Monday, June 06, 2011

Caution: Contents May Be Hot

A few years ago there was a famous (or infamous) lawsuit filed against a certain fast food chain, claiming they were negligent in neglecting to tell the consumer who burned herself while spilling coffee that the contents of said coffee cup could potentially be, get this, HOT.

In lieu of this apparent no-brainer, many wagged their fries and threw up their cheeseburgers (sorry, that didn't come out right); "Are you kidding me? Everyone knows coffee is HOT!"

Next Sunday in beautiful Lancaster County, PA, I'll be starting off a week long Head and Heart Immersion course on Blessed John Paul II's Theology of the Body. Sure, it's been around since 1984, and the addresses began in 1979, and the seed form for this whole teaching can be found in his epic work Love and Responsibility written in the 1950's, and it's all inspired by the Bible itself which has been around for some time.... but I would daresay we'll need a label on it... CAUTION: CONTENTS MAY BE HOT.

Why? Because sadly many think that the Church is quite cool, if not cold, when it comes to the topic of human sexuality. It's all about the rules, the prohibitions, the commandments. "Control yourselves! At least until you're married!" And worse still, many imagine, sexuality has nothing to do with God or the "spiritual" life Catholics are supposed to be all about. Many seem to think of God's love as an insipid, disembodied, "nice uncle" kind of love. We think it's enough to be "nice" to one another, as God has been "nice" to us. Blah! CONTENTS: LUKEWARM. And we know what the Bible has to say about what is lukewarm (Rev3:15-16).

The real version of the truth of who we are and what we're called to be is a blazing and consuming fire of love in the visible universe! The Catholic Faith is a living flame, carried by Apostolic runners throughout the centuries, despite any who have perhaps lost that fire in themselves or in their delivery of the Flame to us. But the Flame is the same that burns in the Sacred Heart of Jesus Who said "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!" (Luke 12:49), despite perhaps any poor filters that have carried it to you.

We grow up hearing words like chastity and we think it's a cold no to passion, when in reality, it's "a vivid and separate thing... Chastity [therefore] does not mean abstention from sexual wrong; it means something flaming, like Joan of Arc." (G.K. Chesterton, The Daily News, Nov 4, 1905). 

The papal preacher, Fr. Cantalamessa, who gives retreats to the Pope and the College of Cardinals (talk about a high pressure job) said, "In the world we find eros without agape; among believers we often find agape without eros." 

This must change. It's all about rediscovering our Faith, human love in the Divine plan, and redeeming the language of love! As St. John Climacus once wrote, over 1400 years ago: "The chaste one is he who drives out eros with Eros." Lust pales in the light of true love. Human love is perfected and purified when it's open to the Divine Fire! Eros and Agape are meant to be married, and in Jesus they truly are. In the theology of our bodies too, they are meant for marriage. God is simply awaiting our response to His wedding proposal.

Please pray for me as the teacher (holding the torch!) and for the students of next week's course, coming as they are from all over the world (from Haiti, China, Mexico and Canada and across the United States); the relay racers who will receive the flame. May we all be open to the Divine Love starting this Sunday, which providentially is the Feast of Pentecost!


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