Tag Archives: luminosity



                                                                     I give you joy – the immense joy that He alone can give, and that I hope will fill your hearts from now until you meet Him! I give you a lance, gold tipped like the crown that the magi offered Him, to open your heart to Him in everyone whom you meet. I give you myrrh, the symbol of a soul in love with God, who wants to share His whole life of joy, of peace, of suffering. [114]

Certainly the culture of death, and even some presumably well-meaning Catholics, obviously those with a particular agenda, including some priests and bishops, do not see our priestly promise of a chaste life, a celibate life, as reception of a gift of joy, albeit a joy which includes, dare I say should impel us, to grab the lance and plunge it into our hearts so that, like His, our hearts are broken open to all in need of Him, that they may enter.

Yet, in truth, this IS the gift for us ordained in persona Christi, offered to us.

While the state of our hearts, in union with Jesus, should be one of ubiety, often we may find ourselves in a state of ubiquity, particularly if our approach to our celibate commitment focuses on what we have promised to forgo, the unitive and fecund sacredness of sacramental marriage.

                                                                                    …Today, chastity is often mistakenly associated with being old fashioned…..in reality it is much more than simply the absence of sexual relations. Chastity calls for purity of mind as well as body.

                                                                               …..When we became Christians at the moment of Baptism, the Holy Spirit came to live in our bodies………….[115]

Already living temples of the Holy Spirit by Baptism [cf. 1 Cor. 6:19, 20] there is a deepening of our very physical sacredness with Sacramental Ordination, in persona Christi.

Truly chastity, our commitment to the celibate life, is intrinsically about what is given to us.

In that light, what we are asked to give in return is a little thing, but it means the gift of our whole selves.

When we truly give our whole selves, then our lives are joy-filled.

When we, intellectually or in any other fashion, withhold a single iota of our self-gift to Him, in return for the lavishness of His Self-Gift to us, then increasingly a sourness and hardening of heart takes hold.

                                                                           Abba Gerontius of Petra said that many, tempted by the pleasures of the body, commit fornication, not in their body but in their spirit, and while preserving their bodily virginity, commit prostitution in their soul. ‘Thus it is good, my well-beloved, to do that which is written, and for each one to guard his own heart with all possible care.’ (Prov. 4:23) [116]

We live in an era where our culture has such a materialist notion of the human person, the body of the human person is presented as a utility object, not unlike our cell phones or computers or any other ‘thing’ we make use of in daily life.

There is, I believe, an interesting parallel between the minimalist approach to sacred space, that is the reduction of most churches to sparse space devoid of statues, votive candles, the tendency of choosing vestments of either gaudy colours or so plain they dishearten, and the increase of immodesty in dress, the disfiguring of the body with piercings, tattoos, among our contemporaries.

The so-called sexual revolution of the sixties, the dismissal by so many priests and bishops of the prophetic teaching of Pope Paul VI in Humane Vitae, has given us a dark culture of death wherein we are drowning in the blood of aborted children in their millions, the devaluation of the sacredness of the human person, disruption of the holiness of marriage and family life by extreme nihilism.

The entire human family cries out, urgently, for the luminosity of chastity, a shimmering light of the sacredness of the human person in the darkness of our despairing culture.

In stark contrast to the luminosity of chastity is the dark disorder of a culture, of individuals, so disconnected from reality the very people who, in the media, society in general, scream about the abuse of children, by priests or anyone, deny that the most pervasive abuse of children occurs within the womb when they are torturously murdered by abortion.

Without minimizing by a single iota the horrific crime and sin of abuse, those who howl it is because of chastity, howl from the bowels of the very darkness of our culture of death, for they are less concerned about protecting the innocent than forcing upon the priesthood an agenda which is fundamentally anti-Gospel, anti-life, anti-the sacredness of the human person.

Reality is that any man incapable of authentic husband-hood, fatherhood, of mature, non-sexual relations with women, and indeed with men and children, not only is incapable of authentic chastity but would also fail in sacred marriage and parenthood.

Where the institutional governance of the Church has failed at the hands of those with authority is not simply in the past seeking to hide or deny the problem, rather that failure continues today with an obsessively punitive and defensive attitude which enables countless false accusations, seeks to so completely weed out potentially defective candidates for the priesthood, that the reality of conversion from a disordered life of sin to sanctity, so celebrated by holding Magdalene, Augustine, Dorothy Day, de Foucauld,  Catherine Doherty, as models to be followed, is deemed by recent edicts as impossible – take for example the edicts about homosexuality and priesthood.

The institution simply cannot have it both ways, that is stating a particular form of sexual expression demands such men and women lead chaste lives and at the same time stating in effect the Church does not believe such a state is possible therefore…..

Confusion reigns everywhere it seems.

Here is not the place to argue out all these issues, simply to indicate a few points, including since every man entering seminary in the ‘Latin’ rite knows chastity is constitutive of priestly life, for any seminarian or ordained man to latterly argue somehow it came as a surprise, and so now they should be able to get married is, frankly, nuts!

Finally, unless seminaries, and those therein responsible for the formation of future priests, change the current atmosphere of fear into one of affirmation and real common sense, those who struggle, in the old confessional phrasing: ‘alone or with others’, will be less than honest with themselves, their confessors, and others responsible for their formation, and thus, either through sexual activity, alone or with others, or some other compensating activity, will lead a life which eventually will cause them to crash and burn, no doubt seriously injuring others in the process.

So without belabouring the point luminous chastity, joyful chastity, like everything which flows in the Christian life of discipleship, for all the baptized, not just priests, means a simple willingness to accept the poverty of the human condition, with intimate confidence in Jesus, in imitation of Jesus:

                                                                            ….the temptation story summarizes the entire struggle of Jesus: it is about the nature of His mission, but at the same time it is also, in general, about the right ordering of human life, about the way to be human, about the way of history. Finally, it is about what is really important in the life of man. This ultimate thing, this decisive thing, is the primacy of God. The germ of all temptation is setting God aside, so that He seems to be a secondary concern when compared with all the urgent priorities of our lives. To consider ourselves, the needs and desires of the moment to be more important than He is – that is the temptation that always besets us. For in doing so we deny God His divinity and we make ourselves, or rather, the powers that threaten us, into our god. [117]

In other words the key to luminous chastity, the root of its joy, is priority to intimacy with the Most Holy Trinity.

In reality we are talking about a passionate love affair, indeed a type of marriage uniting us and the Divine Bridegroom.

It is a choice between the centrality of the one true God in our hearts, or the bondage- worship of a false god.

We must daily choose: intimate relationship with the God who gives Himself to us as food of life, or handing ourselves over to be devoured by the evil one, for all false gods ultimately are guises of satan. [cf. 1 Pt. 5:8]

                                                                       We are those disciples sent throughout the world to spread the “sweet smell” of Christ! To succeed, we too must “shatter” the alabaster vessel of our human nature: we must mortify the works of the flesh, the old Adam which acts as an inner barrier to the rays of the Spirit. The perfume of Christ is given off by “the fruits of the Spirit” (according to St. Paul, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” [Gal.5:22]; if these are in us, then, without our realizing (and of course while we by contrast only smell ourselves giving off the stink of our sins), someone around us may get a whiff of the fragrance of the Spirit of Christ. The world has a great need to smell the perfume of Christ! [118]

The Sacred Chrism, with which we are anointed in Baptism, Confirmation and Ordination, is sweet-smelling oil, balsam being mixed with the olive oil as we know.

 So we are in truth ‘perfumed’, as priests, three times in our lives and thus anointed have a critical obligation to struggle mightily, cooperating with grace, that in our lived chastity our purity is not only a luminous witness to Christ – and in baptism we have already become light in the darkness for we are bathed in Christ’s own light poured into us – but also a sweet-smelling testimony.

In a word we struggle to be akin to a living thurible.

Another parallel which comes to mind is that between the almost complete absence in contemporary liturgy of the use of incense and our modern culture awash in the sulphuric stench of impurity and dehumanization.

Jesus cries out in the Sixth Beatitude that truly blessed are the pure, the clean of heart [Mt.5:8] for they shall indeed see God.

This is not simply a declaration of post death reality for the blessed in heaven, but is a promise of the reality we will experience in this life on earth IF we strive, truly to be pure.

                                                       The organ for seeing here is the heart rather than the eyes, or at least the eyes themselves see through the heart……….The heart the Lord speaks of has been purified from an attachment to the profane by being washed in the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God. [119]

Again and again the fullness of chaste-joy, the joy which is the essence of our vocation in persona Christi, is participation in His own joy poured into us [cf. Jn.15:11] and is rooted in our intimacy with Christ our Beloved.

                                                                     If we had a deeper understanding of things, we would be able to comprehend the intimate relation that exists between purity and light, and perhaps we would comprehend with some astonishment that light and purity are two aspects of one same divine reality. The Greeks produced an admirable word to express graphically the idea of holiness: ‘hagios,” meaning without earth. To be pure is to be without earth; that is, to be free of all that is not God……….

                                                                         For souls to be bathed in light, to become light, they need to be purified……For souls to be transformed into the image of God, passing from glory to glory, they must ascend from purity to purity in the continuing effort to become, more and more, glowing crucibles. [120]

One of the statements on the whole reality of our joyful call and commitment to chastity, within which is truly the sweetness of the Cross, the joy of being intimately one with the Divine Bridegroom and thus in Him and with Him husband-fathers of and with the Church, I often recall, is from Cardinal Danneels:

                                                                       No rational arguments can fully explain celibacy ‘for the sake of the Kingdom’. [121]

We live in a time, an era of the culture of darkness and death which seems in the main not so much opposed to the simple joyous freedom of faith, faith which is maturely childlike, but rather terrified of faith, perhaps because there is a profound fear not so much of God in His immensity and power, but of God as vulnerable child in a manger.

Our obsession with science and so-called scientific proof, of ‘my’ rights over communal responsibility, which in its purest form is my being responsible, that is truly loving my neighbour, loving other as Jesus loves me, creates the illusion that we are mature adults, when in the main we act like immature juveniles.

No wonder the sweet luminosity of chastity triggers what it does against Church, priests, those men and women who take the sacred commitment of Holy Marriage between one man and one woman, open to the gift of children seriously!

In simplicity then, knowing fidelity means the moment by moment humble willingness to struggle, trusting He loves us so that all needed grace to be faithful is lavished upon us, is truly an inexhaustible living spring of holy life within us, in our joy can we not cry out with St. Tikhon of Zadonsk:

                                                                             Glory to God, for He has created me in His image and likeness! Glory to God, who redeemed me, the fallen one; Glory to God for He was the providence of my unworthy self. Glory, for He called me, a sinner, to repentance! Glory, for He has handed to me His holy Word as a lamp shining in a dark place, and by it He taught me the true way. Glory to God, for He has illumined the eyes of my heart! He has granted me to know His Holy Name! Glory to God, for He has washed away my sins in the waters of baptism! Glory, for He has shown me the way to eternal bliss. And this way is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who says of Himself: I am the way, the truth and the life.” Glory to Him, for He did not ruin me in my sin but in His mercy was patient to my transgressions! Glory to God, for He has shown to me the vain enticements and vanity of this world. Glory to God, for He has helped me in the multitude of temptations, griefs and tribulations! Glory, for He has preserved me in accidents and mortal dangers. Glory to God, for He has defended me from the enemy satan. Glory, for He raised me when I fell. Glory to God, for He has comforted me in my affliction. Glory to God, for when I erred He converted me: Glory to God, for like a father, He punished me. Glory to God, for He showed me His dreadful judgement that I might be afraid and repent of my sins! Glory to God, for He revealed to me eternal pain and eternal bliss that I might flee the one and seek the other! Glory to Him, for to me, the unworthy, He gave food to strengthen the weakness of the body; gave me a house in which to rest! Glory to God, for all the other benefits which He gave to me for my sustenance and comforts. As many breaths as I have taken, so many graces have I received of Him. Glory to God for everything. [122]