On-Going Formation Conferences
This past week we were blessed to have Br. John Mark Falkenhain, OSB with us for our annual summer on-going formation conferences. He was with us for five days of talks on the subject of formation in celibacy. Topics he presented included motives for celibacy, theology of celibacy, sexual integration, sexual identity, skills for living celibacy and boundaries.
Three important phases in healthy sexual formation are self-knowledge, self-acceptance and self-gift which includes celibacy directed towards love of God and neighbor. Always a work in progress, one of the objectives of the Benedictine vow of Conversion of Life.
In addition to his talks for the whole community he met with the members of our novitiate for further discussion stressing the importance of initial formation. He also made himself available for private meetings with members of the community who might wish to speak with him.
A lively and engaging speaker Br. John Mark comes well equipped to speak on the topic and related issues pertaining to monastic formation. As a member of the Benedictine Archabbey of St. Meinrad in St. Meinrad, Indiana he serves as assistant novice/junior master, clinical psychologist and researcher in addition to being a vocal instructor and potter on the side. As such it is usually quite difficult for him to get away to give a week of conferences but since he is currently on sabbatical from mid-May to mid-December writing a book on celibacy formation he graciously made time to be with us. He is staying at the Catholic University of America in Washington while writing and continuing his affiliation with St. Luke Institute there.
Packaging, public relation, and salesmanship can never be adequate substitutes for the attractive power of a believer who is personally open to God. There is always the danger that theological and moral rectitude (orthodoxy and orthopraxy) loom so large on our religious horizon that relationship with God recedes into the background.
In this age, more than any other, we need the divine boldness to affirm that Christianity is not a matter of being good but of becoming God. It is only by the wholehearted acceptance of the truth that God’s Son fully shared our humanity that we can be emboldened to find in him our way towards an intense transforming relationship with the God who exists beyond human experience.
If we need to reframe our spiritual lives, there is no better means than returning to the Gospels to rediscover the features of Jesus of Nazareth and attempting to reproduce them in our own behavior.
Fully Human, Fully Divine
Michael Casey, OCSO