|Addressing the American University Catholic Community at AU's multifaith center, April 20, 2013. To have me speak at your college or parish, contact me via the form in the right-hand sidebar.
Today I am overjoyed that the Rome-based Catholic news website ZENIT features an interview with me about The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition): "What's Thrilling About Chastity? Author, Speaker Considers Why Disdained Virtue Should Have a Better Reputation." Kathleen Naab, editor of ZENIT's English edition, read the new Thrill carefully and asked deep questions. Here is an excerpt:
ZENIT: The cover has a quote summarizing your book as "practical wisdom and theological insight." One of those insights, which I’m sure you’ve been developing both in your doctoral studies and in prayer, regards heaven. Could you explain how your understanding of heaven has helped you through loneliness, and also your hopes about a love that will last forever.Read the full interview on ZENIT.org.
Eden: A running theme in The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition) is the message expressed by a remarkable passage in the Catechism, which says "our participation in the Eucharist already gives us a foretaste of Christ's transfiguration of our bodies" (CCC 1000).
That Catechism line is quite shocking when you think about it. It means that, even though I am not yet in heaven, receiving the Eucharist places me at heaven's leading edge. When I consume the consecrated Host, Jesus' incorruptible flesh touches my corruptible flesh. Shouldn't that change me? Shouldn't receiving Jesus' Body change the way I live in my own body?
In The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition), I reflect upon these questions and come to the conclusion that the only way to live fully is to live eucharistically. To live eucharistically is to seek to live in union with Jesus at every moment of the day, and especially to let Him teach me how to love.
That's where chastity comes in. Chastity is embodying Jesus' love to others -- loving fully and completely in every relationship, in a manner appropriate to the type of relationship. For someone who is married, chastity includes the marital act -- sexual intercourse with one's spouse -- because that is part of a full and complete marital love. For me, as a single woman, chastity means loving fully and completely as a daughter, as a sister, or as a friend.
When I love like that -- being present for another person just as Jesus is really present for me in the Eucharist -- I can be certain that, even if my love is not fully returned, it is never in vain. St. John tells us that love is from God (1 John 4:7). So, whenever I make a gift of love, God is present in that love -- and that means He is present in me when I love. I think that is what St. Paul means when he tells us that "love never fails" (1 Cor 13:8). No true gift of love dies, because nothing that belongs to God can die. All the love that I give will remain eternally within the love of God and the Communion of Saints in heaven.
Thinking about these things is a great consolation for me because it helps me to realize that I should not be afraid of loneliness. My loneliness is the empty space into which God wishes to enter. He wants me to make room for him so that my longing for him will grow deeper. That deeper longing will in turn lead me to seek more ardently to bring into my earthly friendships the love that reminds me of my friendship with Him.