Monday, June 20, 2011

Purity: sexual and all kinds

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A while back I recommended the blog, Shirt of Flame, as a "Link of the Day." There are many times when I might link to Heather King's page but her current post is quite timely.

There's a good deal of controversy in the Archdiocese of Boston just now regards the ministry of St. Cecilia Parish.  Some engaged in the debate (on both sides) tend to view and judge the matter through a fairly narrow lens.  Beginning with a quote from Leon Bloy, King writes compellingly about sexual purity and what she considers to be "the best apologia (she's) ever read for the teachings of the Church on sex."

I offer her words for consideration by readers of any sexual identity and especially for any who might jump to the false conclusion that I've posted this to take one side or the other. 
Léon Bloy (1846-1917), the novelist, poet, and fervent Catholic convert, had a notoriously foul temper, categorically refused to get a day job, alienated many of his fellow literati, and burned with love for Christ.

In Pilgrim of the Absolute, a collection of diary entries, he wrote:

Every man who begets a free act projects his personality into the infinite. If he gives a poor man a penny grudgingly, that penny pierces the poor man’s hand, falls, pierces the earth, bores holes in suns, crosses the firmament and compromises the universe. If he begets an impure act, he perhaps darkens thousands of hearts whom he does not know, who are mysteriously linked to him, and who need this man to be pure as a traveler dying of thirst needs the Gospel’s draught of water.  A charitable act, an impulse of real pity sings for him the divine praises, from the time of Adam to the end of the ages; it cures the sick, consoles those in despair, calms storms, ransoms prisoners, converts the infidel and protects mankind.

That is perhaps the best apologia I have ever read for the teachings of the Church on sex. To try to be pure is never to follow a set of arbitrarily rigid, life-despising rules. We try to be pure because someone else needs us to be pure. Someone in pain needs us to refrain from using another, whether in reality or fantasy, to anaesthesize our own pain. Someone needs us at least to try to overcome our fear, our anger, our impatience, our lust. To try to be pure in this area—in any area but in this area especially—is to offer up our little bit of suffering, of loneliness, longing, frustration, and anxiety, so that someone else might not suffer, and then transmit their suffering so as to harm another...
(Read King's complete post)
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