When was the last time you heard a Priest preach on the sins of the flesh? On Sex? A lot of you will not like the quote which follows ("if you don't want to know the score, look away now"), some because of the message, some because of the language in which it is couched, but the more I reflect, the more apposite I find it.
It comes from a collection of essays by Piers Paul Read, a Catholic writer whose Catholicism has, as he explains in a different essay, brought him little favour.
He reflects on the erotic and concludes:
"It is therefore with some sorrow that I have come to accept that the Church is right and novelists are wrong. Art portrays the pleasures of this life, not the next. The whole drift of revealed truth suggests a divine distaste for the erotic. It even seems likely that the aboriginal calamity of original sin was sexual in kind, for why else should Adam and Eve have covered their bodies with fig-leaves? Copulation is undoubtedly man's most animal act. Even as he eats or defecates his mind can be elsewhere, but in copulation body and soul are concentrated in his loins. Orgasm is the surrogate ecstasy peddled by the Devil - an easy pastiche of that mystical state achieved by the most holy saints and ascetics.
This truth about God is hard to accept. We tend to forget that we are made in his image and likeness, not God in ours, and consequently convince ourselves that something so powerful and pleasant must accord to his will. Alas, it is not so, and it would be presumptuous to criticise our Creator for the way things have turned out. 'Is it for you to question me about my children,' asks Yahweh in Isaiah, 'and to dictate to me what my hands should do?' Only in marriage, when sexual intercourse between husband and wife may lead to the propagation of more souls, does God smile on copulation."
I wonder sometimes about NFP: is it about natural family planning, or about sex without the risk of children? I wonder about a Church where priests can talk about the sexual urge (as opposed to the procreational urge) as "holy". I wonder what they teach at seminaries.
I put forward, hesitantly, the view that the Church has lost a lot more since Vatican II than proper celebration of the Liturgy, and that She has to recover a sense of what men and women are for, not just what individual men and women should believe.