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Virginity Develops a Man’s Personality
Much More than Marriage

Continuing on in his Encyclical Sacra Virginitas (here, here, and here), Pope Pius XII refutes the arguments of those who pretend marriage is superior to virginity because it is a sacrament and serves to better develop one’s personality.

The Pontiff denounces this doctrine as “false and harmful.” He goes on to establish the orthodox doctrine on marriage and to show how virginity is superior to marriage in both regards: as a means to unite to God and to develop the human personality.


Pope Pius XII


We have recently with sorrow censured the opinion of those who contend that marriage is the only means of assuring the natural development and perfection of the human personality. (cf. Allocution to the General Superiors of Women Religious Orders and Institutes, September 15, 1952, AAS, 44, 1952, p. 824) For there are those who maintain that the grace of the sacrament, conferred ex opere operato, renders the use of marriage so holy as to be a fitter instrument than virginity for uniting souls with God; for [they affirm] marriage is a sacrament, but not virginity.

We denounce this doctrine as false and harmful. Certainly, the sacrament grants the married couple the grace to fulfill holily the conjugal duties, and it strengthens the bonds of mutual affection that unite them; but the purpose of its institution was not to make the use of marriage the means, most suitable in itself, for uniting the souls of the spouses with God by the bonds of charity. (Cf. Decree of the Holy Office, De matrimonii finibus, April, 1, 1944, AAS, 36, 1944, p. 103)

Or rather, does not the Apostle Paul admit that they have the right of abstaining for a time from the use of marriage, so that they may be more free for prayer, (cf. 1 Cor 7:5) precisely because such abstinence gives greater freedom to the soul that wishes to give itself over to spiritual thoughts and prayers to God?

Finally, it may not be asserted, as some do, that the “mutual help,” (cf. 1917 Code of Canon Law, can. 1013 § 1) that the spouses seek in Christian marriage, is a more effective aid in striving for personal sanctity than the so-called solitude of heart of virgins and the chaste. For, although all those who have embraced a life of perfect chastity have deprived themselves of the expression of human love permitted in the married state, nonetheless it cannot thereby be affirmed that because of this privation they have impoverished their human personality.

For they receive from the Giver of heavenly gifts a spiritual succor, which far exceeds that “mutual help” that the spouses confer on each other. By completely dedicating themselves to Him Who is their source and Who shares with them His divine life, far from diminishing themselves, they improve and gain as much as possible.

For who, more than the virgin, can apply to himself that marvelous phrase of the Apostle Paul: “I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me.”(Gal 2:20)

Pius XII, Encyclical Sacra Virginitas
of March 25, 1954, nn. 37-39.

Continued

Posted September 1, 2018


Volume I
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Volume II
Animus Injuriandi II

Volume III


Volume IV
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Volume V
Animus Injuriandi II

Volume VI
destructio dei

Volume VII
fumus satanae

Volume VIII
creatio

Volume IX
volume 10

Volume X
ecclesia

Volume XI
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