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Title: Chaste Celibacy: Living Christ’s Own Spousal Love

First Annual Symposium on the Spirituality and Identity of the Diocesan Priest

Publisher: The Institute for Priestly Formation
320 N. 20th St. #1208
Omaha, NE 68178

Excerpt from Introduction and some insightful excerpts:

Over the days of March 15-18, 2001, the Institute for Priestly Formation and Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, Michigan, co-sponsored the First Annual Symposium on the Spirituality and Identity of the Diocesan Priest. The concept of offering an annual symposium grew out of the stated mission of the Institute for Priestly Formation “to assist in the spiritual formation of diocesan priests in the Roman Catholic Church ... presenting a spirituality that can inspire, motivate and thus sustain the busy daily lives of contemporary diocesan priests.” The aim of the annual symposium, then, is to provide a forum for research, reflection, and publication about various aspects of the spirituality and identity of the diocesan priest. The Institute plans to offer such a symposium annually in collaboration with a major seminary/school of theology and to publish and distribute the proceedings.

Insightful excerpts:

I. “First then, what is this creature we call imagination? To begin with, what is imagination not? It is not the same as fantasy. Fantasy has come to mean the grotesque, the bizarre. That is fantastic which is unreal, irrational, wild, unrestrained. We speak of ‘pure fantasy’; it has no connections with reality. It is imagination run wild, on the loose, unbridled, uncontained.

“What is it, then? Imagination is the capacity we have ‘to make the material an image of the immaterial or spiritual.’ It is a creative power. You find it in Rembrandt’s self-portraits, in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, in the odor of a new rose, or in the flavor of an old wine. You find it in storytellers like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, in dramatists like Aeschylus and Shakespeare, in poets from Sappho to e.e. cummings.

“Now, when I say ‘capacity,’ I do not mean a ‘faculty’ like intellect or will. I mean rather a posture of our whole person toward our experiences. It is a way of seeing. It is as with Castaneda, looking for the holes in the world or listening to the space between sounds. It is breaking through the obvious, the surface, the superficial, to the reality beneath and beyond. It is the world of wonder and intuition; of amazement and delight, of festivity and play.”

(From W. Burghardt, Sir, We Would Lie to See Jesus, 5)

II. The issue of celibacy is not convincing when based on practical or even pastoral considerations. ... Paul Tillich offers a fascinating reading of the scriptural account of the woman who breaks open the jar of perfume to anoint the feet of Jesus, in the face of the reasonable objections of the disciples. Tillich says that the woman represents the unreasonable or excessive element that must be part of the response to one’s ultimate concern. Tillich’s view makes ridiculous Kant’s suggestion that religion could be understood “within the limits of reason alone.” When one has been seized by the infinite and unconditional love of God, one responds in an excess of love, in an unreasonable, disproportionate, even scandalous self-offering.

Celibacy is unreasonable, unnatural, and excessive, which is why it has been chosen, across cultures and throughout history, as one of the ways in which lovers of God have traditionally expressed their love. To try to understand this self-gift or explain it is to miss the point. Its very strangeness and incomprehensibility is the point. Not surprisingly, mystagogues, those who have been chosen by the Mystery to speak of the Mystery, see appropriateness of this excessive stance and lifestyle. Called to stand on the horizon between heaven and earth, set afire by the presence of God, the mystagogue rather naturally chooses the unnatural option of celibacy. People in love do strange things.

(R.E. Barron, “Priest as Bearer of the Mystery.”

Table of Contents:

Spiritual Fecundity and Virginal Love: a Christian Anthropology of the Heart
Rev. John Horn, SJ

Renewed Celibate Living for Heralds of the New Evangelization
Most Rev. Allen Vigneron

First Response to “Renewed Celibate Living for Heralds of the New Evangelization”
Kathleen A. Kanavy

Second Response to “Renewed Celibate Living for Heralds of the New Evangelization”
Robert Fastiggi

Called to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb: Convental Spousal Imagery from Genesis to Revelation
Susan F. Mathews

Spousal Imagery in the Fathers: Implications for the Priest of the New Millennium
Edward G. Mathews, Jr.

The Rediscovery of Symbolic Communication in Theological Methodology
Msgr. David Bohr

Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength
Sr. Rosemarie Carfagna, OSU