Dare to love and to be a real friend.
I’m not all that sure that I know what I think about vocation. I’ve been thinking about it but trying to avoid thinking about it as well. I see so much that I care about. All I know is that I don’t think vocation is the same thing as a college degree or a job.
What do you think? What does vocation mean to you?
"It has always pained me when religious men, seized with terror at the danger they incur through woman’s presence, throw up walls and build impenetrable screens. And worse, close their hearts.
How could [woman not show up again in my existence] if I wanted to be a part of the Church and live in the Church? How could I shut out half the human race? And how could I dismiss the possibility of loving so many sublime creatures?
…And yet…It did not take me long to learn that the first dreams fell to pieces once an imprudence was committed, and that a community collapsed once relationships between its elements became equivocal.
And the reason was always the same. Someone had sought to pluck a blossom from the flower bed. Another had been hasty and insisted on tasting the bitter fruit. Above all, men had given rein to their selfishness and turned love of woman into a hunting preserve.
In some places, I remember, I have seen naves of churches divided down the middle, with women on the left and men on the right. As if naves sufficed to separate material explosive as that and designed to be together from dawn to dusk!
We still have a problem, it is clear – a big problem not to be underestimated, and in trying to solve it we must each recognize our own weaknesses and failures.
Even so, we must not turn back and rebuild walls of separation we had in the past. That would be impossible, and anachronistic as well.
We must go forward, even if it hurts, convinced that the times of a grown-up faith are upon us and that this problem not only has negative aspects but extremely positive and valuable ones too.
I have tried to go forward.
I have associated woman with my efforts to realize the Kingdom.
I have made a habit out of reading the word of God with her.
I have tried to succour the poor and handicapped by using her arms, which are more expert than mine.
I have given her my trust, and when she has given me her friendship, I have tried to concentrate on my attention on her personality rather than on her body.
But what brought me to the final solution of the problem was the deep-rooted, deeply experienced consideration that woman, all women, were not my brides but my sisters.
It may seem a small thing, but it was a big thing.
My love for my sisters helped me to understand, and resolve within myself, love for woman, and to tame it without diminishing it.
I had never really understood the words of the Song of Songs, ‘Oh, that you were my sister…I could kiss you without people thinking ill of me’ (Cf. Song 8:1)
Now I understand, and I try to live that way.
Woman, all women, are my sisters.
I am no longer frightened by their bodies; their femininity leaves me serene.
No longer does their friendship disturb or weaken me.
I can even kiss them, if my kiss is brotherly, as Scripture says.
Yes, there is a kiss that shocks and a kiss that does not shock. And the kiss of a sister does not shock; it helps you live…”
–Carlo Carretto, 1983, I Sought and I Found