Sunday, 4 December 2016

sine dolore .....

sine dolore non vivitur in amore....

To me this is the reality of love, and there can be no amoris laetitia (joy of love) without this sorrow.  Sorrow is not part of sin, sorrow is the healing and moving away from sin and the love in sorrow goes something like this, (let George Tyrell explain):

It means the perfecting of our instinctive affections; recognising in them the impulse of the Divine will drawing men first to one another, and through one another to Itself, as the Supreme Lover, and centre of all attraction.  It means restraint and sacrifice and the sword of separation shrinks from no present pain for the sake of after bliss ..... And it will show itself in ceaseless toil and labour for the beloved; in endless endeavour to communicate with him what we see and to love what we love; to break down every wall of separation or unsympathy that stands between soul and soul; to find ever richer treasures ourselves that we may have more to share, more costly and precious fuel to feed love's flame; to learn new arts and sciences that we may impart them to the beloved; to wean our hearts from all that is spurious, untrue, lest we hurt so much as a hair of his head ..... ; to find God alone that pearl of great price, that common Friend who is the bond of all friendship, in whom all other pure and noble sympathies are united.

So sorrowful love isn't crushingly unpleasant, but it is the reality of love, the love that comes from our Faith, it is how Christ loves us.  This love is the love that should exist between a man and a woman, but it is a love that makes no distinctions, it is also the love that can and should exist between members of the same sex in true, close friendship.

And this is why I find Amoris Laetita such a disappointing document. It is a pastoral document to deal with love which has fallen short of this sorrowful ideal.  Yet the pastoral approach has already been  made, and made somewhat reluctantly by St Paul when he says in 1Cor 7:

 But for fear of fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.  Let the husband render the debt to the wife and wife also in like manner to the husband... Defraud not one another except, perhaps by consent, for a time, that you may give yourself to prayer, and return together, lest Satan tempt you for your incontinency.  But I speak this by indulgence not by commandment.

Surely 'the debt' that is to be rendered is our affection, our constancy and trustworthyness?  It is not enforced sex 'for fear of fornication'.  I have a cd at home of a talk given by a sincere, well meaning but utterly stupid priest of the 'traditional' persuasion that at one point blames women for not having sex with their husbands, if the husband goes on to masturbate or have an extra-marital.  Whatever happened to being responsible for your own sins?  And I am reminded of a sweet old lady, long dead who sighed when we started talking about sex, how she found it so utterly unpleasant, but how 'he needed his comfort', like jam sponge and custard and warm slippers, it was just something else she provided to see to her husband's 'needs'.  In this case, the man is hardly living up to an ideal of masculinity and the wife is not helping him to.

Surely it is the striving for chaste love within a marriage that is the goal? Surely chaste sex is a reality?  Indeed it is precisely because sex at its most beautiful is meant to be a chaste experience, it is precisely because its end is a sharing in the creative forces of God's love that no further concessions other than the one St Paul speaks of (to defraud each other occasionally- ie. consentual lust within the bond of marriage) are necessary.  Sex per se is not a good.

At this time we should be looking no further than towards the parents of the  Blessed Virgin as we approach the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Let us not forget their role in the Immaculate Conception.  They were not hapless, unwitting 'vehicles' for God's will, no, God loves us all too much for that.  Ss Joachim and Anne would surely agree with Tyrell's description of love if the stories of their love are true as I believe them to be.  Indeed in the Immaculate Conception, there has never been such an act of chaste love between two married people, and in language that I may have borrowed from Douglas Adams; that was "the best bang since the big one". Good sex is that important, that precious, that capable of bringing forth all that is good, beautiful and true.

So let us not kvetch over unanswered and possibly unanswerable dubia (the nature of the document may make the dubia unanswerable).  Whatever state we find ourselves in, can we not strive to be ambassadors for Christ in our chaste, wholesome and sorrowfully joyful love for each other.  The document ceases to have any relevance at all if only we embark on this journey, and that has to be a good thing.

Jam sponge and custard


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