I have a question. When considering the lives of the saints, particularly those who were cloistered monks or nuns, I wonder if their abundant love for the Lord overtook any type of sexual thought or desire. For example, Thérèse of Lisieux. She was obviously an incredibly contemplative, devoted saint. In reading her spiritual autobiography I found that she constantly thought of Jesus. When you are so focused on the Lord, do you lose your sexual desire? Is this a good think? Even though one always has a health sexual attraction, is it ok to “forget” about this, in a sense? Is this wrong?
While Mary’s grace has just about everything to do with it, one can become so focused on the Lord that the hormones given off during ovulation don’t matter. Our Lord has told saints that He can protect one from temptations – “lead us not into temptation”.
St. Francis de Sales was so mild that when he died, no bile was found in him. He wanted to lose his temper once, and someone tempted him to do so, but he said he wasn’t going to because all those years of hard work would be lost. He also said that the Lord can indeed preserve us from temptation.
One vocation brochure I saw did breach the subject of sexual desires, and how well someone can control them. Another cloistered convent said they do discuss sexual matters, but in a healthy manner for the sake of the community.
Mind over matter, too. If you don’t give in to those pictures that are trying to lead you astray during your (and others’) time of fertility, you’ve beat the temptation, and the Lord is to be praised. Keep in mind that looking at a person with lust is indeed a sin. If you don’t want them looking at you with lust, don’t look at them with lust. Sometimes it can be that simple.
I would say that you don’t lose your sexual desire as you advance in the spiritual life since sexual desire is very much integral to who we are as human beings. Rather, as you are more and more perfected through union with God, your sexual desires (as all your other lower desires) are put more in line and are not as disordered. This of course doesn’t mean that someone in a high state of holiness is never tempted sexually or couldn’t fall in this way; perfection does not rob us of our free will either. But rather, we learn to put those desires in perspective and live out a life which directs them toward the vocation God has for us. A celibate priest, in becoming a spiritual father, is not to deny his natural desire to be a father, but rather to sublimate that desire and to ask God that it be consecrated to a higher purpose–so that he realizes his call not to beget children biologically but spiritually.
Everyone must deal with sexual desires and impulses. EVERYONE. What differentiates a saint from the rest of us is that the saint has received the grace to love God more than he or she loves a particular sin.
It’s always a struggle. Ask God for help. We must accept that we’re powerless to control these urges and ask for the grace to overcome them. Our failures make us humble. They serve to remind us that we are utterly dependent upon God and that God’s mercy is inexhaustable. I’ve found that it’s easier to avoid sins when I understand that they’ll harm my relationship with God rather than by only fearing the eventual punishment if those sins remain unforgiven.
Finally, don’t lose hope. Soon after he was elected, Pope Francis said: “The Lord never gets tired of forgiving us. It is we, who get tired of asking for forgiveness.”
St Therese of Lisieux, to whom you referred, had this to say to her novices:
“You make me think of a little child that is learning to stand but does not yet know how to walk. In his desire to reach the top of the stairs to find his mother, he lifts his little foot to climb the first stair. It is all in vain, and at each renewed effort he falls. Well, be this little child: through the practice of all the virtues, always lift your little foot to mount the staircase of holiness, but do not imagine that you will be able to go up even the first step! No, but the good God does not demand more from you than good will. From the top of the stairs, He looks at you with love. Soon, won over by your useless efforts, He will come down Himself and, taking you in His arms, He will carry you up… But if you stop lifting your little foot, He will leave you a long time on the ground.”
I do think you do lose your sexual desires for two reasons. First Jesus did say there are eunuch born like that and that tells you right there there are people who don’t feel those sexual desires. Keep in mind sex is not a necessity, humans can live perfectly without sex and is not required for the body. There are many people who can live happily with no sexual desire. Because there are many who struggle with this it doesn’t mean that everyone does. Second, saints like st Therese had very intense spiritual and praying life’s. They spend hours and hours praying and doing mortification of their bodies many times to be able to control their bodies. St john Maria Vianney was famous for eating only boiled potatoes once a week and had no difficulty with such a harsh diet. What I mean is that our human body and our spirit are capable of much more than what our society sells to us. They sale to us the concept of over indulging in ourselves do whatever your body asks you. Most of the mystics and great saints were very against this idea of over indulging and looked to be able to be in full control of their bodies. Mother Theresa used to define this lifestyle of chastity as freedom which is true because it frees you from being a slave of the body. Culture on the other hand sella you that sex is something that no one can live without. Don’t buy into that. I can bet you that if most of us would have half of the praying time that st Therese would had (and even less I bet you if you dedicate daily to four hours a day with full praying only) and do half of her mortifications you would find that sexual desire is very much reduced.
As someone said above, our passions (you can google Aquinas) would become more in order with how they’re supposed to be. Because of original sin, the lower part of our soul, or passions, are not ordered as how they should be.
This question made me think of the book Song of Songs, and now I’m treading in unfamiliar water. But it seems that often God uses the intimate act of love to help teach us about his love for us. Someone very far from God would use sex only for self-gratification and the objectification of others, people closer to God use sex to celebrate and be intimate with their spouse (I’ve even heard a priest say that since marriage is a sacrament, intercourse would be a way of worshipping God), so I imagine that the closer you are to God the more ordered your passions are to being holy.
Very interesting topic.
We are sexual beings. What happens as you draw nearer to the Lord is a deeper yearning to respond to the call that He has purposed your body to be used for.
"A young priest beginning his ministry went to an older and wiser priest, age seventy-four. He told him that the beautiful figure of one of his young female parishioners was a constant source of temptation for him. The younger priest told his priestly brother that he thought these temptations were sinful. But the older priest assured him that temptation is not the same thing as actually consenting to the sin. He simply reminded his younger colleague of Jesus’ wise injunction, ‘Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’ (Mk 14:38).
The younger priest was relieved. But he asked, ‘Father, at what age does one get over such temptations?’
The older priest replied, ‘Three days after you’re dead.’"
Thus, temptations are always with us, no matter who we are. We just have to trust in the Lord that He will guide us to His Heavenly Kingdom. May God bless you!
Definitely, forcing yourself to not look upon anything which would cause you to be tempted, and constantly banishing these thoughts from your mind will help.
If you give no place to the thoughts, you will not have a sexual desire.
I have a proposed secular institute which would include the married couples who are consecrated to offer their conjugal relations in reparation for hedonism and homosexual acts
Here is the link: cloisters.tripod.com/stvalentine/