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Virginity Is Embraced for the
Kingdom of Heaven

In comparing virginity and marriage, some persons believe that marriage is so elevated that even virginity is explained in relation to marriage: It would be nothing but the renunciation to its pleasures. To put matters in perspective, it seems opportune to recall the teaching of the Church on the topic as expressed in Pius XII's Encyclical Sacra Virginitas. It becomes quite clear that virginity is defined primarily in regard to the quest for the kingdom of Heaven.

Pope Pius XII

Here also it must be added, as the Fathers and Doctors of the Church have clearly taught, that virginity is not a Christian virtue unless we embrace it "for the kingdom of Heaven" (Mt 19:12), that is, unless we take up this way of life precisely to be able to devote ourselves more freely to divine things to attain Heaven more surely, and with skillful efforts to lead others more readily to the kingdom of Heaven.

Those, therefore, who do not marry because of exaggerated self-interest, or because, as Augustine says, (De sancta virginitate, c. 22, PL XL, 407) they shun the burdens of marriage or because like Pharisees they proudly flaunt their physical integrity, an attitude which has been condemned by the Council of Gangra lest men and women renounce marriage as though it were something despicable instead of because virginity is something beautiful and holy – none of these can claim for themselves the honor of Christian virginity. (Cf. can 9, Mansi, Coll. concil, II, 1096)

Moreover, the Apostle of the Gentiles, inspired by the Holy Spirit, observes: "He that is without a wife is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. ... And the unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the Lord, that she may be holy in body and spirit." (I Cor 7:32, 34)

This then is the primary purpose, this is the central idea of Christian virginity: to aim only at the divine, to turn toward this the whole mind and soul; to want to please God in everything, to think of Him continually, to consecrate body and soul completely to Him.

Pius XII, Encyclical Sacra VIrginitas
of March 25, 1954, nn. 12-14.



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Posted March 17, 2018

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