Here is the second installment from the talk on Affective Celibacy here at the Center last week by Fr. Jerry McGlone, S.J., director of the St. John Vianney Treatment Center near Philadelphia.
Enough guys continued discussing these topics days after the talk, so several men are proposing getting together in small groups on a regular basis to continue the conversation.
Taking our Chronos (ordinary time) and using it for Kairos (God's time).
What do people say about priests today? Here are some responses: pedophiles, irrelevant, dedicated, holy, selfless, out-of-it, perverts, prophets...and everything in between. One man suggested there is a disconnect between those priests who work with the people on a regular basis and those who work in an office for the bureaucracy.
Following the sex scandal, many priests feel sold out by the hierarchy (thrown under the proverbial bus); in religious life, members feel abandoned by their leadership.
This is God's time, whether we like it or not. We would be foolish not to read the signs of the times. Do we really believe that something good can come out of this sex abuse crisis? The delusion we live under every day is that time is all about us. Our response is key, this is our choice and responsibility in freedom to live in the reality of the moment.
"We cannot chose the time in which we live, all we can decide is how to use the time we have been given." (BTW, that's Gandolf's line from LOTR).
This moment is either opportunity/grace; or darkness/sin.
What we talk about is rooted in our pasts. Our sexuality did not develop in a vacuum. We have a vision of what we can become, that is the promise of the covenant, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in whose footsteps we walk to seize the day, the hour, this moment---and live!
We have an on-going formation we must be about, always unfolding.
How does all this relate to Addiction and our Culture of Addiction?
Usually we face a both/and situation. We learned about sexuality in silence, and in community. It's always about intimacy. Anything that leads to secrecy and silence leads to addictive patterns.
The Church is not just about us here in Maryknoll, or the local parish or our small community, but rather it embraces the whole world. We need the bigger vision while living in the here and now. How well do we mission here at Maryknoll among one another? Do we show even half the attention, the detail to one another as we do to the people we serve?
Mary's "Fiat" becomes our saying "Yes" to life and possibility.
What is sexuality? Where do we first learn about it? In the street or schoolyard? From our friends or from family? Not one man here said he learned about sex from our parents. Sexuality, on the other hand, may be observed at home. Sex became si meting secretive, not out in the open, and not knowledgeable.
Celibacy, on the other hand, was learned or referred to in the seminary. It was the obligation for one who wanted to become a priest or Brother. It was seldom explained or talked about, so it too deformed in secrecy and silence. We seldom share our stories.
A "sexual celibate" seems an oxymoron. We expected to get "zapped" with the grace to remain celibate. And when this doesn't happen...?
St. Ignatius Loyola taught: "In matters of celibacy, be like the angels." Not a big help. What was the Maryknoll teaching on celibacy? How did we learn to assimilate all those feelings and changes our bodies were undergo in?
The younger members expressed a more earthy understanding of sexuality, and formation afforded opportunities to talk about sex with women as well as men. So there is a big generational divide between older and younger members. Our sexual templates are formed over many years from many sources, for good or ill. The younger men currently in formation and those considering joining are much more relaxed about talking openly about sexual matters. (But what happens when these men encounter formators not equally open or relaxed discussing sexuality?)
We are sacramental, incarnational. All the sacraments are about touch and physicality to express spiritual truths.
Where did we learn how to be celibate? Trial and error, observation and by being Imperfect. We must recognize our sexuality as part of our God-given identity and humanity.
This fed into the "Lone Ranger Mentality" and why older Maryknollers--like the average American man--have difficulty trusting and relying on others. Like an undertow or rip current, we survive only by going with the flow. It starts with the creative crisis of the churning of the sea by some far-off storm. How do we respond to the currents tugging at us? Is this not connected to the same call to vocation and relationality for which we have no role model. We must face and embrace our imperfection. That is incarnation.