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Center for Action and Contemplation
Intimacy and Sexual Wholeness
Intimacy and Sexual Wholeness

A Spiritual Wholeness 

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Father Richard names the sacred nature of our sexuality:  

I think we need to name the sacred character of sexuality. For many of us, sexuality is not the realm of the sacred. Quite the opposite: it was the thing we were taught would lead us to evil. People think that the sexual revolution has already happened, and that it was about some kind of newfound freedom for all of us to do our thing. But I think what has happened in its wake is only the rumblings before the real revolution.  

We’ve got to get to the real sexual revolution, where we talk about a relational wholeness that is a synergy and a life energy larger than two individuals separately and even together. The real revolution is the discovery that people can be deep, passionate, intimate, and loving friends, whether they are lovers or not. The real revolution, it seems to me, is the discovery of the human capacity for friendship that leads people to a spiritual wholeness, to the inner union with the divine, with the self, and with everything so we are not so needy in our primary relationship. [1]  

Contemplative author Christine Valters Paintner affirms our erotic desire as a longing for connection and wholeness:  

Sexuality and the erotic are fundamental urges we have as human beings to move us beyond our solipsistic, preoccupied selves into a world of community and connection. Sexuality is about more than sex in the physical sense—although making love is one of the great sensual gifts we have been created for, and the extraordinary pleasure it brings to our bodies surely points to a God who finds this kind of erotic delight a beautiful thing. The act of lovemaking can be a place of profound ecstasy, of moving beyond your own perceived boundaries into vulnerable and intimate connection with another in the context of deep trust and commitment.  

What if our call is to make love to life itself, whether or not we express it in a physically intimate way with another person? What if this sexual desire were about tapping into a source of energy that awakens us to our deepest longing for connection?  

Sexuality is what draws us beyond our own boundaries into the service, intimacy, and vulnerability of human relationships. Our deepest desires thrust us into these places of tenderness that come with meaningful human connection. Our deep desires of the heart are about bringing our gifts into the world to make a difference. We are called to move beyond the sphere of self-concern into a dance of mutuality with others where we are invited to believe that our existence makes a difference in the human-animal-nature community.…  

When our desire and compulsions are healed and integrated, they become the source for tremendous energy for good in the world and our ability to be a healing presence to others.    

[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr and Cynthia Bourgeault, God as Us! The Sacred Feminine and the Sacred Masculine (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2011). Available as MP3 audio download. 

[2] Christine Valters Paintner, The Wisdom of the Body: A Contemplative Journey to Wholeness for Women (Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2017), 76–77, 78. 

Image credit and inspiration: Nina Hill, untitled (detail), 2020, photo, Unsplash. Click here to enlarge image. The connective energy of human touch, entwining our hands and our hearts. We are not alone. 

Story from Our Community:  

As a gay Catholic man in relationship with my husband, Leo (40 years of faithful love), and the institutional church, I am living the Paschal Mystery in my life each day.… How do I handle [the church’s rejection of my sexuality]? I allow myself to be transformed by Love. My prophetic stance is to remain active both in the church and as part of my own union. I feel confident that the church will someday change its teachings on homosexuality— even though it may not happen in my lifetime.
—Joseph G. 

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