Archive for the ‘Theology of the Body’ Category

Week 7: Resenting Chastity

September 7, 2011

Last week  we covered: Love…and Responsibility?

This week at Love & Responsibility in NYC we covered the chapter, “Resenting Chastity.” (Check it out online; not as extensive as the book, but handy.)

(Unfortunately, I could not be there for the group discussion.  So I’m merely going to summarize the chapter and then provide a few reflections.)

This chapter deals discusses the dynamic that seems to surround Chastity.  In short, Chastity is met with a frown not a smile. This of course is nothing new.  Today just as in the days of John Paul II’s interaction with married couples as a Parish priest, there is a resenting of Chastity.  This chapter delves into why it seems that people resent Chastity.

Simply:

  • living a virtuous life is not easy,
  • because of our fallen nature (thanks to Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden) we tend to find it easier to follow our emotions and desires than submit those emotions and desires for the good of another
  • as we notice that a virtuous life is harder and requires more of us we start to talk ourselves out of it (in other words, we usually take the path of least resistance).
  • the virtue of chastity is often misunderstood as abstinence or a rejection of something that is very good
  • because of a misconception of what chastity is, chastity is seen as a threat not a strength.
  • if we focus on the subjective side of love and ignore the objective side of love, it then furthers the focus on the emotions of love and further instills the fear that chastity will crush it.

Ed Sri then goes on to describe Chastity as the “Guardian of Love.”  He states, “Now we can see why chastity is so necessary for love. Far from something that hinders our love, chastity is what makes love possible. It protects love from falling into selfish, utilitarian attitudes and enables us to love selflessly — irrespective of the powerful emotions or sensual delight we may receive from our beloved.”

Explained that way, I’m sure many more people would be rushing to sign up for that plan.  🙂

I wish I had received that explanation and this book sooner!  Until about 6 years ago I thought that chastity was merely abstinence.  “No intercourse till marriage.” was all I can remember hearing.  I never heard “Chastity is a Guardian of Love.”

I learned the hard way that Chastity really is the best policy.  I’m sorry that I had to learn it the hard way, but I am happy that I learned the lesson.  In fact, I learned the lesson just in time to protect the love that was and is the basis for my marriage.  Now I see that a lack of chastity is the cancer that eats away at true love.  I see that self mastery especially in regards to chastity is essential in propagating and sustaining love.

Striving and strengthening virtue gives one the ability to make good choices.  Even after I learned about the truth about chastity and threw away those misconceptions that I had about chastity, I still struggled with it.  Not only did I feel like I was up against the rest of the modern world regarding their idea of what sexual intimacy meant, I was up against myself.  All of my old habits had to be replaced with new acts of virtue.  It sounds heroic, and it is, but let’s just say that I had a few crash landings after trying out my new chastity superhero cape and flying abilities.

Mastery of Chastity will help you land on your feet!

The hidden secret is: The person who you love (who you are in a relationship with or who you are married to) will appreciate this mastery the most! No one wants their hearts to be hurt by someone they love being unchaste…. with someone else!  They want someone who has the ability to integrate their body with their hearts, minds, and souls so that their actions say that they love you.

So, your loved one will want it for their benefit so that they won’t get cheated on and they will also want it for themselves.

Perhaps not at first though. 😛

Like the people described in this chapter, often those who do not yet possess the virtue of chastity are the ones to most quickly criticize chastity or ridicule chastity.  They think: “Oh – well of course, let’s apply that “rule” over there, but not over here between us because that’s just awkward.  Besides, we don’t need that.  Right?”

I think that when I first met the man who is now my spouse, he thought I was nuts when I was so exuberant about the joys and freedom of chastity.  He thought, “umm… what? sounds more like the date fizzling than freedom.”  In fact I think that he was concerned that if we did not use our emotions to fan the fire of our passions (and therefore fall into unchaste actions), that we were in danger of having a bland passionless relationship.

Don't let your emotions fan the flames of passion... that will end up burning up the love that exists!

Luckily God invented chemistry, so that has never been a problem for my husband and I.  Through our dating experience we learned that chastity was actually necessary to really show to what extent we loved each other.  Honestly, a part of me thinks, “Chastity is the hard part – saying, ‘I do’ at the altar was easy!” For us, it was a huge challenge that has strengthened our marriage.  I know (proved by his willingness to persevere in chastity) that I married a man of virtue – one of perseverance and fortitude.  Likewise he knows that I am willing to “go the distance” – to fight against what I might be initially inclined to do and fight for what is right.

For us, chastity is no longer a thing to be feared, it is a thing to be understood and cherished.  It’s a tool in really loving someone in that mature love that seeks the good of the other.

It’s tricky, but I highly recommend it! I challenge you: resist resenting chastity and learn to eagerly embrace it!

Ok – that’s all for now.  More next week on “The Battle for Purity.”

Why I wear a veil: Theology of the Body and much more!

May 25, 2010

Since many women… and men… ask me why I wear a veil, I thought I’d post a brief response here. Included at the end are links to the late Pope John Paul II’s Wednesday audiences which make up the collection of writings that are called, “The Theology of the Body.”

The following is a response that I gave to a recent blog, found here: http://blog.adw.org/2010/05/should-women-cover-their-heads-in-church/

I’m 36 and started wearing the veil 5 years ago. It felt awkward at first, but that was because I was concerned it would cause controversy. I was surprised to find that I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback for 5 years – usually from men – priests and lay – who LOVE to see women wearing the veil.

Here’s what my grandfather told me when I was about 8:

White veils are for unmarried women.

Black veils are for married women.

I never thought about it until I was over 30, strongly called to the vocation of marriage, and painfully single.

Wearing the veil helped me to remember that my FIRST vocation (everyone’s FIRST vocation) is a call to holiness. Regardless of your station in life – single, divorced seeking an annulment, married, widowed, seminarian, clergy, consecrated religious – our vocation is to holiness. Christ is the bridegroom, and we as the church are His bride. The veil reminded me that I was already a bride – it wasn’t something that was going to be kept from me.

Wearing the veil was also inspired through my study of the Theology of the Body where I became aware that women have a particular propensity to control things and avoid submission. (Men have their own particular propensity – their own weakness in another area.)  This is why Ephesians 5:22-33 is so important and such a bitter pill for women to swallow. I realized this was true in myself and use the veil to make a conscious statement to God that I desired to be submissive to His will. This also reminded me of Mary’s full submission – her Fiat- her 100% yes to God’s will.

Veils are also just simply feminine. They’re girlie. It was (is) a way of embracing my womanhood. God made me a woman – so I get the privilege of wearing a beautiful veil.

I also wanted to find a spouse that delighted in my beauty – to be delighted in the fact that I desired holiness. Wearing the veil was another way of stating to prospective suitors that I desired God’s will- that I was striving for holiness – and that there was no mistake about it. I dare say, that while wearing the veil, it’s quite impossible, if not unnatural for a man to lust after a woman. It just elicits a different response – one of admiration and a desire to protect the woman.

I’m happily married (it’s been one year!) to a wonderful, respectful, courageous man who is also striving for holiness and who is striving to live out Ephesians 5:22 – 33 – especially verse 25. :)

Now that I’m married, I wear a black veil and have passed the white veil along to another single friend. Many women approach me and ask me about the veil. I tell them these details and they all respond with, “Wow- I think I’m going to start wearing one now.”

So if you’ve been wondering about it – try it out for a while- I found mine on Ebay. See if it helps your prayer life. I bet it will!

—-

If you are curious about what Pope John Paul II had to say about the Theology of the Body and man and woman’s “particular disability” (or propensity to sin in a certain manner), see this link http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp2tb29.htm.

To read more about what Pope John Paul II had to say about Ephesians, Chapter 5 (in the Theology of the Body), go to http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp2tb88.htm

and

http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp2tb89.htm

and probably more importantly, this link, which helps illuminate how submission does not destroy one’s uniqueness or individuality. http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp2tb90.htm