Even among generally sympathetic folks, my talk of chastity as a virtue and my adamant refusal to reduce it to sexual abstinence has almost always, thus far, been greeted with stares of blank incomprehension (followed, if only in my imagination, with knowing winks that “he’s being weird again” when I turn away).
Well, glorioski! Marina Olson has said, in pretty blunt language, what I’ve apparently failed to communicate:
So let’s talk about sex. Or rather, not-sex. Not-sex is when you are not having sex. Which, at least in a temporal context, includes everyone reading this article, I hope. You could be engaging in not-sex for a variety of reasons: because your spouse is not home, because my writing is super engaging, because you are a priest, because you are not married, because you took a vow, because your Tindr date stood you up, because he’s just not that into you. None of these things implies virtue. You could be a technical virgin, watching pornography to engage in self-stimulation. You could be an unintentional Manichean, hating the body and physical pleasure. You could be a good Catholic who simply isn’t married and is trying very hard to follow what that means. You could be a good Catholic who isn’t married and maybe has a history and is still trying to follow very hard what being a good Catholic means. You could live in one of those towns of population five, and are genetically related to everyone you encounter. You could be taking the GRE. What I am getting at is that you are not having sex. And that says nothing about anything.
Now that we have talked about nothing, let’s talk about something. Like virtue.
You can’t fight any of the passions head-on, but must rather cut off their source, self-love, by falling in love with Christ. You begin with a chaste devotion to Him. The Old Testament prophets had a lot to say about our eros for God being disrupted by adulterous attachments to many other things. Unfortunately for puritan mis-interpreters of this tradition, who think you cure bad eros through a kind of anorexia, the only real cure for bad eros is good eros, and lots of it.
(Dr. Timothy Patitsas, in Road To Emmaus #57)
No one ever became holy by fighting evil. We only become holy by falling in love with Christ.
(St. Porphyrios of Kapsokalyvia and Athens (1906-1991) quoted by Dr. Timothy Patitsas, in Road To Emmaus #57)
This second quote, by the way, doesn’t mean we don’t need to fight evil, but the article is about healing of trauma, including the trauma of fighting even a just and “successful” war – a form of fighting evil.
Orthodoxy is about the fullness of the truth as revealed within and maintained by the Body of Christ, which is the Orthodox Church. The Ecumenical Movement is about eclectically assembling a hodgepodge of disparate elements and reducing the resultant stew into a couple of generally acceptable phrases with no more substance than the modern media “sound bite.”
(A Cathechetical Handbook of the Eastern Orthodox Church by D.H. Stamatis, Ph.D) That’s a pretty jaded view of ecumenism, but one certainly can find examples.
I think it would be appropriate for all ecclesial Christians (i.e., all historic Christians), east and west, to add to their prayers one for “the healing of memories,” as John Paul II put it. That’s a more hopeful, and radical (i.e., gets to the root), view of ecumenism.
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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)