Skip to comments.A Brief Explanation of the Nuptial Meaning of the Body.
Posted on 12/05/2013 6:29:58 PM PST by markomalley
Some of you know that I write the Question and Answer Column for Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly. I like doing that as it imposes a kind of disciplined writing on me, where I must answer questions very briefly, in about 400 words or less.
A question recently came in about a topic that I have not written much about here on the Blog. Id like to reproduce the question and answer here in order to include the concept in my blog compendium and also to encourage you, if you do not read my column in the Sunday Visitor to know about it and read it.
Thus here is the question and answer which will appear in the paper in an even more abbreviated form:
Q: I have heard that women cannot be priests because Jesus chose only twelve men to be apostles. I understand this. The priest recently said that another reason is because of the nuptial meaning of the body. What does this mean?
A: To speak of the nuptial meaning of the body, means that the very design of our body orients us toward a marital (nuptial) relationship. The man is obviously meant for the woman, and the woman for the man. And in this complementary relationship that we call marriage, there is the fruitfulness of children.
In effect, our body says to us, You were made for another who will complement and complete you, and make your love fruitful.
Now this image of marriage, is also an image for the spiritual life wherein God speaks of his relationship to his people in marital, that is nuptial imagery. In the Old Testament Israel was frequently described as Gods bride, and his relationship to her is marital. In the New Testament, Jesus is the Groom and his Church, is his bride. The Church, with all her members, is called to relate to the Lord, to be completed by Him and complemented by him; such that relationship of love bears fruit.
The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, therefore, is also a sacrament and sign of Gods relationship to His people; He the Groom, we the bride.
Even celibate men and women, priests and religious, manifest by their lives the nuptial meaning of the human person in relation to God. As a priest, I am not a bachelor, I am not single. I have a bride, and she is the Church. Religious Sisters also manifest a marital relationship, where Jesus is the groom and they manifest a relationship to him as spouse, as bride.
To speak, therefore, of the nuptial meaning of the body, is to insist that our sexual distinctions of male and female are not merely arbitrary physical aspects. Rather, they bespeak deeper, spiritual realities, that we must learn to appreciate, and respect. Men and women are different, and manifest different aspects of Gods relationship to these people. Women, manifest the glory of the Church Bride. Men manifest the glory of Christ as Groom.
In terms of the priesthood, this is important because Christ, in his humanity, is not simply male, he is Groom. And the Sacred Liturgy of the Church is not just a celebration, it is a wedding feast: Christ the Groom, intimately with his Bride the Church.
Thus, your pastor is invoking a rich theological teaching, which helps to explain one reason why Christ chose only men for the priesthood.
We do well to recover this understanding of the nuptial meaning of the body, especially in times like these where the meaning of the body, of sexuality, and marriage are so deeply confused.
Sorry I was late with the last one. Anyway, another Msgr Pope ping.
As someone who is single, Christian, and Catholic, this simply makes me the odd person out.
Not so. Although men and women are made to complement and complete each other, none of us is mandated to enter into that relationship. The chaste single life is a valid vocation in the Church. If that's in fact your vocation, rejoice in it and carry it out as close to perfection as you can.
Thank-you and God Bless.
no, you are not the odd man out, Jesus is your husband until you get an earthly one.
I share this in love for the both of you, not condemnation. The Church doesn’t teach anywhere that single-hood is a “vocation”.
Does this mean it’s a shameful state to be single? That it’s something to be ashamed of? NO!
We must be careful though when using the term “vocation”. It’s use has become corrupted in our modern society, so much so that many think of it as synonymous with “a job” or some such. It’s not. It’s more than that.
Read the editorial I posted. It’s a very good treatment of the subject and finally, again, I’m not saying single people should be ashamed of being single, at all. I’m just trying to avoid attaching the term “vocation” to it.
“I believe that God has called each and every one of us to either marriage or to consecrated religious life. Unfortunately, the state of the world today has made it very difficult to fulfill that call especially for those of us who believe we are called to marriage. Marriage requires a partner. And good, holy, committed partners who share our faith are hard to find these days.”
There is no shame in waiting for a suitable partner (if one is called to marriage but no suitable partners can be found).
Read the editorial. A single life can be a very happy one.
I will pray for you both. I pray you do the same for me.
Thank-you and God Bless.
Although for years I have been told that in the Christian/Catholic Church there were “3” states of life, married, priesthood or religious life, and the single in the world.
Even what you have presented, a very good article, took me by surprise.
I rather not myself call any of the above states of life “voacations”, rather they are “callings” by God.
Thank-you and God.
Regardless of what state of late we are in, we are ALL called to serve Jesus.
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