sex & sexuality: a gift

Under How Many Suns

Under how many suns have we embraced
In what long fields of flowers and streets of stone
In the strong light of summer, interlaced
And made, like God, a darkness of our own.

Oh when the bitter wind of longing blows,
And all between us seems an aching space
Think that we hold each other close, so close;
We cannot even see each other’s face.

— Gilbert Keith Chesterton

…A poem by the intelligent, witty, and… yes, romantic… G.K. Chesterton.

The first stanza mentions a “darkness of our own,” and I initially asked myself, “What ‘darkness’ does God make? That’s impossible: He’s all light!” I then realized that darkness here does not refer to evil. Rather, “darkness” here is one not only “made” (as Chesterton describes) but begotten: the MYSTERY of the most INTENSE union of three Divine persons in one God!

Yes, the Trinity is the deepest intimacy that will EVER exist: an eternal exchange of love between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And the Trinitarian mystery of God is “dark” to our unenlightened human mind on this side of Eden.

Similar to the Trinity, my dear fiancé and I have also created a “darkness of our own,” an intimate world such as that to which Chesterton alludes. We, too, are “close, so close,” that our begotten “darkness” is hidden to everyone else, just as the Trinity is to mankind.

The inside jokes. The little quirks we take joy about in one another. Our couple habits, rituals, and traditions. Our shared past-times and interests, the things that only we know about one another. The rhythm of that ebb and flow of our shared days, one after another, marked out by our prayer-life…!

And as a long-distance couple, O, have we known that “bitter wind of longing” and that “aching space” mentioned in the second stanza! Moreover, that “aching space” can also refer to our joint striving towards chastity. 

To be honest, there are indeed moments when we desire to give all of ourselves to one another, body and heart, in the so-called ‘marital embrace’ (a nice euphemism for sex). The relationship’s MYSTERY can just feel so INTENSE sometimes; the other person’s personal mystery can feel so intense, too, that you just want to be one united, body and soul. 

As Blessed Pope John Paul II spoke of in the “Theology of the Body,” God has designed the human body and the human heart in such a way that when a man and a woman are in love, they strongly desire, to the core, to gives themselves to one another in totality. Yet a ‘total’ exchange of self to the other can only happen in the context of marriage, due to the unique design of sacramental marriage!

Human sex and sexuality is indeed a gift from God. God wills our good by giving it to us, and it is our privilege and duty to offer it back to Him via living chaste lives as according to our state in life. For instance, chastity looks different if you are dating/engaged vs married.

When my fiancé and I are affronted by that “aching space” Chesterton mentions, we try our best to remember, in joy, that saying a firm “No” to pre-marital physical desires is actually exclaiming a resounding “Yes!” to one another and to God.  

By trying to live chastely, it is our prayer that we are saying “I love you” as the Italians say it: “Ti voglio bene!”—literally, “I will your good.”

basstreble

engaged

[NOTE] Anyone reading this who may think, “Well, it’s too late for me,” remember: Satan lives in the past and in the future, but JESUS lives in the Present Moment, and His love and His mercy extends to us ALL. JESUS wants you to heal, to be integrated and whole!

Prayer After Vegas

I found this little prayer that I wrote after going to Vegas during the summer a couple of years ago. I had a great time with family and friends, but the culture there — a culture of death — left me confused and disheartened.

The world expects me to flaunt my body, but I know God calls me to take pride in my dignity.

Thought I’d like to share just in case any other young women felt the same way as me. Following are a few snippets.

Monday, August 31, 2009

O Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar,

I come to You today empty and confused. I went to Las Vegas this weekend and I felt so much cognitive dissonance. The world wants me to be beautiful, sexy, young, wild. I know you want me to be beautiful in my purity, sexy in my virginity, young in my faith, hope, & love, and wild with the passion of the Holy Spirit that has so touched my life! Drinking and dancing aren’t sinful to You; they are both gifts from You that can be properly used. Getting drunk and dancing provocatively would be abuses of those gifts. I think perhaps You are revealing Your Holy Will to me now.

I love Your, Lord, and I want to serve You. I pray for the grace to see as You see, to hear Your voice, to speak Your words, to serve and glorify You, and to love as You love.

Give me the grace that my heart might ache daily for You, for Your love, for You in the Eucharist!

love,

Rosanna Noelle

Lord Jesus Christ, as I reflect on this prayer that I wrote 2 years back, help me truly and genuinely to live a culture of life!

Purity & the Purifying POWER of Confession: Living a Revolution Against Sin

When following Christ, is there no hope for someone who has fallen in their pursuit for purity, or who has given away his or her “V-Card” — virginity — sleeps with their boyfriend/girlfriend, or lived life promiscuously?

Is there no hope for someone who continuously falls to the sins of the flesh, such as willfully entertaining impure thoughts, masturbating, looking at pornography, etc.?

No. Absolutely not!

There is enduring hope found in genuine repentance, the willingness to change… and the Confessional.

Matthew 5:8 reads: “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.”

Obviously, if God never thought we could be clean, He wouldn’t torture us so with the thought that we could never see Him. But as baptized children of God, we are called to imitate Christ’s holy purity and given the power to do so: Christ’s very grace within us!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph #2345 states: “Chastity is a moral virtue. It is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort. The Holy Spirit enables one whom the water of Baptism has regenerated to imitate the purity of Christ.”

We will never be able to escape our fallen will or our concupiscence, including our inclination to lust. However, we CAN grow in our virtues and in our holy purity; we CAN grow more inclined to fight off these temptations! Better yet, Christ instituted the Sacrament of Confession to freely return to sinners the gift of sanctifying grace that they reject when they sin.

When we commit mortal sin, we willingly reject the life of God within our soul (the very definition of “grace”). A mortal sin is only considered “mortal” when we know it is a grave sin and can cut us off from God and we fully decide to commit the sin anyway.

Yet during Confession, Christ Himself– via the priest who acts “in persona Christi”– infuses His grace, His very LIFE– back into the penitent!

Jesus Himself exhorts us: “Be you therefore perfect, as also your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

Striving to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect is only possible when we have the sanctifying grace of Christ within us as our strength to choose what is right and to reject what is evil!

After we sin, we may think: “Well, I still believed– I just went the wrong way, and sin/darkness overcame me, and now I’m sorry and I’m coming back to You, LORD.” Yet such a prayer to reconcile with Him is not enough if a sin is mortal; we must Confess in a sacramental prayer, to a priest, a representative of God.

This is pointed out in the Bible. St. John says: “If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray” (1 John 5:16-17).

It is for these “deadly” sins– these mortal sins, including most sins of impurity– that we must go to Confession.

Again, we must not worry, just be aware, and take ardent hope!

As we repeatedly commit sin, including sins of impurity; Christ Himself longs to unite us to His Cross and repeatedly purify us via Confession, that we may be always be ready again to give ourselves as pure offerings to one another and to Our Father.

Just as the “once and for all” sacrifice at Calvary can mysteriously permeate all time and space in the perpetuation of the Sacrament of the Eucharist (the timeless Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity of Christ), so too can this “once and for all” sacrifice at Calvary mysteriously permeate all time and all space in the timeless perpetuation of the Sacrament of Confession (the timeless Mercy & Justice of Christ!).

Hebrews 13:8 says: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” So, too is the Power of His Cross: in the Eucharist, when the Sacrifice of Calvary is re-presented perpetually till the end of the age, and in Confession, when the cleansing of sins and re-infusion of grace is re-presented perpetually till the end of the age.

Our Savior Jesus Christ died 2000 years ago on the Cross, and His sacrifice was a “once and for all” redemption, but Christ’s saving graces permeate all time and all space and save us in mysterious ways.

Yet Jesus Himself warns of our ability for sin to separate us from Him when he heals the paralytic on the exterior (his illness) and the interior (his sin), but still warns the paralytic: “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you” (John 5:16).

Jesus posits that sin can indeed make something worse happen to us after He heals us: we can willingly separate ourselves from Him if we sin again; we sin again over and over.

Yet Jesus is more than willing to purify us again and again in Confession, that we may truly be clean of heart, and so blessed as to be able to see Him (Matthew 5:8)!

LORD Jesus, blessed be the Sacrament of Confession, which allows the redemptive power of Your Cross to work mysteriously, outside of time, to perpetually save us from ourselves, when we willingly separate ourselves from Your saving Cross. You alone can save us, o LORD!

Holding Back Your “V-Card”: Sex as a Sacrifice

The vast majority of young people in my generation say that they are willing to give their “V Card” –their virginity– to someone that they genuinely love, within the context of marriage or not. Sex itself is no longer reserved for marriage; it is reserved for someone who has earned your trust, or perhaps who you would consider marrying– or perhaps just anyone, for no reason at all.

One of the biggest aspects of my own falling in love with Christ circa my college years was seeing the beauty and the value He places on sex, sexuality, and their meaning.

After learning about the “Theology of the Body,” Pope John Paul II’s exposition on human sexuality, I better understood why we were created as complementary men and women and why sex was so sacred as to save for marriage. As of late, however, I have had some new thoughts on purity and virginity to add to my former understanding. So, here goes:

God the Father in the Old Testament wanted families to offer Him lambs as a sacrifice. At the time, lambs were considered the finest livestock; they were of utter value and importance to families. And not only did God the Father want just any lamb– He wanted a family’s most pure, holy, and unblemished lamb.

To give up such a perfect lamb was a sign from a family that it truly loved the LORD above itself and its own interests. The purity of the offering, of the lamb, increased its worth exponentially and was a stronger offering that spoke of genuine love to our LORD.

In the Holy Eucharist, our LORD Jesus Christ offers Himself as the Lamb of God on the altar. Jesus Christ makes of Himself a most pure, holy, and unblemished offering to God the Father. In fact, His sacrifice of Himself was so pure, holy, and unblemished, that it will forever be known as the One Perfect Sacrifice– the sacrifice that granted all of humanity salvation! He is THE Sacrifice whose blood wiped away all of our sins, and saved us from ourselves.

My realization?

In Holy Matrimony, a man and a woman are called to live in purity before offering themselves up to one another and to GOD. Just as Christ gave Himself as an unblemished sacrifice for all on the altar, so too in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony are we to give ourselves as unblemished sacrifices for our spouses, on our wedding night on the marriage bed. Just as a church has an altar, the domestic church (the family) has an “altar”: the marriage bed itself. This is where we lay down our bodies for one another, and together, for God.

Just Christ says, “This is my body; it has been given up for you,” so too shall spouses say this to one another, as well as together to the LORD: “This is our body (now “one flesh”) which has been given up for You.”

Marriage reflects the familial, one-in-three, triune nature of God. Accordingly, the marital embrace (sex) is called to reflect the perfectly holy and pure nature of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, makes for the Church, His Bride (both on the Cross and till this day in the Holy Eucharist). Purity before and during marriage is thus of immeasurable worth! Striving for purity proclaims: “I love you… and You, LORD!” with an individual’s entire body, heart, and soul. Purity is the mark of the sacred romance of marriage, a sacrament that only Our Romantic Creator Himself could design!

Just as a family in the Old Testament was to offer their most perfect lamb to the LORD, so are those who are called to married life asked to offer up their most perfect selves to one another and to the LORD: before marriage, when they get married, and throughout their marriage via sacrifice– such as that which Natural Family Planning demands– and lifelong fidelity.

What wondrous beauty! Human sexuality is called to speak purity, sacrifice, love.

Guarding My “Feminine Mystique”

This morning, I was out and about running errands when I suddenly realized it was Saint Patrick’s Day and I was not wearing green– *gasp*! Henceforth, I decided to pull into a mall I passed by on the way home. I was on a mission: find something cheap, cute, and green.

I hit up some of the usual suspects: Macy’s, Forever 21, Charlotte Russe. There were lots of cute and pretty dresses and skirts– at least, they seemed cute as they were hanging on the rack. Off the the fitting rooms I went.

“God, I love this! How is there not more fabric here?” B

“Beautiful print, but why is this not longer?”

“Why is this *so* see through?”

“If the wind started to blow… if I had to bend… *sigh of defeat*… this just won’t work.”

“I… Can’t… Breathe.” (translation:  “This is too tight.”)

These are a few phrases that I whispered under my breath in the fitting room. It’s days like these that leave me wondering how any of us women are able to protect our feminine mystique in this world.

The Lord whispers to my heart that I possess a feminine mystique that is inherent to the beauty He has created me with as a woman. My feminine mystique is the elusive entity that intertwines my soul with my body in a most delicate yet potent manner. Genuine femininity is neither about solely the body or solely the soul—it is about the body and the soul intertwined. Society seems to place an overemphasis on the body, however—leading us to be completely amiss about what genuine feminine beauty is.

Short shorts. Mini skirts. Low cut tops. Low rise jeans. Lace and sheer fabric that are nearly invisible. Throw us a bone, fashion industry!

It is as if you want to clothe us in immodesty, and nothing else. We need more options. Society seems to be telling us that to be cherished and to be loved, we must turn heads with our bodies.

“Be hot. Be sexy.”

“Strut your stuff, girl!”

“Turn his head! Turn their heads!”

Then we find ourselves asking: “How can I look attractive but just not push the envelope?” And I question myself: Why, o why, am I even asking this silly question?! I deserve to be called beautiful for all of the right reasons, not hot for compromising my sense of self respect.

“You are so pretty today” or “You are so beautiful”these are the comments that make me melt inside.

Ladies, we deserve better than boys who know how to lust. We deserve men who know how to love. We deserve men who see us as dignified beings with intertwined bodies and souls: with a feminine mystique that is meant to be honored, protected, and cherished.