Sunday, July 29, 2012

On the Heartache Inherent to the Pursuit of Pleasure Alone

I just finished Melinda Selmys' excellent book Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism. It's part autobiography, part bridge between gay culture and Catholic culture, helping both to understand the other. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Selmys makes it clear that beauty and truth are driving forces in her life, and these show clearly in her writing. One passage in particular has stayed with my memory: so hauntingly true, so plaintively evocative...

          Do you think that you know, better than someone who is trying the path of flesh, that its promises are void? That you know better that it is all heartache and failed romance? That you have a keen insight into its existential abysses, lacked by those actually drowning in the darkness?
          We needn't squander too much time demonstrating that there is no hope for man in the satisfaction of his impulses and desires. Those who pursue Lady Pleasure as their mistress will find out, sooner or later, that she is a ruthless goddess, a consumer of hearts, who feasts on the carcasses of her faithful and leaves their bones to the dogs. Those who are involved in sexual excesses of any variety -- heterosexual, homosexual, or other -- will eventually discover that they are held hostage in the prisons of their own desires, and that what looks like freedom tastes like death. People who languish in the dungeons of sin know. They know. They are only trying to tell themselves otherwise as a means of keeping sane -- much as a certain kind of prisoner, confined in chains and kept for years from the light of the sun, will slide into a deep and imperturbable fantasy in which the bedbugs do not bite and the whip does not crack. If you feel compelled to rattle someone into a realization that they are sauntering down the wide avenues to hell, concentrate on the complacent, the respectable, the self-satisfied. The sinners -- the public, obvious sinners, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, and the men on Queen Street with the leather thongs -- they know. Christ was always very tender with these people. He saved the epithets and violence for the Pharisees and the moneychangers in the Temple.

Andrea Vincentino, Christ and the Adulteress
Credit: Web Gallery of Art

May we all be a bit more tender with the manifest sinners in our lives. May our love for them draw them to Christ, Who is the only source of healing from the sores left by Lady Pleasure's reign. And may we each embrace His love and forgiveness, and welcome Him to heal the wounds of our own sins.

Propitius esto, parce nobis, Domine.
Propitius esto, exaudi nos, Domine.


  1. That is one of my favorite passages from that book. Like you said, it's so true. On another note, hello!

  2. That is one of my favorite passages from that book. Like you said, it's so true. On another note, hello!


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