Thank you for all the thoughts, prayers and practical help I received throughout my recent bout with shingles! As of the writing of this letter, Friday the 15th, only a small spot remains to “dry up” of the rash. But then there is still the pain to deal with. Hopefully by the time you are reading this, even the pain has subsided. But I’m told that in some cases it remains for even quite a long time after the rash has disappeared. Let’s hope for the best!
Also, thank you to everybody who gave to the Bishop’s Annual Catholic Appeal. We met our goal! And I am very proud that we did! I really believe this sends the right message to the Bishop and the Pastoral Center of the Diocese: We understand that we are on mission as a people of Jesus Christ, and the Bishop, with the help of his Pastoral Center staff, is both leading us and supporting us very concretely. I explained in an earlier bulletin letter the many ways that the Pastoral Center is constantly in communication with us to support the mission of our parish.
On another note, last Sunday we had our fourth session of young adult Theology of the Body, entitled, “Man and Woman He Redeemed Them (Our History)”. The following are questions and answers that summarize the content of that session.
-Why do we instinctively seem to cover ourselves if a stranger were to enter into a room and see us unclothed? Because shame is a self-defense mechanism due to the threat of lust. We cover our bodies not because they are “bad”, but because they are “so good” and we want to protect their dignity from the threat of lust.
-Why is it often difficult to see, understand and believe that our bodies are holy? On the one hand, many of us have been raised to think Christianity devalues the body (this couldn’t be further from authentic Christian thought). On the other hand, our pornographic culture continually desecrates the human body. We might also have experienced deep sexual wounds in life from misusing sex. All of these factors and many others play into the difficulty of coming to understand the holiness of the body.
-Why does John Paul II say we should not fear the severity of Christ’s words about lust? We shouldn’t fear these words, because they are not words of condemnation. Instead, they are words of salvation. These words have the power to save us from our lusts, to liberate us from the domination of lust so that we can love as we are called to love.
-Have you ever heard that Christ gives us “real power” to experience sexuality as the desire to love as God loves? Do you believe this?
-How did sexual desire change after the Fall? Sexual desire became inverted, self-seeking. Rather than being experienced as the desire of “self-donation” for the good of the other, it came to be experienced as a desire for “self-gratification” at the expense of the other. Lust replaced love.
-Lust is sexual desire lacking God’s love.
-What is St. Paul referring to when he says that we “groan inwardly as we wait for… The redemption of our bodies” in Romans 8:23? The “redemption of the body” is not just one aspect of redemption (as if we also needed a redemption of the soul). Redemption of the body refers to the mystery of our redemption in its entirety. It also refers in a certain sense to the redemption of the whole universe accomplished in Christ’s bodily death and resurrection. We won’t experience the fullness of this redemption until our own resurrection, but it is already working in us now. We “grown” as we await the fullness of our redemption, because we remain weighed down in this world by the burden of sin and evil.
-What does ethos mean? Ethos refers to a person’s inner world of values, i.e., what attracts and repulses him or her.
-Do you believe your ethos can actually change?
-The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the Law of the Gospel… does not add new external precepts (i.e., laws), but proceeds to reform the heart.
-Why do most people think of Christian morality as an oppressive list of rules? What is “freedom from the law”? In short, because they haven’t heard and/or understood the good news of the Gospel. They haven’t realized that Christ came to set us free from the law – not free to break it but free to fulfill it. If you have no desire to murder, you don’t need the commandment “Thou shalt not murder.” You are free from this law. Not free to break it, but free to fulfill it, because you have no desire to break it. Christ died on a cross and rose from the dead so that we too could live a new life. Christ can and, if we let him, will change our hearts so that every desire conforms with God’s law. Only to the degree that our hearts are changed in this way do we understand and experience the gospel as “good news”. Otherwise, we look at Christian morality as an oppressive list of rules.
Have a great week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,