ATTRACTION: Ordered and Disordered

By Lenora Grimaud


The following essay is based on my own personal observations, study, experience, knowledge, and reflections. I am a committed Catholic, and so what I write is from a Christian prospective. I am not a Theologian or a Psychologist, so I do not make an authoritative claim for what I have written. It is merely theoretical, and not intended to be a scientific research paper. Those with more knowledge and experience than I may have many valid objections to some or all of what I have written. My purpose for sharing my reflections and insights is not to impose my views on anyone else, but to challenge those who think they know the truth in regards to the issues I touch upon. I hope to challenge the reader to be open to other possibilities and to, perhaps, take a new direction in their search for truth and understanding. I don’t pretend to have the answers or solutions to the problems of human development, and I am still searching.

The Mystery of Attraction:

The power of attraction is a mystery. All humans are drawn to mystery—that which is above and beyond the mind and control of human nature. “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for” (CCC-27).

Humans are born with a quest for union with God within their souls—a yearning and longing for union with God and all creation; a longing for the lost “Goodness, Beauty, and Truth” (Gregory of Nyssa). All humans are born with an innate desire and need to love and to be loved; a quest for integration and completion through self-transcending knowledge, freedom, and love (Karl Rahner). Since all humans are created with these needs and desires—longings—they are predisposed for attraction. This desire or longing is internal, so that without understanding how or why, we are continually being drawn out of ourselves in search of the “other.” This desire is a need that ultimately only finds its fulfillment in God—in a type of mystical marriage. The union of a man and woman in marriage is symbolic of the union our soul seeks with God.

The attractions in life that humans experience are meant to be stepping stones in their search for the ultimate attraction—to God. However, the need and longing for God, and for integration and completion, becomes obscured by the choices and preferences we make in life due to our sociological, spiritual, and psychological development. This can result in humans becoming fixated on illusory attractions and desires that lead away from God, instead of to God. Since these attractions are illusory and cannot fulfill our basic need, humans sometimes develop an array of false or abnormal needs. We become attracted to whatever appears to be able to fill our need. These attractions can become obstacles to the soul seeking its fulfillment in God and in loving relationships with others, especially if they become sexualized—except in the case of a love that leads to a healthy, sacramental marriage.

Unfortunately, our disorientations have clouded our perception of what goodness, beauty, and truth are, and so we become orientated towards counterfeits of goodness, beauty, and truth—counterfeits that can lead to abnormal attractions. Many people develop attachment disorders in childhood which affect all their attractions throughout life. This is not an exhaustive list, but some of these abnormal attractions are:

  • Some young women are only sexually attracted to much older men; some older women are only sexually attracted to very young men.
  • Some older men are only sexually attracted to very young women; some young men are only sexually attracted to much older women.
  • Some men and women are only sexually attracted to small children (pedophilia).
  • Some men and women are only sexually attracted to teenagers—same sex or opposite sex.
  • Some men and women are sexually attracted to their same sex.
  • Some men and women are sexually attracted to both, their same sex and the opposite sex.
  • Some men and women are sexually attracted to animals.
  • Some men and women are sexually attracted to virgins—same sex or the opposite sex.
  • Some people are specifically sexually attracted to persons within particular roles or professions—Priests, Doctors, Lawyers, Sports Jocks, etc.
  • Some men and women are only attracted to those who are “unavailable” for a committed relationship, such as: married persons; people in religious vows; and unrequited love.

All of the above relationships appear to be “object” relationships—not based on the real person. They are attempts to compensate for some need. For instance, a person who is guilt-ridden or anxious because they believe they have lost their innocence may be attracted to a small child, priest, religious, or a virgin who represents innocence. The hidden desire for union with God and for integration and completion may cause them to sexualize the attraction.

What we hold to be of great value has a great influence on what we are attracted to. Jesus said: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Mat. 6:21). Whatever our heart is attached too, has an affect on our attractions. If physical appearance and beauty are of greatest importance to us, we will be attracted to people who are exceptionally beautiful; if money is our god, we will be attracted to people with money; the same is true with power, intelligence, education, eloquence or charisma. We may be attracted to people who like the same things we do; who share our weaknesses or our strengths; who have the same addictions as we do. Co-dependency is a powerful trigger for attraction. If our greatest treasure is goodness, truth, virtue, creativity, wisdom, or compassion, we will be attracted to people who manifest those qualities. Whatever qualities we value the most in ourselves, as well as the qualities we most desire that we do not possess, becomes the impetus for our attractions. If these qualities are temporal, our attractions will either be disordered or fleeting. Only eternal values lead to authentic love and commitment.

From the time we are born, and continuing throughout our life, we choose and develop various preferences and aversions, likes and dislikes. These preferences and aversions become the catalyst for our attractions. We experience these likes and dislikes in the people we encounter throughout life, as well as people that we read and hear about—or see on the screen. Our preferences and aversions often come in the form of attributes, strengths, weaknesses, values, traits, mannerisms, outward appearances, characteristics, and experiences—either, shared, feared, valued, or desired (positive and negative). These preferences and aversions can lead to an attraction to good ((virtue and morality) and an aversion to evil (vice and immorality) or they can lead to an attraction to evil and an aversion to good. A denial of our natural attraction to good and to truth can result in an aversion to good and an attraction to evil.

It is not so much our preferences, but our aversions that become obstacles to growth, wholeness, and transformation. Today, it is easy to develop aversions to such things as: God, Church, community, authority, relationship, prayer, holiness, and virtue—all in the name of love—while believing that we are attracted to love and unity. The most classic line I ever heard Mother Angelica say was when she asked a man why he didn’t go to Church. He responded, “Because they are all hypocrites.” She responded, “Well, there is always room for one more.”

Aversions, as well as excessive desires, have a lot of energy and can become major obstacles in all of our relationships, especially marriage. They have to be acknowledged through self-discovery and healed, or transformed. Aversions make “mountains out of molehills” and distort our perception. If they go undetected, they get projected onto someone else—such as one’s spouse. Our preferences can also get projected onto others.

Attraction and Marriage:

The experience of “falling in love” is both, natural and a mystery. It is fired by the same desire for union with God, integration, and completion. The state of being in love is very different than actual love. It is somewhat illusory and doesn’t usually last more than three years. Falling in love is not something we choose, or something that we do with volition. We can’t make ourselves fall in love, or resist it. Like feelings and emotions, we can only control how we act upon them. Falling in love can lead a couple to marriage—most people would not marry, otherwise—but it must eventually be replaced by a deeper, committed love of the person—not their reflection. Otherwise, the relationship ends and the partners go in search of another love.

When we are attracted to someone and fall in love, it is to someone who embodies the positive preferences we have formed. If this person embodies qualities of people we have loved and been loved by in the past, the attraction is even stronger. When a person is in love, they are focused on the positive qualities and do not give much attention to the negative qualities. The power behind this love is often intensified when a person believes that they are loved by the one they love, as well. When marriages fail, you often hear one saying, “I just don’t love you anymore—and I don’t think I ever did.” Often, what they are really saying is, “I don’t believe that you love me anymore—and I don’t think you ever did.” Women often say, “I love him because he loved me.” We love God because he first loved us—we experience his love for us in some way. We are attracted to those who love us, or at least, to those we believe love us. When two people fall in love, this experience is mutual. We are attracted to those who draw out, or want our love. Of course, the opposite can also be true; the power behind a person’s love for another person can be intensified when the person they love does not love them—when they are rejected by the other. This can become a challenge for them that they are unwilling to let go of.

Although a newly married couple is in love—an ecstatic state, divine madness, or obsession—they really don’t begin to actually love each other until later, usually after a child is born. They love only a part of each other—the part of each other that they see and are attracted to. Gradually, both begin to show their negative qualities—which may be strong aversions for the other. The power of the attraction begins to diminish. Now they are given the task of really loving one another—the whole person—with both, negative and positive qualities. If they are truly committed and persevere in the will to love, expressing acts of love despite their feelings, they will empower each other to become what God has created them to be. They will sanctify each other— helping each other to develop the positive and overcome the negative. They will learn to love each other for who they really are—seeing and loving the whole person— instead of loving each other as the object of their affections and desires. If their marriage is to last, they will have to nurture and keep alive the will to love each other—trusting that they love one another, in spite of their feelings—and trusting that they are loved by the other, even though it does not seem to be apparent.

When our loves and attractions are in conformity with natural law, they are stepping-stones to a relationship with God, ending in union, and full integration and completion of being—through loving relationships with all those who are a part of our lives. We are then able to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul; and our neighbor as ourselves. This can only happen through Jesus Christ. Until we come to know the one true God through Jesus Christ, we will continue to chase after illusions and false gods. Until we become aware of our desire for union with God and others, and that it is spiritual—not sexual—we will be in danger of using sex for the wrong means. Until we become empowered by the Holy Spirit to truly love as God loves, we will only relate to others as objects—not persons. This longing for God never leaves us—never finds its fulfillment in God, completely, during our sojourn on earth. Loving others, through our longing for God, is the journey.

Vocation of Marriage:

The Catholic Church sees marriage as a vocation—a calling to family life—a calling to found a family. Marriage cannot be separated from family life any more than conjugal love can be separated from procreation. In fact a Catholic married couple who has no desire or intention to procreate or propagate family life, is not considered married in the eyes of the Catholic Church—“By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory” (CCC-1652). Even couples who are physically sterile are called to propagate family life through other means—“Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice” (CCC-1654). This includes both the sterile and the aged, and is the fruit of conjugal love. This is what makes marriage a Sacrament. This is not our society’s view of marriage, however. Society sees marriage as guaranteeing people the right to have a sex partner for pleasure and companionship. It is important to remember that for a Catholic, the only valid marriage is a Sacramental Marriage. The Church considers the marriages within other Religions as valid if they are in accordance with the laws and traditions of their Religion. Civil marriages are not considered to be valid marriages.

The Church has always taught that sex is a gift, given by God to those who are married—and only to them—for the purpose of procreation and conjugal love. Sexual intimacy between a couple who are committed to each other and to family life serves to nourish their love and union. Sexual intimacy outside of marriage—having no life-giving purpose—separates people, diminishes love, and leads to hedonism. Once society succeeded in separating sex from marriage and the life-giving purpose of procreation, sex became only a means of pleasure, self-gratification, addiction, and hedonism. This is a danger even with married couples if they lose the connection between sex and self-giving—self donation—life-giving. This is the primary concern of the Church’s opposition to contraception—which opened the door to self-indulgence, sexual immorality, and abortion:

“The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable. Contraception is gravely opposed to marital chastity; it is contrary to the good of the transmission of life (the procreative aspect of matrimony), and to the reciprocal self-giving of the spouses (the unitive aspect of matrimony); it harms true love and denies the sovereign role of God in the transmission of human life” (Vademecum For Confessors Concerning Some Aspects of the Morality of Conjugal Life, Pontifical Council for the Family; Humanae Vitae)

The Church is not opposed to Natural Family Planning—responsible spacing and limiting of the number of children a couple have. Contraception separates sex from procreation and conjugal love, and makes it only an act of pleasure or sexual gratification. Natural Family Planning calls a couple to use self-discipline and abstinence—for a good purpose and not selfish reasons. It is a constant reminder to couples that the purpose of sex is conjugal love and procreation—love is life-giving. Because it is natural, Natural Family Planning leaves God the option to intervene. Our souls are not hereditary—they come from God, not from humans. Procreation always involves God. Every human being is acted upon by God—infusing them with a unique soul. A couple needs to be open to the will and action of God, even when they are attempting to space or limit the number of children they have (CCC-2368-2372). God hasn’t taken a holiday from creation. Men and women are only co-creators with God. This is not acceptable to most people. We have been conditioned by society to embrace an old heresy that sex is a basic necessity of life—necessary to become a whole person. The very idea of using self-discipline or abstinence in a marriage is an aversion for many people. They believe that there can never be too much sex in a marriage. This is because we have become a sex-oriented culture that has separated sex from procreation—from life and from love.

Unless we understand the Christian meaning of marriage, we will not understand why the Church is opposed to contraception. The Church is the guardian of natural law as established by God. Contraception interferes with and defies natural law. God established marriage from the beginning, making the man and the woman “one” (married) and commanding them to multiply—to procreate. Society has convinced us that the answer to the plight of the poor is contraception, abortion, and sterilization. This is false, and will only serve to rob us of the freedom to procreate. The real answer lies in teaching the poor the value of chastity and self-denial, and insuring them the right and freedom to feed and raise the children they have. The goods of the earth are not evenly distributed. There is enough wealth in the world to guarantee the basic needs of every child born into it. In some countries, family planning is no longer the right of a couple, but enforced by their Government. They no longer have the right to have as many children as they want. Americans are also losing their freedoms, because we have sold our freedom for self-indulgence.

Atheistic humanism has brought about a distortion in the meaning of love, life, marriage, freedom, sacrifice, relationship, hope, faith, humility, and much more. These distortions have left many Christians, bewildered and confused. Society has convinced people that the purpose of marriage is to bring “soul mates” together to live out a state of eternal “bliss,” sharing a union that is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. This is not the Christian understanding of marriage. The purpose of marriage is love and life—family. The meaning of love and life is not “to find one’s bliss.” Marriage is not for the purpose of avoiding loneliness—people can be lonely in a crowd. It is not for the purpose of companionship—friendship is sufficient to fill that purpose. It is not for the purpose of pleasure—chastity, virtue, and wholesome pleasures can fulfill that need. However, marriage does require a union that is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

The sexual revolution—initiated by atheism and humanism—has not only brought about an increase in adultery, promiscuity, and homosexuality, but it has also brought about the breakdown of marriage and family through divorce and separation. Divorce is a desecration of something holy—a tearing apart, or dismembering, of something that was whole or one—an adulteration of what marriage should be. The consequences of divorce are devastating for everyone, even in marriages that never should have taken place—especially for the children. Even when a person is not at fault, or when divorce is the only solution, the psychological and emotional wounds are so severe that they can affect people spiritually and prevent them from being able to trust or love God and others. Divorce is a serious crisis in the Church, today.

Sex outside of marriage has resulted in unwanted babies, abortion, rejection, fear, shame, guilt, suicide, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, addiction, sexual perversion, pornography, adultery, divorce, incest, pedophilia, homosexuality, prostitution, promiscuous children, slavery of women and children, etc. Have we gone mad? What possible good from sex outside of marriage can justify all these evils? We let it happen—we let ourselves be seduced by lies and self indulgence.

It is impossible for a Christian marriage to last or to be holy without faith in God, a relationship with Jesus and his Church, prayer, and commitment to the Gospel. Many people are surprised when their marriages fall apart, even though they quit praying, quit receiving the Sacraments and attending Church, and quit their commitment to the Church and its apostolic mission—years before. Even among faithful and committed Christians, marriages fail because one or both of the spouses become careless in at least one area. St. Paul warns us:

"Finally, grow strong in the Lord, with the strength of his power. Put God’s armor on so as to be able to resist the devil’s tactics. For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the Sovereignties and the Powers who originate the darkness in this world, the spiritual army of evil in the heavens. That is why you must rely on God’s armor, or you will not be able to put up any resistance when the worst happens, or have resources to hold your ground." (Eph.6:10-13).

In marriage, we are challenged to grow in the image and likeness of God. We are challenged daily, to love more deeply, more purely. We are challenged to let go of all that we cling to as individuals. We are challenged to put another person’s welfare before our own. We are challenged to become one, to live in communion and union with another. We are challenged to love unconditionally, accepting another person with all their limitations and weaknesses, and even their sinfulness. We are challenged to humbly receive from another—with gratitude. We are challenged to give to another—generously and wholeheartedly. For further information, I recommend reading: The Role of the Christian Family In The Modern World and The Gospel of Life by Pope John Paul II; and The Pastoral Care Of The Divorced And Remarried And Vademecum For Confessors Concerning Some Aspects Of The Morality Of Conjugal Life, by the Pontifical Council for the Family.


Homosexuality is not a third sex—it is a behavior, and sometimes an orientation, that people either choose or compulsively act out. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no valid proof that people are born homosexual. A homosexual orientation should not label a person as a homosexual, as though he was a different species from any other man or woman. Many authorities believe that a homosexual orientation begins in early childhood and is formed from the various preferences and needs that a person experiences as he grows and matures. These preferences and needs—likes and dislikes—become determining factors in the attractions we experience throughout life. Biology confirms that there are only two sexes—male and female. There are no sex chromosomes for homosexuality. There is no homosexual gene that has been discovered. Heterosexuality is based on natural law. Hormones can affect sexual drive, but they don’t affect sexual preference. Chemicals in the brain affect sexual drives and appetites, (pornography and visual representations can also stimulate sexual appetite) and may even dispose a person for an addiction to sex, but they don’t affect attraction.

The things that attract us are not innate—except for our attraction to God and our quest for self-transcendent knowledge, freedom, and loving relationships. We develop our preferences through interaction with our environment. Attraction is based on preference and choice. After all, a heterosexual is not sexually attracted to every person of the opposite sex simply because they are heterosexual—unless they are suffering from some sexual disorder like nymphomania. Women go through menopause, but they don’t change their sexual preference when they do. Many homosexuals and heterosexuals engage in masturbation. There is no object of attraction involved. The desire is solely for sexual gratification and satisfaction, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. Sometimes this is carried over into relationships with other people—the sex partner is only an object for self gratification, and it doesn’t really matter who they are; they are faceless. Frequent masturbation can cause these people to become more and more self-centered, and may even make them incapable of experiencing the exchange of love and true intimacy in a marital sexual relationship. The belief that masturbation is morally acceptable has opened the door to all kinds of illicit sexual relationships—based on self gratification.

By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.” “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of “the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.”

To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety, or other psychological or social factors that can lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability. (CCC-2352)

In every aspect of the human person, research has been done to determine the cause of homosexual orientation. So far, science has not been able to determine the cause, and can only say that several factors are involved. Until science can prove otherwise, Christians must hold fast to what the Church and natural law tell us—that homosexual orientation is not natural and everything should be done to change it; and that homosexual behavior is immoral. The Catholic Church has never taught that a homosexual orientation is sinful. It is a disordered sexual drive in some males that calls for our compassion and understanding; and calls us to continue to seek means for healing. Homosexuality is unnatural because it goes against natural law. I know many homosexual men who are very compassionate and good—even holy. They believe that their condition is natural and acceptable. But, I think that many—or most—of them would not be homosexual today if they had been given the truth. They would have looked for healing and possibly, would have found it—if they looked in the right place. Homosexuality is not a free choice, in many cases. But, neither is it God’s choice. The Church sees homosexuality as a disorder that may be a person’s “cross” in life.

Psychology used to tell us that there was such a thing as an “alcoholic personality.” This theory, however, is rejected by most authorities, today. Presently, Psychology tells us that heredity may be a factor; some people may be born with predispositions towards alcoholism; certain personality traits may make some people more susceptible to alcoholism than others; chemical balance may also be a factor; and social development and environment are most probably, primary factors. One thing is for sure—the only way a person can become an alcoholic is by consuming alcohol. Likewise, a person may have a predisposition towards homosexuality—hormones and chemical balance may be factors; personality traits may be factors; environment, emotional and psychological adjustment, are certainly factors—nevertheless, it is homosexual behavior that, in actuality, makes a person a homosexual. Initially, homosexuality is an unconscious choice or compulsion, often triggered by an experience of same sex, sexual abuse. After repeated sexual experiences, homosexual behavior becomes “no choice,” because it becomes a personality or character disorder—like an addiction.

People often equate eroticism with “love.” Christians believe that God is love, love comes from God, and love is gender free—love makes no distinction between male and female. Eroticism involves attraction, but not necessarily love. There needs to be a distinction made between erotic attraction and authentic love. Erotic attraction seeks its end in sexual gratification. Authentic love seeks its end in the giving of oneself to another through commitment. Both, homosexual and heterosexual oriented men and women are capable of having an authentic love—that is deeply emotional, intimate, and committed—for another person of the same sex. This is the love of true friendship. The exclusivity of the love is dependent upon the type of commitment that is shared. Married love is an erotic, exclusive and mutual self-giving between a man and a woman—committed to each other for life—leading to conjugal love and procreation.

Society condemns the Church for its position on homosexuality—that it is unjust. Many people believe that homosexuals should be allowed to marry and to have as many partners as they choose because this is how God made them—so they believe. Society has even managed to convince the Institute of Psychology that homosexuals are born homosexuals and that it is normal—even though it is against Natural Law and no evidence can support it—and therefore, they cannot change and must be true to their own selves. Many psychologists, today, and Gay activists— having seemingly won the homosexual debate—are now intent on convincing society that pedophilia, pornography, and sexual abuse are normal, natural, and even beneficial to society. They are attempting to show that these acts do not cause any psychological damage to the victims, and that the perpetrators are compassionate and loving models of humanity. They believe society’s reaction, and inability to accept these behaviors as good, cause the real psychological damage.

On the other hand, some psychologists who specialize in treating homosexuals, have reported that great numbers of clients have managed to lead celibate lives, and many more have been able to change their homosexual orientation to a heterosexual orientation—through counseling and prayer. This is, in itself, evidence that people are not born homosexual. In spite of this, some psychologists would have us believe that it would be impossible to change the sexual orientation of a homosexual, and harmful to even attempt it.

The active homosexual is a product of our society—a society that has exchanged the truth for a lie—all sin begins with a lie. If a person believes that they were born this way—that this is how God created them—and that it is impossible for them to change, they only have two choices: they either live a life of bondage to sin and guilt, or they accept their behavior as natural and good. Who will deliver them? Christians believe that Jesus Christ can and will deliver them (Rom.7:18-25). Homosexuality will not diminish until we return to the truth—distinguishing between good and evil according to natural and divine law. The truth is often very painful, but it sets us free. Denial of the truth is consistent with fallen nature. Whatever we can’t change in ourselves, we deny. We deny evil because we cannot conquer it, but there is one who can—Jesus Christ. The early Christians had to cope with the same kind of problems as we are facing today. St. Paul tells us:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct
. (Rom. 1:18-27).

This is not a condemnation of individuals—of persons—of individual homosexuals—it is a condemnation of a society that has allowed itself to become paganized. It is a condemnation of a philosophy—of the false teachings that have taken control of our society and our people. It is a condemnation of those who accept, embrace, and teach these false teachings. Homosexuals are victims of our society. The divorced and separated are victims of society. The emotionally and mentally ill are victims of our society. Pedophiles and sexual abusers are victims of our society—of false teaching. Alcoholics and drug addicts are victims of society. All of these victims make others victims. But, it all begins with the mind—with what we choose to believe—God and truth, or Satan and lies. In the last analysis, in a culture that has already separated sex from marriage, making sex a form of entertainment and self gratification, what difference does it make if someone chooses to live a homosexual lifestyle? Morally, there is no difference between an active homosexual and a heterosexual who is promiscuous. Our society has chosen a culture of death. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:

"Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved." (CCC-2357)

"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition." (CCC-2358)

"Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection." (CCC-2359)

Sexual Development in Children:

Small children do not have a sexual preference because they have not developed sexually, as yet. At various stages of growth, children have strong emotional and psychological preferences towards one or the other sex. There are times when girls hate boys and only want to be around girls—and when boys hate girls and only want to be around other boys. They want to be with those who are like themselves because they are seeking their identity—they want to be around their own sex. Children can develop strong emotional bonds with the same sex and seek same sex heroes. This has nothing to do with sex preference or homosexuality.

During adolescence, as children begin to develop sexually, they are attracted to the opposite sex and the emotional bonds or attraction towards the same sex begins to separate or diminish, somewhat. Some children may have unfulfilled needs for bonding with the same sex, and when they begin to develop sexually they are very vulnerable to sexualizing their attraction to the same sex—especially, if they have been sexually abused by someone of the same sex. If a child is denied an emotional bonding with a parent or friend of the same sex, the need and attraction becomes much stronger, and later when he/she begins to develop sexually, the need and attraction becomes fixated on sexual desire. He/she is still seeking his/her identity with the same sex, and tries to get it through sexual intimacy. If the emotional bonding with the opposite sex, as a child, is negative and painful, or if one is sexually abused—causing an aversion to the opposite sex—the person may not experience a sexual attraction for the opposite sex when he/she begins to develop sexually. Sex is symbolic of union and oneness between two parties. Healthy emotional and psychological bonding—not sexual experience—needs to take place with other persons of both sexes in order for us to mature and become wholly integrated.

Our culture has adopted a stereotype of men that is represented by “Superman” or “Tarzan”—someone who is strong, powerful, aggressive, athletic, and always in control—especially emotionally. Many men, however, have developed traits that make them gentle, intuitive, compassionate, understanding, submissive and obedient, emotional, deeply feeling, nurturing, kind, artistic and creative, reflective, and good listeners. These traits have been adopted by our culture as a stereotype of women. Men with these traits were often rejected by their male peers when they were young, and labeled as feminine and unmanly because they didn’t fit in with the rest. Ironically, these are the qualities we would like to see in our priests. St. Paul often referred to himself as a mother—giving birth, and feeding and nurturing her children. Unfortunately, for many of these men, their childhood experience resulted in a deeply wounded and underdeveloped masculinity, which later affected their sexual orientation. The confusion and ambiguity concerning gender brought about an identity crisis that many of these children/adults were never able to resolve.

Psychology and Human Sexuality:

Psychology and Human Sexuality are required courses in most colleges today. The morality and ethics that are taught in these courses are not Christian morality and ethics. There are vast differences. Within the Catholic Church, priests and religious were exposed to these courses before they even entered Religious Life. Even priests long ordained were expected to “update” and take these secular courses in the 70’s and 80’s. The result is that Catholics have become “double-minded”—no longer possessing the “mind of Christ.” We opened ourselves to the philosophy of humanism without even stopping to discern the differences or the consequences. We assumed that the “experts” were right and knew what they were talking about. Now, we are suffering the consequences.

Some Human Sexuality courses use what can only be described as pornography, as teaching aides—videos showing the stages and physiological affects of masturbation, as well as the sexual practices of single and married couples, and elderly couples. These videos are a violation of the human dignity of the persons viewed, but were acceptable because they were dubbed as “research” and “academics.” Secular humanism does not teach people how to abstain from sexual gratification because they do not believe this is normal or healthy—it is repression. Instead, they teach people techniques and practices—even advocating the use of pornography—for “legitimate sexual gratification”—between partners with mutual consent, or for masturbation. They also cover such issues as contraception, abortion, homosexuality, feminism, and social justice—from a humanistic and atheistic perspective. Education should be a primary concern of all Christian families.

Psychology has made some major contributions to the study of the human being in the past century. We need to keep in mind, however, that psychology is a relatively new science—and is for many, a new religion. Psychology, as a science, is only a little over a hundred years old. However, the seeds of psychology are very old—found in different world philosophies, religions, and especially, in Theosophy and Metaphysics. The fathers of the different schools of psychology were almost all, atheists or agnostics. Psychology is based on the philosophy of Humanism, a flowering of the “Great Enlightenment” that resulted from the French Revolution. Christians need to be aware that many teachings and theories of psychology are in direct conflict with Christian beliefs and teachings—especially, “pop psychology.” The majority of the self-help books, in light of Christian teachings, are “false teachings.” Both, scientific theories and psychological theories are continually subject to change—based on ever-new factors and findings. We used to accept all the findings of science as “infallible,” but have discovered that time has proved many discoveries to be false. Christians need to be grounded in the teachings of Scripture and the Church or they won’t be able to discern the true from the false.

Science and psychology have no control over the soul. The soul comes from God, and is spiritual; it is enfleshed, but not flesh. It cannot be diagnosed, observed under a microscope, tested or examined. Science and psychology does not have power over the human will—they cannot forgive sins or deliver people from demons. They have no power over the intellect—the reason or understanding of humans. They cannot empower a person to love. They cannot give people faith and hope, or eternal life. They cannot deliver people from fear, shame, or guilt (even though at times it appears that they can because they dull the conscience). And, they cannot raise the dead to life. Only God has the power to do these things, through the power of the Holy Spirit and those he has “called” to be his disciples. Psychology is the study of human development— the study of the soul is beyond the expertise of psychology.

I am not opposed to psychology; in fact, I consider it to be a great gift to humanity and society. More good has come from the study and practice of psychology than bad. Self-knowledge and an understanding of human nature are necessary for authentic spiritual growth and for healthy human development. Some people see psychology as a science—others see it as a new spirituality. Perhaps, it is both. But, if psychology is not grounded in the principles of scientific research and Natural Law, and becomes contaminated by a false spirituality—a pagan spirituality—it will become the “opium of the people.”

Longing for Union:

God is a relationship of three persons, and created humans to be in relationship. He created humans for an ordered, interdependent relationship with himself and with all of creation. Humans were created for union with God; not to become God, or to dissolve into God, but to enter into an interdependent relationship with him that leads to spiritual consummation. From the time of Adam and Eve, humans have been internally driven by two interdependent longings—for union with God and union with a mate. Being created in the image and likeness of God, humans were created for a covenant relationship with God, and a covenant relationship of marriage with one spouse of the opposite sex. In his wisdom, God ordered different kinds of relationships: husband and wife, parent and child, family, community, nation, world, as well as relationship with all of nature—animals, plants, elements, constellations, etc. There are diverse kinds of relationships, and each relationship is ordered in a different way, but the relationship that most resembles the relationship we are called to have with God, allegorically, is the covenant relationship of marriage between a man and a woman, which leads to procreation.

The intrinsic longing to find a mate, to enter into a covenant relationship with them, and to procreate—be fruitful and multiply (Gen.1:27)—can lead us to authentic conjugal love, false love, or sacrificial love (higher love). A higher love is the surrender of our human longing for a mate (celibacy) for the fulfillment of our spiritual longing—the longing for union with God and the desire to build the kingdom of God. Authentic conjugal love leads to a valid marriage. It requires mutual consent; and spiritual, moral, and physical freedom of both parties to enter into a covenant relationship that is permanent, exclusive, and open to procreation. Marriage is ordered for the good of both spouses. Authentic conjugal love is the total and free gift of oneself to one’s spouse. False love is disordered. It leads to adultery, fornication, polygamy, homosexuality, abuse and control, contraception, and abortion. False love is self-indulgence and possession by the ego.

Because of sin, and our human dysfunctions due to “original sin,” we are frequently deceived by false love, while believing that it is true love. Some people “fall in love” over and over again, with persons who are unavailable (someone who is not free for a valid marriage because they are married to another; someone who is vowed to celibacy; someone who does not love them; someone who is physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually incapable of marriage; someone of the same sex; or someone with impediments due to age, culture, beliefs, etc.). These same people are usually not free, themselves, for a valid marriage. This is a dysfunctional love—a disordered love. It is often the cause of infidelity in marriage, divorce, homosexuality, and promiscuity. Over-coming false love requires healing, and sometimes deliverance from an evil spirit. This false love can be very powerful and overwhelming, which makes it difficult for the person to really believe that it is not true love. True love is always rooted in the truth—in God. False love is rooted in wounds or unfulfilled needs from the past. It is especially difficult for those who are “romantics.” There is so much attention given to “romance” in our present culture that it is easy for people to become addicted to romance, which is illusionary.

The intrinsic longing for God (goodness, beauty and truth), the desire to enter into a covenant relationship with God, and the desire to regenerate the spirit by building the kingdom of God (knowledge, freedom, and love), is part of our spiritual nature. This spiritual longing can lead to divine love, to idolatry, or to spiritual death. Divine love leads to union with God—conversion, covenant relationship with God through Jesus, and to the mission of building the kingdom of God on earth. Divine love is ordered for the salvation and transformation of everyone. Divine love is sacrificial—laying down one’s life for another. Idolatry is disordered. It leads to the worship of many gods, to sorcery and divination, Satanism, narcissism, and ultimately, irreligion—the total rejection of God and death of the soul (hell).

Because of personal sin and “original sin,” all humans are under the dominion of Satan: “We know that we belong to God, but the whole world lies in the power of the Evil One” (1John 5:19). Because of this our quest for God has become disordered. We are blind and mistake false gods for the One True God. We mistake lies for the truth and embrace false doctrines. This leads to false spiritualities, and away from the God that our souls are restless for. Over-coming idolatry—salvation from sin and the dominion of Satan—requires conversion. It requires that we receive Jesus Christ and the truth (Gospel) that he gave us. It requires repentance—turning away from idolatry and false teaching and receiving the forgiveness of sins. It requires that we be born again, of water and the Holy Spirit. It requires that we have an intimate, on-going, relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It requires that we receive the power of the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Truth, the Advocate; the power that will transform us into the image and likeness of Jesus. Finally, it requires that we be active and committed members of the Church—the Body of Christ on earth—and that we help to build the kingdom of God on earth and in heaven.

Jesus came to restore our disordered longing for God through forgiveness and healing; through the power of the Holy Spirit. He came to let us “taste and see how Good is the Lord;” to bring us into the kingdom of God and the kingdom into us. The fullness of his kingdom will come with the Beatific Vision—when Jesus comes again in all his glory. Jesus admonished his followers to “ask, search, and knock;” to open themselves to the gift of new life—the kingdom of God.

The “Creation Story” in Genesis gives us a hint of the kind of relationship God ordered for humans, as well as his relationship with humans. It also shows the consequences of sin upon the relationship between the man and the woman, and at the same time, their relationship with God. The two relationships are interdependent and inter-related. The break in the relationship between God and humans caused a break in human relationships, as well.

Yahweh God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and take care of it. Then Yahweh God gave the man this admonition, ‘You may eat indeed of all the trees in the garden. Nevertheless of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat, for on the day you eat of it you shall most surely die.’

Yahweh God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate.’ So from the soil Yahweh God fashioned all the wild beasts and all the birds of heaven. These he brought to the man to see what he would call them; each one was to bear the name the man would give it. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of heaven and all the wild beasts. But no helpmate suitable for man was found for him. So Yahweh God made the man fall into a deep sleep. And while he slept, he took one of his ribs and enclosed it in flesh. Yahweh God built the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. The man exclaimed: ‘This at last is bone from my bones, and flesh from my flesh! This is to be called woman, for this was taken from man.

This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body. Now both of them were naked, the man and his wife, but they felt no shame in front of each other.

The serpent was the most subtle of all the wild beasts that Yahweh God had made. It asked the woman, ‘Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?’ The woman answered the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden. But of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, “You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death”. Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘No! You will not die! God knows in fact that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good from evil.’ The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye, and that it was desirable for the knowledge that it could give. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She gave some also to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized that they were naked. So they sewed fig-leaves together to make themselves loin-cloths.

The man and his wife heard the sound of Yahweh God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from Yahweh God among the trees of the garden. But Yahweh God called to the man. ‘Where are you?’ he asked. ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden;’ he replied ‘I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.’ Who told you that you were naked?’ he asked ‘Have you been eating of the tree I forbade you to eat?’ The man replied, ‘It was the woman you put with me; she gave me the fruit, and I ate it.’ Then Yahweh God asked the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman replied, ‘The serpent tempted me and I ate.’

The Yahweh God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, be accursed beyond all cattle, all wild beasts. You shall crawl on your belly and eat dust every day of your life. I will make you enemies of each other: you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. It will crush your head and you will strike its heel.’

To the woman, he said: ‘I will multiply your pains in childbearing, you shall give birth to your children in pain. Your yearning shall be for your husband, yet he will lord it over you.’

To the man he said, ‘Because you listened to the voice of your wife and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat, accursed be the soil because of you. With suffering shall you get your food from it every day of your life. It shall yield you brambles and thistles, and you shall eat wild plants. With sweat on your brow shall you eat your bread, until you return to the soil, as you were taken from it.. For dust you are and to dust you shall return.’

The man named his wife ‘Eve’ because she was mother of all those who live. Yahweh God made clothes out of skins for the man and his wife, and they put them on. Then Yahweh God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, with his knowledge of good and evil. He must not be allowed to stretch his hand out next and pick from the tree of life also, and eat some and live for ever. So Yahweh God expelled him from the garden of Eden, to till the soil from which he had been taken. He banished the man, and in front of the garden of Eden he posted the cherubs, and the flame of a flashing sword, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Gen. 2:15-3:24).

A Personal Interpretation of the Creation Story:

God created the earth to prepare a place for his beloved children, his heart’s desire. When everything was ready, he gave birth to his dream and created man and woman. They enjoyed an interdependent ordered relationship with each-other and with God. The “garden of Eden” represented the kingdom of God within them. They were in union with God, with his will, and desired only goodness, beauty, and truth. This was the longing of their heart. They saw God as infinite goodness, infinite beauty, and infinite truth, and wanted only to love God and each-other. They were in right relationship with God, with each-other, and with all of nature. This longing for God was a longing to propagate love. It reached out for more goodness, truth, and beauty from the love of the infinite God of their experience. They were completely free. They wanted to care for the earth the way God cared for them. Nature responded to their love and everything was good—ordered, and in balance and harmony.

Adam and Eve knew instinctively what was good and what was not good, because the truth was in them. There was one tree that they knew was not good; that it would lead away from authentic love; away from God; away from goodness, truth, and beauty. This was a great temptation for them, because the fruit appealed to their lower nature—their senses, and sensual nature. They resisted the temptation, however, until Satan came with the lie. Satan accused God of lying to them, telling them that the fruit was actually good, not bad. He appealed to their intellect and presented them with a false knowledge, freedom, love, and equality. He presented them with the ego—a false self—that would elevate the self above God. Adam and Eve went against the truth that was within them; they went against their reason and conscience, and believed the lie. When they denied the truth within them and believed the lie, they lost their integrity, and their sensual nature took control of their spiritual nature and gave birth to sin—to shame, guilt, and fear. They could no longer face God because of their shame and fear.

The consequence of sin was a rupture in their relationship with each other and with God. Their longing for each other became that of “unrequited love.” They turned in on themselves and lost their relationship with God, as well. Another consequence of their sin was separation from God and from the garden of Eden, and the loss of the gift of eternal life. They lost the kingdom of God within them. Their desire and longing for goodness, truth, and beauty became distorted because they could no longer see or hear God. God became a memory of the past. Their ego (a distorted illusion of goodness, truth, and beauty), fired by their sensual nature, became their god. The universal moral law, divine law—the law of love—was instilled within their hearts from the beginning of creation. It is evidenced in all of nature, as well. But, the ego blinded their understanding and reason, and their conscience was dulled. Their love for nature and mission to nurture and care for nature turned into domination and control. Nature rebelled against them and the earth became disordered, losing its harmony and balance.

In spite of their shame, darkness, and blindness to God, God broke into their consciousness and gave them a promise; a promise of deliverance and reconciliation; a promise of transformation and reunion with God and creation. Though they were unfaithful, God would always be faithful to them. They were not ready for a relationship with God, however. They were not free for a marriage with God, or for the gift of eternal life—permanent interdependent relationship with God. God would have to lead them into the desert and speak to their heart. They would have to be purified before they could be a faithful wife to Yahweh (Hosea Ch. 2:14-21). Humans could not reach God, but God could reach them. The promise was fulfilled when God became human in the person of Jesus Christ—“the Way, the Truth, and the Life”—who would lead them back into the kingdom of God, and relationship with God. (John 14:6). The original sin of Adam and Eve was the birth of the ego who took control of their lives. Jesus gave humans the power of the Holy Spirit to dispel the ego and to break its power over them. The Father sent the Son, and the Son sent the Holy Spirit, to renew the face of the earth.

Humanity inherited original sin and its consequences from Adam and Eve. The Good News is that humanity also inherited the experience of God that Adam and Eve had before they fell, as well as the promise of salvation and reconciliation. Deep within the heart of every human is the knowledge of God, who spoke face to face with Adam and Eve. Because of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, our longing for God need no longer be that of “unrequited love,” but the joyful longing of a bride for her husband. We look forward with longing and hope for the Lord’s return and the full manifestation of the kingdom of God. We look forward with longing and hope for the “Beatific Vision.”

The Spirituality of the Catholic Church

By Lenora Grimaud

Before we can understand what Catholic Spirituality really is we need to understand the definition of the term, “spirituality.” Spirituality is a new term that came into being in the Twentieth Century. Prior to this, the term, mystical was used in place of spiritual; the contemplative life referred to the spiritual life; and spirituality was expressed by the terms, Religion or Religious, which included much more than the secular understanding of Religion. According to Michael Downey, in his book, Understanding Christian Spirituality, Religion has three dimensions: the Institutional; the Intellectual; and the Mystical, or Spiritual.

  • Institutional Dimension: what we believe in and how we practice what we believe: our texts, doctrines, scriptures, tradition, structures, rituals, liturgies; our Creed.

  • Intellectual Dimension: how we understand what we believe: the development of our capacity for critical reflection, our teachings and dogmas; our Theology.

  • Spiritual Dimension: our experience of the contemplative or mystical life; our spirituality. Spirituality refers to the whole of Christian life in response to the Holy Spirit—Life in the Spirit.

After Vatican II, which called for a renewal of the spiritual dimension of the Church, there was a strong focus on the Holy Spirit and life in the Spirit. Prior to Vatican II, the Church had become so identified with the Institutional and Intellectual dimensions of Religion, that the spiritual life was almost non-existent for most Christians. People went to Church and prayed, but they just seemed to be going through the motions. Religion had become a routine—a duty we were expected to fulfill. Something was missing—the experience of the Holy Spirit. The Church prayed for a “New Pentecost,” to renew the whole Church. And, a “New Pentecost” there was! It was referred to as “The Charismatic Renewal.” At the same time, a spiritual revolution was taking place in the secular world. The quest for God was on everyone’s agenda. A “new age” of spiritual enlightenment was on the horizon. Everyone seemed to be interested in the spiritual life. “Spirituality” is a somewhat generic term for anything that has to do with the spiritual life or the supernatural. This new interest in spirituality “was cause for both, hope and alarm.” This is because “spirituality” is a term “used in speaking about various forms of prayer, spiritual exercises, and devotions, as well as practices associated with the occult and paganism.” It is a term used to describe “authentic Religion as well as false cults;” divine love, as well as idolatry; the sacred as well as the profane; “the teaching of Jesus as well as false teaching and heresy.” “Both, religious and non-religious, spiritualities, may or may not be, authentic.” It all depends on where they lead—who they lead to—God or self. Today, there are vast numbers of diverse kinds of spiritualities—ranging from the authentic to the demonic. For this reason, it is important to distinguish between the spirituality of the Catholic Church and other spiritualities. Unfortunately, for many people, the term “Religion” is synonymous with rules, regulations, laws, structure, and hierarchy. This is a grave mistake, because the Institutional and Intellectual dimensions of Religion are much more than that. Nevertheless, this has led to a separation of Spirituality from Religion, which is really a form of schizophrenia. We cannot separate spirituality from Religion. We need all three dimensions of Religion to be the Church that Jesus established. (Downey)

Spirituality reflects what is in our hearts, like a mirror. Jesus said: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34). If our hearts are filled with idols, our spirituality will manifest those idols—idolatry. If we have received the kingdom of God into our hearts, we will reflect the kingdom of God through our spirituality. We need the Institutional and Intellectual dimensions of Religion, as well as the Spiritual and experiential dimension, in order to receive the kingdom of God, and to grow in it.

EXAMPLE: Annunciation of Mary: She hears the “word of God,” spoken by the Angel, Gabriel, with attention and awe. She ponders it in her heart and inquires into the meaning: “How shall this be done?” She responds in faith—giving her “yes” to God. She experiences the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and conceives Jesus. She goes to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, in order to serve her. In the sharing of their “good news,” Mary prophesies, with great joy, the “Magnificat.” (Luke Ch. 1).

The spirituality of the Catholic Church is a “Trinitarian Spirituality,” spelled out in our Creed. Spirituality is our lived out experience of what we believe and understand about our faith; it is our experience of the Holy Spirit—the whole of Christian life in response to the Holy Spirit. As Catholics, as believe that God is a relationship of three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are called to enter into this relationship through Jesus, and to allow God to transform us through this relationship.

The Charismatic Renewal brought about a renewal of the Mystical dimension—the experience of our Baptism of the Holy Spirit—to the whole Church. It is the Spiritual Life—the soul—of the Church. It is very important for us to understand that the Charismatic Renewal is for the whole Church—the Institutional, Intellectual, and Mystical dimensions of the Church. This was the substance of the reflections of Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, on the Charismatic Renewal, presented to a gathering of priests. Fr. Raniero’s concern was the danger that: “the Charismatic Renewal, which came into being for the renewal of the whole Church, should end up by becoming identified purely and simply with one segment of the Church, the more conservative one.” He went on to say:

“The Charismatic Renewal is a gift for the whole Church, not for just a
particular part of it, and so it must remain. Indeed, in its early days,like every “prophetic” movement, it was seen as a great sign of newness and openness, a forward thrust on various fronts, the ecumenical outreach included. As such, it was welcomed by the Catholic Church hierarchy, and it has no need to change its appearance to make itself acceptable. Cardinal Suenens, who was for years its principal sponsor and ecclesiastical spokesman, was, during and after the Council, one of the most authoritative promoters of the need for “aggiornamento”: giving contemporary impact to thepractices and beliefs of the Church.”

Fr. Raniero pointed out to them that the Charismatic Renewal was for the “essentials” of the Christian Life. He continued, saying:

“The Charismatic Renewal was born with a powerful drive to return to the essentials of the Christian life: the Holy Spirit, the Lordship of Christ, the Word of God, the Sacraments, the charisms, prayer, evangelization. This is the
secret of its explosive power. This characteristic of the Renewal is clearly shown by the fact that it has no recognized founders, nor any particular “spirituality,” but that it simply accentuates what should be common and “normal” for every baptized person.”

Fr. Raniero urged the priests to get “back to basics,” saying:

“The basic work of the Spirit is his sanctifying activity, by which he transforms human beings, giving them a new heart, not the heart of a slave but the heart of a child of God’s family. Next comes his charismatic activity, by which he distributes a variety of gifts for the good of the community. This is what he did at Pentecost: he transformed the apostles, making new men of them, then he had them speak in tongues and prophesy, and he gave them all the gifts they would need for their mission. In the Charismatic Renewal too, we need to respect this hierarchy: personal sanctification must come first, and only then, in second place, the experience of the charisms.”

In a statement on the Charismatic Renewal prepared for the bishops of the U.S. by the Committee on Pastoral Research and Practices, they said:

"The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Church teaches that the Holy Spirit sanctifies and leads the Church not only through the sacraments and ministries, “but allotting his gifts to everyone according as he wills, he distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank. By these gifts he makes them fit and ready to undertake the various tasks and duties which contribute toward the renewal and building up of the Church, according to the words of the Apostle,“The manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyone for profit” (1Cor 12:7). These charisms, whether they be the more outstanding or the more simple and widely diffused, are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation for they are especially suited to and useful for the needs of the Church. Extraordinary gifts are not to be rashly sought after nor are the fruits of apostolic labor to be presumptuously expected from their use. Judgment as to their genuineness and proper use belongs to those who hold authority in the Church and to whose special competence it belongs, not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to that which is good” (Lumen Gentium, N. 12).

"One of the great manifestations of the Spirit in our times has been the Second Vatican Council. Many believe also that the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is another such manifestation of the Spirit. It does indeed offer many positive signs, clearer in some groups than in others. Where the movement is making solid progress there is a strongly grounded spirit of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. This in turn leads to a renewed interest in prayer, both private and group prayer. Many of those who belong to the movement experience a new sense of spiritual values, a heightened consciousness of the action of the Holy Spirit, the praise of God and a deepening personal commitment to Christ. Many, too, have grown in devotion to the Eucharist and partake more fruitfully in the sacramental life of the Church. Reverence for the Mother of the Lord takes on fresh meaning and many feel a deeper sense of and attachment to the Church."

On May 19, 1975, Pope Paul VI addressed 10,000 participants at the International Conference on the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church in Rome. He addressed them saying:

Nothing is more necessary to this more and more secularized world than the witness of this “spiritual renewal” that we see the Holy Spirit evoking in the most diverse regions and milieux. The manifestations of this renewal are varied: a profound communion of souls, intimate contact with God, in fidelity to commitments undertaken at Baptism, in prayer – frequently in group prayer – in which each person, expressing himself freely, aids, sustains and fosters the prayer of the others and, at the basis of everything, a personal conviction, which does not have its source solely in a teaching received by faith, but also in a certain lived experience. This lived experience shows that without God man can do nothing, that with Him, on the other hand, everything becomes possible: hence, this need to praise God, thank Him, celebrate the marvels that He works everywhere about us and within us. Human existence rediscovers its “relationship with God,” what is called the “vertical dimension,” without which man is irremediably crippled. …reflect on the two names by which you are designated, “Spiritual Renewal.” Where the Spirit is concerned we are immediately alert, immediately happy to welcome the coming of the Holy Spirit. More than that, we invite him, we pray to him, we desire nothing more than that Christians, believing people, should experience an awareness, a worship, a greater joy through the Spirit of God among us. Have we forgotten the Holy Spirit? Certainly not! We want him, we honor him, and we love him, and we invoke him. And you, with your devotion and fervor, you wish to live in the Spirit. This, should be where your second name comes in – a renewal. It ought to rejuvenate the world, give it back a spirituality, a soul, and religious thought, it ought to reopen its closed lips to prayer and open its mouth to song, to joy, to hymns, and to witnessing. It will be very fortuitous for our times, for our brothers, that there should be a generation, your generation of young people, who shout out to the world the glory and the greatness of the God of Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit has always been with the Church, working in diverse ways. The charismatic gifts have always been present with the Church, as well; manifested in the lives of the Saints. Pentecost seems to come in waves; when the tide goes out, the spiritual life of the Church loses its fervor, and its power. Vatican II emphasized that all Christians are called to holiness, not just the Saints; all Christians are called to be Saints, not just priests and religious; all Christians are called to be “charismatic.” The charismatic gifts are for all Christians; Saints, priests and religious, and the laity. During his recent visit to the U.S., Pope Benedict prayed for another “New Pentecost.” The time is now! Let us, in the words of Pope Paul, “shout out to the world the glory and the greatness of the God of Pentecost.”


The Fullness of Truth!

By Lenora Grimaud

When the Catholic Church boldly proclaims that only the Catholic Church has the fullness of truth, it often makes non-Catholics very angry. They see this as a very pompous and egotistical statement; a manifestation of elititism, conceit, and egotism. They don’t really understand what is being proclaimed. There are two kinds of truth: objective and subjective. The objective fullness of truth refers to the fullness of the Revelation of God to humans, through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the subjective fullness of truth that we experience through our relationship with him. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:

By natural reason man can know God with certainty, on the basis of his works. But there is another order of knowledge, which man cannot possibly arrive at by his own powers: the order of divine Revelation. Through an utterly free decision, God has revealed himself and given himself to man. This he does by revealing the mystery, his plan of loving goodness, formed from all eternity in Christ, for the benefit of all men. God has fully revealed this plan by sending us his beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. (CCC-50).

Jesus said: ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved.’ (Mat. Ch 5:17-18). Jesus is the fulfillment of the Revelation of God—the final covenant of God; the covenant in his blood: And as they were eating he took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them, ‘Take it,’ he said ‘this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them, and all drank from it, and he said them, ‘This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many. (Mark 14:23-24).

Jesus sealed the new covenant with his blood. No other covenant is necessary. In the old covenant, all pacts were sealed with the shedding of blood (Ex. 24: 6-8); in this new covenant, it was God in the person of Jesus Christ, who shed his own blood to seal the covenant:

He brings a new covenant, as the mediator, only so that the people who were called to an eternal inheritance may actually receive what was promised: his death took place to cancel the sins that infringed the earlier covenant. Now wherever a will is in question, the death of the testator must be established; indeed, it only becomes valid with that death, since it is not meant to have any effect while the testator is still alive. (Heb. 9:15-17).

No further Revelation of God is needed, or will be given, until Jesus returns in glory. Jesus has already given the full Revelation of the mystery of God’s plan to the Church, passed on by the Apostles. But, throughout time, we need the Holy Spirit to give us understanding, and to enable us to live the truth we have received. Revelation does not change; it is comprehended and applied to life in the present moment. Revelation is not static or stationery. It is alive and on-going, like the Holy Spirit. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:

“In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.” Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father’s one, perfect, and unsurpassable Word. In him he has said everything; there will be no other word than this one.… (CCC-65).

“The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries. (CCC-66).

Jesus did not abandon us. He did not abandon the Church. Jesus, the Revelation of God in the flesh—fully human and fully divine—is still with us. Jesus is Emmanuel—God with us. Jesus is one with the Church, his Bride. He is with us through the “Deposit of Faith.” He is with us through Tradition, Scripture, the Sacraments, and the Magisterium. He is especially with us in the Eucharist: “the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ.” Jesus is also with us through the Holy Spirit, the “Advocate,” who he sent to be with the Church until the end of time. The Church is still united with the Apostles through “Apostolic Succession.” As believers, and members of the Church, we are part of the “Mystical Body of Christ.” Jesus is the head of the body, and we are all members of his body.

Deposit of Faith: The heritage of faith contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, handed on in the Church from the time of the Apostles, from which the Magisterium draws all that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed (84; cf. 1202). (CCC).

Magisterium: The living, teaching office of the Church, whose task it is to give as authentic interpretation of the word of God, whether in its written form (Sacred Scripture), or in the form of Tradition. The Magisterium ensures the Church’s fidelity to the teaching of the Apostles in matters of faith and morals (85, 890, 2033). (CCC).

Holy Spirit: The third divine Person of the Blessed Trinity, the personal love of Father and Son for each other. Also called the Paraclete (Advocate) and Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit is at work with the Father and the Son from the beginning to the completion of the divine plan for our salvation (685; cf. 152, 243). (CCC).

On the last day and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood there and cried out: ‘If any man is thirsty, let him come to me! Let the man come and drink who believes in me!’ As scripture says: From his breast shall flow fountains of living water. He was speaking of the Spirit which those who believed in him were to receive; for there was no Spirit as yet because Jesus had not yet been glorified. (John 7:37-39).

Apostolic Succession: The handing on of apostolic preaching and authority from the Apostles to their successors the bishops through the laying on of hands, as a permanent office in the Church (77, 861). (CCC).

Body of Christ: (1) The human body which the Son of God assumed through his conception in the womb of Mary and which is now glorified in heaven (467, 476, 645). (2) This same Body and Blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ are sacramentally present in the Eucharist under the appearances of bread and wine (1374). (3) The Church is called the (mystical) Body of Christ because of the intimate communion which Jesus shares with his disciples; the metaphor of a body, whose head is Christ and whose members are the faithful, provides an image which keeps in focus both the unity and the diversity of the Church (787, 790, 1396). (CCC).

The Catholic Church is not boasting when she claims to have the fullness of truth. “As Scripture says: If anyone wants to boast, let him boast about the Lord.” (1Cor. 1:31). Jesus said to his disciples: You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; and then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name. (John 15:16). The Church is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic only because of her union with Jesus Christ; because Jesus chose her to be his bride. Jesus gave authority to his Apostles, with Peter as their head. That same authority still resides with the Catholic Church, today, through the Magisterium. Jesus said to Peter:

So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven. (Mat. 16:18-19).

Scripture also says:

Write to the angel of the church in Philadelphia and say, “Here is the message of the holy and faithful one who ‘has the key of David,’ so that ‘when he opens, nobody can close, and when he closes, nobody can open:’ I know all about you; and now I have opened in front of you a door that nobody will be able to close—and I know that though you are not very strong, you have kept my commandments and not disowned my name.” (Rev. 3:7).

The Fullness of Truth is a gift from God given to those most in need; those who are most receptive to it. It is not something that the Church, or any individual, can attain through their own merits, like those who built the “Tower of Babel.” No one can take credit for it. Instead, the Church is like Mary, when she proclaimed:

‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my savior; because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid. Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name, and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him. He has shown the power of his arm, he has routed the proud of heart.’ (Luke 2:46-51).

The Church is more than a particular Pope, Bishop, or Hierarchy in a given period of time. The Church is a Mother who gives birth to Jesus over and over again, in and through her children. She is, both, human and divine; made up of sinners and saints. She is imperfect, yet One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church; not because of anything in herself, but because of her union with Jesus Christ, and because she was chosen for this mission.

Individual Christians do not possess the fullness of truth; they merely have access to the fullness of truth. Even the Church does not possess the fullness of truth; she merely has access to the fullness of truth. Only Jesus Christ has the fullness of truth, because he is Truth. Only God is the fullness of truth. We cannot possess Jesus Christ; we cannot possess God. We can only enter into union with God, by entering into union with Jesus Christ—because he is God in the flesh. We cannot enter into union with pure, uncreated, Spirit. The Spirit can possess us but we cannot possess the Spirit; anymore than we could take hold of the wind. We enter into union with the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—through Jesus Christ. Until the final resurrection, until Jesus comes again in Glory, we are only on the way to salvation, as St. Paul says; we are not saved, yet, but merely in the process of salvation: For we must be content to hope that we shall be saved—our salvation is not in sight, we should not have to be hoping for it if it were—but, as I say, we must hope to be saved since we are not saved yet—it is something we must wait for with patience. (Rom. 8:24-25).

Union with God is a relationship, freely entered into; we cannot possess God, and he refuses to possess us. While we are in union with Jesus Christ, we have access to all that he wants to give us. We have access to the truth that he reveals to us. When our relationship with Jesus is broken—when we separate ourselves from him because of sin and selfishness—we are blind to the Truth. We no longer have access to the Truth until we are reconciled with God again, through the forgiveness of sin.

The Sacrament of Marriage is an analogy of the marriage between Jesus Christ and his bride, the Church. Marriages begin to fall apart when spouses stop relating with each other—when they begin to take each other for granted and think they know all there is to know about each other. We can never know all there is to know about our own self, let alone our spouse, or God. When we believe we know our spouse, fully, we become complacent and take them for granted; we treat them like objects. The relationship stops growing. We stop asking, searching, and knocking. Jesus taught: Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. (Mat. 7:7). We no longer need, or want for the other; we no longer desire them. The sense of mystery is gone, and instead of being full of love, we end up full of self. This is the same with our relationship with Jesus—with God. When we think we know all that we need to know about God—when we have all that we want—we no longer hunger for God, or desire union with God. We are like the foolish virgins who had no oil for their lamps because they thought the oil would never run out; they didn’t even notice that they were empty. (Mat. 25:7-8). We no longer ask, search, and knock. We are confident that we are saved already, and need nothing more. We lose the holy longing for the Beatific Vision—to see the face of God. Jesus, however, is the perfect bridegroom—the forever faithful bridegroom—the only Son of God. Even though we are unfaithful, he is always faithful, and will never divorce us.

As Catholics, we sometimes boast that we are the only ones who have the fullness of truth. The problem is that the Truth is hidden from us, like a buried treasure. The only ones who have found it are the Saints who lay no claim on the Truth—those who have left everything; sold everything, in order to purchase the field; those who never stop searching for the kingdom of heaven. ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.’ (Mat. 13:44).

Protestants, sometimes protest that Catholics lost the Truth through infidelity, and believe that they are now in possession of the Truth. They are the faithful remnant who, alone, will be enraptured up to God. Non-Christians laugh at all Christians because they don’t believe in the Truth. They think that, either everyone has the Truth, or none of us have it. Whereas, Protestants rely on Scripture, alone, along with their personal infilling of the Holy Spirit, for the fullness of truth, the Catholic Church relies on Scripture, Tradition, the Sacraments, and the Holy Spirit for the fullness of truth. Tradition includes not only Scripture, but those who wrote it, interpreted it, taught it, and lived it. The Catholic Church is guardian of the "Deposit of Faith"--the teachings of the Early Church Fathers and all the Councils; the teaching from Peter and the Apostles down to the present day Pope and all the Bishops. This is why the Catholic Church claims to have the objective fullness of truth.

Where is the subjective fullness of truth to be found? It can be found in the womb of Mary. It can be found in the little child. It can be found in the one who wonders; who is caught up in mystery—who asks, searches, and knocks—who never stops longing for the Beatific Vision. The Fullness of Truth is found in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and the Father, through and with the Holy Spirit.

Let the one who claims to have the Truth, prove it! Let the one who has the Truth, not deny it, but forever proclaim it—like the Bride who forever exalts in her Beloved: I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine. Let them say, with the Bride: On my bed, at night, I sought him whom my heart loves. I sought but did not find him. So I will rise and go through the City; in the streets and the squares. I will seek him whom my heart loves…I sought but did not find him. (Song of Songs: 3:1-2, 6:3).


Addendum to: "The Truth Shall Make You Free!"

By Lenora Grimaud

Perhaps the greatest discrepancy between Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is his understanding of who God is and who the Self is. His understanding of this central truth of the Gospel distorts his understanding of what self-knowledge is; what love is; what equality is; and what our purpose in life is. Gnosticism and Pantheism have many different variations and beliefs, but none of them are compatible with Christianity. They are all opposed to the distinction between God and humans, and opposed to creation. Creation is the enemy of Satan. His greatest ambition is not only “death” to creation—to destroy creation—but also to blot out the memory of creation; to return to a state of being before creation began; to return creation to a state of non-existence—no thing.

Eckhart does not distinguish between the true self and God. For him, God is being, essence, and presence; and the self in all humans is also God. God is not personal and humans cannot enter into a personal relationship with God—humans can only be absorbed into God. For Eckhart, “God is not love” because love implies separateness and relationship; love is only a human attribute for humans—part of the world of illusion and a tool for overcoming the ego.

For the Christian, equality does not mean “sameness.” In God, there are three distinct persons in one being. God is a relationship between those persons, and that relationship is love. These three persons are equal, but not the same. They are distinct persons who share the same value and dignity. As unique persons, they each have a different purpose, yet, they are one in being and never separated. This is a mystery. God created all humans as equal in dignity and value. All humans are loved equally by God, but he did not create us the same; man and woman, he created us; individual and unique persons, he created us. We are not replicable. We cannot be cloned or reincarnated. Eckhart says:

It has been said “God is love” but that is not absolutely correct. God is the One Life in and beyond the countless forms of life. Love implies duality: lover and beloved, subject and object. So love is the recognition of oneness in the world of duality. This is the birth of God into the world of form (pg. 106). About love, he says: Only beyond form, in Being, are you equal, and only when you find the formless dimension in yourself can there be true love in that relationship. The Presence that you are, the timeless I Am, recognizes itself in another, and the other…feels love, that is to say, recognized….To love is to recognize yourself in another. The other’s “otherness” then stands revealed as an illusion pertaining to the purely human realm, the realm of form (pg. 105).

The Christian understanding of love is very different. The Christian does not love others because he sees himself in them—that is narcissism. The Christian loves others because he sees what is missing in himself. He loves them for themselves. He recognizes their uniqueness. Adam exclaimed when he saw Eve, ‘This at last is bone from my bones, and flesh from my flesh! This is to be called woman, for this was taken from man.’ This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body. (Gen.2:23-24). The first account of creation says: God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:27). In both accounts, man and woman are equal but not the same—they are uniquely different persons, as well as different genders. What was taken from Adam is no longer his, and the new creation never was his. If the ovum from a woman and sperm from a man are united, it can grow and develop into a new creation. This new creation is a separate and unique person, with its own identity and its own human rights. It is not an appendage of the parents, but its own person.

A Christian recognizes that all other human beings come from the same source as he does—from God—which makes everyone his brothers and sisters. He recognizes the relatedness. Humans are not all part of one soul—they are unique and individual souls, created by a God who is completely “other.” If there was no separation between God and creation, there could be no God; there could be no separation between God and humans, between heaven and hell, between good and evil, or between light and darkness. Eckhart believes that there is no separation.

Jesus came to reveal a very different kind of love. He revealed it in word and action. Love is always active—it goes out to others in self donation. Love is a grace that God gives to us; a gift that we receive by giving away to others—receiving and giving are one act. Jesus taught us to love in the form of a commandment: You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbor as yourself (Mat. 22:37-39). This is to say, that we treat others as we would like them to treat us. It does not imply that we love others because they are ourselves. Jesus taught by example by laying down his life for us: Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus taught his disciples: This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12-13). The Apostle, John, clarifies this kind of love for us: My children, our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active; only by this can we be certain that we are children of the truth and be able to quiet our conscience in his presence, whatever accusations it may raise against us, because God is greater than our conscience and he knows everything….My dear people, let us love one another since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love. God’s love for us was revealed when God sent into the world his only Son so that we could have life through him; this is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away. (1John 3:18-20; 4:7-10). Every created being fails to love, many times, every day. It is only when we are in Christ, in union with him, that we can love and know God, because he is the only begotten Son of God, and the only human being who fully knows God--He is God. He is love. This is why we continue to need the Sacrament of the forgiveness of sins. Our union with God will not be complete until Jesus returns and we are resurrected and transformed.

Eckhart writes a lot about “self-knowledge,” but what he says is very confusing and ambiguous; certainly not the understanding of the Saints or spiritual masters of the past. He states: Knowing yourself is to be rooted in Being, instead of lost in your mind (pg.186). Who you are requires no belief. In fact, every belief is an obstacle. It does not even require your realization, since you already are who you are. But without realization, who you are does not shine forth into this world. It remains in the unmanifested which is, of course, your true home (pg.189). Knowing yourself is being yourself, and being yourself is ceasing to identify with content. (pg.193). It is ambiguous because “knowing” is related to form. We cannot know something without human understanding; using our reason and intellect, our feelings, or our senses. For instance, God is Spirit; we cannot know God unless He reveals himself to us. He reveals himself through nature, through word, through symbol, through his works, through love, through relationship, and most perfectly, through Jesus Christ. We cannot even know our own self, except through how we reveal our self—through our actions, thoughts, feelings, desires, will, and experiences. Our knowledge will always be imperfect. As St. Paul says: Now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror; but then we shall be seeing face to face. The knowledge that I have now is imperfect; but then I shall know as fully as I am known. In short, there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love. (1Cor.13:12-13). Without faith, hope, and love, we would not even have a desire to know ourselves or God—except out of curiosity, which does not lead to knowledge of the truth.

For the Christian, self-knowledge presupposes the knowledge that we are loved by God, freely and unconditionally; and because we are loved, we want to love in return—it is the nature of love. If we truly love, we will be aware of what is not love in us, and when we are not loving others. Sin is simply the failure to love. The requirements of love have been revealed to us through the Commandments and Beatitudes. Self-knowledge is knowing our weaknesses and our strengths; knowing when we are authentic and real, and when we are pretending to be something we are not; knowing when we are truly motivated by love of God and others, and when our motives are rooted in self interest. Self-knowledge is the awareness and honest appraisal of our actions, words, thoughts, and feelings—wants, desires, and passions; the knowledge of what comes from God, from our ego, and from the evil one; knowledge of what we need to take responsibility for, what we are unable to take responsibility for, and what is not our responsibility. Self-knowledge is a “knowing” that is on the periphery—like spell-check on a computer program. It is there when we need it. But, the one who loves is self-less—always focused on others, not the self. Self-knowledge presupposes that we know who God is and who we are—that God is the lover and we are the beloved. A Christian knows he is loved by God, and that makes all the difference. If we know we are loved, we don’t have to think about “if” we are loved—we can just love in return. We don’t have to seek to be loved. We don’t even seek self-knowledge, we are given it. It is the result of loving God and others.

Self-knowledge can also mean that we know ourselves well enough to know what we want to do, what we are capable of doing, and what we are not capable of doing. Self-knowledge is important in order to discern a vocation in life, a career, Education Major, and also in order to choose a compatible mate. Self knowledge is important to our ability to make good choices.

As Christians, our purpose in life is union with God and union with others—not absorption into God or others. This union is lived out in accordance with the Commandment—“to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to love our neighbor as ourselves.” Our purpose is a two-fold commitment: union with God and to build the kingdom of God—in heaven and on earth; to “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it.” (Gen. 1:28). This commitment is reflected in the Sacrament of Marriage.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a “New Covenant” in the blood of Jesus Christ which was poured out for the forgiveness if sins (Mat. 26:28). It was not written on tablets of stone, but on our hearts. What is written on our hearts witnesses to—confirms—what is written in Scripture. It cannot be improved upon. There is no other Gospel; no third covenant. This covenant is a marriage between Jesus Christ and the Church; between God and humanity. It is an invitation to a personal and intimate relationship with God.

What is a personal relationship with God? If we have a personal relationship with God, we experience his presence, his love for us, his mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. What marriage could last without forgiveness? What relationship could be healthy without forgiveness? If we are loved by God, we can love ourselves, and love others. If we are forgiven by God, we can forgive ourselves, and forgive others. If we have a personal relationship with God, we know that we can never be alone; that we are always in relationship—always part of more. This “knowing” comes from faith; from experiencing what we believe. We have the hope that everything has a plan and purpose—nothing is left to chance, nothing is in vain—death is never an end. We have hope for the world, for others, and for ourselves—life is not static; it doesn’t stand still; there is always new life. It is the hope of a mother who looks forward to the birth of her baby and the miracle of life within her—to see this new life, face to face; to hold it, touch it, and kiss it—to delight in it.

If we have a personal relationship with God, we know by faith that we can pour out our hearts to God and he will listen—he will hear us. We know that he will respond, he will acknowledge us. We know by faith that he fully knows us, fully understands us, without our even having to say a world. He knows us better than we could ever know ourselves. We know by faith that God speaks to us and we can hear him. We know by faith that God sees us and we will also see him, because we already have an awareness of his presence that is beyond what we can perceive with our senses. We can already see him in all of life. We know by faith, that God is always our help and consolation whenever we are in need—that “should a mother forget her child, he will never forget us.” We will never be forgotten. We will always be. Life is eternal! He will never abandon us. With this faith, we have a peace that surpasses all understanding, and the joy of victory. God is victorious over all his adversaries through his only Son, Jesus. Justice would require that God had to become one of his creatures in order to conquer Satan, who is merely one of his creatures. Justice will reign and evil will be conquered. We have the joy of knowing that we are fully loved, and that our life has meaning and purpose, including our losses and suffering. We have the joy of freedom from fear, guilt, condemnation, despair, and hopelessness.

Eckhart often mixes truth with lies in his book, which is what makes the book so confusing. Time, space, matter, and form are gifts from God—not curses, not illusions. They are blessings that should move us to praise and give thanks to God. We appreciate this gift of time the most when we live in the present moment—when we savor the present moment. We cannot deny the past or the future, because they are also part of time. But, they are always on the periphery. We can’t be present, or really live, in the past or future; and if we try to we will not be able to live the present moment—we lose life instead of fully living life.

As Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God because he proved that he has authority and power over all of life, and even death; over time, space, matter, and spirit; over heaven and earth. Because we believe that he is God, we can believe in everything he said. God is not a liar and our faith will not be in vain. God spoke the Word, and all of creation came into being. God stands by his Word. We are only as good as our word. If our word is a lie, it makes us a lie. If our word is good and we stand by it, we have integrity. Words are a gift, not a curse, unless we make them a curse. Our word is our signature.

This Addendum, and the previous reflection, “The Truth Shall Make You Free,” are written, primarily, for those who have read “A New Earth,” and those who are planning to read it.