Sunday, January 8, 2012

Love....Sexuality...Sacrament

There was a touch of sadness as I journeyed through last Sunday's Liturgy. Something was missing. For the last number of years we celebrated the Feast of The Holy Family on the first Sunday after Christmas. This year we did not have that feast on a Sunday, and it was truly missed by me. I especially missed the old opening prayer. This opening prayer placed the following words in our mouths, minds, and so came into our hearts. Every year it provided an opportunity for each and every person to reflect, anew, on that which is most essential for a healthy, happy, wholesome and holy life. Our deepest wish, then, must be that as we pray this prayer, what we pray for, becomes an ever-deepening reality. We have prayed these simple words, never stopping to reflect on the wonder-full, enlightening, transformative message hidden within.

"Teach us the sanctity of human love, show us the value of family life."

Such simple words? Yet, how profound they are. We ask to be taught ‘the sanctity of human love”. We ask to be taught that this wonder-full, mysterious gift, which we are ever and always wanting to understand, is sacred, is holy. We have to be taught what so many use and abuse is the place where our God encounters us. Where love is, there our God is. Where there is no love, there is no God. We are told the way we are loved is the way we allow God to love us. Is not that scary? How often is imitation “love" used to control and manipulate others. This is so abusive. Why? It is saying to that person, "since God is love, I am asking you to believe the way I “am loving you” is the way your God loves you. [Of course, this is a LIE!] “As I am treating you, expect God to treat you in the same way". Pretty sick!!! But, we have with God, what we have in our human relationships. Yes, this IS the lived experience of so many who want nothing to do with God. They are not denying the True God, they are rejecting the false god, which they are lucky enough to intuitively know to be false. They ARE NOT ATHEISTS. They believe in the true God. These are in fact the prophets who challenge us to get healthy, and so reveal a life giving God that they can be believe in. They have only been exposed to abusive relationships, masquerading as “loving" relationships. Experiences such as this make it so difficult, but not impossible, to have healthy and so a holy life-giving relationship with a living God.

This involves real hard work. It takes the willingness and the courage to really leave home, and leave behind that which is
familiar. We are grounded in our family's way of seeing, acting and believing. When that is not right, or healthy it still takes time and guts to dare move away. It tales real courage to start the development of that which is healthy, and of its essence, life-giving. It is so hard to break away from the old familiar ways. This does not occur in a day, week, or month. That is why there is that “spiritual principle". “We do not think our way into a new way of acting, we act our way into a new way of thinking.” “The longest journey begins with the first step.” The first step is to acknowledge that innate desire to become healthy, and as consequence have a healthy, loving relationship with the real God. We will always receive and become that which is the healthy object of our desires. Deep down we are aching to be once again united with The God Who is our origin and destiny. This Living, Loving God, sees each one through the lens of infinite, patience and kindness. It is a love that does not take offense, and has no resentment to direct at us. Who in our life accepts us like this?

A healthy love of self leads to a healthy celebration of our sexuality. I read that sexuality is not so much about what I do, it is about who I am and who I am doing it with. Way, way back, St. Thomas saw that in marriage, prayer and sex are one and the same. Now how many have ever made that connection? When I used to prepare couples for marriage, I asked the following, "would you put sexuality and prayer in the same sentence?”. Some would not see it in the same paragraph, others not in the same page, while others would not see it in the same chapter or book. There has been a lot written about the sacramentality of sexuality. (A sacrament, with a small “s": is each and every person, place and event which brings one in contact with the deeper realities of life. Ultimately with Reality Itself, that Reality we can call God). We need to recapture the holy, the sacred aspect once again of human love, of human sexuality. As we see so many being abused in grade school, not to mention high-school, it is essential the God centered reality of sexuality must be embraced. It must be embraced by parents, who, because they see, and enjoy the mystery, have an authentic voice with which to speak and share with their children. So much misinformation comes to our young from locker room talk or from sleepovers. Where will the sacramental nature be in those conversations. John Bradshaw in one of his books equates lack of sexual information, is tantamount to sexual abuse. I am saddened to say over the years, I have found this to be so true.

Human love is then the sacrament, which in the Wisdom of God, has become the reality through which God has chosen to reveal who He is. As there are so many layers of understanding when it comes to human love, there are as many layers to be searched through, so as to come to the ultimate goal, a healthy love of ourselves, others, and God. This has been taken from Bishop Morneau, of Green Bay. The Packers are not the only good thing to come out of Green Bay.

My wish for the new year, is that you have the courage, or ask for the courage, to dare to do what it takes to experience the sanctity of human love. This will further expand your understanding of the sanctity of all that is authentically human. Let us journey deeper so we can understand the great connection between a healthy spirituality and the ever-deepening celebration of sexuality.