By Elvis, sx
On August 15, 2012, The Loyola School of Theology organized a Theological Hour with the topic SEXUALITY AND SPIRITUALITY: Claiming and Coming Home to My Body, having as speaker Fr. Percy BACANI, MJ, Superior General of the Missionaries of Jesus.
Fr. Percy began the talk by pointing to the context of today’s world which is overwhelmed by tendencies like “I shop therefore I am”, the social media, the cosmetics industry, the food industry and pornography. Amidst all these pressuring tendencies, the challenge becomes either I reclaim my body or my body is defined by others (family, school, media or religion).
Then the speaker showed how Christianity understood sexuality along spirituality. The Christian morality has made a separation between sexuality and spirituality. In fact, the meaning of what is sacred and what is sexual in experience has been separated. Sexuality has been connected to sin and the body seen as source of temptation. This understanding has gone further even among some Church fathers up to the point of looking at sexual pleasure even in marriage as sinful.
However, in our times, the pendulum has swung to the other way. Our society is now overloaded with explicit sexual images. The Eros, reduced to pure “sex”, has become a commodity, a “mere” thing to be thought and sold. Ironically, despite the degree to which sex permeates our lives, the body is still considered in a shameful way, the sense of guilt is still felt. Furthermore, the sexual energy has often been either misused or abused in a culture riddled both with guilt and sexual confusion.
According to the speaker, time has come, and it is never too late, to come back to the body and give it its actual value (Cf. the Theology of the Body of John Paul II). It is about time to do some shifts in our understanding of sexuality. First, we need to change from the approach through definitions and norms to an understanding that sexuality is above all a lived experience (struggle to make sense of one’s own sexual desires and fantasies); second, from seeing the sexual issue as an isolated issue to a psychosexual integration; third, from suspicion of sexuality to its reverence and celebration as sacred energy; fourth, we need to move from a super-power Church to a healing and caring Church; finally from an act-centered to a person-centered view.
The issue is how am I experiencing my body as sexual person and what does my experience of sexuality say about my faith and living the Gospel. It is at this intersection that one can become both sexual and spiritual at the same time, a person capable of autonomy and genuine relationship. In fact, as Pope Benedict XVI says in Deus Caritas Est n.7, Eros and agape – ascending love and descending love – can never be completely separated.
In conclusion, sexuality and spirituality must find a balance which leads to true INTIMACY with people and God. That is the point!