|GEORGES LEMAÎTRE, A CATHOLIC PRIEST|
AND BELGIAN ASTRONOMER,
IS WIDELY CREDITED WITH DEVELOPING
THE BIG BANG THEORY
No priestly infraction, however egregious, could diminish my devotion to the Church.
So this is NOT a call to let’s-all-tell-our-unfortunate-priest-experiences. It’s a reflection on the Church's teachings on sex, which is to say on what it means to be fully, ecstatically alive.
What prompted the reflection is a Mass I attended, on the Feast of the Holy Family, at a church that was new to me.
For a full half-hour, the priest took the congregation to task (most of whom had excellent posture, were shepherding several frighteningly well-behaved children, and were dressed like Puritans) about how the girls should hide their knees and do they really want to be an instrument of the devil and as soon as young people kiss he tells them they must never EVER see or talk to that person again because they have wrecked their chances for putting God first. This priest complained, carped, and looked down upon all the parents with spoiled, ill-behaved children who refuse to properly discipline [super creepy emphasis] them, the result being that, unlike a couple HE knows, they will not grow up to have their very first kiss at the altar.
The whole homily was about saying no—no, no, no, no (plus he kept interjecting “My dear ones,” as in "My dear ones, this cannot be" which made me want to shriek)—without in any way explaining that the reason for all those no's is a larger, sublime yes.
In Love’s Sacred Order: The Four Loves Revisited, contemplative monk Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis--(now known as Brother Simeon) observes:
“Léon Bloy…once said that if we receive the Eucharist and fail to practice charity, fail to allow the Eucharist to have in us the effects that by its very nature it must have, then ‘the sacred Host we have consumed, rather than nourishing us, will become within us like a bomb exploding our hypocrisy to high heaven.’”
It will be like a bomb exploding our hypocrisy, and it will be like a bomb exploding our timidity and fear.
Catholicism is not counter-cultural in that the world is liberal and Catholicism is conservative. It’s counter-cultural in that it is explosively, wildly, anarchically radical. Catholicism is our hearts, our bowels, our erotic energy, our lives! Catholicism is not some timid, rigid, dead set of rules. The whole purpose of the rules is to allow us to explode within them. To follow Christ, to be Catholic (or catholic-in-spirit) is to hover on the edge of metaphorical orgasm and to consent to continue to hover, indefinitely, in almost unbearable tension…which paradoxically allows us to break out in all kinds of other sublimely interesting, glorious directions and ways.
Look at Beethoven’s, say Sonata 11, Opus 22, where in the allegro the tension is drawn out and agonizingly out and then, finally, that e flat that turn that makes you moan with release/joy!
Look at the spires of Gaudi’s Sacrada Familia.
As the writer Alice McDermott notes, “Being a Catholic is an act of rebellion. A mad, stubborn, outrageous, nonsensical refusal to be comforted by anything less than the glorious impossibility of the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”
Or as Sr. Jeanne McNulty, third order Franciscan, former Poor Clare, and Order of Consecrated Virgins, once told me: "This may sound strange coming from a nun--but one man wouldn't be enough for me! I want it all! I want HIM!"....
So the reason to save your first kiss till the altar, if that's what you choose to do, is not because you are so listless and etiolated and body-despising and intent on being a straight-A Catholic that you’ll suppress and deny your own God-given erotic urge, but because you are so vital, so juiced, so wild with longing, so crazy about your spouse-to-be that you want to make your wedding night a work of art. You want to offer your wedding night to the whole world.
What that priest forgot to add is “Man, and let’s hope those two had the night of their life! Let’s hope those two saw stars! Maybe they conceived a kid and if so, let’s hope that kid is juiced to the skies with life, with enthusiasm, with poetry and song and jokes, with the capacity to suffer and the capacity to love.”
Because this is how sensual, how erotic Christ is—one of the manifestations of waiting is that pleasure is sharpened. Waiting brings pleasure and joy to their highest possible point, and to bring things to their highest possible point is explode with love. We will suffer, of course, we will undergo the agony—for that is the very highest point of love; the point that Christ reached on the Cross. Consummatum est. To consummate our love in every sense is to give our whole selves to the world.
And that is the opposite of no, no, no.
That is one cataclysmic, self-giving, aching, life-affirming yes.
|Wild nights! Wild nights!|
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be