Saving Graces

new mercies each and every day

TOB Tuesday: Marital Spirituality

Mar
01

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Yesterday was the last of the “Into the heart series” by Christopher West. It focused on marital spirituality. He expressed this spirituality by saying that the couple who are now one body open up that body to the indwelling of the spirit of God, and thus become an expression of loving as God loves.

It’s about opening up to the gift that makes men and women who they are called to be. He then extrapolated this to Christian life, in that all Christian life is called to marital spirituality as the bride of Christ. A direct mirror of this is the Eucharist where, as the body of Christ, we open up to receiving the life given us by His flesh and blood. He then touched again on contraception how every act of intercourse should be opening to saying ‘Lord, let your will be done’ just as we want to say it in every other aspect of our lives, to surrender our fertility to the Lord, and to safeguard the unity of the unitive and procreative love in marriage. That kind of authentic love is oriented towards every true good.

Given were 3 ways to live this life:- prayer, the Eucharist and penance.

He explained that prayer can progress as a genuine dialogue of love to the point of rendering the person wholly possessed by the divine, by the Holy Spirit to the point of where the way we would move think and have our being would be drawn straight from the heart of God – and I found that intense. To be Holy Spirit possessed would be to let the spirit do what He wills and to let myself partake in His will, where trusting God comes in. And we have already established how difficult that is for me, but not for lack of trying.

The Eucharist is the sacrament of the bride and the bridegroom, were we as the church open up to receive the life of the bridegroom, and penance leads to healing. One part of penance which has been impressed upon me lately, he explained so well, that regular confession of venial sins helps to form our conscience, free us from concupiscence and be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the spirit— purgative, illuminative and unitive.

Our standard should be perfection, where we strive to it. Even if the Lord’s happy with us and loves us where we are He wants more for us. His love compels us to continue on the journey to holiness. C.W also stated that one other way of staying true to the path of purity is of throwing ourselves under Mary’s mantle – totus tuus- like JPII. Now this for me was a new way of expressing why we honour Mary, that as the mother of Jesus her womb gave Jesus flesh and form; as such we encounter Jesus through her womb, that we want to model ourselves in the image of Christ and what better way than to use the mould that formed Him?

As the virtue of chastity/ continence is essential in living TOB, these ways can help us and guide us, for by ourselves we will likely fail, we have to embrace self-mastery, which is difficult and a long and exacting process. But through it, we can experience joy through suffering; agony and ecstasy… maybe like Jesus on the cross. The sacrifices of chastity do not impoverish our expressions of love, they make them more intense and real.

TOB Tuesday: Humanae Vitae

Feb
24

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This post is late, I  kinda got busy then forgot and then… oh well. Again TOB Tuesday follows our weekly Monday discussion and we are using Christopher West’s Into the Heart series.

The session focused on Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on human life. We went into what it covers, that it focuses on the problems of birth regulation, that they separate the body from the soul, that it focuses only on the biological aspects of a human which is by no means nearly enough. It outlines how God gave us the law of life as our inheritance.

We are called to responsible parenting, which does not mean rendering the sexual act sterile  -which would be a violation of the sacramental sign of marriage – that it be both unitive and procreative. The unitive part most of us understand and Christopher West explained that the very nature of the communion within the conjugal act, activates the process in which God has chosen to bring forth human life! Again here we are partaking in the great creative glorious power of the Lord, and this, THIS is the method He chose!!!

When the unitive and procreative meanings are separated there is no union of persons and who would want that in a one-flesh union? When we deprive the conjugal act of this very inner truth, it also ceases to be an act of love. We spay and neuter ourselves, which just serves to say that we cannot control ourselves and have reduced ourselves to the level of base animals. Artificial Birth control is not in keeping with human dignity – self-control is the only birth control that is in keeping with human dignity.

One other point I found fascinating was that the seed of the man is not just biological fluid, it is the very essence of the masculine soul, which I think infers it is the essence of fatherhood. Yesterday evening we went to another talk which was centred on Humanae Vitae and the speaker mentioned that every time a mans seed was spilt it was a potential of fatherhood, every single time, there is never a time when one could say oh well only at certain times, it is every time, so it matters not what contraception is used, because only abstinence is 100% effective in not having the potential of fatherhood.

Each conjugal act should be treated with the responsibility of fathering and mothering, it has to come with the understanding that there is a possibility that this act will result in a child even if the probability is 0.01% for whatever reason. But humanity has decided to do away with that, to take responsibility out of the sexual act, to make it an act of lust, of using. This does not mean the church wants everyone to have 100 babies, as for a man every act is fertile this is not so for women.

The Church says for just reason spouses may abstain from sex, it is not a obligation to have sex, and spacing children according to needs and circumstances is a couples duty. CW said the church here is elevating biology to the level of love, for what we do with our bodies we do with our spirits and sexuality has never been just biological so why treat it thus? It’s about receiving the gift of a couples periodic infertility (through a woman’s cycle) from God, rather than grasping infertility for pleasure and to try and separate our bodies from our spirits.

Yesterdays talk, (boring though it was) had some marvellous points, the speaker said that artificial birth control is like biochemical violence that takes over a woman’s body and programs it from her natural ebbs and flows into a fixed 28 day cycle, that if any other medication (as is fertility is a disease) had caused as many deaths and side effects as this one has, it would have been banned long ago, but not the pill; after all people can’t control themselves, have a right to pleasure etc. and they should not be punished with a baby…

I pray for a new understanding of how rejecting Humane Vitae has affected our church, of understanding that self-mastery is a good thing, of understanding how abstinence is not only practical but a great party of chastity no matter which vocation or stage of life and for living pure and holy lives.

Now, none of this is possible without the grace of God, so dear Lord, shower your grace upon us.

TOB Tuesdays: Valentine’s

Feb
15

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I thought a Song of Solomon would be most appropriate for today’s TOB Tuesday post.

I chose Chapter 6 because of verse 3 “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine…”  It felt apt for celebrating Valentine’s. Love poetry at its best

 1“Where has your beloved gone,
O most beautiful among women?
Where has your beloved turned,
That we may seek him with you?”

2“My beloved has gone down to his garden,
To the beds of balsam,
To pasture his flock in the gardens
And gather lilies.

3“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,
He who pastures his flock among the lilies.”

4“You are as beautiful as Tirzah, my darling,
As lovely as Jerusalem,
As awesome as an army with banners.

5“Turn your eyes away from me,
For they have confused me;
Your hair is like a flock of goats
That have descended from Gilead.

6“Your teeth are like a flock of ewes
Which have come up from their washing,
All of which bear twins,
And not one among them has lost her young.

7“Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate
Behind your veil.

8“There are sixty queens and eighty concubines,
And maidens without number;

9But my dove, my perfect one, is unique:
She is her mother’s only daughter;
She is the pure child of the one who bore her.
The maidens saw her and called her blessed,
The queens and the concubines also, and they praised her, saying,

10‘Who is this that grows like the dawn,
As beautiful as the full moon,
As pure as the sun,
As awesome as an army with banners?’

11“I went down to the orchard of nut trees
To see the blossoms of the valley,
To see whether the vine had budded
Or the pomegranates had bloomed.

12“Before I was aware, my soul set me
Over the chariots of my noble people.”

13“Come back, come back, O Shulammite;
Come back, come back, that we may gaze at you!”
“Why should you gaze at the Shulammite,
As at the dance of the two companies?

TOB Tuesdays

Feb
08

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I am beginning a new thing on my blog –> TOB Tuesdays. On Mondays, we have our TOB meetings at MA’s house were we basically watch a vid discuss it, talk about what happened during our weeks relating to TOB, act at being theologians and socialise.

I’m going to be writing what we would have talked about, what I found profound etc. on Tuesday! Hence TOB Tuesdays! And here is instalment one:

We watched Christopher West’s series ‘Into the heart’ and yesterdays video was the one on the Song of Songs and the marriage of Tobias and Sarah. One of the parts I found profound was the mentioning of eros and agape. He said God loves us not only with agape but also with eros, that Jesus is the agape of man and the eros of God. And a whole bunch of us were like but how?

We hashed it out and came to the following conclusion based a lot on what he said and how we have experienced love and TOB came through. It is an understanding that we experience everything through our senses. He says the Song of Songs witnesses to a love that is physical and divine, sensual and spiritual. Our physical senses can awake our spiritual senses, bringing us to a tasting of God, hearing God, feeling God, seeing God. That is experiencing the love that is God in all our ‘bodiliness’, that God reaches down into our vocabulary of sensual love in order to elevate in us the understanding of a great love that is God. For us to understand how we can burn with love for the divine, Jesus came to awake the sensual ( i.e. that which we feel with our body senses) love of our lives in order that we can fully experience the spiritual love in our lives.

This culminates in bringing in that extra essence of holiness in the conjugal embrace that we have talked about, that we begin to transform sex from something that is worshipped to it being worship of the glory of God, that marital love is a liturgy, an act of worship of God.

Another part we found ‘deep’ was that the essence of love is sacrificial and not always about what do I get. It’s about what we give, the giving of all, being ready to do everything in order that good may conquer. imageTobias and Sarah’s marriage showed that great pain may be involved within a marriage and highlights how we can’t live without God’s mercy. In Him we live and move and have our being. They prayed for their marriage and were in one accord with God, with no lust between their love.

So, Lord, we surrender all and pray Tobias’ prayer for our future spouses:

“Blessed are you, O God of our fathers; praised be your name forever and ever. Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever. You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and from these two the human race descended. You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a partner like himself.’ Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age.”

Amen and Amen!

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