfruitful”.
Indeed, “It is impossible to yield to concupiscence and at the same time lead the life of the Spirit (Cf. A Guide to Priestly Celibacy, n. 28). However, Jesus reminds us that he has chosen us to bear *fruits*; *fruits* that will last (Cf. Jn 15:16).
Benedict XVI understands the importance of this *Spiritual Fruitfulness* when, in one of his homilies, he affirms: “We have received the faith to give it to others. We are Priests meant to serve others. And we must bring a *fruit* that will remain… The only thing which remains forever is the human soul, the human person created by God for eternity.
The *fruit* which remains then is that which we have sowed in human souls: love, knowledge, a gesture capable of touching the heart, words which open the soul to joy in the Lord. Let us then go to the Lord and pray to Him, so that He may help us bear *fruit* which remains. Only in this way will the earth be changed from a valley of tears to a garden of God”.
Granted that it is not easy to live the Priestly life, but, at the same time, it is not also impossible to live it. Hence, Our Lord Jesus Christ commands us thus: “Be perfect (holy) as your heavenly father is perfect!” (Mt 5:48). Now, come to think of it: Does God command what is impossible? Remember, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Cf. Phil 4:13).
To say the least, brothers, when we mess around we gradually cut the very branch on which we are resting on and sooner or later, the rest of the story will become what we cannot really imagine.
Priesthood without discipline is dangerous! This explains why the Catechism affirms:
“Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes *unhappy*” (CCC, n. 2339).
Again, a *prayerless Priest* is not only a powerless Priest but also a disaster to himself, to the faithful and to the Church for “Cut off from me, you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). Thus, St. JohnMary Vianney asserts: *“One of the first things that the devil always does is to make people stop praying*.”
Corroborating the above, St. Theresa of Avila avers: “He who omits prayers needs no devil to cast him into hell, he casts himself into it.”
How serious do we still take our prayer life, including the obligation we took upon ourselves of praying the DIVINE OFFICE DAILY? Do we still remember to recourse to our Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Priests, through the daily recitation of the Rosary? What about our daily Holy Masses? The general rule is this: *If you are too busy to pray, then, you are busier than God wants you to be* (Cf. Cann. 246, 276).
The truth is that whenever we think that all the above aids to the life and ministry of the Priest as laid down by the Church no longer matter, then we are bound to *fail* and eventually become *Spiritually Infertile*.
Let us always keep before our very eyes this powerful exhortation of St. Paul: “Watch yourself and watch your teaching. Keep on doing these things, because if you do, you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Tim 4:16).
Over and above all, let us always find encouragement and renewal through *Spiritual Directions and the Sacrament of Confession*. The Good Shepherd is always there to bandage our wounds of sins. Hence, the Catechism reminds us that: “There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive.
There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest. Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin” (CCC, n. 982).
To you, our dearest Lay Faithful, please, remember to always pray for your Priests. Please, do not contribute to their fall because such attracts Divine Punishments (Cf. Mt 18:6).
May God help us to always be faithful and fruitful in his Vineyard. Amen.
O Mary, conceived without original sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee!
– Rev. Fr. David Okolie