Benedictine Monk Explains His Vows and Some Reflections

I found it hard not to be moved by this young Benedictine's passionate avowal of the monastic vows; which involves the complete abasement of his own will to God's.

He is from the Abbey at Le Barroux, France, and he reflects on the general 3 traditional Religious Vows associated within Benedictine 'Conservatio Morum': Conversion of Life. This is speaking of common Religious vows, though Benedictines themselves vow Conversion of Life, Stability and Obedience.

He is so handsome.Should that make a difference to how I take in what he is saying ?
Probably not, but I am human !!  

Franciscan Richard Rohr had this to say in 2008 :

“Most of us assume that the self we’re meant to ‘die to’ is the body self, the sexual self, and the emotional self. We assume that if you just get rid of your body or emotion or sex then we’ll fly towards God. But there’s no evidence for that. In fact, quite the contrary. 

“Thomas Merton gave us the language of the true self and false self, instead of the body self and spirit self. 

It’s not your body self that needs to die, but your false self — your persona, or in Freudian terms your ego, the person you think you need to be, the persona you need to live up to.” 

The positive spin on all this talk about death-to-self is that we should, he suggests, passionately, constantly choose God, and union with God. 

“Prayer is a daily choice to live out of the Great Self, not the small self — the God self, not the you self.”

The act of contemplation helps us to observe the “unobserved” or false self, and by so doing, to gradually detach ourselves from it. 

But it is not something that comes naturally in our culture. “We are a capitalist society, into accumulation, not detachment,” Fr Rohr says. “That’s why people are attracted to Buddhism. Buddhists have kept their vocabulary and their honesty about the need for detachment up to date, whereas we’re just people who have invested heavily in our own opinions and rightness, with disastrous results.” 

The secret to detachment, he suggests, is to learn how to live more fully in “the now, not the past or the future”. 

Some people do discover “presence”, he explains, “in love-making, in nature, in the presence of great music.
As a spiritual teacher, that would be my whole desire, to say: ‘Don’t just look to the churchy moments.’ If you’re contemplative, you’re going to find these moments everywhere. And once that begins, life is no longer divided into the sacred and the secular: it’s one world.” 

Perhaps the main threat to the rise in interest in authentic contemplation is that it becomes just another individualistic pop-spirituality technique, or a therapeutic tool alone.

In some circles, contemplation is the new trendy thing; but when you draw close to some of these people, you find they have no love for the poor or the outsider. It’s just a new way to feel pious.”

 From a 2008 Church Times interview with Fr. Richard Rohr OFM taken from The Mercy Blog Site.

Rohr also has this to say more recently at his blog Unpacking Paradoxes on the fear of self disclosure:

"I think that many of us men, celibate men even more, are very afraid of intimacy. I would define intimacy as the ability to mutually share one’s needs, one’s wounds, or one’s weaknesses with another person. The sharing of our inner or interior world (“intimus” in Latin) is always a risk, usually a fear of rejection, and thus many of us never go there. It might change our self image. 

But I am going to make a rather absolute statement: people who risk intimacy are invariably happier and much more real people. They feel like they have lots of “handles” that allow others to hold on to them, and that allow them to hold onto themselves! People who avoid intimacy are always, and I mean always, imprisoned in a small and circular world. 

One good thing about celibacy is that it can tell us that an awful lot of sex is not intimacy at all. The good thing about sexuality is that it creates an obvious and ideal container for true intimacy, at least now and then. 

I really wonder how one would know how to be intimate with God, if you have
never practiced risky self disclosure with at least one other human being (Is this the real meaning of “nakedness”?). I sincerely doubt the possibility.

Both healthy celibacy and sexual encounter demand deep and true intimacy, and both can be the most effective avoidance of it. (Written after almost 50 years in a celibate community of men, and after lots of counseling in a “strangely” sexualized world.)"

My own views: just a few thoughts for now as this is a huge topic !! 
I would welcome your views.

Celibacy is a wonderful charism but not something that is possible for everyone.

I still think it should not be made compulsory and I don't think that if a person should fall in love during their ministry that they should be made to renounce either their ministry or their love.

Surely we can have a compassionate understanding of human nature that does not have to punish or relegate people to living secret double lives that can lead to situations where the integrity of individuals is so compromised that the fallout is inevitably damaging and widespread.  I don't believe that it is right to force them to having to choose between their ministry and singular love of a human.

I have been a Catholic for 56years and have met and worked alongside many priests in that time. In the last ten years or so I have noticed a trend that some newly ordained priests, both young and older seem to be scared of intimacy or keep themselves separate as if they were somehow better than the rest of us. 

I have met some who show traits that are distinctly unhealthy, who seem incapable of and afraid of relating to women in a natural way. I have also met priests who delight in the company of women and who are comfortable in talking at a personal and intimate level about the challenges and joys of celibacy without feeling threatened.

Two interesting related articles here in the UK Guardian newspaper that attracted numerous comments are worth reading :

The Vatican's Problem With Fathers Who Are Fathers and this one

The Catholic Celibacy Conundrum

H/T To Sacred Space for the video - thanks !!

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