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Arkansas Catholic
Litlte Rock, Arkansas
August 23, 1974     Arkansas Catholic
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August 23, 1974
 

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THE GUARDIAN, AUG. 23, 1974 PAGE 5 A Covenant The Element of Married Love Sublimates Sex by Father Paul Palmer, S.J. GOD HAS surrounded the process of initiating life with so much mystery, tenderness and delight that we sometimes miss the total canvas of which sexual or genital activity is but a part. We fail to see the total context in which "love-making" must take place if two people are really to make love. We cannot divorce love from sex and keep it human. And yet men have always tended to sacralize sex, to make a cult of sex or genital activity. THE CHRISTIAN way of life has always restricted genital activity to married couples not because what is wrong outside of marriage becomes right in marriage, but because in marriage we expect to find the one element that gives direction to man's sexual drives, the one element that sublimates sex in the sense of making it sublime. The element is married love. Marital or married love is difficult to define, but it is worth the effort. It is the starting point for any sane discussion of human sexuality and its physical expression in an act which seals in the flesh the "covenant of fidelity and love" which defines marriage. THE OLD fashioned proof of love demanded by the woman: "If you love me, marry me," is no less valid than it was in the past when a woman was prompted in portto marry for fear of bearing a child out of wedlock. The_re_ is something about married love that guarantees more than social approval and .1t An Affirmation """" " --'- [reedomafrOlem stigma. Married love is the perfection of love on Unlike love of neighbor which is inclusive and embraces all :;' " '" by al Exp " 00ommumcauon Sexu resslon Is Intended for the Married fly William E. May IIHAPS THE best way of g at sex is to view it from Perspective of human Onication. Men differ Other animals in their to speak to one another, ' Speak not only through us b :.. ut through their lres ("body language") meir deeds. In addition, n Communication is not simply the transmittal of a message (computers can do this and so can chimps) but is above all the transmittal of a messenger. Human com- munication culminates in un- derstanding and love; it reaches its peak in a com- munion, in an "at-one-ness" in which human beings share the same life. Sexual behavior is one very important mode of human KNOW YOUR FAITH Sponsored By Arkansas State Council Knights of Columbus EASTERN ARKANSAS Shoppers Guide FIRST NATIONAL RANK OF EASTERN Strong, Dependable Service 4// Since 1886 " FO CITY, ARKANSAS hrlisle...TRY FULCHER FIRST! FULCHER HARDWARE Carlisle GAZZOLA VACCARO, JR. Since 1907 VACCARO LUMBER COMPANY "Builders of Quality Homes" 3-I141 Forrest City, Arkansas COULD A MONK'S THING BE YOUR THING? FOl:owers of Saint Benedict "That in a# things God may be glorified" Those of us who are Monks at SLIbiaco Abbey. a Benedictine center of activity. feel we are doing our thing for God and His people We all have gifts of talent and ability which God has given us The way we use them is in a communal h|e ot prayer and work and all other shared activities We would like for you to consider the possibllify that our way of life might be your thing, too why not write us for information so that when you choose to do your thing. Sublaco will be considered It could be that a monk's thing is also your thing THE VOCATION DIRECTOR SUBIAC0 ABBEY SUBIACO, ARKANSAS 72865 communication. It can mean of the love communicated and many things and it can tell us received in the act of in- much about ourselves and our tercourse. That new life, in readiness to share life and love addition, can enhance and with other human beings. There strengthen the love that unites is a great difference in meaning the man and woman who have between an act of rape, of brought it forth. The procreative and the unitive sodomy, of fornication, of adultery, and of love between husband and wife. In the latter alone is there a full sharing of life and love, a full communion between human beings. FREQUENTLY we are told that sexual intercourse is all right so long as nobody gets hurt. And that's the rub! For human beings, in addition to, or perhaps because of, being animals who can communicate so perfectly that they can share one another's life in a true communion, are terribly vulnerable beings; they can be hurt as can no other animals. And sexual activity is an area where they are extremely vulnerable, an area where they can be supremely tender or utterly vicious, and sad to say, quite vicious even when they do not realize it. It does not take too much experience to learn this; look at literature, look at life, ask people who have been married for a long time. Yes, sexual intercourse is a tremendously significant mode of human communication. That is why it has, and has of its very being, what philosophers and other call a "unitive" dimen- sion or aspect. It can bring people together in a unity that is truly a communiona giving and receiving of another human being and a sharing totally and unconditionally in his life. dimensions of sexual in- tercourse, in other words, go together like a horse and carriage. They are meant for each other and give each other meaning and significance. What all this means is that sexual intercourse is an activity that is intended for those who have given themselves to one another and to a future human generation -- for the married. It is the sign of an unconditional gift, of a gift that has no strings attached to it, of a giving that is impossible without its free acceptance. And the gift that is given is not simply an act of intercourse -- a message or signal -- but a person, a messenger, a fellow human being who is weak and vulnerable yet ready to run the risk of hurt because he is confident that the one to whom he gives himself will stick with him for better or for worse until death do them part. THE SEXUAL mores of the society in which we live differ quite markedly from the image given above. Yet the image given above is, I believe, the Christian image. It is the image of men who are themselves the images of God, and whose love for one another symbolizes and enfleshes the love of a God who is faithful to his people. SEXUAl. intercourse, moreover, is unique in that it is an activity that can com- municate and share life with another human generation. It is, in short, procreative. And there is a reason for this. The love that a man and a woman have for one another, their willingness to share their lives and their hopes and their loves, is the only thing that can provide the "rootroom" where a new life can begin and begin well. It can provide a home for new life that may be for- thcoming, a new life that will be wanted and received as a gift and as an incarnate expression 1974 NC News Service "In a psychological sense, the Christian does make a choice between standards of value. But he believes that his choice is the only possible one, for a simple reason. His choice is really a believing affirmation of what God has revealed. And so, when he comes to the seventh commandment, he is implicitly committed to take it as God's will. -- "The Sexual Revolution" by J. Rinzeman, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich., 1974, p. 94. men, including our enemies -- in the sense that we must wish them well, a love of benevolence -- marital love is exclusive and embraces but one person, who is the object of our choice. Un- fortunately, the English language has but one word for love. But other languages, such as the Latin distinguish between amor, a love which is generic, and. dilectio, a love that begins with an election or choice and is followed by delight. MARITAL LOVE is covenant love. It is essentially a love of choice. Through covenant Israel became God's chosen people, through a covenant of love and fidelity the Church became Christ's chosen bride. In covenant marriage which reflects God's covenant with Israel, and Christ's covenant with His Church, husband and wife promise to love and to cherish, to keep themselves only for the other, forsaking all others. In the old covenant rite of marriage, still used by English speaking people, the husband promises to love and to cherish his bride, "to forsake all others on account of her and to keep her unto himself." And the bride vows to do the same. UNFORTUNATELY we have lost the covenant idea of marriage, just as we have lost the root meaning of the Latin word "foedus" used by pagans and Christians to express marriage. We speak of our federated or United States and of our federal government. But we also use the word for federal banks and our federated chain stores. We have turned covenant into a commercial contract, but who ever heard of contracting or buying love? Today the marriage contract is the least binding of all written agreements. It is witnessed by the state and the churches, still, it is not effectively guaranteed by either. No wonder young people see little reason to go to so much trouble to sign and possess it. WITH LITTLE point in getting married, a sexual ethic has developed which has dispensed with marital or covenant love. And that is the tragedy. The sexual act no longer seals or ratifies a covenant of love and fidelity. If it did, the "intervention" of state and church would be seen for what it is meant to be, a reasonable concern for the civil and religious effects of the marriage. Marriage is not "a solitude for two," but unless it is a covenant for two with God as witness and guarantor, it will neither promote the interests of society nor of religion. Marriage will not become the context for developing a sexual ethic, nor will it be the matrix on soil for the full flowering of human love. 1974 NC News Service RETREA TS - 1974 The Abbey Retreat, Coury House, Subiaco, Arkansas 72865 WOMEN October 4 - 6 Womens Retreat October 18 - 20 November I - 3 November 22-24 December 6-8 MIXED I'arents Week-end, Subiaco Academy ('ursiilistas of Memphis, TN Immaculate Conception High School Faculty, Memphis, Tenn. Oblates of St. Benedict SPECIAL GROUPS September 6 - 8 First Presbyterian, Fort Smith November 8- 10 Christian Church Marriage Comm. Lab. Talequah, Okla. PARISH September 13 - 15 September 20 - 22 September 27 - 29 October 8 - 10 October II - 13 October 25 - 27 Christ the King Parish, Little Rock Parishes of Fort Smith Good Counsel Parish, Little Rock St. Peter's Parish, Mountain Home Parishes of tiot Springs St. Joseph's Parish, Fayetteville YOUTH Dec. 13-15 - Immaculate Conception High School, Memphis, Tenn. MARRIAGE ENCOUNTER November 15 - 17 Marriage Fncounter, Subiaco No. 4 PRIVATE RETREATS ENCOURAGED Retreats begin Friday evening and continue until about 3:00 p.m. Sunday. Cost of Retreat is not fixed although a mininmm of $22.00 ($40.00 for couples) is suggested as an offering for meals, lodging and Retreat. Retreats for Religious and Priests are arranged for the particular group. i ('all or write for reservations to: The Abbey Retreat. Coury Ilmfse. Subiaco, Arkansas 72865. Phone: 501-934-2081. I Retreat Director: The Rev. Herbert Vogelpohl, O.S.B. ]