For Sarah, who heard this first many years ago…
There is a conversation that I have too often to leave it hanging alone in the air without putting it down on paper. Or computer screen. Or webpage. Or whatever. It involves the question of womanizers & their honesty. It is a subject that women have often asked me about because they assume that 1) I am not a womanizer 2) as a theologian, I should be somewhat an expert on morality. Now, in actuality, I do not speak in either capacity. It is true that I am not a womanizer and that I am also a theologian. But my chastity and intelligence have nothing to do with the answer that follows. The fact of the matter is that the women in question have always accused womanizers of the same charge: of insincerity. Now, from all the womanizing characters I’ve read about in literature and among all the womanizing characters that I know in real life, I can honestly say that they are honest. That is to say, womanizers tend to be the most sincere of men. When a womanizer tells Kelly that she is the most beautiful girl in the world on Monday, he means it most honestly. On Tuesday, when he proclaims that Courtney is the love of his life, he couldn’t be more sincere in that moment. And when on Wednesday he texts Michelle to tell her she is too gorgeous for words, he means exactly what he says. Womanizers are, in a certain sense, the most sincere of men. They possess the virtue of sincerity in its pure state, free from the complications of fidelity, courage, wisdom or patience.
One of the best examples of what I mean can be seen the characters of Tolstoy, especially Vronsky in Anna Karenina and Prince Anatol in War and Peace. Though very different men in career and personality, both find themselves in entirely sincere illicit relationships. Anatol, the far more incorrigible of the two, even has a whole monologue in which he justifies his ill-intentioned elopement with Natasha out of the sincere sport of the thing. He reasons that his aesthetic passions are honest enough. He truly likes Natasha as a flirtatious toy. He can’t help thinking about how much she truly arouses him sexually and emotionally. It is precisely because she has this effect on him that he feels justified planning to elope with her one day and then abandon her at the next convenient opportunity. After all, such a simple and delicate beauty demands to be ravishingly enjoyed…and then discarded. And while Vronsky isn’t nearly as pre-meditated in his estrangement from Anna, he knows full well, going into his affair with her, that their union is a tentative one at best. Still, he feels that he can do this in all sincerity because Anna is so very enticing.
Now, I use these two literary examples to prove a point. These men were not written as the shallow mustache twirling villains used to fill soap operas. They are complex characters created by the master of the romantic epic. Tolstoy made these men as true-to-life as possible. Women be forewarned: how Anatol and Vronsky think is how womanizers actually think. Tolstoy’s psychology is impeccable. A man who wishes to take advantage of a woman truly believes in her beauty. He cares little for her feelings. He thinks little for her honor or for the promises she has made to herself and others. But he knows that she is beautiful and he is fully confident in his ability to sincerely express these feelings of attraction.
His fault lies not in a lack of honesty or sincerity. It lies in a lack of courage and commitment. It is easy for a guy to buy a beautiful girl dinner, a drink or a flower on a single evening. The real test comes when he must decide whether or not to be there for every dinner, to buy her every drink, and to buy her a whole garden full of flowers by way of the house they will share. In short, only an act of commitment, true and faithful commitment, can reveal a man’s value. He might profess to recognize a woman’s value right away. He is probably telling the truth. But when it comes time to put his money where his mouth is, to commit in the flesh to what his words have professed, that is when you discover if he is the man to reveal your beauty to you day after day for the rest of your life.
For Sarah, who heard this first many years ago…
At times, the tension of the Saints 2009 ‘super’ season was difficult to watch. Years of faith, hope and expectation culminated in an amazing dash for the Lombardi trophy. In our very own New Orleans Superdome, the sight of unprecedented destruction and disaster only 4 years before, the city watched as Sean Payton, Greg Williams, Jonathan Vilma, Tracy Porter and countless others did the impossible. We went to the Superbowl. We won the Superbowl. It all seemed too good to be true.
And it was.
In the last 24 hours, the NFL has revealed that their investigation of the New Orleans Saints has uncovered a history of corruption and cover-up on a Watergate/Spygate scale. While welcoming such football legends as Kurt Warner and Brett Farve into our stadium, coaches and players placed illegal bounties on their heads. The hard hits in those games, hits that virtually sidelined our most talented opponents, were fueled by more than just spirit: they were fueled by a cash flow. Greg Williams encouraged it. Sean Payton and Tom Benson knew about it, and did little to stop it. The crime was bad. The cover up was worse.
As difficult as it was to watch the Saints finally make it to victory, it is now even more difficult to watch this scandal unfold. Difficult in an entirely different way. Difficult in a way that makes it appropriate to discuss this in a spiritual way. The Saints, true to their namesakes, have become spiritual inspiration in this city. Payton, Benson and their comrades were made quasi-religious icons in this culturally Catholic city. We’ve attended Mass with them, seen them lead prayer breakfasts. We’ve waited in line for them to sign their books, but we’ve also watched them receive blessings from local ministers,
That’s what we know thus far. So now, we pray. We fast. We repent. No, this isn’t just Catholic guilt extrapolated into the sphere of sports. Payton and Benson received the same ashes on their foreheads that we did last Wednesday. And those ashes are not an empty symbol. Nor are they just an emotional expression. They are the remains of last years palm branches. They are what is left over after the biggest parade in the church’s liturgy, when Christ rode into
I have a lot of ideas, thoughts, you know those things in your head that you respond to by saying, “Hey, I like that. I should tell somebody.” I have those thoughts often. This place is a forum for some of them. One, in particular, has come to the fore as of late. This one.
I’m in a new parish. This parish school has a much smaller library, but still has the accelerated reading program the previous school had. The Percy Jackson and Harry Potter books are well worn and have gone through many hands, no doubt. Again, this irks me. These school children are being formed by teenage warlocks who use poor means to achieve good ends and modern teenage Greek demi-gods. (I personally was formed, other than the Redwall series, by comic book super-heroes, who have their own issues. That’s another post.)
The Lord put it on my heart to do something. So I put my money where my mouth was. I started searching on this wonderful consumer interweb for the full collection of the Redwall series. I found it on ebay and won it. Seventeen books of good teen fiction are getting ready to enter the 20 shelf library below. Boy am I excited.
I share this with you not to brag or puff myself up (or at least so I say to myself). I mean share this with you because I am putting my money where my mouth is and where the Lord is leading me.
Now let formative literature spring forth from the loins of the library!
P.S. If it so moves you to donate for other good read materials such as lives of the saints feel free to contact me.
I am attracted to virgins.
Coming from a priest-to-be, a now deacon who has promised celibacy this statement sounds rather alarming, and it indeed should be. However, this attraction isn’t that of the lustful jock or Don Juan sexual conqueror.
I am attracted to virgins, like Mary the Mother of God, St. Cecilia, St. Maria Goretti, St. Therése of Liseuix, and most recently (as of today that is) Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha, whose memorial we celebrate today. As I was reading her short biography as I prepared for Office of Readings this morning I could not help but be attracted to this woman. Three years a Christian and she achieved extraordinary sanctity, suffering rejection from her family, she left home and lived her last three years in a foreign land, only to die at the age of 24. She loved Christ so much, she consecrated herself as a virgin.
Why am I attracted to virgins? (I have great friends in the St. Cecilia and St. Therese) As I said before, it is certainly not for the impure desire to strip them of that great gift which attracts me, but rather, their lives gift me life. Their living as spouse of Christ is an extraordinary witness to me. They do not have a husband to be intimate with or children to birth, feed, and care for, at least physically. Instead, they are brides of Christ and are fully and wholly intimate with Him, giving all that is theirs to Him. In their lifetime and after earthly life, they have all born spiritual children, fed them with the food of their Spouse, and cared for them beyond the potency of physical cares by showing them the fullness of Christ, their Spouse.
Satan takes this beautiful gift of the witness of virgins and our attraction to such women and perverts it into that unique form of lust I mentioned earlier. He does not want their witness to shine forth, so he influences those good desires for evil, by trying to rob the virgin of her beauty, de-flowering her. This is why the witness of St. Maria Goretti is so strong. Even unto death, should would not let this perversion persist. She loved her attacker to much to let him fulfill that perverted desire.
You can see, in young especially, they are attracted to virgins, religious women. They are mystifying to them. They want to be around them, get to know them. This is really an attraction to what they represent by their virginity, an attraction to heaven, total union with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Virgins become a lens into heaven by the life they lead.
I am attracted to virgins. Who are you attracted to?
I love to cook. Unfortunately I don’t get to do it very often. Time does not permit or more often fatigue is great. Fortunately, I had the gift to cook for 100 Seminarians and a couple of families over the Fourth of July Weekend. It was great to expend energy and fulfill a part of my diaconal ministry, feeding the hungry (something Seminarians always are). We made hamburger patties (diced onion, ground meat, Tony Chachere’s, garlic power, onion powder, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire Sauce). We also grilled beef franks and brats. As for sides we had potato salad (boiled potatoes, celery, Jack Daniels mustard, Grey Poupon, Tony’s, salt and pepper, and mayo) as well cole slaw.
Here are a few prep pictures and some pictures of the event. Enjoy.