Chastity for the sexually experienced grown-up?


#1

I posted this in another forum, but it sank like a stone so I thought I’d try here and see what the Catholic Answers gange has to say.

Last week I read Christopher West’s Theology of the Body for Beginners and this week I started his Theology of the Body Explained. I love love love these books and I’ll be looking to reading the Pope’s actual writings on the topic when I’m done with West In fact, I’m attending a local study group tonight about the Theology of the Body that is studying West’s “TOTB Explained” boo and I’m very excited about it.

But both books really have me curious if there is anything out there for those of us who expect to remain single for life. West is predominantly focused on the marital relationship or preparing for the marital relationship. While he does talk about lifetime chastity it is mostly in the context of consecrated life and he says very little about the single life as a vocation.

Also, I think his emphasis is really useful as support for young people who intend to remain chaste until marriage, I find it less useful as a nearly 40 year old divorced woman with extensive sexual experience who is looking for support on leading a newly chaste life after years and years of an unchaste one.

I find these books deeply life-changing, but I’d love to find some resources that spend as much time talking about single life (from the perspective of staying that way) as it does about marriage. I’m looking for books, websites, your own thoughts etc. – that supports and helps me and guides me with my decision and takes into account the fact that some people called to being single are sexually experienced. Most of what I’ve come across is about preserving chastity rather than restoring it. Those of us who are already sexually experienced have entirely different challenges, in my opinion, than those who are not in our attempt to live chastely. At least that is the way I see it.

To be a bit more explicit, what I would really like is to see some work that explores the healing aspects of the Theology of the Body for those of us who have already sexually damaged ourselves through promiscuity, pornography, prostitution and the like. I see enormous untapped potential for healing and reconciliation as a result of the Theology of the Body and I’m just looking for something out there that recognizes the possibilities of it without devoting 10 times as many pages to marriage or the prospect of marriage as it does to celibacy.

So any thoughts you might have or resources you’d like to share would be most welcome.


#2

theologyofthebody.net/katrina_zeno.htm

Check this out, Maybe it will be of some help because I believe Katrina Zeno is in a similar situation (single mother, formerly married, expecting to remain single) and she is an active teacher of TOB.


#3

[quote=Sandman]theologyofthebody.net/katrina_zeno.htm

Check this out, Maybe it will be of some help because I believe Katrina Zeno is in a similar situation (single mother, formerly married, expecting to remain single) and she is an active teacher of TOB.
[/quote]

Thanks! I’ve been on that site many times, but I never noticed that link to Katrina’s page!


#4

Dear jennstall,

I’m a member of a religious order so am not the best to answer your question, in a sense. But, i think sinful “experience” in sexuality is the same as sinful experience in any other part of life. It can be more difficult to overcome since there are such strong physical aspects of the sins but all sin, when it has become habitual, is very hard to reconcile with a new way of living. That being said, i think it is very important for you to pray and beg our Lord to help you so that the errors (your whole past, really, but especially sins) of your life can be turned into graces. Romans 8:28 says that God turns *everything * to the good of those who love Him–that must include our sins. The best example of this is the Cross–our hatred of Jesus and our killing Him was turned into the means of our salvation, by the grace and mercy of God.

A good example from a person’s life is from St. Teresa of Jesus (of Avila) who, early in her life, wasted a lot of time on worldly conversations. However, when she was converted, the ways in which she had sinned in the past (her laziness and love of talking about nonsense) were turned into her greatest strength so that she never wasted a moment later in life and all of her conversations were edifying and inspiring.

None of this has anything to do, directly, with the theology of the body. But, as i said, my main suggestion is that you pray and beg God to give you the grace you need to use your life experience, both the bad and good, for the furthering of His kingdom. Maybe you’re the one who is supposed to write the book on this topic…


#5

Br. Dan, I think you’re an ideal person to offer me advice and as it happens you’ve hit right on something I’ve been thinking about. Before my reversion, I was working on a memoir and now I find myself looking at it and saying, “Y’know, you could send an entirely different and pointed message here if you just changed the focus.” And now I think you must have been designed to say something to me because exactly what I need to do is pray for the graces needed to turn the exposure into something more meaningful. So thank you.

I feel like my head is spinning most of the time lately as I scramble to figure out my “calling” as it were, and I need to just spend some time sitting in prayer instead of trying to figure out on my own what God wants me to do.


#6

Dearest Jenn

I am in a similar situation to you. I am now practising a personal vow of celibacy. It is extremely hard to do, but with constant prayer and reflection it is possible. The nature of chastity, raises you above the human wants, desires and weaknesses, but once you mentally and spiritually take this step , then the weight of it is felt. You may find yourself bombarded with thoughts or temptations once you undertake this life and personally I always respond to this with prayer to our Lord Jesus. This is the ONLY thing that keeps my will strong and my resolve firm.

It is also worth remembering that once you have confessed your former lifestyle to the Lord in the sacrament of reconciliation your past, present and FUTURE is healed! This serves as a great strength to maintain your future chastity.

You may also wish to share what you are doing with your Priest who will be a great source of support and help to you. You may also consider a secular order as I am doing at present.

If there is anything further you’d like to know about my personal experiences in walking this road feel free to message me.

You are in my prayers and God Bless you and much love and peace to you

Teresa xxx


#7

Jenn,

I think you’ve hit on only half the problem. As a formerly married woman purposing to remain single, I can vouch for the fact that sex in sinful situations isn’t the only obstacle in achieving chastity. I miss being intimate, and I often think that chastity may be one of my most difficult crosses to bear as a single woman.

How can we help one another?


#8

You aren’t the only one who is frustrated with the teen and married folks chastity/sex books and talks. I honestly feel like older single folks (anything post-high school up till age 100) and sexually experienced folks now embracing chastity are totally left out! We are the Black Hole. It’s no wonder that most folks leave the Church after they leave high school and embark upon Singlehood virtually alone and unsupported. Most of my single Catholic peers are either shacked up with lovers - or on their way to being shacked up with lovers. Sometimes the situation feels almost hopeless!


#9

Pray and don’t think about it. Do other stuff.

I know it’s not that simple, but frankly, one of the best means of getting myself back on the chastity track has been simply getting tired of the pattern. Maybe I’m blessed with the gift of A.D.D., but the sin-confession-sin-confession-sin-confession routine got pretty old. It’s just so much easier now to walk the straight-and-narrow. And, I know all my tricks. I can’t even fool myself into believing that it’s hopeless anymore.

That, and I’m dating a girl who knows how to put the breaks on. :thumbsup:


#10

[quote=LauraL]Jenn,

I think you’ve hit on only half the problem. As a formerly married woman purposing to remain single, I can vouch for the fact that sex in sinful situations isn’t the only obstacle in achieving chastity. I miss being intimate, and I often think that chastity may be one of my most difficult crosses to bear as a single woman.

How can we help one another?
[/quote]

Yes, Laura, you’re absolutely right. The chastity problem is just half of the situation for those of us who have been married or sexually involved, but now intend to remain single and chaste. I have to say at the moment, I’m enjoying my solitude, but I know the desire to be intimate will come up in future because it’s been there in the past. I think one of the biggest burdens of being single is being lonely. It is not as easy to make friends in my late 30s as it was in college and I feel like any male friends I might try to make I’ll have to hold at arms length. I’m not even sure I know how to have a strictly platonic relationship with a man. So maybe it is best avoided. I don’t know.

How can we help each other? A support group would be nice LOL After the TOTB study group I went to the other night I was invited to a “young folks” potluck at a nearby church this evening, but I hesitate to go. So I guess I have to find a way to get out of my own way. I keep thinking, “Oh you know it’s just gonna be some singles group of Catholics looking to marry.” And I’m probably at least half right, but maybe that’s just an excuse not to make the effort. It’s easier to hang out online. Know what I mean?


#11

[quote=MichelleTherese]You aren’t the only one who is frustrated with the teen and married folks chastity/sex books and talks. I honestly feel like older single folks (anything post-high school up till age 100) and sexually experienced folks now embracing chastity are totally left out! We are the Black Hole. It’s no wonder that most folks leave the Church after they leave high school and embark upon Singlehood virtually alone and unsupported. Most of my single Catholic peers are either shacked up with lovers - or on their way to being shacked up with lovers. Sometimes the situation feels almost hopeless!
[/quote]

Yup, yup. Perusing all the books is disheartening a bit. As I’m newly reverted (is it three months now?) I don’t even have any Catholic peers yet (locally), but I know what I’ll find when I do because it’s not just Catholics that pair off. It’s practically EVERYONE!

In fact, all my friends just moved out of LA at the same time. It’s the great abandonment LOL But none of them were Catholic anyway. One’s married, one is a non-practicing lesbian. They are actually both supportive of my reversion and are very happy for me, but my one other friend who is single and resigned to remaining so completely flipped her lid when I told her I reverted. So I’ll get no support there. She thinks I’ve gone crazy.


#12

[quote=montanaman]Pray and don’t think about it. Do other stuff.

I know it’s not that simple, but frankly, one of the best means of getting myself back on the chastity track has been simply getting tired of the pattern. Maybe I’m blessed with the gift of A.D.D., but the sin-confession-sin-confession-sin-confession routine got pretty old. It’s just so much easier now to walk the straight-and-narrow. And, I know all my tricks. I can’t even fool myself into believing that it’s hopeless anymore.

That, and I’m dating a girl who knows how to put the breaks on. :thumbsup:
[/quote]

Well, I’m not dating and don’t intend to date, but it’s the thoughts that really get me down sometimes.

Edited for TMI. Ugh.


#13

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