Monday, April 18, 2022

Celibacy as solidarity with the poor


As I continue trying to understand what it means to be a celibate deacon, I read as widely as I can.

I have written more than seven blog posts on the topic, but recently I came upon a unique insight in some writings of Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI. He connects celibacy to solidarity with the poor.
To sleep alone is to be poor. To sleep alone is to be stigmatized. To sleep alone is to be outside the norm for human intimacy and to feel acutely the sting of that. 
When Jesus went to bed alone, he was in solidarity with that pain, in solidarity with the poor. A vow of celibacy, whatever its negatives, also does that for a person, it puts him or her into a privileged solidarity with a special kind of poverty, the loneliness of those who sleep alone, not because they want to, but because circumstance denies them from enjoying one of the deepest human experiences that there is, sexual consummation.
Initially, I thought this a bit strange, even considering his examples.
Anyone who is because of unwanted circumstance (physical unattractiveness, emotional instability, advanced age, geographical separation, frigidity or uptightness, bad history, or simple bad luck) effectively blocked from enjoying sexual consummation is a victim of a most painful poverty.
But a few weeks ago, I began to see what this might mean.

The pastor has me do the final interview of couples before they get married. He had interviewed them at the beginning of the marriage preparation process. Then their formation consists of twelve themes, which are given in their respective communities. After this,  I interview them and two witnesses – mostly to assure that there are no obstacles or impediments.

Some of the couples have lived together, often for years, and have children. Yet there are a good number who have lived separately.

Some of the questions are quite personal, but others are quite straightforward: “Do you know and accept that Catholic marriage is for life?” I sometimes add, to emphasize the importance of this, “Will you still be faithful, if you have to feed and bathe your spouse who is confined to bed and cannot work?”

One young man noted that he had been taking care of his spouse when she confined to bed after a difficult birth. 

I was amazed.

Here is “love in action,” a great example for us celibates. And Rolheiser’s remarks began to make sense.

Love, even celibate love, makes sense when we continue to love and pour ourselves out to other, when sexual relations are not possible or when we have chosen to abstain.

Many people find themselves in situations in which they are unable to express their love with sexual intimacy. They sleep alone. Some because of health issues. 

But I also think of the women whose husbands have left for the US or for one of the large cities in Honduras, looking for work to sustain the family. Their poverty had provoked a separation – perhaps for years. She is alone.

I think of the women whose husbands have been murdered or have been jailed. I recall a woman whose companion was murdered. She had a miscarriage a while before and was pregnant at the time of his death.

I think of the women who have fled violence and war, especially now as thousands flee the war in Ukraine.

There are more situations of people who are forced to sleep alone.

But I return to the young man who cared for his spouse, sleeping alone because of her sickness, but obviously loving and caring for her and for their children.
  • Does my celibacy have that self-giving love? 
  • Does my celibacy open me to love and open my heart to those who find themselves alone? 
  • Does my celibacy open me to a solitude that bears fruit in solidarity? 
  • Does my celibacy move me to go out from my comfort zones to love and accompany those who yearn for love? 

  • Is my celibacy open to self-giving love? 
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Quotes are from Fr. Ron Rolheiser’s columns, “In Exile,” and can be found on page 72 of Ronald Rolheiser: Essential Spiritual Writings (Modern Spiritual Masters), published by Orbis Books.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Way of the Cross in the parish of Dulce Nombre

 On the Friday before Palm Sunday, celebrated in much of Latin America as the feast of the Virgen of Sorrows, the parish of Dulce Nombre prayed the Stations of the Cross in the streets of Dulce Nombre. 

The text in Spanish can be found here.

Here are a few photos