Sunday, March 27, 2011


A Sure Path to Joy

Seeking a path to joy is the reason I started the certification process for Theology of the Body last month. It was something a good friend of mine had suggested I explore on numerous occasions. All I knew about it was it had something to do with sex and chastity.

Now midway through the classes, I realize that it is much deeper and broader than I ever imagined. It has made me concur with George Weigel's description that it is a “theological time bomb set to go off".

Although this blog will only scratch the surface, it is my hope I can do justice to this complex topic, and that you will inspired to dig deeper into this joy afterward. There is both a wikepdia article and a book that is a quicker and easier read on this subject.

So humbly, here I begin:-). The Christian faith and it's timeless principles have around for over 2,000 years, and every generation has had it's challenges with it. I feel this is because our fallen/disordered nature hasn't changed either but only our knowledge of the physical universe and the given theories and circumstances we inherit. We remain and will always be, in this reality, largely ignorant of infinity.

Theology of the body is the perfect angle in the beautiful prism of truth that speaks to us now. According to theology of the body, our body and our complimentary sex is a divine representation of God. In other words, we are created in the image of God. By sex I mean our maleness and femaleness which is stamped on our bodies, minds and spirits.

This dignity of the body came to fruition when the Word became flesh. In other words when God became man through Jesus Christ. By this act, He made us aware of the dignity of the body. He took on flesh to redeem, and restore it through the resurrection. We are not meant to transcend the flesh but restore it and embrace the entirety of our embodied spirits.

In our bodies lies the stamp of self gift one for the other, woman for man and man for woman. Because this is how we are designed, to completely give ourselves to the other and become one, it is in this nuptial union that we come closest to experiencing divine love here on earth.

Through the nuptial union, the sexual embrace, comes the possibility of new life. In fact without this union we would not exist. In this nuptial union then lies the meaning of our whole existence and the meaning of life. From this comes the deepest foundation of our human ethics and culture.

In simple language, as sex goes, so goes marriage and the family. As marriage and the family go, so goes the world.

Yes there are anomalies just as we are designed to see and some of us are born blind. And, as a culture we have tried to change the rules of sex and new life. I believe there are three main reasons we do this and brings me to the core of our human struggle.

Freud, Marx and Nietzsche all had their theories on what motivates human beings. Freud thought it was all about the lust of the flesh (sex), Marx thought it was the lust of the eyes (money, economics), and Nietzsche thought it was the pride of life (power or our will to dominate). One could argue they are all tied together.

In juxtaposition, the virtues that free us from these motivations are the same virtues the religious take in the Catholic faith. Chastity (for sex), poverty (for money) and obedience(the desire to dominate/pride/power ). These are so contrary to what our disordered state wants and, not surprisingly our culture, that it seems both horrible and impossible to embrace.

It's horrible perhaps because it seems like we are dieing and in a sense we are. Our baser side dies. On the other hand, we are freed from this struggle between our baser side and our divine impulses. In our disordered state we struggle with these baser desires. This certainly doesn't lead to peace or joy.

On the one hand if you indulge your baser desires thinking they will lead to happiness, you will want more. That is because happiness is a temporary state that will always lead to wanting more. Instead of finding more happiness however you ultimately find emptiness. If you unleash your baser desires you at best become a slave to them and at worst you self destruct and harm those around you.

Along with becoming free from these struggles, the virtues free us to truly love others (not lust after or use them), pursue and create what we love(instead of pursuing money), and to love God (instead of trying to be Him). All this Love enables us to be truly joyful, and we no longer feel compelled to chase happiness, the counterfeit of joy.

Is it impossible? No. It's obvious that it's not easily attainable, but the first step is you have to want it. A famous St. Augustine saying before his conversion was God grant me the virtue of chastity but not just yet! Because this virtue begins with what your heart and mind entertain you have to start wanting it there. If you choose it inside first,your body will follow suit.

Chastity is when your sexual passions are in subordination to your will. In other words you choose when to engage in that self expression in thought and in action. You rule it and it doesn't rule you. Then you are truly free to love another. You can then choose to express it in an exclusive way in the nuptial union. It even extends into the nuptial union. In other words, chastity doesn't end when you get married, its a way of life. Your focus is on the other and what they want--Love never self seeks.

Love is love before, after and beyond. Love is the fruit of chastity and ALL the virtues. May we have the grace to educate and be educated on Love and embrace the sure path to joy.