Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

08 April 2013

A Love-Hate Relationship

A tip of the biretta to Arleen Spenceley over at Ignitum Today for her recent article, entitled "People Who Hate Chastity Secretly Love It."

First, a word from the source's mouth: "Ignitum Today provides Catholic perspectives on every topic that matters to young adults--life, religion, relationships, and entertainment."  Originally it styled itself as the "Social Network of the JPII and BXVI Generation"; but what to do, with the election of Pope Francis?  Add to the Alphabet Soup?  Their response:

If you can't read this, you may no longer be a "young adult."
The "New Evangelization Generation."  I like!  Depending on the standard used, the Reverend Blogger may no longer qualify as a young adult, either.  Because my greatest aspiration from an early age was "to be older," it doesn't much matter to me.  But my qualification for the N.E.G. is clear, insofar as I had just turned two when JPII was elected.  He's the pope of my youth and early priesthood.  I got to meet him in January of 2003, six months before my ordination, when several dozen of us spent a fortnight in the Eternal City.  Two years later, as a young priest and high school chaplain, I prepared to "meet" Papa Bene alongside a million or so young people who would gather in Cologne for World Youth Day.  Pope Benedict's age was no impediment to our affections, as his predecessor gracefully permitted us to accompany him through his physical decline, all the way to the Father's House.  Benedict has not exactly deprived us of that chance, but we must accompany him from afar, respectful of the low profile that he is keeping for the sake of his successor and for the good governance of the Church.

The N.E.G. moniker is most appropriate because JPII and his successors have alerted the Church to a "springtime of evangelization," already underway around the globe.  Many young people are getting excited about Catholic doctrine and liturgy.  They are eagerly pursuing God's pursuit of them in daily prayer, and channeling their altruism into ardent sacrifice.

And they are being challenged by the Church's moral teaching...but are more up to the challenge than many people think.  Ms. Spenceley's article aptly demonstrates as much.

She quotes Karol Wojtyla (JPII)'s epic tome Love and Responsibility, where resistance to chastity is located in, of all things, resentment.  Chastity is resisted because it is hated, and it is hated because it is hard.  As for resentment, the future pope traces it to "an erroneous and distorted sense of values...a lack of objectivity in judgment and evaluation," ultimately because of "weakness of the will."

"It's too difficult [weakness of will].  I can't do this [sloth].  This sucks [resentment]."  Sound familiar?

The component called "sloth" is sadness at the difficulty of attaining the good.  Even amid the resentment, there is a modicum of reverence for the value that one appears to be rejecting.  The goodness of those who genuinely strive to live a chaste life; the truth of the value of a chaste life and the incontrovertible evidence of the chaste; the fascinating beauty of the chaste: these can be torture for the willfully unchaste to behold, for it seems to them that they can worship only from afar.

Appropriately, then, did I encounter this post on Divine Mercy Sunday.  What better time than the Present to hear the full truth about human sexuality!  Though at first it be a cross, yet it leads to resurrection.  "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ" (Eph 2:13).

Be assured: sexual integrity is not easy for anyone, regardless of his or her state in life.  The rejection of chastity, indeed the pursuit of its opposite (dis-integration!), underlies much of the sadness, anger, and fear in this world.  The fallout of unchastity is all around us, all within us.  But the seeds of new life are sown in the Paschal Mystery that we are now (and always) celebrating.  The same mystery is renewed in each day's perseverance in chastity, and in every repentance from unchastity.

To be part of the "New Evangelization Generation" one doesn't have to be young; one has only to think and pray young.  And, perhaps, to speak young, by joyfully witnessing to the reality and relevance of the Faith through good old-fashioned conversation and good newfangled social media.  Every age has contended with chastity, and I believe that this generation will strive to witness to purer, deeper, truer love.
Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, so that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy Will, which is love and mercy itself.  (Our Lord to St. Faustina, Diary, 950)

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