Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Man to Man - First Thoughts

Father James Farfaglia

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered Father James Farfaglia's book, Man to Man, through the web site link that you can find over on the left side of this blog page, near the top, or here. I have been waiting very impatiently for it to arrive, and yesterday it did. I am only halfway through my first reading of this fantastic book, but do not want to wait another day to start commenting on it.

If Christian men were to follow Father James' direction in this book, there would be a sexual counter revolution such as described by Jennifer Hartline in her Catholic Online article in September 2009 here, which concluded with the following exhortation.
It’s time for a radical revolution of responsibility; a revolution of reverence for sex and reverence for life.It is time for a sexual counter-revolution which liberates men and women, honors marriage and reaffirms the beauty and dignity of human love in the Divine Plan.
If I had read and taken to heart what Father James has written today, back in the early days of the sexual revolution, which was less of a revolution than a high jacking, I am certain that my life would have been happier. There would have been less seeds of destruction sowed by and for me and for those that I claimed to love along the way, including my three lovely daughters and my former wife, their mother. Additionally, if by some set of circumstances I still had ended up meeting and marrying my current wife, she would have known deep in her heart from the very beginning that I loved her with my whole heart, and much, if not all, of the sorrow that has happened in our relationship would never have occurred.

Recently, one of our daughters asked me if her mother and I still did . . . you know. Before I could answer her, she said: "Wait, I don't want to know." So, I never got to answer, but I did get to think of the answer. Here is the answer that I would give her, if she allowed me to answer. "Yes and no."

But, the No part of the answer is the most important one. My dear wife, who I love more and more each and every day, and I have had an extended period of continence, which is defined as "a refraining from sexual intercourse." We did not set out to do this, but fell into it through illness, in part, and also something going on inside each of us that led us to this time without actually discussing it at any great length.

As a child of the sexual revolution, unwitting though I was, I have been dragged around by my johnson in one sense, though it was really me dragging myself around like a pull toy for all these years. The dark purpose of the sexual revolution was to convince modern man, that sex was really a recreational pursuit, where no harm, no foul meant that guy meets girl, guy boinks girl, while girl boinks him back, and everyone goes away sexually satisfied and happy.

With sadness, I recount that I participated in the revolution. I watched the videos, read the stories, looked at the pictures. I experimented with the techniques, and various partners, or did it by myself, at times when a partner was not available. Even with all that, I have never thought abortion was right, and I came to believe the correct Church teaching about the evils of birth control. But, inside me lust was still burning, and I thought it was normal, deluded individual that I was.

Along the way, I came to the conclusion that pornography and sexual fantasizing was not making me happy, and was having a negative impact on my marriage. I eventually came to realise that whenever I felt lonely, I wanted some sexual titillation to "make me happy." But, it never did. I always felt empty, and even more alone. So, tell me why I was drawn to things that may have tickled my fancy, but left me empty and alone.

I have had many years of physical disability, along with my wife's illnesses to ponder these things, and more importantly to pray about them, and to seek God's will in all of this. Over the years the flames of my lust diminished, but still there was this small ember that could spark up at certain times.

But, a number of things have happened in this year, 2009 that have opened my eyes to God's will in my life even more, and to my role as a husband and father. While the spark of my lust diminished, the spark of my love for my wife and my children grew into a large, very hot, purging flame.

This period of continence between my dear wife and me is but a sign of the love growing in me for her and for others. How many men have said to a woman, "If you loved me you would . . . ", which of course, has nothing to do with love and everything to do with lust.

How many men have said to the woman that they love: "I adore you and want to honour you in everything I do in our relationship." Better yet, how many men have put action into honouring their loved one?

By the grace of a loving God, the one whose birth we are celebrating in just 2 more days, I am doing just that, honouring my dear wife, and growing in love of her more and more each and every day. How long will this period of continence last? I have no idea, and not a serious care in the world about it. My flesh does, but not my heart, and for the first time in my life, I am really following my heart, and loving it, and HER. And above that, I love my GOD, who is healing me of the things that prevent me from being more like Him every day.

So, men, here is what I offer to you. If you want to be happy for the rest of your lives, jump off the sexual revolution bandwagon. Even if you just have the toe of lust on that bandwagon, your life is not free. Read Jennifer Hartline's article from Catholic Online linked above, and get Fr. James Farfaglia's book "Man to Man" also linked above. And above all, pray for the grace to be a real lover.

I guarantee you that if you follow this advice, you will make the woman in your life the happiest woman in the world, and yourself the happiest man in the world.

1 comment:

Joshua S. said...

Michael: Who among us can claim a life untouched by sin? Like you, I also have some regrets about my past participation in particular social movements (blind alleys all!) that erred from the path of what - ultimately - is my Faith. In looking back, I realize that I betrayed and cheated on myself in so doing! I have prayed and asked for - and received - forgiveness for my past sins. And that forgiveness came in the form of my beloved wife. I knew from the moment I met my wife that here she was - God's Forgiveness incarnated in this one special woman who would become the mother of my children. The relief I felt was palpable, and the fulfillment to come was immeasureable.

Time and tide (and age and illness) have sometimes compromised our ability for physical intimacy. And nothing but God's Love is forever, we have discovered, and God's Gifts keep being bestowed upon us in one way or another - including physical intimacy.

Physical (sexual) expression is not unlike ocean tides - rising and falling in patterns all their own. Unlike tides, we cannot map the schedule of future lovemaking. Lovemaking "happens" - with or without sexual "ability", I might add - to all those who pray for God's Blessings.

"Love" - the physical side of it - is among God's magic tricks. Regardless of how wonderful it was/is, one always wants to see it all over again. In my experience, God does not disappoint His faithful children.

One last thing. Somewhere in the Bible - I am no biblical scholar so I cannot quote chapter and verse - I am certain Jesus warns about the dangers of focusing on one's life prior to one's conscious salvation. Jesus Christ Himself doesn't weant us to be too hard on ourselves but, rather, to just pick up the pieces and continue walking God's Path with greater vigilance than ever.

From where I stand, Michael, that is EXACTLY what you are doing.

At my age (late-50s), I find that it is more difficult than ever to "make friends". Contemporary cirtcumstances also do not favour "genuine" connection between human beings who do not know one another. And although 2009 has been among the most difficult years of my life health-wise, it was also a year that brought me genuine miracles! Under the circumstances, I consider meeting and getting to know (a bit) Michael Brandon to be among those miracles.

Michael, the Joshua you met is a work-in-progress being forged by God and His Blessings every second of every day. I am a peaceful man, but God has helped me learn to be a peaceful man by bringing me peace. My past and upbringing were characterized by hatreds, wars, violence, killing and suffering. "Peace" was not something I actually experienced in my formative years. So, essentially, I was a violent man who learned to be peaceful man through God's Love. With the benefit of hindsight, I wouldn't have it any other way. To boot, I consider you to be among God's Blessings to me in 2009.