Let me return from the words of the last chapter on the central mystery of person and intimacy, and on the home of the Church, to speak again about the process of human maturation in love. I have quoted the words of John Paul II previously in regards to what he terms “self-mastery,” by which he means, however, not merely a form of willed self-control, but rather a dimension of the entire path of integration between body and spirit, between the impulses of the body and the “voice” of our deepest potentialities and desires. Thus, a better term, which he uses elsewhere is “self-possession,” and which I would even prefer to call simply “integration.” We could say that all three terms work together to illuminate a single reality, to illustrate its depth and wholeness: self-mastery allows the mind and the will to again gain their proper directive role in the human faculties, and yet not by repressing the rest of our humanity, but by joining with it and listening to it in self-possession; and this self-possession brings together in harmony and unity what has been fractured by sin and concupiscence; in other words, it integrates the human person, and it does so in response to the call and the gift of reality coming to the person from the outside, to which the full subjective richness of the person responds.
For that is the goal of the possession of self: to be gathered together in one’s whole psychosomatic constitution, such that, rather than being subjected to the “slavery to sin” in which one’s freedom is hindered by the movements of concupiscence (sinful desire for pleasure and possession), one instead rediscovers the “inner freedom of the gift” by which one can live one’s own being as a gift from God, and can also freely make a gift of oneself to and for others. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes it this way:
The “mastery” over the world that God offered man from the beginning was realized above all within man himself: mastery of self. The first man was unimpaired and ordered in his whole being because he was free from the triple concupiscence that subjugates him to the pleasure of the senses, covetousness for earthly goods, and self-assertion, contrary to the dictates of reason. (CCC, 377)
Though this state of complete self-mastery, of complete integration, will only find consummation in heaven, God has made it possible to recapture it and to experience it already in this life, by the wondrous gift of the redeeming and recreating grace of his love given in Christ and the Holy Spirit. It is a gradual path, and one calling for deep docility to God’s healing touch in the depth of the heart, and in all the stirrings of our subjective consciousness and relation with all that is, but it can truly lead to a purity that tastes again something of the purity of the beginning, and indeed the purity of consummation that awaits us at the end of time. This path is twofold, both the healing from disordered movements rooted in concupiscence, and also the maturation of the desire and capacity for what is authentically beautiful, good, and true in the eyes of God. By the curbing of the disordered movements of concupiscence (namely, by self-mastery), the person gradually becomes capable of discovering and experiencing the true value of reality which concupiscence had hidden from sight. For example, in the matter of the beauty and meaning of the human body, the concupiscence of the flesh (lust) hides the true dignity of the person from view, and also makes us blind to the spousal meaning of the body in its purity, beauty, and innately virginal value. Insofar as I see and experience another person as an object of use for the pleasure of sexual satisfaction, I am blind to their dignity as an incomparable individual, and also incapable of loving and affirming them, not only in the whole of life, but also and specifically in the sexual sphere. I am not capable of living the mystery of sexual union as a gift—as a true surrender and donation of myself to the beloved person for their own sake—but rather as a form of taking. And only as this lustful way of seeing is healed in the human heart can another form of seeing—that of affirming love, reverence, and tender care—grow. And yet merely waging war against the manifestations of concupiscence is not an adequate path to self-mastery, and can lead instead either to the frustrated feeling of repeated failure (for there is no deep awareness of the innate value to sustain such effort), or to sexual repression, in which the very first manifestations of sexual feeling and desire are buried in fear (leading to neurotic psychological, physical, and spiritual illnesses).
The path to integration, therefore, passes both by way of the renunciation of the way of concupiscence which leads to sin, and also by way of a super-affirmation of the very value that concupiscence had twisted: in this case, the value of the individual person in the body, and of the body itself in its spousal and sexual meaning. Indeed, the value itself is meant to be what carries our entire response, from beginning to end, even if the awareness of this value is frail and weak at first, and only grows more and more visible and tangible over time. But from beginning to end, the value (given by God himself) is what provides the gauge, the trajectory, and the destination of our self-mastery and its corresponding integration of our faculties in the unity of our heart and life.
Indeed, the goal of self-mastery is not a perpetual suspicion of the spontaneous movements of our hearts, or even our bodies—a kind of continual rein placed on our being as if it were nothing but a wild horse destined to cause harm if allowed to express itself. Rather, as our being is healed more and more in an authentic and affirming contact with the value, these very spontaneous movements become harmonized with reality, they become ordered, they become beautiful, good, and true. And this is so because they become joined with the deepest aspirations of our being, fashioned in the image and likeness of God, and thus open to the transfiguration of grace. In a word, they become subservient to, or perhaps better, joined with, the “voice of the heart,” and speak along with the heart the word of love it was fashioned to speak. Let me quote some earlier words by which John Paul beautifully expresses this movement. He says that this self-mastery truly matures
when the person’s deepest and yet most real possibilities and dispositions show themselves, when the deepest layers of his potentiality acquire a voice, layers that the concupiscence of the flesh would not allow to show themselves. These layers cannot emerge when the human heart is fixed in permanent suspicion, as is the case in Freudian hermeneutics. They also cannot manifest themselves if the Manichaean “anti-value” is dominant in consciousness [i.e. seeing the body and sex as innately bad or dangerous]. The ethos of redemption, by contrast, is based on a strict alliance with these layers. (TOB 49:6)
Yes, a true wholeness in responding to values does not come about by the castration of any parts of our being, but by their healing and their integration. Thus, this path cannot come to maturity if the movements of our humanity, from the lowest to the highest, are cast into a state of continual suspicion, but only if they are allowed to live, and, in living, to grow to wholeness in union with the deepest voice of our inner being and our most profound capacity for love and intimacy. This movement of integration on every level of our being is what John Paul refers to as an “alliance,” which is a kind of bond of communion, of harmonious agreement, between all the facets of our being, unified in the innermost core of our subject “I,” and all harnessed in the single freedom of the gift.
Thus the goal of self-mastery is not a rigid control of our every experience and desire by the mind and the will, and certainly not a “successful” elimination of the very value (e.g. of sex) from consciousness; it is, rather, the harmonization of all the levels of our being such that, when in contact with this value, a “deeper and more mature spontaneity” is born within us. As John Paul says:
At the price of mastery over these impulses [of mere concupiscence], man reaches that deeper and more mature spontaneity with which his “heart,” by mastering these impulses, rediscovers the spiritual beauty of the sign constituted by the human body in its masculinity and femininity. Inasmuch as this awareness becomes firm in consciousness as conviction and in the will as the orientation both of possible choices and of simple desires, the human heart comes to share, so to speak, in another spontaneity of which the “carnal man” knows nothing or very little. … The words with which Christ draws the attention of his audience—then and today—to “concupiscence”…indicate the road toward a mature spontaneity of the human “heart” that does not suffocate its noble desires and aspirations, but on the contrary liberates and helps them. (TOB 48:5)
All the levels of our being—from the judgment of the mind, the choice of the will, and the movement of affectivity, to the stirring of the emotions and the very sensations and responses of the body—are meant to become integrated such that they give a spontaneously adequate and integrated response to the value that speaks its word to us. Each part of our being, each faculty, plays its particular role within the orbit of our consciousness, at the service of the freedom of our personhood, at the service of the freedom of the gift springing from our inner “I.” And when this integration reaches a certain degree, one need no longer live in continual fear of falling into sin, but can be carried with lightheartedness, trust, and a spirit of confidence by the invitation of objective values, and respond to them with the full and unreserved gift of one’s heart, mind, will, affectivity, emotion, and body—in other words, with the full and adequate response of one’s entire “I.” As John Paul says elsewhere:
[W]e come to an ever greater awareness of the gratuitous beauty of the human body, of masculinity and femininity… With the passage of time, if we persevere in following Christ our Teacher, we feel less and less burdened by the struggle against sin, and we enjoy more and more the divine light which pervades all creation. This is most important, because it allows us to escape from a situation of constant inner exposure to the risk of sin—even though, on this earth, the risk always remains present to some degree—so as to move with ever greater freedom within the whole created world. This same freedom and simplicity characterizes our relations with other human beings, including those of those opposite sex.i
This state of freedom from exposure to sin does not imply that we become incapable of making mistakes or misjudgments, since as fallen human beings we remain frail and imperfect, and cannot see everything with our limited vision. But it does mean that the very wellsprings of our heart, in their first stirrings, are inclined towards what is beautiful, good, and true, such that the threefold concupiscence loses its hold on us and ceases to hold sway in the inner sphere of our “I” and in our relation to the reality before which he have experienced profound purification. Indeed, whenever we authentically live from this state of attentiveness to the divine light pervading creation, we cannot at the same time commit a sin, since every sin implies a turning away from this light to possess creation apart from it. As Saint John Chrysostom so memorably said: “Pray always, and you will never sin. For he who is praying cannot at the same time commit a sin.” The capacity and possibility of sin, as John Paul said, still remains, but the question here is primarily of an ever deepening awareness of values and their breathtaking beauty, and of a growth in the depth and adequacy of our response to their call, to the voice of God within them. This degree of purity and wholeness, which God desires for each one of us, is a beautiful gift, a pure fruit of God’s redeeming and recreating grace alive within us—and of our cooperation, which itself is awakened, sustained, and led by grace—such that we truly come to experience welling up within us the original freedom of the gift: the ability to live the spousal meaning of the body in truth, as a gift oriented towards communion, or better, as a reciprocal gift, in both acceptance and surrender, that brings persons together in mutual cherishing tenderness and the communion that flowers in this place. And, even if this is particularly the case in relation to the human body (the human person), it is also true in our relation to the whole universe in all its richness, fashioned by the hand of God and given to us in love.
Now let us return to the path of healing. John Paul says that this self-mastery develops through an “alliance” with all the layers of our being, such that our deepest potentialities find a voice, and are brought into harmony with the deeper voice of the heart, of the inner “I,” in which all the fabric of our humanity converges and is woven into a single fabric. For someone, however, who, rather than making an “alliance” with all the dimensions of their humanity, has rather buried or rejected them, a true wholeness in love necessitates the resurrection of precisely these dimensions, as fearful as this resurrection may be. For, as Scripture says, “For he created all things that they might exist, and the creatures of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them; and the dominion of Hades is not on earth” (Wis 1:14). If a certain dimension of our humanity is buried over in fear or in the energetic striving for perfection—particularly a dimension so central to our imaging of God in love and intimacy as is the sexual capacity—it will have profoundly damaging effects in the whole of our conscious experience. This repression will make itself known not only in psychological tension and anxiety, in restlessness and agitation, but also often in physical complaints and illnesses, and, if it reaches a certain degree, it will also interfere with our capacities in the whole of life. It comes up and demands our attention, crying out to be included in our experience and our life. And this demand is not wrong, for it is simply an expression of our innate orientation towards wholeness, the cry of our heart for integral holiness in the fullness of our humanity in contact with the fullness of reality. Yes, this is but a dimension of the voice of our heart, our heart which is hearing a specific sphere of our humanity requesting its rightful place in the orbit of the human faculties, in the rich living of incarnate relationship. Our heart, in this experience, becomes the “advocate” of our humanity, requesting its right to live fully in the light of God and his creative love. And only in courageously listening to and responding to this cry of the heart can we find healing and wholeness.
In order to be whole—let us continue with the sexual example, as it is the most keen and most important—it will be necessary for the person to allow their sexual capacity in all of its richness to come back to life and to continue to live. This does not mean acting out in ways that are inappropriate or sinful, in order to, so to speak, “give expression” to inclinations that were buried before. This may, however, happen nonetheless, as the fear that has long buried this dimension of our being keeps us from controlling its emergence and its expression, and it comes out again, not in an ordered way, but in the obsessive-compulsive need to do the very thing that we had fought against for so long. And this collapse of our previous “self-control”—since based in fear and not in authentic maturity—is a deep invitation to embrace the path of healing and integration in which alone we can find wholeness. This wholeness lies not in the experience of sexual capacity without boundaries, for sin always wounds us, and disordered actions cannot but have a negative effect on our being. Rather, wholeness comes about whenever my desires, allowed to live, make contact with the truth of the value and become harmonized with it such that I can give an adequate response.
But repression of the sexual capacity is the very root of the sexual obsessive-compulsive disorder, founded in the fear or energy based repression of our sexual feelings, desires, and capacities, in body and emotion (or one of the two). Let me quote Conrad Baars at length in this regard:
Usually it is the emotion of fear that represses other emotions. Or, if it is not fear, it is the opposite emotion of courage (which for reasons of convenience we prefer to call “energy”). Both fear and energy are assertive emotions which in the normal person serve as motors that stimulate the person to protect himself from harm or to overcome obstacles. Like all other emotions they are good and necessary, but when they become engaged in interfering with other emotions they exert an unhealthy influence on man’s psyche.
This, of course, is because of the fact that no emotion should make it its business to prevent other emotions from running their natural course, which is to exercise their function in close cooperation with reason. All emotions should operate in tempering the action of the will informed by reason.
In other words, the proper object of the emotion of fear is anything that is an actual threat to the well-being of a person, e.g., a rattlesnake ready to strike. And because no man has a single emotion that could be considered a threat to man, it is pathological to feel fear of another emotion. Conversely, the emotion of courage or “energy” serves the purpose of stimulating one to defend oneself against anything that threatens one’s safety, health or life. Again, as no one emotion ever falls in that category, it is neurotic to use the emotion of energy for the purpose of battling other emotions. If one does so anyways, one will develop a repressive disorder. …
When a person with obsessive-compulsive repression—let us say, a scrupulous man—spots an attractive brunette, his immediate response will be one of fear. He is afraid she will arouse in him a desire that he considers sinful, potentially sinful, or an occasion for sin. He uses his fear to get rid of the desire immediately because he wills to lead a chaste life. He actually thinks that what he is doing—letting his fear repress his desire—is the reasonable thing to do. He does not know any better, for he has grown up with this approach since an early age and his beliefs and actions are based on his felt interpretations of moral teachings.
But by repressing his natural responses to the sight of the pretty brunette—the emotions of love [attraction] and desire—he makes these emotions inaccessible to guidance by reason. Because these repressed emotions are buried alive, and are not dead and forgotten even though it may seem so for the moment, they try to rise up in order to get what they need: guidance by reason. However, as soon as they get close to the conscious level, fear is aroused and pushes them back again into the unconscious. The battle between fear and desire is on, and goes on without pause, only to break down sooner or later in life. …
The basic symptoms of all repressive disorders are psychic and physical. The basic psychic symptom is that of tension. This is not surprising because in these persons two emotions are constantly engaged in a battle. Not just once in a while, but day and night. One does not repress one day, and deal normally with one’s emotions the next day. The two opposing emotions are like the arms of two men engaged in arm-wrestling. The tension is as great as that of a rubber band being stretched between two hands pulling away from each other. Just as the band is under constant tension to the point of breaking, so the person with a repressive disorder suffers from a constant feeling of tension. He is constantly “nervous,” tense, unable to relax.
As time goes on, this state of tension will proceed to restlessness, if not agitation, and an inability to sit still. Preoccupied with this tension and ways to find relief, it becomes increasingly difficult to concentrate on any particular thing. As the entire emotional life becomes affected in time by the repression of one single emotion, the person’s reactions to stimuli from outside are increased and he becomes increasingly “oversensitive” and irritable. The smallest things bother him; he is touchy, jumpy, easily startled, and may at times “explode,” just like the rubber band in time will snap. He is more and more “unreasonable” in his reactions to the world around him. All this, of course, is the result of the fact that the normal tempering and regulating function of his intellect on his emotions is being interfered with by the repressive process.
Because emotions have a psychic as well as a somatic component, bodily complaints will also make themselves felt sooner or later in the person with a repressive disorder. Most common complaints are fatigue, headache, backache, insomnia and some other ones, depending on individual constitution. The whole body may show the pressure under which the emotional life operates. The person’s facial expression is often tense, while his posture may become bent or stiff. Not infrequently one can make a diagnosis of a repressive disorder by the way a person shakes hands; it is stiff and unnatural. …
In the person with a fear-based repressive disorder, the fear is so prominent that it places its mark on the entire personality. The fear pervades the person so intensely that it is aroused not only in the presence of an actual danger, like an approaching tornado, but even at the slightest possibility of danger, yes, even when no danger exists, but is only imagined. The person with a fear-based repressive disorder lives in constant fear that danger may befall him. Because the true object of his fear—another emotion—is deeply repressed, or even better, buried alive in the subconscious, there is nothing the person can do to deal with it. Instead, the fear often becomes focused on many kinds of other things, which may or may not have a reasonable relationship to the fear. As the person is unable to do anything to get rid of his fear, his fear turns into anxiety. Every person who has suffered with anxiety knows what a dreadful feeling that is. It is especially terrible when there seems to be no way of getting rid of it. The anxiety is with you all the time and makes life a veritable hell. When this symptom is the patient’s only, or most pronounced, complaint he is officially diagnosed as having an anxiety disorder. …
Because the repressive process is an unnatural one it cannot be expected to be as successful later on as it usually is during the adolescent and young adult years, when the fear is strong enough to keep the repressed emotion from surfacing. When the repressive process is finally beginning to show signs of wear and tear, the repressed emotion begins to sneak to the front of his awareness. The person then becomes obsessed with the very things he has repressed successfully for so long. If it were the sex urge that he repressed for so long, he now becomes obsessed with sexual thoughts, fantasies and so on.
From then it will not be long before he becomes compelled to do the very things he was always afraid of doing. For instance, he may now begin to masturbate or look at sexual objects. Though he experiences intense feelings of guilt and remorse when he does these things, after a while the compulsion to masturbate, or attend obscene movies, or purchase pornographic magazines will make itself felt again. If he is to resist this compulsion, he can do so only by virtue of a greater effort of the repressed emotion of fear, for his will was excluded long ago from dealing with the sexual feeling as it should. At this final stage of fear-based repression this person is officially diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. …
If it is fear that causes the person to repress I call this obsessive-compulsive repression fear-based repression; if it is energy, energy-based repression. From this brief presentation it is clear that the repressive process is always doomed to fail in the end in its purpose, namely, to do what one had been led to believe was right. This is a most tragic and frightening happening for the person who for many years had become convinced that he had it made as far as control of his sexual urges was concerned. Having always conscientiously followed the admonishments, if not living examples of his educators who lived in chronic fear of everything sexual, he could not help but believe that his neurotic approach to his sexual urges was the only reasonable, correct and natural thing to do.
To experience this failure in one’s forties or fifties after years of heroic practice of continence can cause someone with obsessive-compulsive repression to fear that he losing his mind, or create an attitude of despair and self-reproach in the belief that he has lost his will power and succumbed to his “weak and evil nature.” Of course, that person does not even know that his will had been inoperative in the repressive process, and that it is his fear that finally failed in its unnatural task of subduing other emotions and feelings. …
Unless you had read some of our earlier writings you could not have known about energy-based repression. It is a new term introduced by my colleague in the Netherlands [the original term was energy neurosis], when she discovered that a person could misuse his emotions of courage, hope, daring, or whatever you want to call them, just as much as the emotion of fear, and apply them for the purpose of getting rid of what are considered unacceptable or dangerous emotions, feelings and urges. She decided to give all these emotions the collective name of “energy,” as it is a fitting one in our energetic, driving and driven, aggressive and utilitarian world.
Of course, it is harder to spot a person with an energy-based repressive disorder in this kind of world where the hard-driving, aggressive businessman is praised for his energetic pursuits even though it leads much too often to all kinds of physical and psychological troubles, if not a premature death from a heart attack. But this is all the more reason to recognize this type of person early, because he himself is usually the last one to realize that he is in need of help. Ordinarily, he does not come to the attention of a psychiatrist, except for such late complications as chronic alcoholism or depression. …
It is only when a person uses emotional energy to interfere with and repress other emotions that he is considered to have an energy-based repressive disorder. It is just like a person who is excessively fearful, scared of a little mouse or cockroach, afraid of a thunderstorm, etc. Unless his fear interferes with the natural course of his other emotions he cannot be said to have a repressive disorder. Shy, timid, worrywart, etc. may be accurate names to describe that excessively fearful person, but not neurotic.
Characteristic for this illness is the all-pervading action of the energy that places its stamp on the whole personality. Although usually presenting an outward appearance of efficiency and self-control, a person with an energy-based repressive disorder radiates an air of inflexibility and self-restraint that permits no natural spontaneity. He acts somewhat like a robot in the use of his will for the purpose of imitating the natural expressions of emotions: by smiling, laughing, looking sad, etc. He will have certain manifestations of emotions which he does not really feel.
He commonly displays an air of coolness and aloofness, even hardness. The tension that is produced by the repressive process is revealed in his deportment and manner of speech, his tendency to overreact when irritated. In those moments his harsh, biting words, intolerance of opinion, and exaggerated outbursts are in marked contrast to his usual even, though always coldly polite, disposition.
Usually, persons with an energy-based repressive disorder are highly intelligent and gifted people who demand a repudiation of all feelings in everything they do, even in the spiritual life. Many even consider it their duty to rid themselves of feeling love for nature and art. Those feelings, they reason, might lead to the arousal of unacceptable emotions, and therefore should not be given an opportunity to grow.ii
I said above that, whenever this repressive process occurs in relation to the sexual feelings and capacities, it is quite probable that at sometime during the person’s life the repressive process will break down, and all the submerged feelings will come to the surface. This often happens in obsessions and compulsive actions in the sphere of sexuality. And yet this does not have to be the case. In other words, it is not always the case that our sexual capacity seeks to re-emerge in unhealthy ways, but it can also do so in ways that are fundamentally whole. This is because, from the very beginning of our creation, our nature has been oriented by God towards beauty, goodness, and truth. There is a kind of “reason” inherent even in our emotional desires and natural inclinations, in the very capacities of our bodies. We may of course not be able to hear this reason and to embrace it with mind and will and act; but it can also be the case that we can hear this reason and follow its trajectory to the wholeness of healing in contact with the truth of being. And this, precisely, is what this emerging cry of the heart, speaking on behalf of our integral humanity, is seeking: to be allowed to be in contact with what really is, and precisely in the way that God created us to be. It thus seeks, to use John Paul’s phrase, the “value” to which it was created to respond. Both concupiscence and repression are blind to this value, but true love—harnessing the whole of our humanity even in emotion and sensation—discovers and experiences precisely this value. And, in contact with this value, we find rest.
Thus it is also true, particularly for a person who is fundamentally whole in their identity and in their humanity, that the re-emergence of this buried dimension of humanity, of this capacity, can occur in an ordered and beautiful way, without the divergences of sin or unhealthy excess. Despite this, sometimes it is true that there will be bodily complaints that are uncontrollable by the will, arising out of this wound of repression, and these must be tolerated and understood in the deep word they are trying to speak, so as to resolve themselves. To say that the re-emergence of the sexual capacity need not occur through sin or excess, is not, however, to say that such a re-emergence is not an intense experience. Indeed, for the person healing, it can be deeply scary (as it is precisely a path through what they have feared the most). But it is to say that it is not sinful; rather, it is necessary and right.
For what happens in these circumstances is that a precious dimension of reality—and of one’s own humanity—is allowed to find its voice, and to begin to speak as God created it to speak. But this speaking is also a listening, a stretching out to make contact with the objective reality to which our humanity was fashioned to respond. As I said above, the main point is this: only whenever our human capacity makes contact with the reality to which it was oriented, and does so in truth and love, can it authentically find rest.
Until then it will always be restless and agitated, fluctuating between demanding attention so that it may find its rightful place in the orbit of the faculties, on the one hand, and being buried under fear and a pervading sense of shame, on the other. Only in a vivid contact with the reality does this capacity find rest, and thus can relax into its proper place within the integral state of the person in the whole of his or her own subjectivity and in the richness of their nature. For example, a person who has chosen a life of virginity, and yet in doing so has rejected the lived-awareness of her sexual capacity, will find a need to experience and affirm this sexual capacity again, precisely so that it can be lifted up into the re-affirmation of her even deeper virginal capacity—a capacity which, precisely as virginal, does not negate or cut off the sexual capacity, but lifts it up, heals it, and transfigures it to participate in the manner of living and loving proper to eternity.
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Let me speak a little about the maturation of human love in the context of this affirmative approach to self-mastery and the integration of all the human faculties in the freedom of the gift. I emphasized how important, indeed essential, it is that every facet of our humanity is allowed to live in its proper sphere, and is not repressed, even as it is taken up into the orbit of all the faculties at the service of the freedom of the person. This freedom has its wellspring in the heart—the place of the inner “I” in which the most profound “yes” or “no” to truth, beauty, and goodness, to love, to God, is spoken. Here the will and the mind and the spiritual affectivity are joined together at their root, in a profound interrelationship, while also being distinct in their conscious expression and their role in the whole context of the subjective life of the person.
The mind makes contact with the truth of reality in a reasonable way, not merely discursively or through a drawn out process of thought (though it does this too, and it is essential), but also through a kind of intuitive knowing, a synthetic and connatural contact with the nature of the real. This knowledge is synthetic because it is born of the coming-together of different strands of insight into a harmony of clarity and certainty.* It is connatural because it is a knowledge not by deduction from a distance, but a knowledge born of a kind of inner likeness between the knowing mind and the object known, in which the imprint of the latter is impressed on the former, and the former knows the later deeply and spontaneously by being conformed to the latter, the mind conformed to the nature of reality itself. This is why, for example, the pure heart spontaneously knows what purity is, whereas the lustful heart struggles to see. This is how Thomas Aquinas could define truth as “the conformity of the mind with reality.”
The spiritual affectivity is moved by the innate values within reality, by the radiation of truth under the form of beauty (or the opposite, of ugliness), as well as by the fabric of reality as a whole in its rich interrelationship and its multitudinous nuances. Here the affectivity assists and accompanies the mind, not only in providing input for the mind itself, and a certain illumination gained from the deep feelings of the heart, but also by being itself a particular sphere of contact with value, a particular sphere of a kind of knowing all its own (a non-cognitional knowing in the form of feeling, of being-moved, of passion), which complements the more mental knowing proper to the mind. Here, indeed, it is not of utmost importance to delineate what comes from the mind and what from the affectivity, as both are rooted in a receptive responsiveness to the word of value, both are forms of knowing and being in contact with the real. They are clearly distinct, and yet also interrelated, and flow into one another, even at the beginning, but even more so as they both grow in maturity and depth with the maturity of the personal “I.” We can see this rich flowing-together and unity in the profound experiences of being-moved, of intuition, in which the mind and affectivity are united in an unmediated contact with the ravishing beauty of the real. In such experiences, things are felt and known—or better, knowingly felt and feelingly known—which it would takes hours, or even a lifetime, to try to explain in discursive categories, but which are not for this reason less clear, but rather more so (with an abundance of light that is too strong and brilliant to be broken into pieces).
But this knowledge of the mind and contact of the affectivity is also oriented towards the activity of the will, the faculty of choice and self-determination, as well as the initiator of action, particularly in the ethical sphere. The will, informed by the mind and also illumined, upheld, and strengthened by the affectivity, manifests the free decision of the person as a subject who is the initiator of his or her own choices and actions. Indeed, the will is meant to inform the activity of the other two faculties, such that knowing is permeated by personal choice and desire, and even our affective experiences (feeling and being-moved) are taken up by the will, either to be disavowed if they are negative and unhealthy or sanctioned if they are ordered and true. But not only is the will the capacity of choice—as if it were somehow “indifferent” before a multitude of equal possibilities—but it is also an innate inclination towards the good, an aspiration towards fullness (even if wounded by sin and in need of healing and education); this is why Thomas Aquinas calls the will the “rational appetite.” In all of these facets—both in its aspiration to the good and in its being the expression of our profound decision for good or evil, right or wrong, truth or falsehood, beauty or ugliness—the will expresses the voice of the heart. It manifests the liberty of the person to say “yes” or “no” and thus to take a stance towards reality, both in the inner sphere of self-consciousness, as well as in relation to objective realities outside of the self.
In addition to this, in union with the passive-active receptivity of the mind and the receptive responsiveness of the affectivity, the will completes the gift of self in response to the call of reality, such that the communion between the person and objective values is realized in the details of action and in the fabric of life in all its details. Here truth and beauty are completed by goodness, by the goodness of an upright heart living ethically or morally in choice and action. The will thus expresses the person’s freedom both in the interior “stage” of human consciousness—where it is also important that the will is not falsely autonomous, but also listens, is docile, and is moved by the other faculties with which it is meant to cooperate—as well as in the exterior “stage” of human action and the person’s relation with the outside world. As the human person grows in integration and maturity, these three faculties come to harmony and concord with one another, and together—all three inseparably—constitute the wellspring of the freedom of the gift. And this wellspring arises precisely from the heart, from the inner sanctuary of the incomparable “I” created in the image and likeness of God, in which the faculties are one at their root. As the Catechism says:
The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place “to which I withdraw.” The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation: it is the place of covenant. (par. 2563)
Yes, this heart, the inner sanctuary of our being before God, is the wellspring of the gift, even as it expresses itself in the distinct (and yet inseparably interrelated) operation of the spiritual faculties. And yet the path of integration does not call only for the harnessing and cooperation of the three spiritual faculties of mind, will, and affectivity, but also for the full inclusion of the other spheres of human consciousness and nature, rooted more directly in the body and our incarnate nature. In particular, I refer to the imagination, the emotions, the physiological feelings, and the sensations of the body. These are further expressions of the “echo” of our incarnate being within the inner sphere of personal consciousness—the voice of the universe, and of the body itself, in the realm of the spirit. And it is important that we are humble enough to listen to these facets of our being, and not to disdain them as somehow lower than we are, inferior to our spiritual being, or as innately dangerous stumbling blocks. Yes, it is true that, due to original sin, these things have been twisted and obscured by concupiscence, but they can be healed, re-formed, and integrated with the inner freedom of the person. This is precisely what God’s redeeming grace seeks to do. And, indeed, even the inner spiritual faculties, even the very wellsprings of the heart, have been wounded by original sin, and the healing of grace seeks to permeate all of our being, from the most sensate experiences arising from the body to the most interior and spiritual movements of the inner heart.
To return to the other dimensions of our nature. I referred in particular to the imagination, the emotions, the physiological feelings, and the sensations of the body. These indeed express interrelated processes within us, from the more interior to the more exterior (though all important), in that what is sensed through the five senses of our corporal body—and which is immediately obvious to us on the basis of these senses—is interiorized in the other levels as well. First is the physiological feelings, which are also, as the term indicates, rooted directly in the body and the experiences of the body (though they can also be awakened or put in motion by the imagination or emotions). The emotions, as Thomas Aquinas would describe them, are facets of our sensitive appetites for the goods of reality (in other words, our natural inclinations to pursue the good as the fulfillment of our nature). They are of a lower order than the spiritual affectivity spoken of above, but still important for the full living of human existence. Let me give an example of the difference between the affectivity and the emotions. Say that a person that I know says something hurtful to me or does something that gets in the way of my desires for relationship with them: my emotional response may be one of frustration or anger, perhaps of sadness, rooted in my own natural inclinations for the good of communion with the other person and for respect for the dignity of my own person. But if I am mature enough, I may also have an affective response of sorrow at the lack of concern present in the other person, even of compassion for them in their own wounds and fears that gave rise to the actions or words by which they hurt me. Both of these spheres are important—emotions and affectivity—but the emotions are rooted more in the sphere of desire and natural inclination, whereas the affectivity is rooted in our spiritual capacity to encounter and be moved by intrinsic values and being-in-itself. We see here how the emotions themselves are not adequate grounds for a mature love, even as they are important and essential to the full living of our humanity; rather, they find fulfillment when taken up into, and united with, the spiritual affectivity (and the mind and will) in its responsiveness to the word of objective reality and innate values as beautiful, good, and true. Finally, the imagination is but the internal representation of sensate experience in the inner stage of subjective consciousness, and thus actually a facet of the mind, insofar as the mind works directly with and in the brain’s contact with sense data and experience (and can thus also rearrange experience and create fantasy or project into the future on the basis of what is known and experienced in the present).
How closely related these different dimensions of our humanity are is obvious from even a simple example. I imagine a dangerous situation in which I am being chased by someone who wishes to harm me (or indeed imagine any particular experience which awakens fear in me), and this movement of the imagination immediately carries with it an experience of the emotion. In a word, I experience the emotion of fear—as well as that of anxiety, maybe of despondency or, on the other hand, courage, depending on whether I feel myself capable of confronting the fear. But this awakening of emotion doesn’t stop here, but also leads to physiological feelings (for example an increase in blood pressure, a quickened heart rate, and perhaps a release of adrenaline). Finally, this process, begun in the imagination, and permeating the emotions and the feelings, can also cause sensation in the body itself on the most basic level: a feeling of tension or restlessness, or even physical pain, etc. Of course, the movement can go in the opposite direction too: from the sensation, to physiological feelings, to emotions, to imagination and mind, affectivity, and will, until it reverberates even in the inner sanctuary of the heart.
Now, why have I thought it important to expound all of these different facets of our humanity? Isn’t this becoming unnecessarily complicated, distancing ourselves from the healthy spontaneity and childlike simplicity of our daily experience, and parsing ourselves out into “parts?” This could indeed be a danger, but my intention has not been to invite a habitual attitude of self-watching and self-analysis, but rather to point out the “ingredients,” as it were, of the process of integration. And the goal of integration is not a preoccupation with oneself or with the different facets of one’s humanity, but a radical freedom to respond to each moment with confidence and simplicity, letting the gift of oneself be awakened by the voice of values spoken from the outside. At times reflecting back upon the self—and upon the richness of one’s humanity as given by God’s creative love—can precisely help to facilitate this healing of the person, so that, in true self-possession, I can let my self expand in response to the call of the real, and can also open myself up to allow it to live inside of me, in the cherishing and affirming tenderness of my own heart.
And the point of all this is precisely that if any of these dimensions of my being are refused the right to exist or to express themselves, then they will become a destructive force in the realm of subjective experience, limiting and hindering the freedom and transparency of the gift. As I referred to above, this usually occurs through an overgrowth of either the emotion of fear or the emotions of courage/energy, which turn back upon other facets of our humanity and wage war against them, rather than simply playing their proper role in facilitating the harmonious response of all the faculties to what is beautiful, good, and true. This has been too often the case in the traditional practices of asceticism and the efforts to grow in virtue—as I quoted Conrad Baars explaining in a previous reflection. In other words, these efforts were not aimed at a full and healthy integration of all our faculties, from most superficial to most interior, in a wholehearted receptive-responsiveness to reality. They were rather aimed at castrating, or, at best, subduing certain facets of our being, which were understood as inherently dangerous or inferior (or, amounting to more or less the same, as incompatible with our particular vocation, etc). The symptoms and treatment of this illness differ depending on whether the repressive process has been set in motion and sustained more by fear or by energy, but the basic presuppositions of both are the same, and the effects that they have in the human psyche are similar. For a thorough treatment of this matter, I would highly recommend the book Psychic Wholeness and Healing, by Conrad Baars and Anna Terruwe.
But to summarize, in the repressive process the emotion of fear or energy (or both working together) begins to turn against another facet of our humanity, usually another emotion or a particular physical experience or capacity, which is seen as unacceptable. Rather than responding to a real fear outside of the person, or to a real disorder that needs healing within our wounded nature, it begins to fear or to wage war against an essential dimension of our humanity. This comes about either because the emotion of fear or energy has received faulty guidance from the higher faculties, which grows into a habit of suppression (for example a negative approach to the human body indoctrinated through schoolteachers or parents, or an overly negative approach to growth in virtue), or because of traumatic or confusing experiences in the realm of the emotions themselves. Eventually, if this process is allowed to go on and is not corrected, the emotion of fear or energy buries and suppresses that facet of our humanity which has been refused the right of access to our conscious existence. This can be so “successfully” done that we can indeed entirely cease to be aware of that aspect of our being that has been buried. But only for so long. Since this process is unnatural and unhealthy, our nature can only sustain it for so long before it begins to break down. Sooner or later, the repressed aspect of ourselves will resurface and seek to make itself known. And depending on the severity of the repression and on the innate importance of what has been repressed, it will do so with vigorous intensity. And, to a greater or lesser degree, this repressed aspect of ourselves will feel “out of control,” precisely because, buried by fear or energy, it cannot make contact with the guiding and integrating activity of the heart: of the mind, will, and affectivity in service of the voice of the inner “I.” (Here is the origin of obsessive-compulsive disorder.)
The only way to find healing here is to allow the repressed part of ourselves the right to live. It is to let this dimension of our being find its voice, to begin to sing its song, and to gradually re-learn how to harmonize this voice with the voice of our entire being in the integration of all our faculties and experiences in the sanctuary of the heart. This is a long and painful process, but one that is also deeply beautiful—since it is a resurrection of our humanity from the realm of death, in union with the Crucified and Risen Christ who has united himself to us here precisely so as to bring our whole humanity back to life in union with the Trinity and with all that is.
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In the light of all that I have said above, hopefully it is apparent now how the path of sanctity cannot be adequately understood only in terms of self-mastery, but rather calls for a holistic understanding of integration and self-possession which does justice to the full richness of our humanity, in all of its dimensions, in its God-ordained aspiration to be in contact with the full richness of reality. Even whenever the life of faith, love, or healing calls for sacrifice and renunciation, it does so on the basis of a deeper affirmation, on the basis of making possible a deeper form of integration that does not harm or reject our faculties or aspirations, but gathers them together in the mystery of love and communion. This is precisely the “deepest potentiality” of which John Paul spoke, which alone can bring into wholeness the diverse facets of our being and integrate them in the freedom of the gift and in the harmony of communion.
And what a mysterious drama it is, in which the call of Love beckons us to lay aside all else to respond to it, and yet, in the very same breath, invites us to bring all of ourselves and all of our desires in this response, for only in this way can our response bring us healing and wholeness in the embrace of Love.
How, concretely, does this process of wounding play out, as well as the process of healing? I will not speak in depth of the latter here, precisely because of the tremendously sacred and delicate nature of the healing process. I will rather speak of it in a more general way, with broad brush-strokes (as indeed I have already done a number of times). For more detail, I would refer to my book Home for the Restless Heart, as well as, especially, to the works of Conrad Baars which I have mentioned a number of times. But let me now give an example of the wounding process, and a particularly pointed example. I will again use the example of the sexual sphere, precisely because it is one of the most central dimensions of our humanity (touching all the facets of our being and not merely the body), and also because this is where repression seems most often to occur, and brings painful consequences to many persons. (It also occurs in the realm of the desire for happiness, the sense of one’s own personal worth as an individual, and thus also in the realm of the right to self-assertion and the right to making one’s own judgment, as well as in other fundamental needs as in the need for relationship, comfort, and food, etc.)*
Imagine a young man who does not receive adequate education in the sexual realm from his parents or educators—an education that fosters wonder and gratitude for the gift of gender and sexuality, and a desire to live this gift with reverence and responsibility—but rather receives pretty much nothing at all. (Or perhaps the only thing he picks up on is a kind of fear or discomfort in those from whom he would receive this education.) As he grows into puberty, however, his natural horizons widen and a healthy curiosity develops—the curiosity to know and discover the “other,” so as the come to maturity as a man and, precisely as such, to love women authentically. But the avenue that is presented to him for this is narrow, twisted, and more harmful than helpful. Imagine that some of his friends at school introduce him to pornography. He is (rightly) moved at what he sees, moved by the beauty of the human body, but also—both since he does not receive this revelation in a context of personal education and sheltering love, and also because the images are objectified and focus on the sexual value to the detriment of the person (that is what constitutes them as pornography)—he does not experience a healthy education, but a subtle twisting. Things awaken and stir in him that he does not understand, nor know how to control (self-mastery, self-possession, and integration).
Either he will bury this sphere in fear and never return, or he will begin a relationship with the sexual sphere that is not founded entirely on the truth. In either case, he is walking a path away from the objective value, and not towards it. And in either case, he is being wounded. Let us imagine that he engages pornography, and does so in an increasing measure over the coming years—with the frequent accompanying experience of masturbation—and gradually he becomes deeply dependent on these things. Now he feels shackled by his need to return again and again to this place, as if he cannot get enough. Now, it is important to recognize that his struggle here is due, not merely to the intensity of the sexual desire and pleasure, but also to an innate need of his humanity to understand and integrate the beauty of sexuality into the wholeness of his personhood and his life. And yet the two are profoundly mixed together for him, and he does not know how to separate them. In this context of his frustration, and the fear of becoming addicted, he begins studying the Church’s teaching on sexual matters, particularly pornography and masturbation. And he learns that both of these things objectively constitute mortal sins (if the other conditions are met). In a desire to be holy and to avoid displeasing God—and to escape from the heavy burden of guilt and shame—he wages war against these tendencies. But in the process, he basically annihilates any conscious contact with the sexual sphere in its entirety, both in his own body and in the bodies of others. We see here the development of a repressive neurosis, in this case a mixture of fear and energy, depending on the individual’s personality.
After a few years, he no longer struggles with even the first movements of sexual thought or desire, and, even though this may look like a victory over sin, it is actually a profound wounding of his integral human nature. It is true, of course, that God can still bring about great good and authentic virtue even in persons who have developed repression. For example, a man may manifest a profound purity of heart in his approach towards women, such that he is freed from the slightest urge to use or objectify them, but rather overcome with awe and wonder and reverence. And this is not due to his repression, but rather has been born in him despite his repression, as a fruit of prayer, grace, and his deep desire to truly reverence woman in her global beauty. But the main point here is that, despite this purity in the wholeness of his subjective being, the areas that have been buried by repression are incapable of experiencing this same integration, since they have been denied the right of existence in union with the other faculties, and with reality itself. If, therefore, his integral wholeness in the rest of his being is to manifest itself also in those places that have been repressed, they must be allowed to live again, and to find their rightful place in the orbit of the faculties. Precisely in this way, the “yes” of chaste love that he speaks with the rest of his being can also be spoken in the repressed spheres of his humanity; or, said the other way, these repressed spheres of his humanity can join the single song of chaste love that his being sings.*
But until this happens, he is split. He is torn. What his heart says and his mind and will choose; indeed, perhaps what he himself experiences, does not truly become flesh in all the concreteness of his being. This is because there is a part of him that is dead, and a part of reality that is “off-limits.” Only when this, too, is allowed to live, will he become whole in the completeness of his being. And his humanity will continue to cry out for this, such that its previous “silence” will begin to speak again, and to make itself heard, demanding attention. For example, he may begin to experience uncontrollable sexual movements in his body, totally unbidden and also uncontrollable, which all he can do is endure and try to understand, since they are not under the control of his will (as the fear and energy have “wedged” themselves between his will and these physiological responses of his body). Here sexual arousal is not caused by a true response to another living person to whom he draws near, nor (as it does in its fully mature state) by a choice of the heart in the union of mind, will, and affectivity. Rather, it is but a release of buried tension, exploding in an uncontrollable way. On the other hand, this repressed sphere of his humanity may manifest itself in recurring thoughts of the reality that he had put “off-limits.” For example, perhaps the image of female genitalia returns to his imagination throughout the day, or he dreams of the female body or thinks of it in the vulnerable state of half-consciousness before sleep.
Clearly, what is happening here is not a matter of sin or lustful thoughts; rather, it is quite the opposite: the man’s buried humanity is seeking to find its voice, to make contact with the reality for which it was created, and to sing. And here God’s own voice of loving and tender invitation makes itself felt: an invitation for the man to courageously walk the path of healing, into the very realm that he had feared the most, in order to be made whole in love and for love. Yes, this is precisely the only way in which he can be fully integrated, such that he can affirm his own body and his physiological sexual capacity in relation to the body and sexual capacity of woman, in the chaste way that he already does with the rest of his being.
And this affirmation does not need to lead him again into the harmful habits of his past (pornography or masturbation),* even as it does lead him into the mirror-opposite, though with the same level of depth and intimacy: he is called to make contact with the full truth of the human body and sexuality in its authentic, God-ordained meaning and beauty. And only in this will all the facets of his being come to live, and, in contact with reality, find rest and wholeness. Indeed, to say that he needs to make contact with this reality does not imply any one particular way of making contact, as the needs of each person are different, depending on their particular wounds, tendencies, and their unique personality. Persons who are more sensitive and also have a higher intellectual and imaginative capacity will feel more of a need for a vivid contact with reality in its unmediated form, whereas others may feel a need for much less. But in all cases, the path need not go by way of sin, by way of the many disordered forms of contact with the sexual realm (which will only wound more, even as they allow the repression to ease). Nor indeed need it pass at all through becoming “sexually active,” as the saying goes, and healing can occur in the context of virginity and continence—not in the narrow way that the person may have imagined it (i.e. as a refusal to allow the sexual realm and the gendered body to live in thought and experience), but rather in the living fullness of a chaste and virginal contact with the “theology of the human body.”
Yes, it is precisely in the full maturation of the virtue of chastity—and in all the spheres of one’s humanity—that the process of healing finds fulfillment. And in its mature state chastity is not defined as a form of self-restraint, but rather as a pure capacity to love, as the capacity to embrace and direct all the layers of one’s being to the authentic good, both of one’s own self and also of other persons, even and especially in the realm of the spousal meaning of the body. As the Catechism says: “Even now [purity of heart] enables us to see according to God…; it lets us perceive the human body—ours and our neighbor’s—as a temple of the Holy Spirit, a manifestation of divine beauty” (par. 2519). Here one is no longer bound by fear, but led by the love that “casts out all fear” (1 Jn 4:18), as here is born a noble spontaneity in which the first stirrings not only of the heart—of the mind, will, and affectivity—are pure, but even the imagination, emotions, physiological feelings, and sensations of the body are order to love, harnessed by love, and cooperate with the voice of the heart speaking love in relation to other persons and to the whole of reality.
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*This is the beautiful richness of John Henry Newman’s understanding of certainty, which is not born from a kind of scientific proof, but rather from what he calls the “accumulation of probabilities,” in which all of our experiences, insights, and intuitions begin to converge upon a single reality in such a radiant and apparent way that we are no longer able to doubt its truth. See his work The Grammar of Assent. For a more simple treatment, which expresses the same thing “in practice,” see the wonderful book of G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy.
*Here we see how a recognition of the wounded nature of our desires and faculties due to original sin can lead, not to a desire to rehabilitate these faculties and desires, but rather to an inclination to crush them or to bring their operation to cease. This has, sadly, been a prime way of interpreting the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience throughout history: as a renunciation of the right to the goods of creation, to the living of our sexual capacity as man and woman, and to make our own judgments and decisions. Rather than being understood as the rehabilitation, the making-whole, precisely of these capacities—a pure and joyous relation to the whole of creation in poverty, the pure virginal fulfillment of the spousal capacity of the body in chastity, and the harmonious union of mind and will with the mind and will of God in obedience—these have been understood as quite the opposite: replacing them with utter denudation, an obliviousness to sexual capacity, and blind faith. And this has brought about terrible consequences.
*It is also important to note that the example I use here is of a man who is fundamentally mature, indeed chaste, in all the spheres of his being—with the exception of the strictly physical sphere of sexual capacity. (And even here he is not unchaste, but simply repressed.) The case is different of a person who is more fractured in their humanity and in their sense of identity, in other words, of a person who, in addition to repression, also bears other psychological and personal wounds, such as a lack of affirmation, an inadequate sense of self, or other fundamental lacks in the emotional development that should have occurred in the process of maturing. For such a person, the easing of repression may be much more complex, and not occur with the same transparency as in the pure person; and this is because this person is not capable of seeing, experiencing, and reverencing the sexual sphere, and the person in this sphere, as is the pure person. Rather, they may turn to sexual matters, and, sadly, to things that are objectively sinful (whether alone or with others), not merely as a way of releasing the repression of the feelings buried within them, but as ways of “self-affirmation,” as efforts to give themselves, in a virtual or real sexual encounter, the affirming love that they never received. It is necessary that they be educated beyond this tendency into a sober desire for the real, not only in a contact with the reality they buried, but also and even more so in surpassing the tendencies to use and self-affirmation in order to live in a true mutual seeing and reverent affirmation before other persons.
*It is nonetheless true that, since the repressed sexual capacity has been buried by fear and energy, it may not be amenable to guidance by the mind and will. Thus a person who is experiencing the break-down of repression may find himself uncontrollably falling into the very destructive habits that he sought to avoid. This at times must be tolerated as the person is educated into a healthier and more holistic way of experiencing and making contact with the realm of sexuality. And since these things are due, not to free choice, but to neurotic disorder, the person should be assured that their culpability is limited or eliminated, and they need have no fear of having committed mortal sins. This is true, also, in the case of a person’s body doing things that they cannot control. They may feel no desire for pornography or masturbation, but still experience arousal or even spontaneous orgasms which they cannot control or avoid. For example, a person may experience “out of proportion” arousal in diverse circumstances in which it is not in any way a theme; or they may even experience orgasms that are not consciously caused, and yet which cannot be stopped. Such cases, indeed, may be particularly painful, since the voice of the body is radically divorced from the voice of the heart, and a person may find himself or herself compelled to facilitate the orgasm to climax for the resolution of a movement that cannot be brought to cease in any other way. This is a rare experience, but one not unheard-of in those suffering from repression. And the ethical implications of it are obvious: it has no negative ethical value whatsoever, but is rather to be understood as a painful burden borne in union with Christ, as the person pursues the deep and holistic healing of their wounded nature, of which the physiological movement is but a symptom.
i. John Paul II, Memory and Identity (New York: Rizzoli Books, 2005), 29.
ii. Conrad W. Baars, M.D., Feeling and Healing Your Emotions: A Christian Psychiatrist Shows You How to Grow to Wholeness, edited by Suzanne M. Baars, M.A., and Bonnie N. Shayne, M.A. (Alachua, Florida: Bridge-Logos, 2003), 134-137; 139-142; 144-146.