When I was young and unattached my brain was different. I spent hours every day reading, praying, meditating…because I could. Now my mind is such a Rubik’s Cube of bills and budgets, feedings and cleanings, that I forget that there is a spiritual world at all. My prayers are sucked into sweeping up Cheerios. But every once in a while, in the chaos of day-to-day life, it swings back into my vision. God is watching. God created me. I have a purpose.
So I fight the tendency to materialism. I try to remember that everything in life is spiritual as well as physical. You can see the proof for this everywhere, in something so phenomenal as the fact that hormones control emotions and thoughts as well as bodily cycles. My brain is an organ built from fat and yet it dreams, loves, solves.
We cannot separate mind and body. Every day is a prayer, whether I recognize it or not. And because everything is spiritual, everything is important.
As a Catholic, this comes into full relief every Sunday. I participate in a heavenly liturgy written out in Revelation that continues without end at the throne of God. I partake of the literal distressed heart tissue of his Body. It is physical, AB blood type, the same blood that is found on the Shroud of Turin. It is eternal, the soul and divinity of the God that created the world.
As a Catholic too, my life is measured out in Sacraments that are physical as well as spiritual. I confess my sins and practice penance. I am baptized. I am married. And every sacrament is a way of sacrifice, a dying to ourselves.
James and I were shocked on our wedding night to find that sex is way different than the way our heavily oversexed culture depicts it. We discovered that the glamorized insinuations Hollywood puts in everything weren’t realistic at all. In fact, they’re laughable and sad. They portray sex as a never-failing end of mere self-gratification. Real sex is not about glamor or a fleeting feeling. It’s about the mutual giving of oneself. Or at least, that’s what it’s supposed to be.
In Catholicism, there is a stipulation for the married bed. The man must finish inside the woman, his seed going into her place of fertility. No pills, no barriers, no manipulations. It’s very simple. It’s very powerful. We are not just flesh and feeling. We are made in the Image of God and what we do is important.
I see around me a world that has gone amuck with selfish pursuits. Hookup culture, swiping right, friends with favors. Pornography, divorce. Birth control, abortion. Self-gratification above all else. Self-sacrifice rejected at all cost.
And all because we have lost the meaning of sex. Birth control was a thing universally condemned by every church father before the 1930s and is still condemned by orthodox Catholics. It’s not a new phenomenon: in ancient times there were animal skin condoms and abortive herbal tinctures. Now that birth control has become the norm, the child has been fully separated from sex and the woman has been separated from her miraculous ability to grow a child. She has become a masturbatory object, like any other object, and she can be used without repercussions. Sex is a free-for-all for self-fulfillment rather than a unification between two souls that creates new life.
A little while ago I saw a prostitute being interviewed on Humans of New York. She was angry because her “career” was looked down upon. She said she used her body for her work the same way other people used their bodies for their work, whether they answered phones or did construction or whatever. What was the difference?
Indeed. What is the difference? If life has no dimension past the five senses, then what keeps us from living like the animals? We have to make a decision: are we eternal souls or are we not? And if we are, then nothing we do is merely physical. No cultural norm, no family habit, no daily activity is devoid of the spiritual. If we live for the Spirit, how shall we live?