Am I allowed to date while in the seminary?
The seminary is like the engagement period for a couple…you do not date others if you desire to create a true relationship with your intended. Likewise, to truly prepare for and discern the calling to priesthood in the seminary, you should not be dating.
What if I have been sexually intimate in my past, does that mean I can’t be a priest?
No. But, you must now be in the process of embracing chastity. St. Augustine led a very wild life as a young man, but he gave up his unchaste, sinful ways when he decided to live a fully Catholic life.
My attraction to women is so strong at times that I fear I wouldn’t be able to remain chaste.
If you ask God, He gives abundant graces to live a chaste life. You of course, must respond to those graces by using them to make chaste choices. As you grow in chastity, as it becomes a habit of your life, you will experience a strengthening, and an ease to being and remaining chaste.
It seems unnatural or weird to me to live your whole life without sex.
Most men and women are called naturally to the married life. So, obviously, living a celibate, chaste life goes beyond the ordinary. This is a calling and a sacrifice but the rewards are great. Many great saints, religious, monks, nuns, and priests over the centuries have lived very fulfilled and happy lives.
Why can’t priests marry?
The level of practical dedication of the Catholic priest requires that he have no attachments that compete with his service to the Church. His commitment to the Church is analogous to marriage. For the priest, standing in the person of Christ (“in persona Christi”), the Church is his bride. Moreover, celibate chastity has a way of unifying and intensifying a priest’s devotion and dedication to the Lord Jesus and His Church. Christ himself presented this discipline by his own chaste, celibate life and by his words “Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.” (Matthew 19:11-12)
Later, St. Paul would write “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)
And finally, St. John, in his description of Paradise identifies a special group of celibate holy men standing close to Christ: “Then I looked, and lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder; the voice I heard was like the sound of harpers playing on their harps, and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women for they are chaste; it is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes; these have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are spotless.” (Revelation 14: 1-5)
For more on this, please read Archbishop Pilarczyk’s article on Celibacy, an article from CUF, Pope Paul’s encyclical On Priestly Celibacy , Pope John Paul II’s exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis, or go to www.catholic.com/thisrock/2001/0102fea5.asp.