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Friday, October 8, 2010

Our sexual identities (That got your attention!)

Here is the third and final installment of last week's presentation by Fr.Gerry McGlone of the St. John Vianney Treatment Center in Philadelphia, on Affective and Healthy Celibate Development.

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Case history---the Vancouver twins: in 1966 one boy was accidentally maimed during circumcision and it was decided to reassign him sexually and that he'd be raised as a girl. Psychologist John Money oversaw the transformation, mistakingly thinking the boy could then be raised as a female. He assumed male and female characteristics could be learned and developed socially, independent of biology. Big mistake. Even after ten years of therapy, the boy never identified as female. He spoke out publicly against random sexual reassignment surgery. In 2004, after years of severe depression, financial failure and a collapsing marriage, he committed suicide. Money admits he had totally misread the complexities of sexual identity.

We expend way too much energy trying to be someone we are not. It won't work. If you want to develop the skill to relate in an intimate way, we have to learn to  recognize, acknowledge and express our deepest desires.  

Individuals who consistently go beyond themselves and are genuinely concerned with others are measurably more mentally healthy than those who are not relational and who increasingly close in on themselves.

We reduce our feelings to mad, sad, glad and angry. We must learn to express more emotions to be balanced and healthy.

We isolate and disconnect in religious life. Do we listen to one another in community? Do we spend time with one another? Can we connect with members of our community?

Young people are attracted to contentment, enthusiasm, honesty, and sincere concern in their elders. They will want to join a community that creates such members. Conversely, cranky, bitter, grouchy old men repel potential vocation prospects. Unless the young spend time with the elders and the elders share their stories with the younger members, they will never develop as men.

Can we priest and Brother one another?

First comes the call to discipleship, then comes our conversion.

Attentiveness to the other's needs opens us up to helping one another or at least be aware of the other's existence.

We Maryknollers are not trained for community life, it is not a Maryknoll charism nor our experience overseas, yet here we are together at the Center, often resentful of the circumstances that got us here. We have to be a brotherhood of brothers. How do we manage our feelings and sexuality? How do we get our legitimate, celibate needs met? How do we rediscover the connections here that we experienced overseas?

We isolate in community, settling for relationships of convenience, because we are afraid of true intimacy, of loss, of hurt and we do not acknowledge the need to grieve past losses or hurts.

How do I embrace the moment, feel what I need to feel, grieve and let go and move on to live fully? Are we open to permanent, intimate relationships that will sustain us, even though we have to eventually say goodbye?

If I do not know the God who created my body, how can the Incarnation make any sense? We are passionate and alive to the degree to which we are in touch with our deepest longings.

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