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Celibacy Is ‘a Life of Greater Perfection’

A reader recently sent us a text on celibacy from a prayer book that belonged to her great grandmother, which was printed in 1919. The text is written by German Jesuit Fr. Tilmann Pesch, one of the contributors to the Scholastic revival in the 19th century.

We reproduce below photocopies of Fr. Pesch's book in English, preceded by a literal transcription of the text for an easy reading. The bold is ours.

Fr. Tilmann Pesch, S.J.

The choice of a vocation must be directed to the securing of our last end, which is the salvation of our soul.

Divine Providence has disposed that there should be a diversity of vocations in harmony with the diversity of individual qualifications. Not all men are fit for all callings. A right choice is of the greatest importance. To find out to what state of life God calls you, prayer and mature reflection are necessary.

Take your decision with calm and after fortifying yourself by the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist. Your vocation is the means of reaching your final destination as a man and as a Christian. Take into consideration your character, your inclinations and aptitudes, your moral weaknesses, your health and temporal resources. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages and the duties of the callings you have in view. Be careful to discriminate between imagination and reality. Do not overlook possible dangers to your soul.

Blessed are they whom God calls to serve Him, as priests or religious. But the very perfection of that vocation implies that it is but for the few. He that stands high and falls, falls deep.

If you feel drawn by noble motives to the state of celibacy, thank God for inviting you a life of greater perfection:

"If thou take a wife, thou hast not sinned. And if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned, nevertheless such shall have tribulation of the flesh ... More blessed shall she be if she so remain, according to my counsel." (1 Cor xii, 18:24)

• The unmarried by choice are expected to "be solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how they may please God and be holy both in body and spirit." (1 Cor vii: 32-34)

There are, however, dangers peculiar to celibacy, which can be evaded only strenuous application to those holy cares which arise from a sincere love of God and of one's neighbor.

Weigh well all the arguments for and against, before you come to a decision. Ask yourself what advice you would give to a beloved friend in circumstances similar to your own, and apply that advice to yourself. Do what, on your death bed, you would wish to have done. Take counsel with men of experience interested in your welfare.

Matrimony must be entered upon with intentions worthy of a Christian. Do not trust blind, unreasoned sudden inclinations. Consider the consequences of a hasty decision; listen to God and to reason before taking the decisive step.

In the choice of a partner look out first of all for practical religion and homely, Christian virtue; they are the indispensable foundation of a happy family-life.

Mixed marriages are disapproved by the Church and are, therefore to be avoided. They divide the family, endanger the education of the children, frequently lead to indifference in matters of religion and are the source of many evils. The Church allows them only under pressure of necessity and for urgent reasons.

Study also the character, the qualities of mind and heart, and remember that incompatible temperaments make married life a never ending misery.

Health has also to be taken into consideration.

Do not delay or avoid marriage for motives sinful and unworthy of a Christian and of an honorable man.

-- Tilmann Pesch, S.J.


O God, Thou knowest in what calling I can best attain my last end according to Thy holy will. Enlighten me, that I may know what pleases Thee, and what is truly for my good and for the good of my fellow-men.

Give me strength to keep my will and mind free from deceitful influences and passions, and to enter on the path which Thou, in Thy love hast destined for me. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Fr. Pesch text on celibacy 1 Fr. Pesch text on celibacy 2Fr. Pesch text on celibacy 3


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Posted February 8, 2020

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