PARADOXICAL

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

 

From Nouwen's Clowning in Rome

p. 70

The movement fro thinking random thoughts to living in communion with Love is a radical conversion of our mental processes. Gradually we move away from ourselves -- our worries, preoccupations, and self-gratifications -- and we direct all that we recognize as ours to the One who loves us, trustig that through love all well be made new.

Unepxected idolatries

But this conversion from unceasing thought to unceasing prayer is very slow and far from easy. There is a deep resistance to allowing ourselves to become so vulenrable, so naked, and so totally unprotected. There is no question about our desire to love God. We want to be men and women who love and worship God, but we also want to protect a little corner of our inner lives for ourselves. We cling to a protected space where we might sometimes hide out with our own secret thoughts, our dreams and fantasies, and our play with our own mental fabrications. When we begin to think about livng and thinking always in God's loving presence we experience the immediate temptation to select carefully the thoughts that we bring into our conversations with God and the ones we reserve for our own private time.

p. 47

The celibate life is like a clown in the circus who, between the scary acts of the trapeze artists and lion tamers, fumbles and falls, reminding us that no human activity is ultimately as importat as the virtuosi make us believe. Celibates live out a holy emptiness by not marrying, by not trying to build for themselves a house or a fortune, by not trying to wield as much influence as possible, and by not filling their lives with events, people, or creations for which they will be remembered. The hope is that by their "empty" lives, God will be more readily recognized as the source of all human life and activity. Especially by not marrying and by abstaining from the most intimate expression of human love, the celibate becomes a living sign of the limits of interpersonal relationships and of the centrality of the inner sanctum that no human being may violate.

To whom, then, is the celibate's witness directed? I dare to say that celibacy is, first of all, a witness to men and women who are married.

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