On July 20, 2010, the National Post reported that in Winnipeg a 15-year old girl and her two teenage girl friends were partying with three new friends. They had a glass of vodka and Sprite and then quickly passed out. A few hours later, they woke up naked and realized that they had been gang raped. Later the 15-year old went home and hanged herself in her parents’ garage.
What a tragic story! Every time we hear something like this, we have to feel a sense of loss, perhaps even uncontainable anger. It was a life cut short meaninglessly. Like a growing flower nipped mercilessly in the bud, a young person at the prime of her youth was deprived of her right to live like a human person normally would. Many opportunities, adventures, achievements, and sweet moments of life that could have been were suddenly quashed, wiped out, and obliterated in a matter of days or, to be more precise, in a matter of a few moments of wild self-gratifications. It was downright brutal, barbaric, and senseless! And yet, how many stories like this are happening day in and day out all around us? Think about it and you will get sick to your stomach!
Although I’m saying this in the same breath I discussed the gang rape, you know I mean no disrespect. So many times I passed by our church on Saturday and a wedding was taking place. To be blunt and with all due respect to the young people contemplating marriage, I will even go so far as to say that the true meaning of sex is not what many of these newly-weds had in mind when they walked out from the church and legally became husbands and wives.
Using JPII’s words, we live in “a culture that largely reduces human sexuality to the level of something common place, since it interprets and lives it in a reductive and impoverished way by linking it solely with the body and with selfish pleasure” (Familiaris Consortio, n.37). Sex has its loftiest and most profound meaning that is rooted in the very nature of God and in the innermost life of the Holy Trinity, of which we are willed by God to be a part in all eternity. I can’t explain this any better or in a more definitive way than Christopher West, who says, “Virtually everything God wants to tell us on earth about who He is, who we are, the meaning of life, the reason he created us, how we are to live and even our ultimate destiny is contained somehow in the truth and meaning of sexuality and marriage” (Good News About Sex and Marriage, p.19).
This year (2011-2012), the theme of the Catechism Revisited Program is “Church Teaching on Sex and Marriage”. Many people look at this program and wonder why I am doing it. "Why waste your time to discuss chastity and sex issues with a group of participants, most of whom are already your age or older?" they ask. Put it this way: just like the fore-mentioned newly-weds whose notions about sex are all wrong, many people my age or older have got it all wrong too. Sex matters not only for the young people, but also - maybe even more so - for parents and the seniors. Christopher West likes to say that we are all driving around on flat tires and are led to believe that flat tires are “normal”. I’d submit to you that the older people’s “flat tires” are so worn out, it is even more urgent for them to get their tires inflated than it is for the young people!
The fact of the matter is: Whether you are young or old, single or married, JPII’s Theology of the Body is for you. “I would spend the rest of my life studying this pope’s thought and sharing it with others” (Good News About Sex and Marriage, p. 14). If sex and marriage is a life-time discovery and endeavour for Christopher West who is already an expert in this field, who are we to say that we have already got a good handle on this whole teaching? God willing, my hope is to conduct this program again and again. Next time I hope to see you there!
(Modified from an article I wrote on July 20, 2010, for the purpose of promoting this year’s Catechism Revisited Program, which will commence on September 9, 2011. Visit the CRP web site for details and on-line registration: www.crp.cmccbsp.org)