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Living in Love Part 2 – A Spiritual Reflection

A little while ago St. Monica sponsored the “Living in Love” retreat weekend for a number of couples, which was well received by the couples who took part. I had the opportunity to listen to one of the talks on intimacy and sexuality. Handouts that were prepared for the talk examined the intricacies and nuances of this topic from both vocational perspectives – married life and priesthood. Last week I examined the first two themes (Topics 1 and 2 below) that were discussed during the “Living in Love” retreat weekend. This week I finish with Topics 3 and 4:

  1. Treating Priesthood as a Job / Sex as Recreation;
  2. Seeing Mass / Sex as an Activity;
  3. Looking for Masculinity/Femininity Outside of Proper Relationships;
  4. Seeing Sex/Sexuality Negatively.

 

 man exercising

  1. 3. Looking for Masculinity/Femininity Outside of Proper Relationships

Among priests, this issue can manifest itself in an overemphasis on health, appearance, sports, cleanliness or spending an inordinate amount of time, energy and money in pursuing masculine accomplishments/activities. This can be mirrored among married couples as well. Husbands and wives can, likewise, overemphasize health, appearance, sports, cleanliness or spend too much time, energy money doing manly/womanly things. This self-absorbed, narcissistic sometimes plays itself out in rather unusual ways as couples begin to dial-back expectations surrounding sex and intimacy because they (still) don’t look like Chippendale Models or Playboy Centerfolds.feminity

There can also be unfounded and unreasonable expectations that intimacy and sex “has to” diminish just because the couple is getting older. (Which surprises me considering the overwhelming preponderance of Viagra/Cialis commercials that bombard me on a weekly basis. It leads me to think… well, never mind).

 

  1. Seeing Sex/Sexuality Negatively.

Among married couples, this can surface in certain unforeseen, and unfortunate, practices such as not showing affection towards each other in public (You might not be aware of this, but Catholics are now allowed to do two things: One – read the Bible; and Two – hold hands in church). Couples don’t ever talk about “it” even among themselves. Intimacy/sex can be seen as a burden, something done when nobody else can know about it and intimacy can end up being limited to the bedroom and/or in the dark.

Priests can have hang-ups in this area also (..although you probably already knew that). The clergy abuse scandal has placed priests (in my personal opinion, unhealthily) on guard and on edge when it comes to physical contact and appropriate signs of affection. Priests need to become more informed about – and comfortable talking about – intimacy and human sexuality. New, and excellent, materials that have recently been produced about St. John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” will help us now and in the future in this area. Sex simply cannot be a topic that burdens us. We must discover and further develop a “Catholic anthropology” through which we can find new language to talk about, discuss and encourage intimacy and human sexuality.

 

 

 

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