Monday, November 11, 2013

Homily - "Sex is holy"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

We hear about marriage in tonight’s Gospel (Lk 20:27-38) which is fitting because marriage has been the theme for GW Catholics this weekend.  Our campus minister, Amy, got married yesterday to Dave Kovacs in Williamsburg, Virginia.  It was a glorious wedding!  Several GW students participated or attended.  It was one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve been a part of.  A couple of things from it.  The first is the story of their engagement.  Dave called me up last fall and told me he wanted to propose to Amy at the Newman Center.  I said something romantic like, “Oh, cool”.  (What depth).  His plan was romantic and poetic, and right in the heart of one of our busy Tuesday nights.  After Mass, I took Amy up to her office for an “emergency meeting”….about nothing.  I had to stall her while Dave set everything up downstairs.  He had students at different stations from her office down to the chapel, holding parts of a poem.  The floor was covered in rose petals.  Amy came out of her office and was led through the stations.  She was wondering what we were doing, and thinking we were freaks or something.  She was led to the chapel where Dave was on one knee and holding a ring.  Amy lost it! Tears of joy came streaming down her face, and she said yes to his proposal.  About 50 students came into the chapel at that point, celebrating the incredible moment.  Amy was smiling from cheek to cheek, showing everyone her ring.  Minutes later, while still grinning ear to ear she said quietly to Dave, “you proposed to me…at work!  Get me out of here”.  She would say later it was perfect.  It was one of the best nights ever at Newman!

One of the things I said yesterday at the wedding was that Amy and Dave are such good examples to you all.  They teach better than I do on some key issues…ones that you ask about all of the time: relationships, sex, marriage, virtue, holiness, etc.  I provide the explanation of the Church’s teaching and that gives you some understanding, but they live it.  When you ask me why wait until marriage to have sex or why use Natural Family Planning in marriage or not to live together until marriage, I can point to them and say, “go talk to Amy or Dave”.  Or, just look at them.  You have seen their love, joy, and happiness in living out the Church’s teachings.  They do it freely, too.  They have been freely, obediently, and authentically living the teachings. Every student that I know of who has looked at what they have has said in one way or another, “I want that”.  They are such a normal, holy, and beautiful couple!  That’s why yesterday was so beautiful; they put so much into waiting and preparing for it, that it just exploded with beauty.

To your question of why wait until marriage to have sex – which I get about every other appointment! – let’s look at what happened yesterday and see that that’s at the core of the answer.  Amy and Dave brought their relationship to God yesterday, and He made it holy. He made it sacred. It happened when they gave their consent / promises / vows.  They gave their lives to each other.  “I promise to be true to you…in good times and in bad….in sickness and in health…I will love you and honor you all the days of my life”.  They made a full commitment to each other before God and witnesses.  That’s when they became one.  That’s when they received the Sacrament of Marriage.  Once that bond is in place, then the couple gives themselves fully to each other in the physical act / the sexual act / the marital act.  The physical act consummates the bond that is already in place.  It cements it.  It’s a sacred act.  Outside of the marital bond, the sexual act is not holy.  Think of a seminarian who wants to celebrate Mass.  He is preparing to be a priest, wants to be a priest, and can even say that he’s “engaged” to the Church.  But, he’s not a priest.  First of all, he doesn’t have the power to consecrate the Eucharist.  But, he hasn’t received the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  The celebration of Mass is reserved for priests.  It would be unholy for him to attempt it.  The same is true for couples.  The marital act is reserved for couples who have received the Sacrament of Marriage.

The image of a sanctuary is also helpful in understanding this.  Think of the body as a sanctuary. The body is a “temple of the Holy Spirit”.  It is sacred ground.  Most Catholics know this, and are timid when it comes to entering the sanctuary of a Church.  Have the same respect and reverence for the body of the other as you do for the sanctuary of the Church.  But, the Church goes even deeper with married couples.  She says that the bedroom of a married couple is like the sanctuary of a Church.  It is holy ground.  Sacred acts take place there.  And, of course, the one-flesh union between husband and wife is akin to the one-flesh union between God and us in Holy Communion.

Marriage on earth is a foretaste of marriage with God in Heaven.  One of the points from tonight’s Gospel is that we will no spouse in Heaven other than God.  Some of my couples have been disappointed to hear that they will not be married to the other in Heaven; “til death does us part” indicates that.  God is the ultimate spouse! He is the most attractive and desirable spouse…ever.  He created us to be with Him. He made us to be with Him in the resurrection of the dead in the marriage feast of Heaven forever.


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