Listen to the Spirit … adapt as needed … stay longer where you are drawn …
“I ask Jesus our Lord that I might not be deaf to his call in my life and that I might be ready and willing to do what he wants.” – Spiritual Exercises #91
In our society today, we do not have to spend much time looking around to notice that our culture is drenched in sexual imagery. From racy commercials during the Super Bowl, lewd sitcoms, suggestive song lyrics, or even steamier R-rated and premium cable offerings, sexual content is everywhere we turn in the entertainment world. It sometimes makes us question whether if love and sex are the same thing or if they are completely separated.
It is no accident that in our culture, it is easier to find a lover than a friend, just as it is no accident that virginity, celibacy, chastity within deep friendships and periodic abstinence within marriage are considered to be unrealistic or even harmful. Yet our deepest hungers and longings are for friendships beyond having sex…and more than just being lovers.
God created us as embodied beings, where we are composed of spirit and body without separation. For this reason, sexuality is more than simply having sex. It is a dimension of our own self-awareness. Through the energy that enables us to love, we break out of the shells of our own egos and narcissism. We seek contact, communication, wholeness, community, and creativity. From sexuality, we are driven and drawn beyond ourselves. Thus, having sex is merely one specific expression of our sexuality.
Pope John Paul II sees human expressions of love and intimacy as manifesting four qualities of Christ’s love: free, total, faithful, and fruitful. First, Christ gives his body freely (“No one takes my life from me, I lay it down of my own accord,” Jn 10:18). Second, he gives his body totally – without reservation, condition, or selfish calculation (“He loved them to the last,” Jn 13:1). Third, he gives his body faithfully (“I am with you always,” Mt 28:20). And fourth, he gives his body fruitfully (“I came that they may have life,” Jn 10:10). If we are all to avoid the pitfalls of counterfeit love, and live our vocation to its full, our union would express the same free, total, faithful, fruitful love that Christ expresses.
The late Pope John Paul II challenges us to greatness and genuineness with the question:
“Do my expressions of intimacy, sexuality, or sex truly image God’s free, full, faithful, and fruitful love?”
Despite our culture’s protest, sex is not just like anything else…its fire is so powerful, precious, close to the heart and soul of a person, and so godly, that it either gives life or takes it away. It can never be casual, but it is either a sacrament or a destructive act for it is never spiritually and psychologically neutral. We are embodied beings, with intertwining physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions. Thus, our loving ways are always spiritual expressions of our spirituality.
Suggested Song: Two Worlds by Disney
Grace to seek/ask: To give of oneself for the spiritual growth of another…
Try to keep this short, focused on how people’s hearts are as they come to the meeting.
There doesn’t need to be something written for this for each meeting, but if there is a way of checking in that would be helpful in setting the theme for the meeting, include it.
“We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Mark 12:30-31 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Listening and Sharing
Do my expressions of intimacy, sexuality, or sex truly image God’s free, full, faithful, and fruitful love?
When have I struggled with my own sexuality?
These are questions that allow community members to listen to and share about what is moving within them after the focus exercise. Specific questions about the focus exercise can be included here, but facilitators may choose to approach it differently such as with more open ended questions.
- What has struck you as you have been listening to others share? Do you notice any patterns or similarities?
- How have you been feeling throughout the meeting? Comfortable? Anxious? Curious?
- Is there anything you would like to share after listening to another person share?
- What is remaining with you? What do you hope to return to in prayer at another point in the week?
Lord, help me to accept and receive my sexuality as a gift from you.
Grant me the grace to resist the many lies that distort this divine gift and help me to live my sexuality according to the truth of self-giving love.
Grant me purity of heart so that I might see the image of your glory in the beauty of others, and one day see you face to face. Amen.