Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thoughts on today's Gospel

Today's Gospel reading is to be a passage that I quote in the talk I give to Christian audiences about chastity. Here is the part of my talk that references the Gospel passage; you can also see me deliver it in the third YouTube clip (labeled "What is chastity") in the Dawn Patrol entry on the talk I gave last month at St. Paul's Cathedral in Worcester, Mass.:

So, there is unmarried chastity, and there is married chastity. Part of it entails the proper ordering of sexual pleasure — which meansengaging in it only within marriage. But that doesn't mean that unmarried chastity is merely abstinence-'til marriage.

Abstinence is purely physical, while the Catechism reminds us that chastity flowers from within; it is "a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort.” Abstinence is static, but chastity, the Catechism says, has "laws of growth which progress through stages marked by imperfection and too often by sin."

So we’re not talking a one-size-fits all, "just do it" or "just don't do it" kind of philosophy. Being chaste is a requirement for growing in your relationship with God.

Beyond that, it's a way to look at all your relationships so that they no longer become mere exchanges of commodities. It's a plan for your whole life, for your happiness, and for eventually going to Heaven.

I look at chastity as a way to practice what it's like to be in Heaven. In that sense, when I need inspiration, even though I hope to one day be married, I can be inspired in the here and now by the example of priests and religious. They are already modeling the kind of chastity that we will live out, God willing, in Heaven.

In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 20, Jesus' words give an idea of what that will be like. He says: "The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God's children, since they are children of the resurrection."

What does that tell us? We know that those in Heaven experience the ultimate union with God and with all the Communion of Saints. Marriage is a great joy, but that gospel and other passages in the Bible tell us there is a greater joy that marriage points to. What the church has taught throughout its history — including in Pope John Paul II's theology of the body and in Pope Benedict's “Deus Caritas Est”  — is that everyone, married and unmarried, can begin to experience that joy through chastity.