Thursday, November 8, 2012

Celibacy in Community

These are not my own original thoughts, but wisdom shared by Jesuit Fr. Gerard McGlone of the Saint John Vianney Center:

1. Too much talk about sex is secret and laden with false, unhealthy myths. Do we Catholics hold a genuinely Christian theology of the body? Or do we hold a Puritan mindset that separates body and soul, denies the passions, and represses desire?
2. If we are to know and love God and other people, we must know our own feelings and what lies beneath those feelings. This self-knowing is the mark of a true mystic.
3. Healthy religious learn how to identify, acknowledge, and manage, through appropriate expression, their emotions. They learn how to deal with stress by minding the quality of their relationships—their relationships in ministry, their relationships in religious community, and their friendships.
4. Unresolved emotional conflicts lead to violation of boundaries and abuse of power. Mature religious maintain good professional boundaries. They know how to risk vulnerability to friends and to brothers in community when conflict arises.
5. Attraction happens: you can’t stop it, you can’t control it. The happier you are in religious life, the more attractive you will be to other people. Likewise, healthy celibates fall in love: it is not a matter of if, but when. The key is knowing how to respond, not merely reacting to our mood but acting reflectively according to our identity and our vocation.
6. Seek friendship "in the Lord." You have no choice but to be a friend in the Lord in a religious fraternity, because healthy celibacy depends on intimacy. The well-being of one affects the well-being of all. Therefore, love one another with sincerity and trust, and in grace. Live the way of the Spirit, not "the street."
7. Becoming a mature religious happens in our weakness. It happens in relation with others and with God. It happens with grace. And it happens, not with what we have planned, but in what we have not planned. Healthy religious go with “Plan B.”
8. Grieving well leads to new life. Do not pass over Good Friday to get to Easter Sunday. Observe your grief.