By Kaelanne Jordan
The Archdiocesan Family Life Commission’s (AFLC) eight-part series on the virtues of Catholic sexuality continued last Tuesday (April 13) with the AFLC’s mental health clinician Crystal Johnson and Cherisse Aqui-Crosby.
Tuesday’s session on the virtues of ‘Faith and Respect’ was captured live during a Topic Tuesday segment via the AFLC’s Instagram page. CLICK HERE TO VIEW
This week’s discussion began with a question from Aqui-Crosby: “What comes to mind when you hear that word faith?”
Initially, both Johnson and Aqui-Crosby surmised trust and confidence in God.
However, in referring to Greg and Lisa Popcak’s Beyond the Birds and the Bees, Johnson asserted that faith carries a “richer meaning”.
“According to the book, faith is more than just complete trust and confidence in God. It’s about openness of our hearts to the divine love and the whole and holy sexuality, which is about loving divinely as God loves…”
So how exactly does Catholic sexuality tie into faith?
The book examined this relationship by underscoring that Catholic sexuality is beyond the physical aspects of sex.
“This is emotional, connection…it’s everything we do for one another. It’s about using ourselves for the will or good of the other. Our bodies, our minds and souls are to create peace and manifest God’s love for the other…. Expressing our sexuality is like a prayer that enables us to …bring love and unity in the whole world,” Johnson explained.
Commenting on the power of prayer, Johnson highlighted that prayer is beyond reciting formal prayers of Our Father and the Hail Mary. Prayer, Johnson asserted, can impact every aspect of one’s life, hence it is also applied to one’s sexuality.
“According to Popcak, …for us to really have a healthy prayer life, we need to know how to practise a healthy prayer life which will result in us and our children having a healthy personal life. So, it’s like a ripple effect,” Johnson said.
She then shared some simple suggestions from the book on how to manifest these virtues within the family. These range from praying at home together as family, extending one’s prayer life to others as community and Church, and in performing everyday routine activities with family.
On the topic of ‘Respect’, Aqui-Crosby shared that the Birds and the Bees identified that having a healthy respect for oneself and others includes behaving in modesty, treating people with dignity and setting respectful limits. It further explained that Christian sexuality causes one to be a generous, loving servant to others. A selfish sexuality, however, causes one to think of oneself as an itch that others are expecting to scratch.
The Birds and the Bees further emphasises this by exploring the following questions:
1. Do you shirk your responsibility and expect everyone to clean your messes?
2. Do you expect others to do for you what you are perfectly capable of doing for yourself?
3. Do you act like your spouse is inferior, giving and denying permission and will, for things that are important to him/her?
4. Do you think about others in terms of how they can benefit you?
If you said ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, you’ve probably made your spouse feel used at some point.
To this end, Aqui-Crobsy added “we have to remember Christianity calls us to be servants to others”.
Johnson agreed, highlighting that the virtues of faith and respect remind us that everything we do, our actions, thoughts, behaviours, ought to align with the greater good of the other, so we can impart that to our children, so we can have a healthy person at the end of the day.”
The second element to respect is setting healthy limits. The authors recommend giving kids a lot of verbal and physical affection so they grow into adults who aren’t constantly seeking approval due to deprivation in their childhood.
“As parents we kind of take that [for] granted, that our kids know we love them, but we have to be conscious to show them this love…the hugs, the kisses,” Aqui-Crosby said.
“The apologies as well,” Johnson interjected.
Aqui-Crosby explained that when we allow our children to tell us when they feel disrespected or wronged by us, they are able to create healthy limits in their own life in that they don’t allow others to take advantage of them.
Tune in to Topic Tuesday at noon as AFLC continues the conversation.