TOB Tuesday: Lent and the Theology of the Body

ChelseaChastity, Lent, Love, Marriage, Sex, Sexuality, Theology of the Body, TOB Tuesday0 Comments

Fr. Loya of Catholic Exchange has a great article on how Lent can be helpful to our sex lives:

Lent is characterized by three things: prayer, fasting and almsgiving (increased charity.) Perhaps the most striking of these three features is fasting. The practice of fasting is found in many of the great Biblical figures the first of whom being Jesus Christ himself. The Bible also tells us that precisely because Adam and Eve did NOT fast (they ate the fruit of the tree that they were told to abstain from) that we are in the mess that we are in today from death, disease, crime, war, pollution, divorce, abuse, and of course a “bad economy.” But isn’t it funny that Adam and Eve’s refusal to fast from food profoundly affected their sexual lives? It was only after they ate of the forbidden fruit that they learned to lust after each other for the first time: “They saw that they were naked and were ashamed,” the Bible says. While they were abstaining they were able to look at one another honestly, purely, sacramentally and lovingly: “They were naked but were NOT ashamed.”

Eating and sex (eros) are our two greatest drives or passions. We really cannot live well unless these two drives are healthy but in balance. This is because eating and sexuality are ways in which we strive for union, communion, intimacy and fruitfulness…

In order for us to have the greatest experience of intimacy we have to maintain the correct view of things like food and sex and approach them in a way that is honest to how eating and sexuality actually work. This means that self-discipline and ascetical practices of measured self-denial such as fasting, are going to be key.

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He encourages married couples to maintain a certain level of abstinence from sexual intercourse during Lent in order to see each other rightly – as persons, not just sex objects. It also helps build a greater intimacy between the couple as they are, shall we say, forced to find other ways to spend their quality time together – like talking to each other, for instance or praying together – deepening their emotional and spiritual intimacy, which serves to enhance their physical intimacy as well. Not only that but in their discussions on their experience with natural family planning Rosary Army podcasters Greg and Jennifer Willits explain how periodic abstinence also can lead to a greater appreciation for the act of sexual intercourse itself. Abstaining for a period of time no doubt builds up anticipation for the one flesh union making it, in many ways, even more special.

Lent might also be a good time for those who are single and engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage to stop and dedicate themselves to Christ and to chastity and vow to abstain from intercourse until marriage.

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