In my last post I wrote about my devotion to the Rosary. This is an old and common Catholic prayer and it is one of the first things I began practicing when I became more interested in my faith many years ago. Throughout all the stages of my life, wherever I have lived or whatever I have been doing, in times of plenty and penury, the Rosary has always been with me. The only other constant in my life has been the Mass. But even there, when I have not gone to Church in a while, I would still pray the Rosary. I really do not know what it is about this prayer that I find so satisfying, but all I know that I do find it satisfying. If I go for a few days without praying this, or prayer in general, I can actually feel the difference in my being. Something is missing, and, like someone who has not eaten for a while, I feel a certain type of spiritual hunger and longing for spiritual sustenance.
And then there is the physical, sexual and erotic sides of life…
Perhaps my love of eroticism seems as odds with my spiritual life? Sometimes I wonder that myself. It is not a question I can really ever answer with any concrete assurance. For most people in the spiritual realm, eroticism is something not to be approached except in the married state, and even there with certain restrictions and great caution. There is an old and pervasive dichotomy in the religious world between the spirit and the flesh, the later being considered the less important of the two, if not downright corrupt and sinful. Just read St. Paul for some influential examples of this. It is easy to understand this tension, since the flesh does decay and eventually die, while our souls are everlasting. And as we recently saw from the horrific injuries in Boston, the flesh is quite fragile and easily damaged. Still, we are not merely angelic, spiritual beings. Rather, we are a mixture of spirit and flesh. Our physical desires are more than proof of that.
The idea of conforming my life to a set of preordained laws and rules concerning sexuality has never worked for me. I tried such things in the past, usually to my own detriment.
What many people do not understand, is that being a highly sexual person, or a person with an extremely, perhaps even freakishly high sex drive, does not prevent someone from being a spiritual person as well. I firmly believe the two can be reconciled, even if one is not married. After all, marriage is not something we are all destined for, or, if married, we may not stay married, due to death, sickness or divorce. It is not as if you can simply go to Wal-Mart and buy a spouse when you are without one and in need of certain spousal pleasures. And being a highly sexual person does not necessarily translate into actual, unbridled sexual behaviors; rather, for me at least, it is understanding who you are, and being open to different experiences, and learning and growing from those experiences. Hopefully it is all part of a larger journey ultimately leading me closer to God.
As I said above, I don’t pretend to have the answers for the eternal conflict between the spirit and the flesh. All I can do is rely on my own experience, learn from others, and move forward in life. Whether I am right or wrong in what I do or write, I can only trust that God is leading me on a path He desires for me. What I do know is that to deny either one, the soul or body, to an unreasonable degree usually has negative consequences.
And I will continue to pray the Rosary daily to help me gain spiritual insight to all these questions.