Forty-eight (48) priests and deacon attended the recollection on August 31 – September 1, 2009 at Villa Princessita, Koronadal City. Fr. Enrico Gonzales, OP facilitated.
Main topic is “Celibacy Beyond Sex”. Celibacy is not about sex or the absence of sex; celibacy is about freedom. Freedom for, not freedom from. Not freedom from physical, psychological or moral restraint. The perfection of freedom from is to become independent “no more, no less”.
Do priests want to be free from responsibility? To become a happy go lucky person? Is being free means to be independent? Or do we have to ask, “are we dependable?”
Freedom for. “…unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest. Christ came down from heaven and died. He harvested numerous souls for the Father.
Celibacy taken voluntarily is one great expression of freedom for – for moving towards Christ and His Gospel and interests – the people. Celibacy is therefore religious freedom. Freedom for God and His people. A liturgical act. A Eucharistic sacrifice. A total self-offering. An altar offering. Hopefully such act would result into rich harvest.
Celibacy is, thus, a means to an end: glory of God and salvation of souls.
Celibacy is the proof that priests are God’s best friends. Always the “best men” of God, never the bride’s grooms.
Priests are, hence, in intimate relationship with God. The best way of expressing this intimacy is communion among priests or the Presbyterium. Cellphones do not promote intimacy. Neither does, “one night stand”.
Intimacy goes beyond sex. It is friendship.
The second topic is “Kindness”. “Love is always patient and kind” (1 Cor. 13:4).
Kindness is love which touches. Kindness is charity which touches us. Unless we are touched, we will never be inspired. Unless we are inspired we will never be patient. Patience is charity which endures.
Patience is stronger than courage.
Kindness is charity in action. The dynamic of love is human touch, ex. Handshake. Two palms set together show love as unity and distance. Without nearness we stand apart; without distance, there is collision (or suffocation).
Jesus is kind (Mk. 5:21-43). The woman with a hemorrhage for 12 years touched Jesus ‘clothes’ and was cured by Jesus. He cured Jairus’ daughter by taking her hand (Touching) and saying “Talitha Cum-‘Little Girl’ (Inday) get up”, Jesus is an expert in human touch. To be touched and to touch.
Culture of touch versus culture of pushing. Kindness is precisely the meaning of priestly touch. It is called empathy: to put oneself into the shoes of another (English); put oneself into the gloves of another (Italian); put oneself into the skin of another (French).
Kindness is self-giving because one has self-possession. If we do not posses ourselves we will explode. However, DO NOT ABUSE THE TOUCH.
Celibacy empowers priest with the versality of spirit to be empathetic to everyone. Sexual abuse obscures the meaning of priestly touch.
Words are touchy. Kind words that touch, that create history, that cause change. The prophetic words in Sacred Scripture create history and change – words that cause CHANGE: “I love you”. We must also say “Sorry”, “Thank you” (From the report by Fr. Angel B.)
Source: Communication from the Bishop (No. 547, 23 September 2009)