The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

No Private Sin

I'm back. For those of you wondering where I've been, I have no exotic tale to tell. I simply switched ISPs and it took Comcast a few days to get to our apartment. That coupled with my usual busy life sidelined my blogging, though I did get a letter to the editor published in National Catholic Register. My wife and I also attended a Teams of Our Lady retreat which I hope to write more about in a future post.

One of the true blessings I've experienced over these last couple of weeks has been the launching of our Theology of the Body series, Created and Redeemed, which is presented by Christopher West. A small group in our parish viewed this series last Lent and felt driven to bring it to a larger audience. Being at a large parish (3,000 plus families) with only two priests and inadequate meeting spaces it took some doing to, first, get the pastor's attention; and second, find a room big enough to hold the fifty or sixty people we anticipated. In due time the Holy Spirit provided, and even gave us an extra blessing of having nearly eighty people sign up for our class.

The study of Theology of the Body juxtaposed to a couple of recent events in news is interesting. Last week we learned just how human astronauts can be when Lisa Nowak slipped into a diaper and drove 900 miles to confront someone she thought to be a potential love rival. Clearly the cheese slipped off her cracker. On a deeper level, I have no doubt the devil is reveling in the destruction of yet another hero class. Our culture or at least our mass media has come to loathe heroes. The preference seems to lean more towards tearing down the individual versus building people up. I believe astronauts were the last vestige of a class of people considered admirable.

Had Ms. Nowak understood the true purpose of her sexuality as presented by John Paul II's Theology of the Body, it's quite possible she would still have a career at NASA and more importantly an intact family. She very well may have mentally melted down in a different way. Who knows? And I must emphasize that she needs our prayers way more than she needs our judgement.

The other person in the news has been Anna Nicole Smith. By now we're probably all sick of the wall to wall coverage of her death, but I wanted to offer a couple of reflections in relation to Theology of the Body. It's a tragedy when someone dies due to a self-destructive lifestyle. There really is no other way to describe Ms. Smith's reality. I heard the coroner mention that natural causes was still a possibility as to why she died. There was nothing natural about her life. It would prove ironic if her death were ordinary.

One thing that really struck me was the fact that Theology of the Body was around and available for Ms. Smith. She simply had no one in her life to give it to her. One has to wonder about the better choices she might have made for herself had she been exposed to it. Would she have treated her sexuality as an item to be sold and consumed?

Another splash of cold water in the face was the realization of my own contribution to her demise. You see, as a younger man, I remember buying the Playboy featuring her. I remember consuming images of her. Looking at her as an object. I remember seeing the Playboy Bunny suntan on her thigh, which was Hugh Hefner's way of telling his readers that he had "done" this playmate. I bought what she had to sell. I don't know how much of the money I spent to purchase the Playboy went to her, but even one penny's worth of endorsing her choice was too much.

There is no private sin. It all matters. While I may have thought that my sin went no further than my dorm room in college the truth paints a far different picture. My solitary sin combined with those of millions of other men contributed to the destruction of another human being. Yes, Anna Nicole Smith exercised her free will, but had I and millions of others not consumed her product, would she have continued her own sin in the same way? Would she have continued to seek happiness pursing one false reality after another?

Say a prayer for her. One way we can help her reclaim some of her dignity is to first recognize that she isn't a news story, but a wounded spirit in need of the healing offered by Christ. And if you're one of those men who, like me, participated in the purchasing of Anna Nicole Smith, embrace your culpability; take it with you to the cross; confess it in the sacrament of reconciliation; and go and sin this way no more.

John Paul II, pray for us.


Blogger Suzanne said...

Thank you for your honesty here.
I try to teach my young folks the same thing around here because one day I woke up and had the same thoughts or lets be honest...reality hit me square in the face. Maybe I wasn't a man buying Playboy, but I've looked or contributed to alot of stuff I should not have either...maybe it was spending money on a movie, a novel, Starbucks coffee, whatever...there are alot of ways and things that we do that we should stop and reflect and let go of once we realize how we ARE contributing to the demise of a soul and handing over big money to something that will only seek to do more wrong if enough money is made. Most of the time they get it and I try to be "reasonable," but I just had to tell you that I respect you for recognizing and admitting and passing on these thoughts so that others might can only help. God bless.

10:36 AM  

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