By Rev Fr. David Okolie
Priests and priestly candidates should not run away from relationships, both with the same and the opposite sex. However, they should seriously avoid INTIMACY (Exclusive Relationship).
Intimacy hardly goes without bodily expressions and that brings in the whole idea of carnal pleasure It may start at the initial stage with gentle patting, hugging and before too long, it will get to simple kissing, passionate kissing, then it will graduate into mild caressing and then into passionate romance, finally, it may or may not get to SEX with its attendant allies – pregnancy, abortion, concubinage, etc.
The truth is that intimacywill always knock, but we must be very wise to always discern when that relationship wants to get to the level of *Intimacy* and then be bold enough NOT to allow it get to that level. There is hardly any *SUPERMAN in the domain of intimacy.
Intimacy is by its very nature akin to marital relationship (between husband and wife) on the human level but it is also akin to mystical relationship (between human being and God). Indeed, intimacy is all about EXCLUSIVENESS and is often POSSESSIVE* (You and I alone) which a priest (or priestly candidates) should never pursue on the human level but on the mystical level (Alone with none but Thee my God…). When this Mystical Intimacy is attained, it finds expression in the sincere love, devotion and dedication with which the priest would be taking care of the faithful. He would automatically become a True Shepherd.
Intimacy threatens the very FREEDOM which is the hallmark of effective priestly ministry. This explains the Pauline assertion thus:
“I would like you to be FREE from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs–how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world–how he can please his wife– and his interests are divided”
(Cf. 1 Cor 7:32-34f).
It is quite unfortunate that today, some persons make sincere efforts towards luring priests into *intimacy* just for the sake of *selfish motives.* Such persons *MUST* know that they stand to lose, both in this life and in the life to come; unless they sincerely repent and abandon such *SACRILEGIOUS LIFESTLE (Stealing what has been offered to God).
By and large, it has been generally affirmed that in the fight against such impure intimacy, ‘Cowards’ are usually victorious. Remember Joseph and the Potiphar’s wife (Cf. Gen 39:6-12f). Again, let us not easily forget the wise counsel of Thomas à Kempis thus: *“Always resist the beginning.”
May St. John Vianney, always help us in this ongoing struggle. Amen.
Please, do not forget to always pray for your priests