The Roamin' Roman

Benvenuto! You have happened upon the blog of a wandering Catholic American college student studying for a year in Rome, the Eternal City. You will find here my pontifications, ruminations, reflections, images, and ponderings on my life in Rome. Ciao!

Tuesday, October 17

The Carola Resurfaces

Proof that this is a man who wears many hats. ;)

So what did Fr. Carola do when first he returned to Italian soil? He directed the NAC deaconate class on their start-of-year retreat at "Monastero delle Suore Benedettine, Montefiolo, Casparia, Italy" - and no, I have no idea where that is. I only wish I were back in Italy getting to be led on an Ignatian retreat again. But, we grow where we're planted, they say. And my planter is now in a suburban parish in freezing cold Minnesota (yup, I'm a hothouse flower!), a few thousand miles from Italy. *sigh*

For your reading pleasure, he also sent me his homily from the retreat:

A. M. D. G.

Father Joseph Carola, S.J.
Sermon for the Feast of the Archangels Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Saint Raphael
Diaconal Ordination Retreat for the Fourth-year Students of the Pontifical North American College, Rome
Monastero delle Suore Benedettine, Montefiolo, Casparia, Italy
29 September 2006

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
John 1:47-51

In his Constitutions for the Society of Jesus, our Father Ignatius has little to say about the vow of chastity beyond the admonition that a Jesuit’s chastity should be angelic. That’s all well and good. But as many commentators have noted, angels don’t have bodies. Unlike the angelic hosts, we poor sons of Adam have to contend with a fallen human nature. A recent General Congregation of the Order sought to supplement Saint Ignatius’ terse legislation with a fuller exposition of what the vow of chastity entails. Among its various points the document observes that apostolic chastity is inherently angelic because it frees the vowed man to minister like the angels to God and His people. In a similar vein, the unmarried candidate to the diaconate solemnly promises “to remain celibate for the sake of the kingdom and in lifelong service to God and mankind.” He commits himself to an angelic ministry.

Throughout that night wrought with vision, the prophet Daniel beholds thousands upon thousands ministering to the Ancient One seated upon the throne. Myriads and myriads attend him. This same heavenly host ascend and descend upon the Son of Man. Throughout the Scriptures the Triune God sends angels forth to do His bidding. The Archangel Michael defends God’s honor against the Devil and his demons. The Archangel Gabriel brings the Lord’s Glad Tidings to Daniel, Zechariah and above all to Mary, the Regina Angelorum. The Archangel Raphael accompanies the pilgrim and heals the sick. An angel, Saint Luke tells us, consoles even Our Lord on the night of His passion. Angels minister to those in need.

Although in strictly canonical terms the promise of lifelong celibacy made at a man’s diaconal ordination merely impedes marriage, it spiritually implies much more. By it the man consecrates himself to a lifelong service of chaste love. Such love is angelic inasmuch as it is a ministerial chastity entailing a freedom for. Chaste, celibate love frees the cleric to serve God and His people with an undivided heart. Consider for a moment the rather mundane example of comic-book superheroes. They are typically celibate men whose celibacy frees them to defend mankind without fear of retaliation against those whom they are known to love in an exclusive way appropriate to a husband for his wife and a father for his children. Until recently Hollywood has remained faithful to this crucial dynamic of sacrificial love in its film adaptations of Batman, Spiderman and the like—that is, until this past summer’s Superman movie which on this score proved a grave disappointment. The Catholic clergy are by no means superheroes. They are more akin to earthen vessels bearing a treasure not their own. Nonetheless, in the freely embraced self-sacrifice of their celibate chastity, one encounters the heroic, or to be more precise, the heroically angelic. Their celibacy heroically frees them for humble service.

Like the Archangel Michael, the celibate cleric defends the honor of the Divine Majesty. His chaste witness opposes a hedonistic society’s daily sacrileges committed against God’s temple, that is, against the human body. Like the Archangel Gabriel, the celibate cleric, whose love is uncompromised, proclaims God’s Word in season and out of season without trepidation. For perfect love drives out fear. Like the Archangel Raphael, the chaste cleric accompanies his fellow wayfarer along his pilgrim path, leading him always to Christ and never to himself. Celibate chastity frees the cleric’s heart from all disordered self-seeking in ministry. With Raphael he attends to the sick and when necessary, unhindered by any earthly embrace, he rises in the night to anoint the dying. With angelic liberty the celibate cleric consoles Christ sorrowful and suffering in the least of His brethren. He comes to those in need like a guardian angel who seeks only the good of the other. For, the love of a cleric who sincerely lives his celibate consecration is a love that can be trusted. His fidelity to celibacy establishes the trustworthy intimacy which allows the other the freedom necessary to reveal himself without fear of seduction or manipulation. In the context of such angelic chastity, the cleric effectively proclaims the Lord’s message of mercy.

While angelic chastity is a ministerial chastity, it is not simply a functional reality. Angelic chastity likewise entails a purity of heart which sees God. In loving adoration angelic chastity beholds the Face of Jesus. It is this intimate exchange which sustains the minister in his service. Indeed, angels are first and foremost contemplatives who adore the Ancient One seated upon His throne. They are sent forth from their contemplation to serve. Before the celibate can love others in faithful chastity, he must first contemplate the boundless love with which God loves him. Only then, from this intimate exchange of love, can he go forth to love others chastely as he himself is loved.

My brothers, our ordained mission lived in the celibate state is an angelic mission of selfless service rendered to God and men.
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  • At 2:31 AM, Blogger Joe said…

    EXCELLENT, excellent stuff!

    Thanks and AMDG,



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