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Why Stop at the Vestibule of the Castle of Pleasure?
Catholic Pundit ^ | June 22, 2009

Posted on 06/22/2009 4:02:21 PM PDT by NYer


It is amazing now to think back on the fact that Fulton J. Sheen, a Catholic archbishop, had a weekly TV show that was vastly popular in the 50s and 60s, in which he defended the Catholic faith. We used to watch it every week when my grandma could convince my uncle to give up watching equally popular comedian Milton Berle on another channel. According to Wikipedia, when Sheen won an Emmy, Berle quipped, 'He's got better writers.'"

I came upon Sheen's book Three to Get Married on Amazon just now when I was browsing in reaction to the current tempest about Christopher West's interpretation of John Paul II's Theology of the Body, after West was interviewed on ABC news. See this link for one reaction to the debate.

Alice von Hildebrand has objected to West's popularizing of the topic and points out that her late husband Dietrich covered the topic of married love and its sacramentality and mystery more appropriately. I have to agree that von Hildebrand's books are more decorous on the subject of the role of what used to be called love in Holy Matrimony than West's rather racy approach, but now I think Fulton Sheen's writings may be better than either Hildebrand or West because what Sheen writes is both respectful and engaging. With all due respect, Hildebrand (and Pope John Paul II) on the subject are a bit dry. Here is an excerpt from Sheen's Three to Get Married.

[W]hen sex is divorced from love there is a feeling that one has been stopped at the vestibule of the castle of pleasure; that the heart has been denied the city after crossing the bridge. Sadness and melancholy result from such a frustration of destiny, for it is the nature of man to be sad when he is pulled outside himself, or exteriorized without getting any nearer his goal. There is a closer correlation between mental instability and the animal view of sex than many suspect.

I have been trying to put similar thoughts into words for quite some time. I pity the young people who have been trained to believe that sex expression is a good in itself, and that "relationships" must be "free," conditional, and nonexclusive. How many people these days would decide to marry someone without trying them out first? How many people think of marriage at all when they consider starting a "relationship"?

Nobody talks about the pain of creating a profound union with another person (which occurs as an often unwanted result of intimacy), or about the feeling of being exteriorized, pulled outside oneself that ensues when the "relationship" stops. Sheen's words give a vivid glimpse of the real toll the experience of intimacy without commitment takes on a person.

Here is another quote from earlier in Sheen's book:

What some people love is not a person but the experience of being in love. The first is irreplaceable, the second is not. As soon as the glands stop reacting with their pristine force, couples who identified emotionalism and love claim they no longer love each other.

The above quote is a bit dated sounding, unfortunately, because the word love itself is often exorcised from the equation. People routinely throw themselves into sexual relations out of desire (Boy is s/he hot!), then decide later if there is a chance they might love each other. Since love and commitment are often absent from the start, it is a miracle if a couple can actually get to the point of labeling their provisional "relationship" as love, especially since passion diminishes after a while.

But even if a couple makes it to the love phase, they may redefine what they feel as "not love" at any time, either before or after marriage. Think of the many movies that show couples living together sometimes even in the final stages of wedding planning who find their "true loves" and dump their current partner without a thought. But then, you don't have to go to the movies to see people dumping their partners, wedded or not.

The marriage bond is also seen as provisional. The words "Til death do us part" and "For better or worse." have no meaning. Sheen was writing at a time when there was little open cohabitation (which was against the law) and when promiscuity was much less acceptable, but Sheen still has a lot to say about all these topics, and about how important God is in the picture.

Two glasses that are empty cannot fill each other up. There must be a fountain of water outside the glasses in order that they may have communion with each other. It takes three to make love.

Okay, the water/fountain/love/God/true communion and satisfaction metaphor may not work completely, but you get the idea.

Maybe this is one example where Christopher West has said it better. In his recent ABC news interview, West said: "The problem is we have kicked God out of the bedroom. Do the math on that. If God is love, and we kick him out of the bedroom, then what's going on in your bedroom? It ain't love. ... We have to bring God and sex back together," said West.

Speaking of God in the bedroom brings to mind a related quote I found recently in the conversion story of Marilyn Prever, in Honey from the Rock,: Sixteen Jews Find the Sweetness of Christ. Prever, who is a very funny woman, wrote that when she finally realized they were ready to seek instruction, she and her husband went to a priest that someone told her was "easy to talk to."

When we brought up the topic of birth control, intending to get instructions in natural family planning, he hastened to assure us that "it's none of the Church's business what you do in the privacy of your bedroom." As I imagined all the mortal sins I could commit with impunity, from first-degree murder to blasphemy, simply by closing my bedroom door, I realized that something serious must have happened to the Catholic Church...

That priest and others like him have "kicked God out of the bedroom." Something serious HAS happened in that many Catholics, lay and clergy and religious decline to obey or defend the Church's teaching about the evils of contraception, extramarital "sex," cohabitation, and divorce. I pray that the misperceptions that even many clergy hold on these vitally important matters are cleared up and there is a widespread return to accepting the teaching authority of the Church by those who call themselves Catholic.

All these things that our are society thinks of as good are evils, because they go against God's plan for our happiness. We violate the laws of nature and of nature's God to our peril.

Christ forbade divorce because marriage is a holy thing that is a Symbol (with a capital S) of His Love for the Church, a Love that is summarized by West as Free, Total, Faithful, and Fruitful. When people practice intimacy outside of marriage or while setting up barriers to life within marriage, it is a grave misuse of a God-given gift, and that misuse creates unmeasurable amounts of harm that ripple out to the whole of every society in the world.




P.S.
Another quote from Christopher West that I like because I've drawn the comparison myself before: he said in the ABC interview that contraception is like bulemia, you want to have the pleasure and prevent the natural functioning of body from its completion.


TOPICS: Catholic; History
KEYWORDS: catholic; cohabitation; contraception; marriage; sheen

1 posted on 06/22/2009 4:02:21 PM PDT by NYer
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...
According to Wikipedia, when Sheen won an Emmy, Berle quipped, 'He's got better writers.'"

The archbishop was approached by the press who asked if he would divulge the names of his writers. Archbishop Sheen smiled graciously and said: "Of course. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John".

2 posted on 06/22/2009 4:03:58 PM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: NYer

Isn’t it amazing that a man of the cloth could have such an understanding of the love between a husband and wife?


3 posted on 06/22/2009 4:11:46 PM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: NYer
As I read the post I was reminded of a song our high school choir sang: Falling in Love with Love. It's from Rogers and Hammerstein's CINDERELLA. YouTube has it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=muXyYpDstr0
4 posted on 06/22/2009 4:11:55 PM PDT by JoeFromSidney
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To: NYer

Fulton Sheen was an amazing man. His talks of decades ago are fresh and timely today. Truly he was a master communicator.

http://www.fultonsheen.com/Fulton-Sheen-MP3.cfm


5 posted on 06/22/2009 4:15:42 PM PDT by loungitude (The truth hurts.)
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To: NYer; Victoria Delsoul

I love listening to Archbishop Sheen. He can be found on Relevant Radio.com. Evenings from 9:00 - 10:00. (CST)


6 posted on 06/22/2009 4:16:25 PM PDT by Northern Yankee (Freedom Needs A Soldier)
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To: Northern Yankee

EWTN also reruns his programs. They are such a delight!


7 posted on 06/22/2009 4:21:20 PM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: NYer

bookmark


8 posted on 06/22/2009 4:32:14 PM PDT by mel
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To: NYer

He looks a little like Nixon (not that that’s a bad thing).


9 posted on 06/22/2009 4:48:50 PM PDT by oprahstheantichrist (The MSM is a demonic stronghold, PLEASE pray accordingly. 2 Cor. 10:3-5)
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To: NYer

“According to Wikipedia, when Sheen won an Emmy, Berle quipped, ‘He’s got better writers.’””

I also heard once that Berle said Sheen had a better sponsor, meaning God of course!


10 posted on 06/22/2009 4:49:55 PM PDT by vladimir998 (Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. St. Jerome)
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To: oprahstheantichrist

Well, Nixon was black-Irish in his ancestery.


11 posted on 06/22/2009 8:24:49 PM PDT by RobbyS (ECCE homo)
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To: RobbyS

Never knew that!


12 posted on 06/22/2009 10:19:19 PM PDT by oprahstheantichrist (The MSM is a demonic stronghold, PLEASE pray accordingly. 2 Cor. 10:3-5)
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To: oprahstheantichrist; RobbyS
Nixon wasn't Black Irish -- he was a Borderer. Nixon is a very common Borders name, and that's where his people were from.

You can read in the foreword to George MacDonald Fraser's wonderful history of the border reivers, The Steel Bonnets, how he got a jolt of recognition at Nixon's inauguration seeing Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Billy Graham all side by side. Not only are all three names Border names and still very common there, but each of the men's faces was a recognizable Border type that you can see anytime in Carlisle or Jedburgh - the big rawboned, bulbous-nosed Johnson, the leonine Graham, the wee dark fierce-browed Nixon.

13 posted on 06/23/2009 1:18:40 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: AnAmericanMother

I’ll defer to you.


14 posted on 06/23/2009 3:57:51 PM PDT by RobbyS (ECCE homo)
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To: trisham
[W]hen sex is divorced from love there is a feeling that one has been stopped at the vestibule of the castle of pleasure

What on Earth would an unmarried celibate man know about either sex or love?

Isn’t it amazing that a man of the cloth could have such an understanding of the love between a husband and wife?

Impossible is a better word.

15 posted on 06/23/2009 4:02:01 PM PDT by Lurker (The avalanche has begun. The pebbles no longer have a vote.)
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To: RobbyS
I'd much rather you deferred to Fraser, who really knew his stuff.

Most people start with his Flashman books, but if you want a great read, I highly recommend his MacAuslan stories, or the aforesaid Steel Bonnets.

There was nothing meaner than a Johnson or an Armstrong on a bad day.

And I say that as a descendant of the most notorious clan of cattle thieves, kidnappers, and protection men over in the West Highlands - the MacGregors.

16 posted on 06/23/2009 4:14:05 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: Lurker
You might as well ask, how can a drug counselor give advice if he's never taken drugs.

It's my experience that somebody who stands outside a situation with a clear eye is in a lot better position to advise than somebody who may well have similar issues bothering him or her. Same reason lawyers never represent themselves or close family (if they're smart).

I've seen marriage counselors who are bitter divorced women themselves advise women to end marriages for no better reason than their own private demons.

When I was an Episcopalian, the married priests would not give you any personal advice at all. They would just pawn you off onto a "family therapist".

On the other hand, both myself and my daughter have received valuable and wise advice from our current rector -- an old-fashioned Irish priest with 40 years under his belt, a gruff exterior and a heart of pure gold.

17 posted on 06/23/2009 4:21:10 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: AnAmericanMother
You might as well ask, how can a drug counselor give advice if he's never taken drugs.

The competent ones are always recovering addicts themselves. Trust me, I know.

Same reason lawyers never represent themselves or close family (if they're smart).

But they do hire other lawyers. The analogy fails there, I think.

I've seen marriage counselors who are bitter divorced women themselves advise women to end marriages for no better reason than their own private demons.

That's true, but irrelevant.

an old-fashioned Irish priest with 40 years under his belt, a gruff exterior and a heart of pure gold.

He sounds like a fine man. But personally I think getting advice about sex and marriage from someone who's never personally experienced either makes about as much sense as taking driving lessons from a blind man or asking a deaf mute to explain Beethoven.

Strictly my opinion.

Their was one Catholic priest I would have taken such advice from as he'd been married for 23 years and raised 4 kids before his wife passed and he joined the Priesthood.

He was a man who's advice could be trusted as he'd been there, done that, and had the T-shirt.

I was deeply saddened at Father Ed's passing. Even though I'm not Catholic he was a man whose opinion I valued and respected, and not just about matters matrimonial.

My best to you.

L

18 posted on 06/23/2009 4:46:52 PM PDT by Lurker (The avalanche has begun. The pebbles no longer have a vote.)
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To: Lurker
Well, the point is that they're recovered, not users.

Look at it like this. Almost any priest understands exactly what he's given up. They know sexual temptation, and sexual conflict, they've wrestled with those questions extensively as part of their formation. They aren't bloodless manikins. But they have dealt with it and sacrificed their personal gratification to be the spouse of the Church instead. So really in a way they have been there, but not any longer, just like your example of a better drug counselor.

That's yet another reason, by the way, that homosexuals shouldn't be priests. They do not sacrifice marital love, sex and children to serve God (in fact you could argue they're actually advancing the likelihood of gaining their desires). They don't even understand what they're giving up.

Sounds like Fr. Ed has a place with the angels. Best to you too.

19 posted on 06/23/2009 4:58:26 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: AnAmericanMother
Almost any priest understands exactly what he's given up.

Maybe, but I'm of the opinion that one can't really understand something one has never experienced. You can't explain a roller coaster ride to someone who's never been on one. You can't explain color to a blind person or music to a deaf one.

to be the spouse of the Church instead. ...

Please don't take this the wrong way, but the Church isn't a woman. And there is absolutely NOTHING on this planet more difficult to understand than a woman. Nothing.

Sounds like Fr. Ed has a place with the angels.

I certainly hope that's true. He was a fine man and my niece and nephew miss him terribly.

I bid you a pleasant evening ma'am.

L

20 posted on 06/23/2009 5:30:21 PM PDT by Lurker (The avalanche has begun. The pebbles no longer have a vote.)
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To: AnAmericanMother

Anglo-Celts. BTW, hope no burgler is foolish enough to break into your house. ;)


21 posted on 06/23/2009 6:15:28 PM PDT by RobbyS (ECCE homo)
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To: RobbyS
When I was around 12-13 years old a burglar did try to break into my parents' house. I was the one who discovered him, and I did my best to sneak away downstairs to tell my dad -- my nerve broke on the stairs and I ran the rest of the way hollering "there's a man on the back balcony!"

He got 2 charges of No. 5 or 6 from my dad's old Parker double barrel shotgun in the seat of his pants and ran screaming off into the rainy night.

My dad's the MacGregor side of the family . . . . quite affable unless crossed . . . .

More recently, the police were trying to flush out a strongarm robber from the woods above our house. I put the kids in their beds and hunkered down behind the wood rack on the back porch with my grandfather's old Browning Light 12, but the K-9 and his handler got the guy first. Just as well, because that Browning kicks like a mule and I would have been black and blue for a week . . . . < g >

22 posted on 06/23/2009 6:27:50 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: AnAmericanMother

Just remember to hold it tight against the shoulder and move with the recoil.


23 posted on 06/23/2009 7:20:30 PM PDT by RobbyS (ECCE homo)
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To: RobbyS
Doesn't make any difference with a Light 12. I have a Rem 870 12 ga. and a Stoeger double as well as a couple of Rem autos, and none of them punish you like the Browning "Mankiller" or "Humpback". It's mechanical recoil (biggest spring you ever saw), and something about the stock alignment makes it hit you just right (or just wrong).

At the time of our robber alert all I had in the house was the Browning and my mother's little 28 ga. dove gun, and all I had for the 28 was some skeet loads. No. 2 in a 12 ga just felt more reassuring with a possible confrontation in the offing.

My grandfather was a little man, smaller than I am (and I'm only 5'6"). How in the world he shot that thing I do not know.

24 posted on 06/23/2009 8:35:24 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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