The Catholic Church teaches us some fundamentals on human sexuality. Usually, when one hears of human sexuality, one may be prone to think of the physical aspects. But human sexuality encompasses the whole person, with the masculine and feminine qualities of both sexes in all areas of human life. It takes into account not only the biological dimensions, but social, emotional, spiritual, and psychological attributes of man. God made man in his “image and likeness” and anything that jars man’s heart and soul affects his behavior in a negative way.
What then, is most vital in the way man operates as an “image and likeness” of God? In order for one to be grounded in the human sexuality dimensions which concern the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of life, premarital sex, and contraception, one has to look at what makes man live the way God made him. When secular psychologists and counselors are wrangling and trying to come to a solution to problems with teens, and even anyone for that matter, they fail miserably when they do not employ the tactics of good Christian counsel.
Christian counselors would emphasize that the answer to the problems of man is a lack of virtue. Let us consider the cardinal virtues. “Cardo” means hinge in Latin. Upon all the other virtues, the cardinal virtues hinge upon a door that opens to productive life, when one activates in daily living these attitudes and habits that form one’s self-identity and human sexuality. Virtue is the key to living the way God has made man, so that he can self-actualize his true potential develop the self-esteem necessary to bypass all the false remedies that the world of secular psychology and counterfeit religion has to offer as a temporary fix.
What are the cardinal virtues? Prudence is number one, because without it one loses all of the others. Prudence is choosing with one’s will and intellect to not only do what is right, but to choose the right means for achieving it. Fortitude keeps one strong in courage and temperance regulates the person from extremes of anger and lust. Justice makes one is aware of the needs of others in a world that neglects to realize that the goods of the world are meant to be shared with all of humanity, with a concern for human life at all stages. Prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice are the cardinal virtues.
So much more could be said about them. Virtue is the cornerstone for self-identity, and the means to a wholesome human sexuality whereby one knows that life is sacred from birth to death and that illicit methods to separate the union and procreative dimensions of physical sexuality by contraception from the way God intended and the Church teaches, are wrong. The early years of life are so important in spiritual formation in virtue, because habit is something ingrained and hard to break. A person who touches a cigarette will have a hard time later breaking this habit, just like a person who learns to like alcohol and not use moderation will have a difficult time restraining himself or herself in the future. Anything that is started early is always harder to break.
St. Therese of the Little Flower of Jesus only had 23 years to live, but she began as a child to be virtuous. St. Dominic Savio lived for only 15 years, but his small lifespan was lived in virtue. St. Camillus de Lellis lived many more years. He started out listening to his mother, but then fell away with his father into drinking, gambling, and soldiering for any side, just to make money to keep his other bad habits going. Only later on was he able, with the grace of God, and the company of good people, to have some self-esteem for himself, which rid him of depression. Thank God that his father ultimately died at the hands of a priest, reconciled to Christ and the Church. The son’s later virtuous deeds led him to a deep faith, which he remembered his mother had told him about as a child, bringing him to a hope that inspired him to anchor his faith amidst those fears of backsliding, and looking forward to God being with him as his help. If only he had started when young, but God gave him more time.
Sometimes, this is not the case. So, faith, hope, and love are also virtues, the theological virtues. The teachings of the Church in regards to the sanctity of life, premarital sex, and contraception are given to us by Jesus and the Catholic Church for our own good. Divorce is so rampant in the United States, Europe and elsewhere. Self-control, abstinence, chastity, moderation, and temperance need to be practiced so that man realizes that the Church is right in saying that a lack of virtue will end up with undesired consequences.
One has only to look at the history of the Catholic Church and the world at large, particularly the modern movie industry, to see that experience of the lives of men and women show the cost of not abiding by what the Church teaches. The Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. There are saints and sinners in the church. The Church is a model. The Blessed Mother is a model like her Son, Jesus. And that is why we have only to go to Jesus, Mary, and the saints—yes, the saints who knew in their struggles that the Church was right and only concerned about man’s happiness in this life and eternity. Truly, Jesus is the bridegroom waiting on His Bride, the Church, to follow Him.
Virtue forms self-identity. One’s human sexuality is realized in truth by virtuous living in faith and practice. The result of virtue is peace and happiness, not without the cross, but with an inner spiritual joy that will reward one's self and others in the end.
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