Monday, April 14, 2008


Today, when driving around, I was listening to the radio, to these two young priests who were being interviewed. One started talking about his priestly life enthusiastically. He said that people have misconceptions about what it entails to be a priest. They don't understand the meaning of celibacy, for example.

They don’t? I asked myself. What's there to understand?

I started wondering. I was reminded of this story about a man who was so spiritual, he claimed he never had to eat. He said he could get his energy from prana, or the air. So folks followed him everywhere. One day they caught him at 2 AM on a binge at a fast-food joint. The man was unapologetic.

Sure, the man said. I do eat sometimes. But not because I need to. I just enjoy it.

I thought maybe celibacy was like that, too.

Or maybe there is a Catholic text somewhere which explains the varieties of celibacy available to its practitioners. Or perhaps it contains a list of optional definitions. Maybe there is literal vs figurative celibacy. Or theoretical vs actual celibacy. A via negativa and a via positiva for celibacy. A celibacy that is not celibacy but is not not celibacy. A virtual celibacy, an ethereal celibacy . . .
Or maybe there is:

Celibacy for the priest: It only happens if/when he hears the call. Please note: the word, it, is open to interpretation.
Celibacy for the layman: Yeah right.
Celibacy for the pensive: A recurring nightmare, frequently discussed by those who engage in Freudian therapy.
Celibacy for scientists: A hypothetical reality, best not tested.
Celibacy for magicians: And you thought cutting a woman in half was cruel magic.
Celibacy in ancient Greece: A curse cast upon a man who had taken liberties with the goddesses.
Celibacy in the Middle Ages: A term used in battle to describe the state of a warrior who has been parted from his horse
Celibacy in fairy tales and fables:A term used to describe a legendary character who had nothing, wanted nothing, felt nothing, and suffered from nothing.
Celibacy according to the angels: Proof of human idiocy. Also, a preference for the wingless life.
Celibacy according to Elvis: Are you lonesome tonight?
Celibacy according to Odysseus: They had to tie me to the mast.
Celibacy according to Sheherezade: I will tell you the rest of the story tomorrow.
Celibacy according to Zorba: "There is no greater sin than when a woman asks you to her bed, and you do not go!"
Celibacy according to Anonymous: The fallen leaf can never return to its branch.
Celibacy according to Moliere: "I prefer an accommodating vice to an obstinate virtue."
Celibacy according to St. Augustine: "O Lord, help me to be pure, but not yet."


SarahJane said...

yeah, what's there to get? I bet Bill Clinton could explain it.

massimoparizzi said...

Dear Nin Andrews,
I apologize for contacting you via your blog. I'm the editor of a magazine published in Italy in two separate editions, in English (as "Here-Notes from the Present"), and in Italian. (You can find it at In the next issue I'd like to publish two poems by Ritsos, but I have only their Italian translations. The poems are "Departures I" and "Departures II", from "Gestures". Well, I bought the book (“Gestures, and other poems, 1968-1970”, London, Cape Goliard Press, in association with Grossman Publishers, New York, 1971, with the Stango's translation) via Amazon, but they say it could arrive as late as next June, and I need the poems by 15th May. Could you help me? If you have the Stango's translations, could you be so kind and send them to me by e-mail ( If you'd like to see a copy of my review on paper, I'll be glad to send it to you. Thanks, and best regards, Massimo Parizzi

Nin Andrews said...

Okay, I emailed you the poems. Let me know if you received them.