Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Merry Christmas to all of you – the youth and families of Queen of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church!!!  Special greetings to anyone who’s new to this blog after joining us at Mass during this special Christmas weekend then seeing our new topic in the bulletin entitled:  What is the meaning of sex in God’s plan?   

For the past few months during my time here serving as youth minister at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, I’ve been commentating on Blessed Pope John Paul II’s revolutionary teaching entitled: “A Theology of the Body,” which was the first major work of his Pontificate.  He delivered this teaching during his Wednesday Audiences in the form of lectures over the course of five years, from 1979-84.  I have shared some personal stories of my own, in addition to many examples and teachings from others including Christopher West, Jason and Christalina Evert and Mary Beth Bonacci who are all chastity speakers and apologists (an “apologist” is one who explains the Catholic faith publicly, but it is NOT one who apologizes for being Catholic).  I have also been trying to communicate how liberating this teaching of the Theology of the Body has been for me personally as a man growing up at the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the third millennium in this western culture.  As you already know this culture is, unfortunately, filled with profound obstacles to purity, chastity and love on every level with few models of real men and real love.  During a past blog, I did share that it wasn’t until I studied and was formed to become a Catholic Priest that I learned about manhood in the context of priestly celibacy (a beautiful gift of God to the Church and world that is meant to remind everyone that we will not be completely fulfilled until our union with God in Heaven, a state in which we “are neither given nor received in marriage” at all (Mt 22:30) ).  As you all know, I was eventually called away from seminary life and am not a priest today, but I have learned many things about priesthood.  A celibate priest offers himself in love to His own Bride the Church sacramentally in the Person of Christ - sharing in Christ's priesthood.  As I studied in seminary and learned what it means to be a priest, I had to simultaneously re-learn what it means to be a Christian man.  Unfortunately, I realized, I had lots of work to do in order to become one of those “authentic Christian men.”  For example, how could I give myself fully in love like Christ, who pours Himself out in sacrifice, gift, responsibility, joy and love to His own Bride the Church even to the end (which was his own death on a cross) if I didn’t know about real manhood - which Christ models for us in this relationship of love?  I was often perplexed in thinking to myself during my life while I grew up:  “What does it mean to be a real man?  Do I have to be strong?  Do I have to be successful?  Do I have to be in charge, poised, articulate, muscular, handsome, crafty, intelligent, quick witted, tall, good at sports and mathematics, funny, all knowing, able to fix stuff and build large wooden cabinets, always the life of the party, knowledgeable of all feminine matters and skilled with the ladies, good with all things automotive and a near professional gunslinger???”  Then, of course, I would get stressed out and scared because I’m not too many of those stereotypically “manly” things anyway. 

Getting back to reality, the fact is that the man or womanhood which God gives us is the crown of his creation.  The human person whom “God made in his own image, male and female God made them,” (Gen. 1:27) is already the best part of God’s creative plan.  Aside form all the stereotypes we place on ourselves, our man and womanhood is meant to be the crown of all God’s creation, and that’s what God intended since we’re “made,” in His divine image.  We are created to image God, unlike anything else in all of creation (aside from the angels, of course, who don’t have bodies but who do share this special dignity imaging God).  For example, let’s take “beauty” as a reference point.  What is “beauty?”  We all seem to want to be beautiful, right?  So people can become more and more attracted to us as an end in itself, fall in love with us and then we can “get” anything we’d like including esteem, attention, care and happiness.  (That last sentence there, in italics, is part of the big fat lie I bought into as a young person for many years in high school and college.)  But really in truth, “beauty” is a Divine Attribute in that it comes from God and is an expression of God as well as an experience of Him.  All beauty is supposed to lead us directly to God, who is our final end.  Every flower, sunset, painting, sculpture, beautifully designed building, bridge or car, and yes – even every beautiful human body and person is supposed to lead us to God, who IS Beauty Itself.  Real beauty always points the way to the Divine so we can experience God.  Beauty is a way God communicates Himself to us so we can experience His goodness.  Real beauty is supposed to get out of the way, just like a prophet, who points to the real desire in all our hearts - God Himself.  Isn’t it “good” to experience beauty of any kind?  (The next time you see a beautiful sunset, painting, or person and you gasp then think to yourself, “wow, that’s beautiful,” recall that it’s really God you’re experiencing.)  Yes, the crown of all creation is the human person, male and female who are made in God’s image and likeness.  Even before we are in charge, poised, articulate, muscular, handsome, crafty, intelligent, quick witted, tall, good at sports and mathematics, funny, all knowing, able to fix stuff and build large wooden cabinets of any kind, we are already God’s crowning creation – small, conceived in our mother’s wombs, helpless, needy, incapable of taking care of ourselves, before we have beautiful flowing hair and big large muscles, all at the time in which we are quite little.  Our personhood is founded by our Creator, and not by our stereotypes.       

Essentially, during that time I had in seminary, I was being prepared for the beautiful vocation and sacrament of marriage through the eyes of a healthy understanding of priestly celibacy, theology and identity.  In learning about priesthood, I was forced to re-learn what it means to simply be a Christian man.  In studying and learning about priesthood I was also learning about marriage, sex and God’s plan for love and life by THE teacher of love and life; THE model of manhood and marriage: Jesus Christ and His Bride the Church.  Today, I am married to Alicia and the fruit of our love, which is modeled on Christ’s love for his own Bride the Church, (which every marriage is supposed to signify and reveal to the world) has born the fruit of Isaac, our son, among other things (as well as one more on the way, thanks God).  I love the Catholic Priesthood, am not a priest, but have learned so much about real love, manhood and personhood by the paradigm of person’s and humanity, Jesus Christ. 

So right now you may be thinking to yourself:  “What, you’re not supposed to learn about sex in seminary?  That doesn’t seem right!  Awkward . . .”  But, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Sex comes from God and it has a profound meaning.  Unfortunately, I would wager that most people in our culture never reflect on the intended, God-given meaning of sex.  Too often we consider our attraction to sex, our desire for sex, or our compulsion for sex without considering what’s really behind all that energy, drive and attraction.  So, what is the meaning of sex? 

Today, we are trying to answer that question: what is the meaning of sex?  Many would say that sex has no meaning at all.  It’s just an urge we have that we need to relieve like eating or drinking.  However, even eating and drinking are oriented to a participation in the life of God, for Blessed Pope John Paul II in his Theology of the Body, and they always point the way to Heaven.  Yes, even drinking water points to Heaven for the Pope!  Eating and drinking can also lead to sin (such as gluttony, for example) if it’s used in a “disordered” way contrary to God’s plan.  We spoke of how the human body, and especially the “one flesh union” of male and female, reveals God.  All of creation reveals God, we believe:  the mountains, sun-sets, the ocean, etc.  But, the crown of God’s creation, according to the Bible in Genesis, chapter 1, is the human person!  And for Pope John Paul II, the “one flesh union” of sexual intercourse reveals God too!  So, a man images God.  A woman images God.  But, so does the one flesh union, sex that is, image God.  The sexual embrace between a man and woman, in this understanding, is meant to image God and reveal Him to the world.  In fact, sexual intercourse in the right context which is marriage, is meant to be a participation in the life of God, a foretaste of heaven, a prayer, worship, a sign of the Trinity, a symbol and icon of the inner life with God – Heaven itself, a renewal and a living out of the wedding vows, and an exchange of love that makes God visible to the world.  Sex is also the consummation, or making complete, of the marriage itself.    Sex, you see, has deep and profound meaning.  It’s sacred.  Sex is sacred.

Now, if you’re like me and you were never taught the real meaning of sacramental sex while you were a teen ager, or in college or anywhere since (please note that above is mentioned literally 12 sacred points behind the Catholic teaching regarding the meaning of sex) and you need to understand more, then you’re in the right place.  Stay tuned for our next blog postings that will discuss, explain and “enflesh” all 12 of these sacred points regarding the true meaning of sex in God’s plan. 

source: West, Christopher. Marriage and the Eucharist. Audio media. Mary Foundation. 2003.

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