Sundays are a great time. I sometimes contrast my present joys at Sunday Mass with how for so long my life was disordered. My difficulties usually revolved around pursuing sexual pleasure in different forms. During those times when I was sleeping with someone and would miss Mass, I would feel a great loss and emptiness on Sundays. This did not happen too much. Usually, even in my most wayward times, I would manage to make it to Mass on Sundays. In order to attend Mass though I needed to justify my behaviors. I think my justification would go something like this: although the Church may be right and I may be wrong, I am not quite at the point where I am willing to accept everything without compromise. After all, I enjoy sex, so why should I give it up? Isn’t it more healthy to be in a relationship, even if it s sexual, than to deny myself that? Don’t I run the risk of becoming neurotic or something even worse? I was able to justify much of my behavior with such thoughts. Still, in the deepest part of my mind and soul and heart, I always knew what I was doing was wrong, sinful and keeping me detached from the love and graces of God. It is amazing how much we can justify in our minds in order to get the things we want, no matter how destructive they may be.
Now this was not always my state. Much time, even years, would pass without me being involved with anyone. I would live a life of prayer and closeness with God. I was greatly happy too. But then there were times of frenetic sexual activity in other parts of my life. I find though as I got older the cycles of sexual activity followed by repentance would become longer and longer. In other words, the crazed sexual life I might lead would become shorter and shorter and the periods of calm and peace and closeness with God would become longer and longer. Now I am at the point, after so many difficult experiences, after so much pain and suffering, after feeling so distant from God one too many times, that I really do not want to feel those types of things ever again. The fleeting pleasures of sex, even sexual conquest, cannot compare in any way to the sense of love and peace that comes from a closeness with God. And the transitory pleasures of sex pale in comparison to the sufferings that often follow bad decisions in that realm. My sufferings were the results of choices I made, in my free will. One of my favorite passages from the Psalms, Psalm 38, states:
My wounds are foul and festering,
the results of my own folly.
How true for me. But God can heal those wounds.
Love is the important thing in life. This past year I had two relationships with two women. I loved one. The other I did not. The second was a more sexual relationship and ultimately more destructive and corrosive to my soul than the first. Although I loved the first, still, the pain when it was over was only deepened by the memories of our sexual intimacy. I don’t think the first was as bad as the second, but it obviously, from a Christian ethical view, was not a good thing either. Now we are complicated creatures and we do things for all sorts of different reasons, but as I get older I am realizing slowly and painfully that the Church is more right than wrong when it comes to matters of human sexuality. Will I ever sleep with a woman outside of marriage again? I hope not, and my resolve is not too. Of course if I were in certain situations with a woman I really don’t know how I might respond. This is why I will now only date or be involved with nice Catholic girls! Although no one is perfect, it does make things a bit easier and clearer.
But back to love: Sundays are about love. The resurrection is about the love of God. Without the resurrection nothing in Christianity can make sense. And with God’s love comes Hope. My own Lenten resolution this year is never to fall back into the darkness that plagued me this past year or in past years and to guide my life in the future following the light and love of Christ. Trusting in God to help me with that gives me tremendous Hope.