“A gift we all need” Fr. John Riccardo on Sex and the Spiritual Life

New book from Ave Maria Press is the perfect gift for your favorite priest, deacon, or parish minister … or for anyone wanting to experience the joy of living a life of sexual integrity.

When I first asked Pat if she would tackle the subject of how sexuality informs and affects our spiritual growth, I never expected to find myself in Fr. John Riccardo’s office, listening to him tell the story of how he had been sexually abused as a young adult — and how that experience has informed his priesthood in beautiful and even miraculous ways. I never thought I would be moved to tears reading Eve Tushnet’s essay about the gift of spiritual friendship that she received from the gay community. And I was amazed to read about the gift that is celibacy both within the priesthood and religious life — not as a witness, but as a lived experience. Finally, and (for me) most importantly, I was deeply affected by the testimony of Tim and Karen Hogen, who spoke of the beautiful dance of intimacy that is married life, a dance that is experienced not only in the bedroom, but in the emotional and spiritual intimacy of daily life.

One of the reasons Fr. Riccardo and so many others who have endorsed the book recognize it for the gift that it is, is because it is such a rare and beautiful thing to find mature Catholic men and women who are willing to subject themselves to the scrutiny and criticism of the “uptight upright” about such an intimate part of their lives. (I particularly commend Tim and Karen Hogan for sharing their story as a married couple, which is one to which so many of us can relate). I am so grateful to each of them, for taking up the challenge … and I want to suggest to you to pick up a copy of this book — actually, two of them: One for you, and one for your priest or DRE, for whom this book will soon become a dog-eared treasure.

Thank you, Pat, for giving us such a beautiful testimony of truth, beauty, and goodness.

Putting It On the Line for Love

line dancingAre you a line dancer? No, me either — not usually. But today I’m gonna “put it on the line for love” for a good friend of mine, and invite you to join me.

Today I got a wonderful note from a dear friend — Friend A — who has had her fair share of heartache this past year. One line in particular warmed me from the inside out, “I admire how you continue to write, putting it all on the line for love.”

Her note was particularly timely, as I’d just gotten off the phone with ANOTHER friend — Friend B — that made me want to beat my head against the desk. We’d had one of “those” conversations, yet again. The problem hasn’t changed, nor has this person’s motivation to do something about the problem, other than auto-flaggilate. Which if you think about it is as painful to do as it is to watch.

“Look,” I finally said to Friend B. “Right now you have a choice. You can’t change ____, and you can’t change ___, but you CAN change one thing: how to spend the next hour. Set a goal for yourself, and while you work, try to think of 3 things to be thankful for. When you’re done, see if you don’t feel better!”

When I was done with the “tough love,” it was time to “put it on the line.” I reminded Friend B of all she had been through in the past year — all the loss, all the stress, all the pressure — and suggested that perhaps it was finally time to deal with all the feelings that had been set aside in order to deal with the immediate crisis. “Sooner or later, you have to deal if you want to get to a happy place. Talk to someone who understands these things. Let it out. You’ll be glad you did.”

Buck up, Buttercup. It’s time to dance!

As women, we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves, whether in the heat of crisis or in the aftermath. Sure, we need to eat right and exercise and rest. But we also need to release that little pressure valve inside us, setting up little victories for ourselves, slipping off those ratty old house slippers and donning our leather-soled dancing shoes.

By now you may be wondering what line dancing has to do with all this. In the chapter “God and Godiva” of Hallie Lord’s book Style, Sex, and Substance, Karen Edmisten suggests we “dance in the kitchen” — and thank God for the “raw and energizing power of music.” Excuse me … I think I’m gonna go dance now. “Line dancing,” if you will.