The irony of my experience with the Theology of the Body was that I spent nine years in the seminary, nine years of formation in the area of human relationships, spiritual and academic life, and nobody told me about this revolutionary thinking. It was an older couple who gave me a set of CDs, which, by the way, bounced from one side to the other in my car for awhile until one morning driving to Orlando, I decided, led by the Holy Spirit, to listen to the CDs.
It was an epiphany; it was as if time had stopped and I discovered something hidden in my heart from the beginning. The free choice of being celibate that I made on my ordination day was not weighing on me anymore. I felt free for the first time. I slightly began to understand that I was not giving up sex; on the contrary, I had chosen the most profound, intimate union ever, with Christ. Little did I know that my Lord was keeping the best for last, as in the wedding of Cana. My first attempt to go to the seminar had so many difficulties that it was not funny, but finally, the opportunity to go to Denver came, and this was the one He chose for me.
Everything in Denver spoke about the majestic God we have, and the way He loves us. The mountains, still covered with snow, were breathtaking; the retreat house could not have been better; the people who gathered there were living witnesses to the life that God gives to all of us. The person who was going to lead us into this great mystery of love was blessed by the Holy Spirit, and the presence of Christ in the Eucharist was the final touch to the gift that we were about to receive; everything was perfect.
Everything for me was perfect; I was about to celebrate the fourth anniversary of my priestly ordination, and God had prepared a banquet for me. On Thursday, the day of my anniversary, while Christopher was talking about how the conjugal act is the deepest and most profound expression of God’s love for us, I asked myself, so where does a celibate person find this expression. Then I found the courage to ask this of him. Christopher told me, “Father Juan, you have chosen the best part. You make us fall in love with Christ in the ambo and then invite us to the altar of the Lamb, the eternal wedding chamber.” I got a cold sensation running up and down my spine, I was already experiencing the ultimate intimate union with Christ every time I celebrate the Eucharist.
That Thursday evening I was given the undeserved privilege to preside over the holiest of all sacrifices, the Eucharist. I was able to make the holy people of God fall in love with Christ and then lead them into the wedding chamber to be one with the eternal lover, Jesus Christ our Savior. At the end, I really did not give up anything; Jesus Christ gave everything to me.
Thank you Christopher and the staff of the Institute for the opportunity you gave me to share this gift of the Love of God. You will always be present in my prayer at mass.
Fr. Juan R. Torres
Parochial Vicar, St. Hugh Parish
Archdiocese of Miami, FL
Fr. Juan was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and discovered his vocation to the priesthood while in high school. He studied with Capuchin priests and Franciscans nuns, who taught him by their example to love God and do whatever He asks you to do. Currently Fr. Juan is the Parochial Vicar at St. Hugh in Coconut Grove, FL.