Friday, April 15, 2011

Holy Week, CBCP, and the RH Bill

Holy Week, CBCP, and the RH Bill

The Catholic bishops of the Philippines have come out with dogged determination against the RH Bill and the corollary issues that it has spawned. They have seen that some legislators were bent on putting into a law an item that should not be legislated, for it is an issue which goes beyond its scope and competence. There is no nation under the sun that dares to legislate love and human affection for the reason that it is better to be left alone in its own natural principles and inner logic. The Bill wants to put reproductive health into a law. In doing this it touches on human sexuality – a matter that is close to the heart of the Christians. Human sexuality has a natural structure and a system of its own. It works fairly well with its innate dynamics deeply implanted by the Intelligent Designer when He created His masterpiece, man and woman. Sexuality is God’s energy within us. Once its principles are respected and the inner logic faithfully followed, the Divine Fire we call sex will lead humanity to the completeness of its existence. The document ‘Familiaris Consortio’ aptly describes the sacredness of sexuality in this way: “God is love and in himself he lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in his own image...., God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion’ (Fc 11).

Sex then is not a toy to be played with; an object to be trivialized; a personal property to be used as one wishes. Sex is sacred and, therefore, to be respected. If, however, sex is abused and its inner dynamics perverted, it brings havoc not only to the individual, but also to the partners and to the community as a whole. For such is the power of sex. It packs an energy unimaginable to the human mind. It is a fire that is so close to the man’s existence, to his heart and to his hman l soul, that it either ignites life in the human person who possesses it, or, it destroys him/her.

For a Christian, sex determines the identity of any human person born on this earth. It etches a definitive stamp in the humanity of Adam to walk on this earth as a man, seals an indelible character in the humanity of Eve to be a woman. “When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created” (Gen 1:28). Hence, everyone, man and woman, has sexual identity which he/she has to acknowledge, to accept, and to act in consonance to the roles that it dictates. For, God has a purpose in implanting sexuality in the nature of man and woman. It defines the affectivity, giving man and woman the capacity to love and to procreate, the aptitude to form bonds of communion with others (cf. CCC 6:2332).

For us Catholics sex by its very nature is linked to marriage, to monogamy, and to a commitment that is indissoluble. Sex of a man and a woman outside marriage is simply irregular; intimate relationship that is not exclusive is anomalous; a sexuality done without a permanent commitment is irresponsible. For sex speaks of total surrender of self to the partner, total trust, total commitment. So intimate a union does sex make between the man and the woman that total self-giving and self-sacrifice is demanded of it. Sex that intimately unites man and woman has an innate purpose that precedes the personal aims of the partners concerned. It is aimed at “a deeply personal unity that goes beyond union in one flesh, lead to form one heart and one soul. It demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility and life” (CCC 3:1643). Behind all these acts of intimacy and self-giving is pure love of man and woman, love that is exclusive, love that self-giving, love that no human power can put asunder. This love is what we call conjugal love –a union between man and woman blessed by the Creator in the Sacrament of Matrimony.

We are living in a culture that protests against this belief. RH Bill in trying to put into a law human sexuality, is protesting against the Christian position of sexuality and life. The Church insists on this position, because of the terrible consequences of a fractured sexual relationship - heartaches, family breakups, hate, violence, and sometimes even suicides. As the celebrated Fr. Cantalamessa in one of his homilies to the household of the Holy Father in Rome puts it: “Eros without agape is a romantic love, very often passionate to the point of violence. A love of conquest which fatally reduces the other to an object of one's pleasure and ignores every dimension of sacrifice, of fidelity and of gift of self. There is no need to insist on the description of this love because it is a reality that we see daily with our own eyes, propagated as it is in a hammering way by novels, films, television fiction, the Internet, the Gossip magazines. It is what common language understands, moreover, by the word ‘love’."

As we enter into the celebration of Holy Week 2011, may I invite you to ponder and consider well this traditional thought of our Catholic Faith on human sexuality and the conjugal union of man and woman in love.