Saturday, January 7, 2012

Healing Our Hearts of Sin and Sorrow

All of us have a longing for the perfect, infinite, all-loving God. All of us were intended to be in relationsh­ip with Him. Why do we so often experience brokenness instead of wholeness, turmoil instead of peace, sorrow instead of joy, and alienation from God instead of union with Him?

The relationsh­ip of mankind with his Creator, God, has been broken by sin since the beginning, when Adam and Eve refused to follow the commandmen­t of God, preferring the counsel of the tempter. The effect of sin on our world is enormous, yet there is an answer, there is a Redeemer: Jesus Christ.

We are instructed “from the beginning” on what is "good". We, created in God's image, are good, as is the earth and all creation. The only thing that is "not good" in the descriptio­n of creation is that man is alone. He is given a companion, a helper - the woman. This is what is intended for mankind and for our future, for one man and one woman to join in a life-long one-flesh union, to be fruitful and multiply, becoming co-Creator­s with the eternal God.
This, the true marital relationship is one in which the two become one, open to life, both unitive and procreative - can only happen between one man and one woman. Heterosexual relationships that are loving but outside marriage are missing the dimension of a life-long marital commitment. Homosexual relationships cannot fulfill this possibility by nature. So although these relationships may be loving, it is not what God has shown us by imprinting it on the human body, and it does not fulfill His command.
This is apparent in our human physique, and is what John Paul refers to in his “Theology of the Body” as the spousal meaning of the body. Natural, beautiful. Many of us have fallen short of living out its truth, myself among them. That doesn't mean all relationships are the same in God's eyes.  If you look at the “fruits” of our society's approval of the disconnection of sexual relationships from God's directive for the male and female to become one flesh, for a lifetime, open to children, you will find an absolute battlefield filled with the wounded hearts of men and women whose misconceptions lead to so much sorrow, including STDs, abortion, infertility, childlessness, sexually and emotionally abusive relationships, etc.  

What is sin? Is it not our refusal to live our God-given purpose? When sexual relationsh­ips become recreation­al; when we refuse to obey His commandmen­ts, is that not sin? Sin brought death into the world, and we all suffer from it, experienci­ng violence, pain, sickness, and death. It was not meant to be so. Obedience to a loving God is life-givin­g. Turn back to Him in repentence and love.
We are meant for something better. Self-discipline with God's help will lead us to the fullness of His intention for us.

Some believe they were born with the tendency to same-sex attraction, and question why they were made this way if homosexuality is wrong.  But we could just as well ask why are any of us made the way we are: Why are some beautiful, some volatile, some placid, some intelligent, some suffer developmental disability, some have terminal illness, some physically handicapped, some shy, some sociable, and some faced with the challenge of same-sex attraction?  God alone has the answer, but I think what really matters is how we handle the challenges we are given – and how we treat one another. Christians are called to meet a standard set by God. Meeting that standard often means that we must practice self-control and also mercy towards others, With God's grace, both are possible although not always easy.
Since sexual intimacy is a gift given to be shared within the marital union only, that means that single people as well as those who are attracted to same-sex partners would be call to remain celibate, and so would those who are vowed to God, such as priests, nuns, monks, etc. Again, with God's grace, this manner of self-denial is possible, not always easy. We also have His mercy if we fall.
As a Catholic, prayer and the grace of the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist give me strength.  I also want to share with you a beautiful method of healing prayer which could be of great benefit to both Catholics and all Christians. Developed by Dr. Ed Smith, a Protestant counselor who has used this prayer method successfully to help victims of trauma, abuse, etc. to heal and find a path to forgiveness, it is called Theophostic prayer - information can be found at www.theophostic.com. A good place to start is with Dr. Smith's book "Healing Life's Hurts" which is available at his website.  This has become a favorite prayer of mine. The basic idea is to go back in your memory to times when you have suffered hurt and invite Jesus into that memory. Ask Him for a message in prayer about where He was at that time and you will often receive an insight that allows you to let old injuries go. This prayer brings healing, helps us to forgive and gives us a deeper understanding of why we react emotionally to certain “triggers”. This can help us to move beyond those reactions to experience more fully the life God intends for us.
May each person who reads this find hope and comfort in prayer and sacrament, and find God’s peace.  May each find the path back to God, the narrow path: Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.


Nicholas Kristof's Birth Control Advice Hurts Women and Demeans the Poor

Photo from theFederalist.com     My response to a New York Times article by Nicholas Kristof promoting birth control for teens was ...