7QTF: Catholic Date Ideas

7_quick_takes_sm1Linking up with Jennifer and the others!

[1]

Knights of Columbus pancake breakfast.

(Let the men do the cooking!)

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This is a Google image, not Mr. Sweet.

[2]

Volunteering at with Catholic college’s alumni group to package meals for the homeless.

(Co-workers in the vineyard.)

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[3]

Ordination Mass.

(Definitely puts attending those umpteenth weddings in perspective.)

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My favorite part.

[4]

Living Rosary.

(The couple that prays together…you know the rest.)

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[5]

Touring a beautiful Shrine.

(What do you want to do first: the Stations around the pretty pond or light a candle in the chapel?)

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[6]

And of course, attending Mass.

(Ohmigosh. Hold hands during the Our Father? And how do we do the sign of the peace?)

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[7]

Book: It’s May! That means it’s National Celiac Awareness Month! Part of Gloria Jean’s story is to reconcile the notion of the theology of the body—that she can learn about God from her body—when her body can’t even receive God (in the form of bread).

Obviously, dates involving food could be tricky to navigate for people with severe Celiac and want to avoid cross contamination. Gloria Jean worries about this, but when she’s older and on real dates (spoilers for the moms– of course I have this 14-year-old realize one-on-ones are inappropriate), she’ll have more and more options. A handy dandy list.

 

What We’re Reading Wednesday: Something Other Than God

Linking with Jessica at Housewifespice!

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Click on the cover to buy!

Wow, I seem to be on an adult nonfiction kick lately! I’d been hoping to get to the YA novel of a fellow Simmons program graduate and offer my own take on Flora and Ulysses, but alas. Jennifer Fulwiler up and wrote a book and now she’s giving out prizes.

My review!

The title is taken from a C.S. Lewis quote: “All that we call human history…[is] the long, terrible story of man trying to find something other than God, which will make him happy.” This memoir is the long, incredible true story of a woman finding the God she didn’t know she already had. What makes this convert’s story more publishable than any other’s? It’s the honesty that sometimes finding faith isn’t as clear and immediate as getting knocked off your horse one day, but days and moments and snatches of time of small little knocks on the heart until one day you realize the knocking is coming within—but even then you’re not done until you believe that there’s someone behind that knock and you choose to open the door.

Spanning her life from her refusal of a Baptism at 11 years old to her being welcomed into full communion with the Catholic Church as a 30-something, Something Other Than God relates that series of stirrings and knocks Mrs. Fulwiler experienced. The anecdotes that she tells to reveal her conversion are so successful because they are incredibly prescient without big signs announcing “look how thematic this is.” Rather, they point to the knowledge and grace already held within herself and other people. They are not like the parables of the Gospels, but the stories of encounter—encountering a person. One of the biggest mental hurdles it seemed for Mrs. Fulwiler was that Jesus wasn’t a concept, but a person. In a way, like St. Paul, you could say, her conversion did come about. The story goes that Saint Paul was knocked off his horse by the voice of God, asking him why he was persecuting Him. But how could this be? He was persecuting people—Christians. And then the knowledge burst upon him: God lives within us. When you encounter a person, you encounter God. It was through these engaging encounters that Mrs. Fulwiler slowly encountered God until there wasn’t even a glass door separating her from Him.

The encounters that really resonate are the understated. Mrs. Fulwiler recalls a trying afternoon in which, exhausted from too little sleep, she yells at her mother, then retreats to bed and encounters a holy person, whose biography opens her to more to the true meaning of good and sacrifice. She humbly apologizes to her mother, who, not batting an eye, graciously accepts it and says nothing of the episode, revealing that this woman, not the printed-out life of a very good person, is a witness of who Jesus is as a person. Or the time she visits a cemetery with her family. Previously in the flow of the book, she’s just yelled about a pro-life pamphlet her husband had picked up after their first time attending a Mass. At the cemetery, she really
starts to look at the gravestones, finally noticing for the first time, after years of making this pilgrimage, how young the deceased are. Her ancestors had just lost four children in one year. You think she’s about to have her “Jesus, I’ve come” moment about abortion and the value of the life of children, but no. That will come later. Rather, she begins to grapple with the issue of suffering.

Reconciling suffering with a loving God is actually the biggest struggle as she tries to unlock and fling open that knocked upon door. In one conversation—just a snippet of dialogue with her husband, but a hugely important one at that—is the key tat will fit. Her husband is talking about suffering and being a path to joy, but all she can hear and think is that he’s talking about misery, the experience she’s been trying to avoid ever since she had her first confrontation with mortality at the age of 11. Jobs, money, house—having none of that will make her miserable. She wants to be happy. Her pro-choice views stemmed from the notion that if pregnancies made women miserable and contraception abortions could make them not—
they should be allowed. Her last battles are with a house and a photo. For a couple contentious years in her early marriage—even as she gets on the path to conversion—she clings to a house of dreams as what will make her supremely happy. The small photo is the biggest hurdle for her horse to jump—it captures her grandparents and her deceased uncle, a little boy who was killed in a gruesome car accident. Her grandmother had lost half her family in under 36 hours and faced losing her husband to a far-off war. At first, all that could be gleaned from such a photo was the misery likely endured, conflated with the real suffering. When Mrs. Fulwiler finally gets that key to fit, it can unlock the door to the God within because only this key—the one of suffering—is the one that perfectly aligns with all the other little mechanisms—the questions that barred entry.

I am going to close at the open. The experiences that sit with me the most are the deeply profound, but utterly normal musings of a girl. Mrs. Fulwiler’s father tells her to “question everything,” even what he says—which is what she does. And then she found God. And he also tells her that as an adult, she’ll be tempted to “believe anything that makes life seem easier”—which is what she did for the first twenty-some odd years of her life. And then she found God. Faith in our Lord wasn’t what either of them thought she’d find, but she still got what she wanted—true happiness. In another moment of her young life, she gets a knock when considering some fossils: “They were the dead things, and I was the alive thing, and that’s how it would be forever.” (19). The truth is written on our hearts, even if we do not know it is there. Christ is alive in our hearts and we can be with him forever, but first, we have hear the knocking within.

7QTF: Lady Catholic Stuff

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Linking up with Jen, whose book just shipped yesterday!, and the rest!

[1]

It’s so wonderful to be Catholic. Not only do we get 12 days of Christmas, we get an Octave of Easter (and, actually, 40 more till Pentecost!). Plus, if we want décor or candy, everything’s now on sale because the rest of the world thinks such joyous events are only a day. So glad I know the truth—they’re a whole season!

[2]

Awesome analogy for explaining why modesty or chastity that has nothing to do with a spouse (the whole “you are a gift to be unwrapped by only your husband!” tripe):

“We could say the body is the monstrance of the soul, and the soul is the Eucharist of the. The purpose of the monstrance is to display and enhance the beauty of the Eucharist.

Likewise, the purpose of the body is to display and enhance the beauty of the soul. They don’t compete with each other. They complete each other to bring out their shared beauty and brilliance.” (Katrina Zeno, Every Woman’s Journey)

[3]

Another pearl of awesomeness from Katrina’s book is her light introduction to the wisdom of Saint Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta of the Cross). We all are likely familiar with the usual construct of vocation: primary (union with God), secondary (religious life, married, or neither), and tertiary (What we do on Earth: job, hobbies, etc). But Saint Edith Stein wrote about our universal vocation (what we share with others), or vocation according to gender (every man is called to be a father of sorts, every woman, a mother), and individual, one that is uniquely ours. To me, this construct alleviates the pangs of discernment when viewed largely as “what vows do I take? and when?”

[4]

Though this post inspired a great debate in the combox, I actually quite love what Simcha wrote here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/simchafisher/2014/04/23/yes-we-still-need-feminism/

I do want the word reclaimed to what it should mean: that femininity—uterus and all—is respected; that our equality is in our dignity first and foremost, as well as in our citizenship; and that opportunities not relevant to physiology or gender should be available to men and women. (I think I’ve gotten over the crushing realization as a teen that no, women could not enter the Tour de France; our legs aren’t built that way).

[5]

A friend posted on social media this week asking what Catholic women thought about veils. I replied that in my current understanding, outside of the Extraordinary Form, it was a practice of preference, or as another blogger I’d read deemed it, a calling. And I could not for rhyme nor reason tell you why I don’t nor why I don’t try it out.

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But it is very pretty.

 

So for those who do, please comment below about why you and particular, and if okay, to use your comments (but not name or anything) to my friend. I am not looking for a debate or judgments, but sincere explanations about why you’ve chosen to wear it.

[6]

Prayer request: For the person on my social media feed who wrote “Happy Zombie Day…er, I mean Easter.” This individual is married to a baptized (but not practicing) Catholic, and would never dream of insulting a person with SSA or making a jokey comment about the observances in other faith traditions. May God give this person a change of heart to include us Christians in it, too.

[7]

Book: This weekend we celebrate the canonization of Pope John Paul II. This saint greatly inspired Gloria Jean’s story. Not only did I try to imbue the text with wisps of the theology of the body and I outright name check Love and Responsibility, having read the new translation [link] while revising my own book. Plus, Gloria Jean’s older brother, J.P., three guesses as to what that stands for.

 

Modern Media Meditation Monday: Marriage Songs

Happy Easter!

This week on the Not Alone series, we’re talking about marriage. And since Lent is over, and hence my sacrifice of wedding/marriage-related reading/thinking is also over, I thought I’d finally put out this post that’s been on my heart. Many of the songs on the radio today are sad love songs—and not sad because they’re about loves lost, but sad because the type of love expressed and desired isn’t real love at all, but an at-times grotesque imitation. Happily, though, a few songs are getting national play and popularity that do express the essence of love—particularly the wondrous kind found in marriage:

Sara Bareilles “I Choose You”

– “I will become yours and you will become mine/I choose you”: Love binds us. We become one flesh. Love is not just a feeling, but a choice, a commitment.

– “My whole heart/Will be yours forever/This is a beautiful start/To a lifelong love letter”: Love is meant to be a lifetime. Unlike romantic comedies where the marriage is the end of the love story, marriage is the beginning.

– “I am under-prepared, but I am willing/And even better/I get to be the other half of you”: Love is between two people, fallen as we are. And no one is 100% prepared, but love is an act of the will. And loving another person is sanctifying.

John Legend “All of Me”

– “Love your curves and all your edges/all your perfect imperfections”: Love is not just accepting all the bits of a person, but loving them.

– “Give your all to me/I’ll give my all to you”: Love is the gift of self—the whole self; it does not hold back. Love is reciprocal.

– “Even when I lose, I’m winning”: Love is sacrifice, but from that sacrifice comes authentic joy.

– “Cards on the table/we’re both showing hearts/risking it all/though it’s hard”: Love can be hard, but if both come with open hearts, it is worth it.

Goo Goo Dolls “Come to Me”

– “Come to me my sweetest friend”: Love isn’t just romance, but friendship—a person you choose for your life, bound not by familial affection or the hormones of desire, but an act of the will to share things with the person.

– “Fortune teller said I’d be free/And that’s the day you came to me”: Love isn’t freedom from, it’s freedom to. So often people associate relationship with constraint (ball and chain), but authentic love is freeing–his freedom is when his relationship begins.

– “Today’s the day I’ll make you mine/So get me to the church on time”: Love is sacramental. And what’s more: the beloved isn’t really the other’s until the sacrament that binds them.

7QTF: Catholic Potpurri for $1000, Alex

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Join Jen and the others!

[1]

Trigger warning: baby in NICU. Spoiler alert: Very happy ending.

Isn’t God the creator awesome? And human life—no matter how young—just incredible, right?

[2]

Cassian, a saint’s name(!), is apparently one of 12 baby names that could have a huge break out in popularity soon.

Hmmm…St. Cassian of Imola was the Bishop of Brescia and a schoolmaster, martyred by the Roman Emperor. His students stabbed him to death with the stylus. And then we have St. Cassian of Tangiers, who was a court stenographer, martyred because he admitted his Christianity when the Roman court issued the death penalty against the accused.

Great name, but I wonder how a son would feel about these stories of his patron…

[3]

Today is actually the feast day of another martyr, Saint Stanislaus. Say that five times fast. St. Stanislaus (which also sounds like Santa Claus) was a bishop in Krakow who called out the king for sexual immorality. The king then goes and kills the bishop during Mass in what sounds like a scene from those Saw movies.

The extra fun bit of fun for the 13-year-old boy in your life is that after the bishop’s remains were thrown into the pool outside, they miraculously became corporeal again, under the guard of four eagles.

eagle

What? What? That’s right, just re-building a saint.

[4]

I was at a training last week to get certified as a speaker for a program that empowers teens to make healthy, chaste, life choices. It was faith-based, but a more ecumenical Christianity approach. But the leader said she was brought to her knees by the writings of none other than our very dear almost-Saint John Paul II. And then all my non-Catholic classmates were just in awe of the instruction on the meaning of marriage, which was actually quite Catholic sounding. Point for the universality and point for the natural law.

[5]

Jean Lafrance thinks we can pray wrong (what spiritual writer doesn’t think that?!?).

“If you do not return to the same text in Scripture or in spiritual writers, you will never know how to pray well. You will be like a tourist who wants to see everything and who does not take the time to contemplate, that is to look with love and admiration, at what he sees. Do not be a spiritual glutton.” (Pray to Your Father in Secret, Editions Paulines, 1987)

Huh. Fasting from spiritual tourism. Never woulda thought.

[6]

Spotlight on Current Catholic: Sarah Swafford. Mrs. Swafford is the founder of Emotional Virtue Ministries., which aims to empower young adults to align our hearts so that we are free to love authentically. One of her talks that I’d LOVE to hear is “Emotional Chastity – Love, Emotions, Taylor Swift, Mental Stalking & Mr. Right.”

(She also very generously provided a lovely endorsement of my book. Thank you!!)

[7]

Book:

I get a little Romans-esque!

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Rm 12:1)

Gloria Jean: “The Eucharist is Jesus’s body given up for all of us, right? And we’re supposed to be thankful that he’s made this sacrifice. Miss Tompkins said we’re meant to sacrifice too. Maybe [Celiac] disease is like a built-in system for sacrifice, and it’s up to me to figure out how to make it worthwhile.”

And here’s the endorsement:

“It is so refreshing to find a novel that resonates with the life and
heart of a 21st-century teen! Faith, virtue, and love are cleverly
woven into the everyday struggles and victories of life. I’m excited
to add Ten Commandments for Kissing Gloria Jean to the list of books I
can wholeheartedly recommend!” – Sarah Swafford, Emotional Virtue
Ministries

NAS: Bachelorette Parties

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It’s inevitable that we will plan our friends bachelorette parties at some point or another, but how do we make them fun without all the raunch? Give us your ideas for fun things to do with a bridal party without all the crazy.

As always, be sure to visit Jen and Morgan and the rest!

Disclaimer: I have never been to a bachelorette party. I was only 14 when my sister got married, still too young for the drinks and dancing she did with her best girlfriends…and our mom. And so far, none of my close friends have even gotten engaged, let alone married. So my commentary is strictly from personal reasoning.

Living in a fun, young urban city, I have occasion to see bachelorette parties in action: the bride and a gaggle of twentysomething women (and if following trends, the bride is in the most fetching frock and her entourage in a plain uniform LBD; none of which have an appropriate length skirt) roam around the bar district, possibly festooned in phallic jewelry. And having non-religious friends, I hear about the pricey trips to Vegas or crazy nights dancing at shirtless gay bars. It’s as if they’re all following some cultural script of what the party should be—one last night of “freedom” or a celebration and almost wake for the fun, single years.

But despite the culture’s (wrong) treatment of this night, I am not opposed to bachelorette parties on principle. To me, it’s not a last hurrah (as I fully intend to keep seeing friends and doing “Girls’ Nights”) just less frequently than before. It is a celebration of the woman and the commitment she is about to make. It is a marking of one chapter in her life and the recognition and respect owed to the new one she is about to write.

So here are some things I would personally keep in mind if it came to planning my event, or if a friend invited me, and what I would hope the event would avoid/include.

–         You (and your friends) are still the same people you were before this night and will be after. Don’t do anything that forces you to act like you’re not. The bride’s engaged to the love of her life, and her friends could be married women (moms even!), engaged themselves, in serious relationships, discerning the consecrated life, or striving to live the single season as best (read: chastely) as she can. This means no strip clubs, Chippendales, kissing other men (sorry to those over the pond with that tradition—I saw in the movie Made of Honor that was apparently a thing. I can’t accept that as appropriate).

The party should not be the “last night of freedom,” but something marking the transition from one state of life to another, one that you respect.  

–         Marriage honors the dignity of the human person and sacredness of sex. Don’t cheapen either. This means no phallic jewelry or confections; no lessons for the bride (or the group) about…acts (unfortunately witnessed in the movie Old School); no racy presents at this time or at the bridal shower. Ever since delving into the  Theology of the Body, I’ve found it weird that other people might buy me lingerie or give me advice books (as one friend said she was already planning on)…that it is acceptable to make a big deal about the beginning of my sex life…in front of other people. Or to reduce the man I’m making the sacrament with to a mere body part.

The party should not be the glorification of sex, but something that respects the bride’s (and her groom’s) call to holiness before and after the wedding.

What types of events can do this?

Wholesome (and Formerly Successful!) Ideas

–         Cooking Class: A woman came to the bride’s house to teach her and her friends some fun cooking skills and recipes; the cool tools could be gifted to her; wine and food was tasty. Months after the wedding, the bride had a Girls’ Day while her husband’s men’s group was hunting or something, and we got to experiment in the kitchen with the new toys; again with tasty wine and food.

–         Day of Awesome for the Non-Fem:  Okay, this was a bachelor party thrown for a practicing Catholic guy I know, but being a girl who sees both the appeal of a pretty dress and pigskin or wine and whiskey, it sounds pretty fun: Go-Karts, Laser Tag or Paint Ball in the afternoon; comedy dinner theater later; night cap at traditional Irish pub, complete with live music. Basically: ladies do an activity you all mutually like, have a slightly-more-special dinner out, and end on a fun—not tawdry—note.

–         Wine Tasting: A friend of mine is hiring a limo (sadly I cannot fly out :() and taking the ladies down to Napa for wine/sparkly stuff sipping and nibblies and pretty scenery. Not in Cali? Check out the types of fruit farms around your state…some might have their own little vineyards or make wine out of other things, like apples, peaches, etc.

Too often today’s bachelor and bachelorette parties communicate the idea that they hate marriage—disrespecting it, mocking it—believing that the joining of selves is a loss of self that needs to be celebrated before the mourning brought by the marriage day. But if—like with anything in life—you keep Christ in the center, they can be fun ways to glorify and respect this incredible journey the bride is about to embark on.

The Not Safe for Work Post, Part 3

In this final post, I’ll tackle the words the commentator used: “dirty” and “shame”

So often we start to culturally change the meaning of words as they fit to our understanding at the time and years later hold on to outdated senses of the word…or at least perceive that other people are. When actually…

“Dirty”

One of the commentator’s questions had to do along the lines of why does the Church teaching (or other Catholics) make people feel “dirty” or tell them [check on this] for doing such things as in Post 1 and 2.

Note that in the previous 2 posts, I never used the word “dirty” or used names, but presented the teaching and my understanding of the human person, which, hey, seems like it could be a pretty fair generalization acceptable to everyone, and asked questions. I don’t go for calling people “dirty.” And the world’s come a long way from the Leviticus times of being “unclean.”

In fact, when it comes to this issue, I’ve heard very little use of the word “dirty.” Rather, what I see coming from the Catholic Church is a very pastoral approach—a recognition that these are problems hurting people not just on a spiritual level, but emotional, physical, and relational. So the language is more of healing. Unlike in the past, there is more of an understanding of how addressing the human inclination to sexual sin through a sense of healing and imaging of the beauty of the whole human person is better than just saying “it’s wrong,” “it’s dirty,” or anything else greatly pejorative.

So no, I won’t tell a teen who hasn’t been formed in the principles I have or who is struggling to control impulses or detach from the neurochemical high that s/he is “dirty.” Personally, I’d save that word for someone who deliberately bilks money from the elderly or rapes or murders.

But I will still say both are doing wrong (that which is not right). Part 1 and Part 2 started to unpack why these actions are not right; now let’s unpack why it is right to feel shame.

“Shame”

Is shame a bad feeling? Yes. Should we avoid it? Yes. Can we avoid it by saying that some actions that were considered “not right” are now “okay”? No.

No one likes to feel shame. It means that we recognize we’ve done wrong, have hurt someone or ourselves, and usually wish we hadn’t done it. The awesome thing about us being humans with reason, is that if we feel shame, we have a choice of whether we do it again or not. We’re not animals following a base instinct or urge and can’t help it.

And shame is not without its positives. One of my favorite writers wrote a great blog post about the distinction between embarrassment and shame. Se writes, shame “always leaves room for justice, mercy, and repentance.” http://www.ncregister.com/blog/simcha-fisher/embarrassment-vs.-shame#ixzz2uWibZx27

Why should actions like those in Parts 1 and 2 merit shame? Well, hopefully I started to explain how it is not really very just to one’s self to use the body or use a person . If you think about all the uses of your time and capacity as a human being made for higher purposes and authentic love, why not “feel bad” that you used it in such a way that was unproductive and entirely self-serving. If one wants to argue that you can be a good person and because you don’t do something all the time, you are making it subjective. But I believe—and many others, and not just for religious reasons—look it up—that such actions are objectively wrong (“not right”), which means you can’t excuse it or avoid shame by saying you only do the wrong thing some of the time.

I know when we think of shame, we think of the parent who says “You ought to be ashamed of yourself” and feel bad about getting caught, about what we’ve done, or about how we’re now feeling bad because we’re disappointed that someone has called something we thought was okay “wrong.” Are people open to trying to see how the person doing the “shaming” could have a point?  I do think it takes some growth to move from shame just about feeling “bad” or down on one’s self, to it being a call—a call to seek repentance or make amends if you can.

These words can make the Church seem one of condemnation, when actually it is pure, authentic love and mercy. We care about your souls, your dignity, and believe in your capacity as human beings. I personally agree that is not merciful to call someone “dirty,” and not even the act, because too often people associate the act with them as persons (not the case, but that is a larger philosophical point harder to unpack). But I do personally wish shame was seen more as a an understanding and then a call to seek what is right.

The Not Safe For Work Post, Part 2

In the previous post, I looked at reasons why it would be wrong (meaning “not right”) for a person to m*sturbate. Quite often—so I read and hear—a big factor in self-gratification is p*rnography. It does this by stimulating the mind to think sexually, so the brain will want release, and how to achieve it, but…

And again, a lot of society sees nothing wrong with this, so long as it involves consenting adults with protection against disease and unwanted pregnancies among the willing participants. Here’s the thing—I believe there’s a heck of a lot more people who see its use as wrong than okay.

Did you know:

– In some ridiculously high percentage of divorce cases, use of p*rn is one of the primary complaints? Not “it helps us grow stronger as a couple,” not “its fun,” not “it improves our sex lives.” No. It’s “I hate that s/he does this so much that I cannot live with or be legally united to this person any more because it makes me feel like such crap and s/he can’t even give it up.”  For all those who would call me a prude, just think about it. You’re trying to justify that it is okay to be away from your spouse, pleasing just yourself, by watching complete strangers get it on? That this is healthy; normal? It’s that important to you that you wouldn’t give it up for a person you purportedly love?

– There’s harm to the participants. By buying into this industry, you are financing the spread of STIs, possible human and child trafficking, prostitution, and emotional turmoil. Former “p*rn stars” have written and spoken about their experiences and what it does to them as people. it’s not pretty.

– There’s a very popular and well-trafficked and secular Reddit forum devoted to people both hoping to remove addiction to p*rn and/or “f*pping”? Not for religious reasons or they feel dirty or ashamed (see part 3 for more on that)? But for many, many others?

– There’s a TED talk—also not religious—that delves into what happens to your brain on p*rn. It gets addicted. It can make you want more and want weirder things to keep chasing that high, which gets harder to achieve.

– Many, many books and studies, many of which are by secular people, cite the above problems, demonstrating that it is a harm to yourself—your own brain, that beautiful seat of intellect.

Just like in Part 1, use of p*rn goes against the dignity of who we are and what we’re designed for, reducing our amazing selves to sacks of hormones with just an itch to scratch. Why do that to ourselves?

In the final post, Part 3, I’ll get into the words the commentator used: “dirty” and “shame” and how they relate to this issue.

7 in 7–The Not Safe For Work Post, Part 1

*Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, pastoral counselor, or medical doctor. I am however a person with knowledge trying to witness to my faith. If any of the below is in error, please let me know!

A little while ago I received a comment from a new reader with a question—a question about a subject not much talked about (at least publicly) in Catholic circles. To be honest, I almost wanted to delete it and apologetically reply that such comments couldn’t appear, lest the blog get blocked; that I wanted to make sure young women and maybe even (older) teen girls, could still find and access the rest of the site. And you know what? Because I believe they need this information, I’m letting the comment stand AND I’m going to address this topic and other “controversial” ones because I think there are things we don’t talk about but should. However, I will likely use asterisk in certain words just in case.

So. M*sturbation. Self-pleasure. Why is it not allowed? Many people view it as a victimless sin; some doctors call it healthy; it relieves the urge without getting anyone pregnant or infected or emotionally hurt; right?

Wrong.

Now, let me say that I do acknowledge the neuroscience behind the physiological response: do an action to stimulate nerves, nerves send response to brain, brain makes you feel either pleasure or pain. But m*sturbation’s end game is what…I don’t know…a matter of seconds? There’s a flood of endorphins, true…but you can get endorphins from: exercise, cuddling with clothes on, petting a cat or dog, heck sometimes even eating delicious chocolate.

But more importantly, the Church teaches what she teaches because there are some universal capital-t Truths about humanity, which help explain the morality of actions or not. Self gratification is not victimless…there’s you and your soul. But I know some people have difficulty with the concept of a soul or allowing for religious explanations in defense of an argument, so I’ll try to use other reasoning. M*sturbation and p*rn (Part 2) are wrong—meaning “not right.” Why?

The Individual (Married or Not)

You are a person—not just a body. You have to admit that people, human beings, whatever you call us intelligent mammals doing our thing—we’re pretty cool. We have brains, emotions, and most importantly reason. I don’t care what descendants we have in common genetically—we are distinct from animals. Animals have instinct and urges and their actions satisfy them. We as people have the ability to control our impulses. So why not the impulse to reach org*sm?

Because it is using our body (or parts) as an object. It is seen as only a means to an end, not a wonderful creation with a distinct purpose. Think about other habits people have that are considered not good, but are done because they satisfy something about the person: nose picking, nail biting, picking at a scab, knuckle cracking, itch-scratching. All those actions use a part of the body for momentary release, but a lot of society has a problem with those habits and we teach children not to do them. Why is m*sturbation different? Oh, because of pleasure?

Is the purpose of our bodies pleasure? Is that really the end game? Twenty seconds awash in endorphins? Anyone reading see Sex and the City? In an early episode, Charlotte gets a vibr*tor and enjoys it so much she starts canceling plans with her friends, other human beings, so she can stay in with a  device. Is that healthy? Even those libertine women didn’t think so, staging a mini-intervention. So do it moderation, some might say—like with junk food or alcohol. But those actions are to fulfill the real needs of eating and drinking—just done in a not-good way. But what need is self-gratification fulfilling?

None.

There is no actual biological need for org*sm. It is a want; and it is a want that has become so hyped and so accepted that society is pretty much going to allow justifying anything to get it. Sorry, but I believe we are mad for more than that; that our bodies have a higher purpose; that there are better uses of our time and mind. It is not the right purpose.

Married Individuals

It may surprise non-religious readers to know that there are actually some liberal interpretations of married love and its bounds that while neither officially “sanctioned” are also not officially discounted so long as the husband finishes inside the wife. This means that it might be okay to start a lovemaking session with the wife stimulating her husband and vice versa.[UPDATE: Edited to Add After Comment] As I understand it, this is not official Church teaching, but the interpretation of some ToB scholars. if you think about the act, its purpose, and what it communicates and put it through a moral test, it may not pass muster. Questions to ask: is it self-seeking? Is it to “get away” with as much as you can either because you dislike something else too much or like it too much? Does it fulfill the two purposes: bonding and babies?

Stimulating yourself in front of the other…well…why? It aids the other person in getting excited? The only way or the best way? Why would that be the case? Because you saw it in p*rn and liked it? See Part 2. A medical issue preventing sex? See a doctor. [UPDATE #2]: A helpful commentator points out below that none other than Blessed-soon-to-be-awesome Saint John Paul II wrote in Love and Responsibility (as Karol Wojtyla) that mutual stimulation is licit in the context of the entire marital act, which is to be unitive. The concern is with the notions that stimulation with no intention of turning the act into a unitive one being not as licit.

Sex is a union. If you think about the design of the human body, the male form doesn’t really make sense without the female; they were made to go together. The “end game” for both the man and woman is possible babies and, I think discussions of marital love forget to emphasize this, bonding.

So hopefully all of the above have tried to communicate why it is wrong (meaning “not right”) to m*sturbate. Stay tuned for Part 2, which goes into a companion problem of self-gratification, posting later today.