Saturday, 30 March 2013

The Mystery of Holy Saturday: Luigi Giussani and Pope Francis

The "Meditation of the Day" in Magnificat for Holy Saturday is from Luigi Giussani, the founder of the ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation. I am sure that it was chosen before the election of Pope Francis but, given Francis association with the movement, its choice seems fortuitous.

I have not been able to read fully the text of the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires when he presented the Spanish edition of Luigi Giussani's book The Religious Sense, the book that offers the first insights into the charism and method of Communion and Liberation; but the quick read that I did have suggests that Jorge Bergoglio has been profoundly influenced by that charism and method. The text published in the magazine Traces can be downloaded from here: The Gratitude of Buenos Aires. Indeed, I am currently speculating that Pope Francis' anxiety for a Church that moves out to the peripheries, to the margins, can be traced at least in part to the methodology of verification of the Christian claim in the existential experience of human life that belongs to Communion and Liberation. One might also find there the wish for a community life that lies behind Pope Francis arrangement of living in the Casa Santa Marta rather than the Apostolic Palace. Is the key to understanding some of Pope Francis' more challenging (and, in the view of some, self-centred) actions since his election to see him as trying to live something of this charism as Successor of Peter in the same way that he tried to live it as Archbishop of Buenos Aires?

The meditation in Magnificat is extracted from notes written to accompany a CD of Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral work, and comments particularly on his Russian Easter Festival overture. Luigi Giussani's full Italian text can be found on Google books here - but you might need to scroll down a bit to find it among other contributions. The more familiar you are with the ethos and history of Communion and Liberation and other ecclesial movements, the less obscure the language of the meditation is!
If we stifle the Mystery as a dimension of our relationship with people and things, all reality become like a game: it falls to pieces - looks and hands split it into parts that have no connection with each other ...

The alternative in life is between the response to the Mystery which we are called to give, and living according to a rule of "whatever I like". The task that has been give to us is for us and, as an example, for the world; this task is for the world. Christ, alone, died to call the world back to the fact of the Father; thus, no matter how few we are, we are called to this task to call the world back. There is no middle ground between the task and "whatever I please".

During the night of Holy Saturday, the fact occurred that saves human existence from the confused tremble to which it could seem destined and lifts it up towards a festive task ...

Reality is already in the hands of the one who conquered it, who won it back to himself. All of reality is his creation, to the point that the meaning of all of reality is his person. In him everything consists. To us falls the task to show it to everyone, to declare it, because it is something that is....

Everything is ordered towards a purpose, a beauty, so in our lives what gives meaning and purpose to everything, what recreates harmony, has entered in.

It is a companionship that, above all, opens up this perspective. It is a companionship for the world, a companionship that opens up, adopting the same perspectives as Christ's, that is to say, the redemption of the world, the salvation of the world, to shout the truth to the world, to shout the happiness the world is waiting for, to shout what the world is made of and to shout the world's destiny ... that little by little invades and determines everything.
If one has been attentive to the words and actions of Pope Francis during the first days of his mission as Successor of Peter one cannot read this meditation (taken from a radically different kind of context) without finding in it echoes of what has been offered by Pope Francis as a teaching for the Church and for the world.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Religion in the air - and on the street

The likes of the National Secular Society vigorously proclaim the inappropriateness of a public presence in society for religion and matters of religion.

But recent weeks have seen an extent of media coverage of things religious, and in particular Roman Catholic, that is quite surprising, considering the irreligious nature of much of society in developed nations.

The interest in the resignation of Benedict XVI - both in terms of the numbers of people turning out for his last two Angelus addresses and in terms of the news media - was surprising enough.

The interest in the Conclave - again both in terms of the numbers in St Peter's Square waiting for the smoke (don't forget the Sistine Seagull) and the media attention - was surprising.

And there is the continuing media interest in the early days of the pontificate of Pope Francis.

Of course, there is the element of scandal that is covered as well; and coverage that might be described as hostile. But nevertheless there has been an extent of interest that might not have been expected. The icon of this is the media stand on the edge of St Peter's Square - that remained from the announcement of the resignation of Benedict XVI until after the inauguration of the pontificate of Francis I. Some 5 000 journalists were accredited to cover the Conclave ...

It is the extent of the interest, from the ordinary faithful and from the media, that has quite taken me by surprise.

And today, in the part of the London metropolis that I will be frequenting later, there will be a Stations of the Cross through the streets of Soho and a Passion play performed twice in Trafalgar Square. And that is before any consideration is given to events in other parts of the capital.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Establishing a Tradition

Way back, when I really was young, instead of just thinking I am, I recall there being conversations about "traditional" practices. Roughly these conversations went along the lines of "It is traditional here for everyone to stand for the Eucharistic Prayer"; and the joking observation used to be that "traditional means we have done it once before" since the word "traditional" was being used to justify a practice that was decidedly new to many of those being persuaded to take part in it.

It therefore provided a mixture of hilarity and nostalgia to read the following in a Vatican Radio account of Pope Francis' Mass on Monday morning in the Casa Santa Marta:
During Holy Week, we should stop to think about how much "patience" God has for each one of us. This was Pope Francis’s advice Monday morning for the men and women who work at the Vatican. As has become tradition since his election, the Holy Father led Mass for Monday of Holy Week, in the small chapel of the Casa Santa Marta, where he is staying until renovation work is completed on the papal apartments.
I believe this rather literally represents the attachment of the descriptor "tradition" to a once before event!

Not that I have any criticism of Pope Francis' willingness to celebrate Mass in this way for those who work in and around the Vatican. It has an attractive openness about it and provides a context in which his preaching style comes into its own. It also provides an interesting example that other bishops/archbishops/cardinals might follow in their own particular parts of the Lord's vineyard. I would hope that similar opportunity will continue to occur when Pope Francis moves into a more permanent accomodation.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Pope Francis: meets Pope Emeritus and cancels his papers

Until recent events unfolded, today's meeting in Castel Gandolfo would have been beyond anyone's imagination. It is almost impossible to know quite how the moment should be described.
In the chapel, the Pope emeritus offered the place of honour to Pope Francis, who instead responded “We are brothers” and wanted them to share the same kneeler.

Photographs: The Meeting at Castel Gandolfo.

Video (and, as noticed here, see just how frail Pope Emeritus Benedict is): Lunch with Two Popes.

The following report appears on page 18 of the Times newspaper today, underneath a photograph of a smiling Pope Francis:
Stop Press: Pope cancels his papers

He took the name St Francis to signal his humility, and the new pontiff has shown a common touch by cancelling his own papers. Daniel del Regno, the son of a news stand owner in Buenos Aires, received the call: "It's Jorge Bergoglio, I'm calling you from Rome". The Pope explained that due to a recent change in his address he would no longer require daily delivery. Mr Del Regno told La Nacion: "I was in shock".
One assumes that the Times applied due journalistic diligence before deciding to run this story from another newspaper. Though one is also tempted to think that they have instead breached the embargo on a story due out on 1st April.

Are we gaining a glimpse of Pope Francis' sense of humour or that of Mr del Regno?

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Pope Francis: the inauguration homily

.... was absolutely gorgeous! There is a mastery of turn of phrase in the homily that I used to enjoy so much in the homilies of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. And, to my relief, the homily was delivered according to the prepared text and without ad libs.

Here it is in English, and here in Italian. There several points where the original Italian draws attention to a subtle emphasis or nuance that is not at first obvious in the English translation.

The video of the entire celebration is on Youtube, and listening to the homily in Italian with the English translation to hand is moving and highlights the subtle emphases and nuances just referred to.

One sentence has a particular practical reference for one of my own activities, hospital visiting:
It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents.
I quite often see situations where grown up children have taken on the care of their parents during an illness, and share with them exactly this thought about the change over of the caring role with time. The reference to husbands and wives first protecting one another also appears to be an expression that is rich in pastoral implication, and could provide a hermeneutical key to the well known passage in St Paul's Letter to the Ephesians.
To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Pope Francis: first impressions

I believe that it takes a little while - days and weeks - after the election of a Pope before we really get to know the new Successor of St Peter. As occurred with Pope Benedict, the holder of the office of Successor of St Peter is at once the same human individual who we might have known before his election (though I suspect that most of us outside of South America have not known Cardinal Bergoglio); but he is also someone "new" in that he is called to exercise a new office in the Church.

As a summary of the first impressions made by Pope Francis, an expression of Pope Paul VI comes to mind. I believe it is in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, and is his remark to the effect that the world will respond more to witnesses than to teachers when it comes to the task of evangelisation. There certainly has been a witness to simplicity in the first days of Pope Francis - his travelling in the minibus with the Cardinals who had just elected him, his use of a Vatican car and not the "SCV 1" limousine, the low key style of his visit to St Mary Major, and his calling in to collect his suitcases and pay his bill on the way home. One can also see a certain docility to the prompting of the Holy Spirit that can be seen in the ordinary (or perhaps not quite so ordinary!) events of life in the story that Pope Francis has subsequently told about why he chose the name Francis.

I took away two impressions of the appearance on the balcony of the Vatican basilica immediately after the election. There are times when St Peter's Square embraces, yes, an event of  significance for the universal Church, but at the same time an event that is specifically an event of the city of Rome itself. The penultimate Sunday Angelus of Benedict XVI was one such event. I felt more than anything else that, as Pope Francis introduced himself as the Bishop of Rome, it was this specifically Roman character of the occasion to which he was speaking, and his glance towards and reference to his collaborator the Cardinal Vicar for Rome (ie the bishop who actually runs the diocese of Rome) would appear to confirm this. It expressed the transfer of the kind of relationship that Cardinal Bergoglio had with the archdiocese of Buenos Aires to his new diocese (and, in the light of some of his later remarks, to the universal Church).

The second impression I took away was that the Cardinal's had elected a Marian Pope. Pope Francis' prayer for his predecessor included a request that Mary keep Pope emeritus Benedict in her care; and he also made reference to the pilgrimage to St Mary Major that he was to make the following day, though this pilgrimage does appear to have both a personal and a Jesuit significance for the new Pope. This has also been confirmed by his Marian references at the end of his addresses since, something that was also typical of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

To use an American phrase, Pope Francis' homily at the Mass concelebrated with the Cardinal electors the day after the end of the conclave left me "conflicted".  He spoke without a text according to the Vatican Information Service report; and the video extract that I watched on the BBC suggested that that was what he was doing.  And I found, because of its style of delivery, even that extract somewhat tedious to listen to. I am not a fan of ad lib homilies, believing that a priest (or bishop or Pope) owes it as an ordinary human courtesy to their congregation to decide properly what they are going to say and how they are going to say it before they get up to preach. However, the text of the homily as published on the Vatican website contains an elegant structure that speaks of preparation and gave a rather different impression.

One can see in the homily a certain vigour of expression with regard to the way in which even those holding office in the Church live the Christian life, and an interesting willingness to refer to the devil:
 ... we may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church ....

... When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness....

.....when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly: we may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.
In trying to place this homily within the spectrum of the stages of evangelisation, my first reaction was to see it as being largely at the level of exhortation appropriate to primary proclamation, and without sufficienct "content" to reach the level of catechesis or ongoing formation in the faith that would conventionally be seen as the appropriate level for a homily. I particularly thought this with regard to the references to the Cross, which at first sight seem just "pious exhortation". However, it is not the case that the different stages of evangelisation can be always separated from each other (a Youth 2000 prayer festival, for example, manifests both primary proclamation and more systematic catechesis) and there is an increasing recognition that the practical situation of the faithful does require a homiletics that includes primary proclamation to prompt and renew the attitude of conversion to Christ. That Pope Francis addresses that primary proclamation even to the Cardinals of the Church is challenging.

What has interested me more than anything else, though, is the way in which Pope Francis has spoken about the Church since his election. One can perhaps take individual expressions in isolation (particularly his remark about wanting to see a Church that is poor for the poor), but I think we should put the different expressions together to make a whole.

In the homily just discussed, Pope Francis refers to "the Church, the Bride of the Lord" and he ended the homily in way that describes the Church implicitly as "Jesus Christ crucified". His words from the balcony of St Peter's just after his election indicate an understanding of the relationship of the bishop to his diocese (as walking together and mutual prayer of the one for the other), and a relationship of the Diocese of Rome to the dioceses of the universal Church. In his meeting with the full College of Cardinals, the Holy Father articulated the intense ecclesial sense that all have felt, the intense sense of communion (Pope Francis does use the word collegiality of it, and his fuller account provides a very worthwhile definition of that term) that has characterised the days of the General Congregations and then of the Conclave. His address also refers to the Church as the "Mystical Body of Christ" and the "vine of the Lord". There is a reference to Jesus Christ as truly present in the Church. He offers a quite exquisite account of the communion of the Church inspired by the Holy Spirit that can be usefully read alongside his remarks from the balcony about the Church of Rome presiding in charity over the other Churches (but note that, in context, the word "Churches" refers to dioceses of the Catholic Church):
And our acquaintance and mutual openness have helped us to be docile to the action of the Holy Spirit. He, the Paraclete, is the ultimate source of every initiative and manifestation of faith. It is a curious thing: it makes me think of this. The Paraclete creates all the differences among the Churches, almost as if he were an Apostle of Babel. But on the other hand, it is he who creates unity from these differences, not in “equality”, but in harmony. I remember the Father of the Church who described him thus: “Ipse harmonia est”. The Paraclete, who gives different charisms to each of us, unites us in this community of the Church, that worships the Father, the Son, and Him, the Holy Spirit.
In the meeting with journalists, during which he suggested that the media faced a particular challenge in covering events in the Church as those events do not fully conform to the expectations of other events in the world, Pope Francis speaks of the Church as the people of God in encounter with Jesus Christ:
The Church is certainly a human and historical institution with all that that entails, yet her nature is not essentially political but spiritual: the Church is the People of God, the Holy People of God making its way to encounter Jesus Christ.
And there is the testimony to poverty as being a characteristic of the Church, a testimony expressed in the Holy Father's choice of name and in his remark during his meeting with journalists:
For me, [St Francis] is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation; these days we do not have a very good relationship with creation, do we? He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man … How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor!  
As a kind of postscript: If I have understood the coverage correctly, Pope Francis gave his blessing to the gathered journalists at the end of the audience silently, or "in pectore", out of a courtesy to the possibility that many of those present would not have been believers. This offers an interesting insight for such situations as the "moment of reflection" that has replaced times of prayer in much of our public space.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Pope Francis pays his hotel bill

La Croix's report of Pope Francis' pilgrimage to the Church of St Mary Major this morning ends with an amusing little account of his calling in to pay his bill.
Après avoir salué les enfants d’une école voisine de Sainte-Marie-Majeure, le pape François est reparti en voiture, demandant juste à faire une halte à la résidence internationale des prêtres près de la place Navone, où il logeait avant le conclave.

« Il a récupéré ses bagages et réglé sa chambre pour montrer l’exemple », a indiqué le P. Lombardi, directeur de la Salle de presse du Saint-Siège. Il est ensuite retourné à la Maison Sainte-Marthe où il continue d’habiter provisoirement.
In the report from Vatican Information Service:
The Holy Father left as he had arrived, with a minimal escort and entourage. He was accompanied by Archbishop Georg Ganswein and Msgr. Leonardo Sapienza, S.C.I., respectively prefect and regent of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household. Along the way, however, he surprised everyone by first sending an affectionate greeting to children from a nearby school and then by asking his driver to stop by the Domus Internationalis “Paulus VI” near Piazza Navona where he had stayed before entering the Conclave. The Pope greeted those working there, gathered his belongings, and paid his bill.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Conclave a la 4

The Channel 4 News site might not have the best grasp of what a conclave is really about .... But the headlines to two blog posts do score highly, I think.

And they’re off! The race to be Pope begins.  The video clip of Cardinal Thomas Collins being door-stepped on his way to the conclave is worth a watch, not only for the skill with which he deals with it in media terms, but also for the skill with which he takes the opportunity to say something to the big wide world about what a conclave is really about. One suspects that the following paragraph was written somewhat tongue in cheek - but even if it wasn't, the inclusion of the clip of Cardinal Collins allows me to forgive:
A conclave is a beauty pageant between over-55s in cassocks, a power struggle which is in theory divinely inspired, which is why Cardinal Collins can say with a straight face that it isn’t politics at all.
Next Pope: church looking for ‘Jesus Christ with an MBA’. I know it will cause scandal to the faithful for me to say so, but I do like the headline. I think it is sufficiently irreverent to be genuinely humorous. The content of this post, though, is less forgiveable than the post described above.
[The Cardinals] will perhaps look for holiness first, the ability to evangelise globally second (presumably including a fluency in English or Spanish) and thirdly, and perhaps no less important, a zeal to reform the scandal-ridden church government or “Curia” here in Rome.
This sounds reasonable-ish, though it generalises the extent of scandal in such a way that one thinks that everyone who works in the Curia is guilty, which I am sure is not the case. But it is matched towards the end of the post with:
Yes, the next Pope will be an old man who has never married or had children; but surely it will be letting the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics down if this conclave does not choose a Pontiff who breathes new life into the institution.
Now, if John Paul II (4 million people visited Rome during his lying in state in 2005) and Benedict XVI (1.2 million people joined him in Cologne for Mass at the end of World Youth Day in August 2005) didn't breath new life into the institution .... it's difficult to understand what the writer means by new life.

Worthy of far more serious comment is the decision of Channel 4 to send Jon Snow to Rome to cover the conclave. As this blog - For whom the white smoke calls - reveals, Jon has such a deep seated hostility towards the subject of his reporting for the next few days (weeks?) that one wonders at the thought processes that could have led to Channel 4 sending him. It's a bit like asking a rugby fanatic (league, not union, much more vicious robust) to report on crown green bowling and expecting them to do a good job.
But the very first time we saw him – 40 minutes after his election had triggered the white smoke – we knew that at 77, heading for 78, he was too old to achieve any of the changes the church so urgently needed.

Several Cardinals told me then that Benedict had been actively keen to become Pope.

But amid God’s refusal to “call him home”, exhausted, he seems to have simply given up. His was a dim Papacy many critics believe.
Again, one needs to mind the Channel 4 reality gap. If Benedict XVI's papacy was "dim", I really would like to know what Jon Snow thinks the word "bright" means!

Monday, 11 March 2013

2 C IN WC2N + SE21

More than a week ago now, Zero and I visited two exhibitions in London. Though separated by the River Thames and a stretch of inner London suburb, the exhibitions shared some common themes. Both of the painters involved painted religious pieces, and, in particular, altar pieces. And both artists are quite striking in their use of colour and of light and shadow.

The first visit was to the exhibition Barocci: Brilliance and Grace at the National Gallery, an exhibition that runs until 19th May. The two striking paintings on display here were Barocci's depiction of the Nativity and of the Visitation. The scene in the Nativity, is illuminated by the light emanating from the figure of Christ and reflected from that of the Virgin Mary.

The depiction of the Visitation is hung so that you can view it framed by the door as you enter the room, and it faces you across the room. Among the preparatory sketches displayed is one that, instead of placing the viewer in the street looking on as Mary and Joseph arrives (the viewpoint of the main painting), places them inside the house looking out towards the street. The contrast of the two possible viewpoints is quite thought provoking in terms of how we might understand the event of the Visitation. An added aspect of my experience of this painting was that it was painted for the church of the Chiesa Nuova in Rome, a church I had passed only days before.

Memories of a visit to the sanctuary at La Verna also contributed to my experience of a painting depicting the stigmatisation of St Francis - the jagged rock shown in the painting is reflective of that at the sanctuary.

A disappointing aspect of this exhibition is the lighting. Several times during my visit I found myself having to move, and view a picture from a different position, to avoid reflected glare from the paintings. When the play of light and of colour is so significant for the artist, it is unfortunate that this aspect of the display of his work is a little unsatisfactory. This particularly affected the painting of the stigmatisation of St Francis.

After lunch, it was then on to the Dulwich Picture Gallery to see an exhibition of paintings by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, paintings arising largely from his collaboration with Justino de Neve, a canon of Seville Cathedral. This exhibition, too, runs until 19th May. One of the striking aspects of this exhibition is the way in which paintings originally intended for the decoration of a church in Seville have been displayed in a way as close as possible to that of their original location. So the centre piece of the exhibition, Murillo's painting of the Immaculate Conception, faces you along the length of the hall as you enter, rather as if it is above the high altar at the far end of the church. Other paintings are displayed at a height, so that you look up to them as you would have done seeing them in the context of the Church.

The page on the Gallery website devoted to this exhibition includes a very good video account of the exhibition, in which you can see the effectiveness of the display of paintings such as the Immaculate Conception. It is worth looking at this page - but don't let it replace a visit to the exhibition itself, which is able to hold the attention in real space in a way that cannot be achieved in virtual space.

After visiting the gallery, Zero and I walked through Dulwich Village to catch the train back to central London. De rigeur on these kind of visits, we viewed the windows of the estate agents; but, in addition, we did a rough survey of the cars owned by the local inhabitants of this rather prosperous corner of south London. Only one "12" or "62" registration (ie new cars registered since March 2012) ... which led us to conclude that, though the residents of Dulwich might not suffer from housing poverty, they do suffer from a relative poverty as far as car ownership is concerned.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Of Scandal and Sanctity

The first item on the 7 am bulletin on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning was the news of Cardinal O'Brien's statement, released via the Scottish Catholic Media Office, in which the Cardinal admitted that
there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.
That this item displaced the news of Her Majesty the Queen's hospitalisation to second place in the bulletin gives considerable cause for thought. The package immediately following the news bulletin is covered in this BBC news website report: Priests 'feel vindicated' after Cardinal Keith O'Brien admission.

Since the resignation of the now Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI, I have had a couple of conversations with a colleague at work about things Catholic. This morning my observation was to the effect that the Catholic Church does both scandal and sanctity in a big way.

The Times reporting today, on an inside page rather than the front page, included the following:
A Scottish parish priest said last night: "We should be pleased that he has admitted it and said sorry, that is a good thing. People need time to grieve before we can move on.

"The Church as an institution can be a pretty ugly thing. The Church as a community can be beautiful, a very different experience from the hierarchy ... The Church as an institution has some very real issues to face up to".
If the placing of "institution" and "community" apart from each other is read as suggesting a kind of two-fold Church - and it is not clear that this is the intention of the parish priest quoted, though it is a possible way of interpreting his remark as published by the Times - then I do not think we have captured the full import of Cardinal O'Brien's actions. It is the one Church, a single whole, that has been affected by the scandal of the original actions, and the way in which they have played out in the media. It might well be that those who hold office in the Church - in various positions in the hierarchy -  have a particular responsibility in terms of the way in which they have behaved and/or responded to the situation, and that they need to face up to the proper exercise of that responsibility. But they will do so as part of a single body of the Church and not apart from that body.

There are two styles of opportunistic media comment that do not touch on the real issues at stake for the Church. One is Stonewall Scotland's observation, quoted at the end of the BBC website report:
"But we also actually think it is quite sad that in this day and age somebody feels they have to lie about their sexuality to themselves and to other people as well."
And the other is the attack on the Catholic Church's practice of priestly celibacy perhaps most sadly, because of a large readership, represented in the blogosphere by Cranmer: It is not good for priests to be alone.

The fallacy of the first comment is that it assumes that what one is tempted to do is therefore what one ought to do and is morally right. There is no concept of an objective moral order that, though we be Cardinal, priest, religious or lay, we might fail in our attempt to practice but which nevertheless remains the bench mark for our striving as far as our actions are concerned.

The fallacy of the second is the equation of celibacy and alone-ness. Celibate friendship with others is quite possible, and it can be lived in a positive and fulfilling way. See, for example, this testimony from Fr Stephen Wang, from which I extract just one sentence: Celibacy and the Catholic priesthood.
What matters is trying to be faithful, instead of pretending that another way of life would be easy.
Scandal and Sanctity. In so far as every Christian life is lived in the space between the extreme of these two experiences, perhaps we should all try to move further away from the former and nearer to the latter, whatever our state of life in the Church. And perhaps we have to face the reality that the Catholic Church does seem inclined to do both in a big way.