“Earth hath no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” – St. Thomas Moore
I once worked with a young man, John, who at one point wanted to be a priest and after two years in the Seminary, he left because it was not his calling. He then married a protestant woman and left the Catholic faith. As I was coming in to work one morning on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, he was talking to another of my co-workers and questioning him if he knew what the feast of the Immaculate Conception was all about. John knew full well the answer to the question he was asking and it can be a trick question for those who do not take their Catholic faith seriously since many assume the Holy day is about Jesus. It is not. The feast is about Mary, the mother of God, who Catholics believe was conceived without the stain of original sin, thereby making her worthy to carry within her the son of God. I managed to intervene just in case my other co-worker did not know the correct answer. I can be bad like that. That lead John to start a conversation on how could Mary be immaculate and remain a virgin if she had other children? The gospels he stated contained references to Jesus’s brothers. The answer to that is; the Catholic faith holds that Mary remained a virgin throughout her life and ‘brothers’ in the Aramaic language refers to any close male relative, such as cousins or uncles or close family friends much in the same way the black community uses the word, “bro”. This language does not have a separate word for blood related brothers alone. John was upset with my answers and left saying, “If that was the case, (Mary remained a virgin), then poor Joseph (i.e. Joseph would not be able to have sex with his wife).” He did not leave me the opportunity to ask, “What are you willing to give up to love, hold and raise the son of the living God in your arms and in your home, as your own son?”
“’Truly I tell you,’ Jesus replied, ‘no one who has left home or bothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and gospel will fail to receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life.’” (Mark 10:29-30)
Too often, I have heard people say, “If there is no sex in heaven, then why would I want to go there?” It is a question bore out of ignorance of heaven and a question I can only answer with a story I made up.
There once was a man who was raised by monkeys, (no, not Tarzan). He lived in the jungle and ate all the food the monkeys showed him to eat. There were fruits and bugs and worms that supplied his daily nourishment. One day, a rich man from the other side of the world was visiting the jungle and found him. He took pity on the man raised by monkeys and brought him to his home across the sea. He had a banquet filled with all the finest foods and drinks prepared by the most renown chiefs of the world and placed in a beautiful banquet hall. When the rich man opened the door to the feast, the poor monkey man said, “Where are the bugs and worms to eat?”. Then sadly he left the feast saying, “If there are no bugs and worms here, then I do not want to be here as well.” The moral of the story is this: If you settle for only the joys you know here on earth then you will be settling for joys that could never equal the joy of heaven. Even the joy of sex is worms compared to the ecstasy of being in the presence of the living God. Ignorance of the truth of heaven keeps people bound to the sin of earth.
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those how love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
Many saints were allowed to experience this ecstasy here on earth as shown by the phenomena of levitation. It was said that St. Joseph of Cupertino levitated so often that for thirty-five years, his superiors would not allow him to partake in any community procession or exercise least he disturb the event. He would go into ecstasy and be carried off for some distances. Over 70 of his levitations were recorded making him the patron saint of airline passengers. It was told that after one priest said to him, “Father Joseph, how beautiful God has made Heaven,” the saint flew up and rested on top of an olive tree branch and remained kneeling there for over a half hour. On occasion the levitations could last six to seven hours. St. Joseph is not alone in this mystery as the list of saints known to levitate is quite long.
“and I know that this man was caught up into paradise-whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know, God knows, was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell.” (2 Corinthians 12:3-4)
Along with the demand that heaven include sex, is the notion that it is unnatural for men to be priests and never marry. Our sex obsessed culture is so blind to the idea that men and women could give up the act of sex in order to serve God. I have actually heard people say that pedophilia would not happen if priests were allowed to marry which is so completely ignorant of the nature of pedophilia. If marriage prevented pedophilia, then why are so many children attacked by married peoples or people in sexual relationships? It is not about unmet sexual desire but about the unnatural desire to have sex with children and it a terrible sickness in and out of any type of sexual relationship. Priests make the decision to abstain from sexual relationships in order to serve a greater love, the love of God. That is what they are willing to sacrifice to hold and love the son of the living God.
“Some are born eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose to not marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” (Matthew 19:12)
Sex is a wonderful gift from God. God invented it and designed it for us to understand a small taste of heaven. It is meant to give us an understanding of life in heaven. It is a glimpse of what God feels when He created us and the love He feels for us. It was to bound a man and woman together in love and to bring forth life in consecrated love. In marriage, it is holy. It was meant to be wonderful. It was never meant to be the highest level of ecstasy we can ever experience.
“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth; for your love is better than wine.” (Song of Songs 1:2)
John, don’t settle for worms.