You have to be kidding. It’s to better focus on spirituality? It’s to honor God by foregoing a gift? A thousand years to wrangle on the merits of celibacy, and that’s it? Even speaking in Latin, it should have taken maybe 30 minutes to contemplate and put to rest! How could you get so entwined without laughing? You yearned to focus on spirituality, and spent a thousand years arguing a proposition that should have been dismissed in like half an hour? How did you ever find the time? Married people don’t argue that long, even if you throw in the silent treatment. How about the sacrifice thing? You’d show your appreciation and the great value you place on a gift by saying “Thanks, but no thanks?” Your Grandmother would see through that in about 10 seconds: “Oh Grandma, it’s so lovely! It’s such a perfect fit on the mantel, but you know, we can’t really put it there. It would distract us from thinking of you! We love it and we love you so much, we’re just going to keep it right here in the box and put it in the closet.” Yea, right; have some Brussels sprouts.
Philadelphia: if you didn’t see it from the start, you have to see it now. The boy’s club celibacy thing isn’t working. It’s in the news all the time, over and over; it’s not pretty and it just keeps getting worse. It’s kind of like water and ants: always looking for a way, and if you take away the females, just how many ways are left? So just stop it: let the women in and put an end to the silly “no touch” rule. If you’re really making a sacrificing to honor and focus on God, make it something you actually value. Make it something other than a re-gift back to the giver. There must be a million possibilities, all worthy and risk free to kids. Here’s just a few possibilities gleaned from little more than an hour’s thought (and a cheap cup of instant coffee):
How about chocolate chip cookies? Who doesn’t love cookies? Not the dried up crumbly kind on the Wal-Mart shelf; the really good ones; the thick, warm, freshly homemade kind. They’re like irresistible; the draw is independent of age, hormone level, and sexual orientation. Say you step into the kitchen. First you notice a heaping plate of fresh warm cookies on the table. Then you notice your wife sitting next to them. Which do you reach for first? Exactly! So it’s a better test, a more meaningful sacrifice, and you don’t offend God by refusing the gift. A fresh plate can be set out each morning to acknowledge and resist. They can be weighed and counted, then rechecked at the end of the day (no cheating) before being sent to an appreciative beneficiary. Your cookie celibacy will be honorable, you’ll get to have a spouse, and the altar boys will have cookies rather than nightmares.
Or maybe you could give up cushions and mattresses. They’re taken for granted; it might not seem like much at first thought, but try not availing yourself for a few days. No sitting on any cushioned surface, no sleeping on a mattress or padded bed of any kind, and no pillows (maybe just a rolled up towel). What you get is a nicely woven, but rather unyielding reed mat (and a blanket) on the floor. Now that you’re finally allowed a wife, you likely get to have a pet too, so you can probably roll out your mat next to the dog’s nice comfortable floor cushion. That’s it: hard surfaces only, for your butt, and a thin reed pad to sleep on. Your wife (who’s not yet an ordained club member) can still sleep on a cozy bed (maybe a Tempur-Pedic and a couple of My Pillow’s). Knowing that such comfort is just a few feet away will make your sacrifice even more honorific and meaningful. Because you’re married, you can still enjoy God’s gift and at least conjugal a little on the bed – but no dosing off afterwards (even if it was really good for you). Chances are your wife will still be wide awake and more than willing to give you a poke “Back to thine mat, my faithful husband.” It’s a double play! You’ll truly be foregoing something special, while at the same time providing space for spiritual contemplation.
Another option: give up the “W”. No, not the former president (everybody’s already given that one up), the actual letter, like in the alphabet (it could be a different letter – just pick any consonant to get started). No more using it in speech or writing (not even tweets) for the rest of your life (make a vow). It will be a visible and honorable sacrifice attesting to the seriousness of your commitment. Later on you can eliminate additional letters. The more letters you give up, the higher your position on the spiritual ladder (it could be made similar to the martial arts: maybe special colored robes awarded for achievement). At the Cardinal level, you might even begin the dropping of vowels. To the lay person it will begin to resemble gibberish, but that’s OK. Just as with Latin, nobody will know what you’re talking about, but if you add some cadence and stretch out the enunciation a little, it will still sound profound and spiritual. If you’re thinking it through, you’ll see it’s progressive: the higher you rise, the less you’re understood. Don’t worry; those on the lower levels will happily jump in to interpret your sounds. The “W” system can be implemented throughout the organization, with intense study and rules introduced as to its use and understanding (lifetimes of zealous dedication). It can go all the way up to the Pope, who will no longer use any letters at all. That’s right; he’ll be totally silent, finally at one with God. It will probably be less than a completely blissful state though; just like God, he’ll have to listen in silence as humans pull words from his mouth.
Those are just a few possibilities; there’s plenty more, some even better, and none should take a thousand years of deliberation. In the mean time, just open up the clubhouse; let the good air in, push the bad air out…and have a cookie.