To Boldly Go Where John Paul II Has Gone Before, part II*
“Sensual” is a good word used to describe one vibrant, indispensable component of God’s nature. And so, I commend Patton Dodd’s use of it in his blog title. (When we are asked to describe God in words, surely sensual is not high on that list of adjectives.) This is where Christopher captures my attention, too—his attempt to define “sex” and “sexual” within the realm of historic Catholic tradition. West writes, “We must reclaim the essential link between Eros and agape, between sexuality and spirituality, between body and soul” (p. 16).
If Patton seems strangely drawn to Catholic teachings, it may just be this bond between the spiritual and the sensual—the quintessential “sacred romance”. After all, we are guys—are we not attracted to what we see?
Catholicism is full of sign and symbol. Beautiful architecture, stunning icons, gorgeous statuary, and stained glass windows—images that take our imagination from the known to the unknown, mysterious, and supernatural kingdom of Christ; a place where we ultimately contemplate the shortness of this life when compared to eternity to come.
And then we have the female form, which for a man is at once erotic and yet purposeful; able to arouse and bring forth life at one in the same time. Yes, God designed her that way from the very beginning! Thus, to be responsible we must have our sensual sensibilities under the Lordship of Jesus Christ—what Christopher refers to as “mature purity”. St. Paul draws the same inevitable conclusion when writing about love in his letter to the Corinthians: “When I was a child I thought and reasoned as a child; but when I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”
You see, sex is only really designed for the holy mature man or woman who has given their life over to the mind of Christ—to see what He sees. And, to do His will on earth as it is in heaven! May Christopher West’s new book help to sanctify our most common hours as a profane people of God and thus, truly, affect our capacity to “love and to procreate” and to ultimately develop the “aptitude” for forming community (the body of Christ) as the City, set on a hill, where light perpetual shines and darkness can never conquer it.
About the Author
Fr. Michael O’Donnell, Ph.D. is a Vice President and Chief Development Officer with Catholic Charities—the social service arm of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs. Catholic Charities provides help and creates hope for people who are poor and vulnerable in our area through the efforts of a wide range of programs and services. He also serves as the Counselor Referral Coordinator for the Diocese.
Michael (an Episcopal/Anglican priest) is married to Rachel, a principal with The Classical Academy, and they have two grown children—Patrick and Kayla. They have been married for 25 years and in 1991 lost an infant daughter, Cara, to a birth defect. Home from Oz (Word) and The Oz Syndrome (Hillcrest) were books that Michael penned shortly after her death that helped him to process her early passing.
The author or co-author of nearly 10 books, Michael’s latest book, What a Son Needs from His Dad (Baker/Bethany House Publishers), has already–in just a few months–gone into its 2nd printing.
For more information, please see: Wikipedia Article
*This review was first published by Patheos.com February 2012.