My friends are wise, witty, and compassionate. Today I'd like to yield some of my bandwidth to them. (Friends, I hope you don't mind. I will respect your anonymity.)
From one correspondent in Boston:
How lovely it is to hear your news. I reciprocate your wishes to me.
There are some twists to our modern, isolated, ersatz-narcissistic society which make it a challenge to be compassionate. We need people as yourself to make it right again by example, not by insistence....
Most people pretend the poor and downtrodden are invisible -- mostly out of guilt of not doing anything akin to the Golden Rule or Good Samaritan. "Get a job" or "Pick yourself up" one hears, if one hears anything at all. Others say the homeless, for example, are "rampant drug addicts or mentally ill useless people in society" and leave it at that, turning on their TVs to "American Idol". So, such malignant indifference is only conquered by silent but demonstrable example to the contrary of such views.
From a friend in Virginia:
I am intrigued by your blog post on celibacy. In my last year of seminary I had a lot of interest in this subject as well.... I had been intentional in my decision not to date. This gave me such freedom to allow myself to develop very emotionally intimate friendships with many people. Some I could go months without speaking and then pick up immediately where we'd left off. Last year in the fall, right before I got engaged, I spent a few days with a good friend who I see about two times a year. I wondered aloud with her if my gift for deep friendship came as a result of my decision not to date. I had noticed a shift in my availability in time, attention, and emotional energy when it came to my friendships after dating N________ for six months. Now that I'm married I do find it to be very true that my time, attention, and emotional energy for friendships is greatly diminished. I realize that not all of that is directly related to celibacy, but I do find myself thinking and wondering about the shifts in my own life. Do I still have that potential for maintaining the deeply intimate friendships with so many who are both near and far or am I shifting to only having that depth of friendship with just a few people because the primary human relationship is now my husband? Very different from the questions you are now pondering, but I have to admit your blog post did have me yearning for just a moment for the fond memories and positive relationships in my non-dating celibate life. (I don't want to make it seem like I've forsaken all my friends!! But, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm excited for you and the positive benefits of choosing celibacy as part of God's calling on your life.)
A dispatch from a friend who works in the trenches for economic justice:
Last weekend I went to Washington D.C. for a one-day workshop sponsored by the Catholic Labor Network. It was a group of about 30 people from various unions or labor organizations. CLN has supported us by keeping our case on their website including a link to the paper I presented in Chicago. A couple of observations were made by some of the participants. One is the unequal attention and financial resources that the U.S. bishops are spending on abortion, same-sex marriages and the current contraception debate versus labor/economic issues. The response to the labor issues has been inconsistent, especially when one works within a Catholic insitution dealing with economic/labor disputes.
A telling comment made was that we would not see a document like "Economic Justice for All" again, because of the current bishops we have today. One participant made the comment of how a document of that nature is needed more than ever to be rewritten for the current situation, even as it continues to speak to our current situation. It was a comment and observation that was consistent with my own observation of the Church becoming more corporate and partisan. A response to the partisan bias of the current Church leadership was that the leadership is "issue" oriented not "partisan."
Finally, some advice about Kansas, the site of the Capuchin pre-novitiate, from a native-born Kansan now living in Massachusetts:
You can count on it being HOT. 90's for many days in summer. The view is something else ... you can see forever and the truly half-dome sky is awesome ... the high plains, although flat, have a beauty all their own. You will no doubt miss trees (oh, yes, there are trees, but not like the East) but be prepared to just enjoy an entirely different landscape -- walk outside town and appreciate the immensity of the sky! Clouds and storms are amazing out there.
I'm proud to be a native Jayhawker, although I left Kansas politics way behind many years ago ... and wouldn't necessarily want to live there full time now.
And a postscript: old Kansas truism: "in case of tornado, get to SW corner of basement" : )