UP Catholic 05 06 2016 E Edition Page 18

W hen I opened my email inbox earlier this week, several people had sent me a link to The New York Times article Princes Holy Lust (April 24) with com- ments like: Thought you'd find this inter- esting and Whats your take on this? and Seems Prince was on to some- thing. As a typical teenager of the 80s, I followed some of Princes music (I remember a Prince pin I had on my jean jacket, next to Adam Ant and The Clash), but I never knew he was a rather fervent Jeho- vahs Witness until reading stories in the press about his untimely death last week. The New York Times piece mentioned above observes that in Prince's music we find the erotic intertwined with the divine, then observes that the Judeo-Christian ethic seems to demand that sexuality and spirituality be walled off from each other. This is a tired, old mantra. And I wish it would stop. I get it, though. I get why so many people think this. Trag- ically, for most people raised in Christian homes, the erotic realm is taboo. Nobody talks about it. And when was the last time you heard a sermon in which the priest was trying to help his congregation integrate spirituality and sexuality? Artists like Prince then come along to fill in the void. Sex to him was part of a spiritual life, observes The New York Times. The God he worshiped wants us to have passionate and mean- ingful sex. So does the God I worship. Although, we shouldnt call it holy lust. Thats where the conflict lies between the Church and the secular world. Lust is a distortion of erotic desire. If you even look lustfully youve al- ready committed adultery in the heart, says Jesus. But Jesus isnt condemning the erotic. Hes calling us to the redemption of the erot- ic, to the restoration of the divine plan for eros. When erotic desire is integrated with an authentic spiritual- ity, it becomes the path of authentic love and joy it becomes, in fact, a path to union with God. But when erotic desire is indulged for its own sake, it becomes nothing but a self-serving lust that cuts us off from real love, from real connection with other persons, and from the God who is love. As Pope Francis writes in The Joy of Love, It is, after all, a fact that sex often becomes depersonalized and unhealthy In our own day, sexuality risks being poisoned by the mentality of use and discard. The body of the other is often viewed as an object to be used as long as it offers satisfaction, and rejected once it is no longer appealing. Thats the essence of lust: its the consumer attitude of use and discard. And its wreaking havoc all around us (and within us). Pope Francis exclaims: Can we really ignore or overlook the con- tinuing forms of domination, arrogance, abuse, sexual perversion and violence that are the product of a warped understanding of sexuality? (153). Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis observes that although there have been exaggerations and deviant forms of asceticism in Christianity, the Churchs official teaching never re- jected eros as such, but rather declared war on [this] warped and destructive form of it (147). All the same, insists Francis, the rejection of distortions of sexuality and eroticism should never lead us to a disparagement or neglect of sexuality and eros in themselves (157). And heres the key point that people so rarely under- stand: lust does not define the erotic realm; it is not the only way to experience sexual desire. By opening to the grace of redemption, a person can certainly channel his passions in a beautiful and healthy way, increas- ingly pointing them towards altruism and an integrated self-fulfillment, insists Pope Francis. This does not mean renouncing moments of intense enjoyment, but rather integrating them with [the truth of love] (148). In the measure that a per- son experiences this redemp- tion of desire, we have then not holy lust but the resto- ration of a holy eros an eros that, as Pope Benedict proclaimed, does indeed rise in ecstasy towards the Divine (God Is Love 5). In as much as the artist for- merly alive as Prince may have been striving in his own limited and confused way for this ecstasy that rises to God, he was, to be sure, on to something. Question for Readers: What can we do to overcome the seemingly intractable notion that Christianity seeks to wall off spirituality from sexual- ity? Christopher West is a lecturer, best-selling writer and author of multiple audio and video programs which have made him the world's most recognized teacher of John Paul II's "Theology of the Body." He is founder and president of The Cor Project, a global membership and outreach organization. His latest book is "Pope Francis to Go: Bite-Sized Morsels from The Joy of the Gospel." 18 May 6, 2016 THE U.P. CATHOLIC COMMENTARY www.upcatholic.org Your Headquarters for great Religious Gifts! 1304 Ludington Street 317 N. Lincoln Road Escanaba (906) 786-1524 Westwood Mall Marquette (906) 228-5588 Rosaries Prayer Books Bracelets Statues Sports Medals & Chains Bibles 1st Communion Sets Since 1906 Prince believed sexuality and spirituality go together - so do Pope Francis and the Catholic Church GUEST COLUMN Christopher West WHEN EROTIC DESIRE IS INTEGRATED WITH AN AUTHENTIC SPIRITUALITY, IT BECOMES THE PATH OF AUTHENTIC LOVE AND JOY - IT BECOMES, IN FACT, A PATH TO UNION WITH GOD. Find us on facebook! Visit www.facebook.com/ theupcatholic

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