June 11, 2008


Notes from page 177 to chapter 2.

Father saw "Sex and the City" movie. As the characters began to live TOB, they became happier. (Even though they didn't know it was TOB.)

This dense TOB text is immediately applicable. It is looking at old things (principles, Scriptures, Creation, the Church, God's relationship with us) anew. John Paul II wanted to go through these age-old principles thoroughly so that there is nothing left to be said. Our conclusion is irrefutable. The text is like the melody, and Father is going to add harmony!

Who are we as persons, gendered persons?

FTNOTE 23, P 178: We need an "adequate anthropology." The key is: "What is human"? What is different about us from the animals? (Not just scientifically: "What is a living organism?")

GIFT—one of JPII's favorite words. What does he mean by it? Everything God does is GIFT. In Creation, only man can give a GIFT. Man is the one whom it is for. Only man can understand the meaning of GIFT: the call from nothing to existence. One can also say that the world has received man as a gift. The nature of GIFT is that it is freely given and freely received. We need to go through life with open hands: giving and receiving.

GIFT is the language of liturgy.

If Father could say anything to us, he would say: return to the sacramental world view. If we return to this, it's the key to happiness, especially in our relationship with others…. We need to live FOR others.

"It is not good for the man to be alone," means man is not complete alone, he needs to exist in relationship.  The way to have our legitimate needs met (emphasis on legitimate), is to live the spirituality of gift—to move out toward the others. Personal fulfillment is reflexive, reciprocal. We only are fulfilled by reaching out to others. We need to be aware that WE are gift and that others are GIFT to us. This is why contraception is so wrong. It is living in the opposite direction of reciprocity. It is holding back, not going in the direction of the other. And our bodies tell us so. A celibate priest lives FOR the Church.

Q: Is a married priest like a double symbol?
A: Yes. Celibacy also subsists in marriage. The married priest is living two mysteries: the ESCHATALOGICAL marriage and the SACRAMENTAL marriage. The priest relates to his parishioners as spouse, father, brother—like we all have various levels of relationships.

Often the married priest marries a daughter of priest. She is like a spiritual mother of the community also. Being a married priest is not about a priest who happens to be married to a woman. It's about a woman helping in the ministry. All of this can be summed up: we all have to live spousally, which means GIFT. Our bodies are made FOR the other sex. Male for female. It doesn't matter what you feel/think, the body doesn't lie. It is very insensitive to call someone a "homosexual"—we define people in TOB as "gift," as "person." You may have SSA (same-sex attraction), but that's a whole 'nother issue that you have to deal with.

When we're unhappy, it's always because we're not living the spousal gift of ourselves/our bodies adequately.

You first have to be able to possess yourself to be able to give yourself away. You can't give what you don't have. You have to have a self to give. Our culture hates discipline! (Or thinks it does.) If you play an instrument, you have to be disciplined and practice, and you have the FREEDOM to play music and make a gift of that.

What does it mean to be gendered? Someone from Mars would say—Oh! They're meant to give themselves to each other.

Q: What about hermaphrodites (intersex)?
A: It is out of the order of things. A disorder. This is not a bad word or thing, or insensitive, it's just what it is. The exception doesn't change the norm. Hermaphrodites are usually more male or female, however. But no matter what you are,

Gender means: FOR the other, and they for me. Everybody has to be "married," to be happy. Even celibates. Life won't make sense without marriage. Our society isn't sexual enough!!
[VIVE LE DIFFERENCE!] Be more genuinely human! Be more and more in the image of God!

Q: How does the single person live spousally?
A: The Church doesn't say that singleness is a vocation! There isn't permanency about it. They will be married one day to God! But even now, they have to live by making a gift of themselves. A person doesn't really live singly for any "good reason."

Q: Can't you stay single in the world to serve God?
A: You may be called to do work for God/world AS a single person, but your VOCATION is to "marriage." The single state can always be changed. It's not permanent. Once you're a consecrated layperson, you're not "single," you're in a covenant relationship, it's explicit, it's permanent.

We must be FRUITFUL.

We need to be disciplined fully, in our totality as persons, not just mind, for example. Our desires should not CONTROL us. We need to be able to look at each other, male and female, with the "peace of the interior gaze." Like Adam and Eve did.

Father was an art student, and because he was an artist, he was free to look at the human body properly, as beautiful. If you can master the human body as an artist, you can do anything, because it's the most beautiful thing in creation. It's a difficult discipline. Without that discipline, you'll be overcome with lust. If you are looking with lust, you're not free. JPII doesn't say: "custody of the eyes, look away," because that is imperfect.

Non-TOB, non-sacramental worldview sends us into individualism, narcissism, relativism. The Catholic worldview sends us into community. Laypeople for centuries lived in a more monastic style: a rhythm, prayer, sacraments, nearby church, God as the reference.

Catholic is not a religion, institution—it means to be human. The truth about being human. [Reality. Living in accord with reality.] What is being human about? The invisible being made visible through the physical. We humans have a fundamental desire to make the invisible visible also! Birthday cakes, flags, fireworks!

Everyone is called to marriage. Everyone is called to celibacy. Heaven is perpetual virginity: that is, total openness to God, total union with God. That's why we say: "Till death do us part," because we belong to God ultimately. To be Catholic is to keep these two things together: marriage and celibacy. We think: celibacy/virginity—loneliness, gross, don't want that. We think: marriage—love, intimacy, sex, yes! we want that. But that's wrong to think that way.

The Eastern Church says: "Till you are united forever." (But meaning in Christ in heaven, and not exclusively any more.)

The best celibates make the best married people and vice versa!!! Don't separate them! Catholic is integrated, Catholic is good, Catholic is the best!

We find our IDENTITY only in relation to the other sex. The only way something comes back to us is if it first moves out of us.

[Check out top of p. 202! Woman is not an object!]

If we keep pushing towards each other (two hands pushing against each other) everything stands. If one pulls back and only receives and doesn't give, then it all collapses.

Biologically, intercourse makes people bond to each other (bond to one person). There are actual specific male and female hormones secreted. One of the causes of teenage suicide is sleeping around. It's just so biologically painful to keep breaking up.

Scientists study animals to learn about humans. JPII says study humans to learn about humans. ("Adequate anthropology.")

Assignment over the summer: up to page 364. Next meeting: 2nd Wednesday of September.




  1. Intersex is not a disorder. Intersex people are beautiful. I am one. I know many. Intersex people are God's creation. Intersex people are not simply either male or female. What do you know about the abominations imposed upon intersex people to make them the way you say they are supposed to be - nonconsensual surgery and hormone therapy? Whose right do you think it should be to impose a gender on a person? Some zealot, or the person who has to live in that gender themselves. It is unfortunate the Catholic Church intends to continue its history of Inquisition and subsequent torture on those who resist its teachings. I am not resorting to hyperbole when I say this. I am familiar with many gruesome stories of how people have been brutalized in efforts to have them conform to a gender that had been imposed on them.

    I am afraid to know how you would define who conforms to each of the two artificially constructed genders, which you say, are the only ones that exist. How many legal marriages would have to be dissolved as a result of whatever your definition would be? Estimates run as high as 1.7 percent to 4 percent of the population depart from "normal female" or "normal male". Why does the Catholic Church treat its flock like barnyard animals whose sole purpose is to reproduce?

  2. dear edith, thanks for your post. i think it's hideous to impose on an intersex child (esp. by surgery!) one sex or another. why not let the person choose when they're older? "disorder" is not a judgment, it just means that something isn't the norm. everyone on the planet has multiple disorders: physical, psychological, emotional, etc. Isn't it rather the discomfort of the parents (rather than the Catholic Church) that imposes drastic measures on intersex children? (That's what I've heard from intersex people.) The CC doesn't say anything about operations. The two human genders, male and female, are not artificially constructed. If one is intersex, you are not only "God's creation," but a beloved child of God. I don't understand your comment about "dissolving marriages." In practice, in the past, the CC may have, very unfortunately, overemphasized procreation at all costs, but this is a thing of the past. Vatican II has proclaimed that the dual and inseparable purpose of the marital embrace is: the mutual support of the couple and procreation. Births can be spaced out using NFP (Natural Family Planning) which is all natural, good for the environment, safe (especially for the woman), and brings the couple close together in other ways besides sex in times of abstinence. Also, the man is beholden to the woman's cycle. What a concept! If you continued to read the notes on my blogpost, Father said: "Whatever we are, we are all called to give of ourselves in love." This is our fulfillment as human beings.

  3. Intersex people can definitely get married! See: Couple cleared of same-sex marriage are freed

    Associated Press

    June 17 2008

    ASUNCION, Paraguay—A couple jailed on suspicion of having a same-sex wedding were freed Monday after a doctor determined that the groom is a hermaphrodite.

    The complete article can be viewed at:

  4. Sister,

    A woman with CAIS is not disordered. Only under certain circumstances will an intersex person with CAH require medical treatment for a salt wasting condition, not because they are intersex. The intersex condition, itself, is not a disorder. It is only problematic to those who can only see two possibilities. Intersex only becomes a disorder for those whose distorted sense of reality becomes upset, when they discover that sex and gender actually exist along a continuum, which defies their illusion that sex/gender is a male female dichotomy. The shock can be enough to cause abuse of an intersex person because that person fails to conform to people's illusions.

    Hell doesn't burn. Hell is cold. Your readers should familiarize themselves with the diary of Herculine Barbin who was driven from the convent to live a life of hell on earth. What eventually drove her to take her own life, was the cold treatment delivered to her by the self righteous. The people who drove Herculine to her death were the ones who were disordered, not Herculine.

    If you really care about people and truth, you will have to rise above the overly simplistic Star Wars good/evil - male/female dichotomy. As far as NFP goes, when it was called the "rhythm method" it wasn't much help to my mother. She was pregnant eight times. Don't you have any understanding of how much what you are writing about, male control over reproduction, has to do with patrilineal succession? Don't you understand that is why you are not on an equal footing with a priest, much less a bishop or pope?

    I have read that the Christian Church was much kinder to women and sexual minorities at one time, rather than what is now the case.......Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if women were once again on an equal footing with the men, as was once the case in the Christian faith. Isn't it a wonderful thing that we live in a country where freedom to worship as one believes, and freedom not to be dominated by religion, are among the most cherished values. May the rights of the minority continue to be respected.

    Shouldn't those who are able to understand the world from the male and female point of view be highly valued members of society, rather than victims of discrimination and abuse?



  5. Anonymous7:54 PM

    Dear Sister Helena, I was born this way as well. Perhaps this is a call for you from the Holy Sprirt to receive deeper understanding. Did you know when a fetal ultrasound indicates a sex chromosomal or anatomical abnormality indicating a hermaphroditic or Intersex condition, the pregnancy is usually terminated? Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2004 Sep 10;116(1):58-62. Silence on this aspect of one's sex leads to a culture of death, both physical via aborition and spiritual via the coersion of the conscience of these individuals who are not able to live as the sex they were called to be by their Father. The soul has a sex even as there is no sex act in Heaven. Jesus was King in Heaven even before his body was raised on the third day. A theology of the body is a good so long as it is known also with a theology of the soul. Both make the person. As you know, God communicates their sex to each of us individually, it is one of the first messages received from Him. A physical evil may make it difficult for others to see what is unseen, but God sees it. An individual such as this is treated as an outsider by others. The moment for learning is to see that everyone does feel this way some times. But God informs, instructs, and imbues us with infinite joy as we all learn that even marriage, our own body, or any other good for us is not our ultimate Good. Mt. 19. Our ultimate good and joyfull hope is to be reunited and in communion with Him and each other. We each can and are called to begin by becoming an outsider (or eunuch) for the sake of the Kingdom. But reaching our eschatologifcal end, even the most righteous of us, is impossible by ourselves. Lovingly Jesus teaches that through His grace and mercy can we do so; the impossible becomes possible. That is our great hope; our eschatological end.

  6. Anonymous8:22 PM

    Dear Sister Helena, I wanted to add that I see you liked Fides et Ratio. It was in fact after reading it that I began to learn much more about the "big" questions we all have (where are we going? why are we here? why is there evil?).

    In fact, within a few months I learned a the truth of my Intersex congential condition. I had previously been propelled deeply to researching more about my faith on the one hand, and about medical conditions related to gender on the other. At the peak, I then with a trembling from Fides et. Ratio:

    "Faith and reson are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth-in a word, to know himself-so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves."

    I learned I needed to seek forgiveness, to forgive, and to receive God's love. Then I remembered traumatic details of medical treatment for this unusual condition and sought a doctor for diagnosis, further information, and support.

    I believe many unborn can be saved, and many born who have turned away from the church can be called home again, if an effort is made to share these things with others. There is more rejoicing in Heaven for the soul that comes back to Him, than for all the righteous already there. Love longs for union. A sort of re-dedication of the church for the cause of the outsider (Is. 56) during this time of house divided would glorify Him.

  7. Dear Anonymous,

    Sorry for this long delay in answering. I didn't know that intersex people are eliminated in the womb when this is discovered! I guess it--sadly--doesn't come as any surprise. Pretty soon babies will be eliminated because of the "wrong" eye color. You are so right that everyone is precious in God's eyes and Theology of the Body is Good News for EVERY body, AND I like your emphasis on what we WILL be. "What we are now is children of God--what we are to become is to be revealed." --St. John the Evangelist. Thank you for sharing your experience with me.

  8. Dear Edith,

    No one should be discriminated against. Just because there are two sexes, male and female, this should not create any kind of opposition toward those who are on a spectrum of not being completely physically one way or the other. WHY would people express hatred, violence, etc., toward them? What's the point?

    As far as they old "rhythm method" goes. That is not NFP. (And are you one of those 8?) NFP uses the latest science (Billings Method), temperature, mucus, etc. There are even saliva and home ovulation tests (like home pregnancy tests). NFP is something like 97% effective. No "birth control" method is completely effective (if one keeps one's fertility in tact) because life is persistent and will find a way. Thank God.

    I'm sorry and horrified for any prejudice you may have experienced--and prejudice DOESN'T follow from the simple fact that there are two sexes. Christians are supposed to love, not hate. There are some very cool Bible passages about God "loving everything He has made, else He would not have made it," and "How dare you say to the Creator, what are you creating? The creature you are making has no hands...." ("Disabled" people have used these passages.)

    I will check out the life of Herculine that you mentioned.

    Sr. H

  9. Very interesting now about S. African athlete Semenya in the news. Hopefully they won't turn her into a freak show, but her situation will help to educate the public about AIS. The news source I read (a sports source) used the term "hermaphrodite" instead of the preferred "intersex." Tough dilemma: testosterone/maleness, etc., gives an advantage over women (that's why women and men compete separately). But I've also read that her running times wouldn't even qualify her to compete with men (she's not THAT good). I hope Semenya remains strong and courageous through all this scrutiny.

  10. That's the absurdiy of the CAtholic Church Teaching.... Intersex is a "disorder"..... Yet, a Downs Syndrome child is a "gift".

    TOB is nothing but dualistic thinking. Do you honestly think that an All Powerful Creator would be satisfied with "male" and "female"....and nothing in between?

    I struggle with TOB because I know very well that God did not create them Male and Female. There's a lot in between. And from my perspective, TOB is flawed from the onset, because God made a lot "in the middle".

    Ponder that.

  11. Anonymous10:49 PM

    I am the flip side of Edith -- a miserable involuntary spinster because my childbirth-fistulaed (bladder and bowel incontinent) Munchausen by Proxy mother chemically burned all my skin when I was in first grade as her permanent abstinence excuse since NFP threatened her life with its inherent failures. Not only does NFP insult wives by kicking them out of their own bedrooms 90% of the year and outsourcing sex to brothels (where my dad ultimately went with the parish priest!), it also guarantees higher birth anomalies like intersex babies because older (defective?) sperm and eggs can still fertilize, especially when wives are emotionally shocked out of their cycles when they discover their husbands' infidelity! This may explain my two younger brothers' "sissy" disinterest in dating. Intersex people belong in the same categories as interracial and medium height people as opposed to non-interracial or height extremes like giants and little people. Intersex people are God's way of condemning gender stereotypes and coerced over-breeding for pedophile priests. Some intersex conditions are the result of "opposite sex" fraternal twinning which exposes both fetuses to each others' hormones. Only Vatican-banned in vitro fertilization can avoid this. Also, more than one sperm can fertilize one egg and twins can absorb each other and form chimeras. Edith is quite right that many currently Church-blessed "straight" marriages would have to be annulled if put to medical gender tests -- Hollywood and New York runways are filled with gorgeous XY supermodels with AIS. If Ratzinger can still enforce the Cannon law that forbids marriage for paralyzed men because their "Bobbitts" aren't good enough, surely these sterile AIS trophy wives and Klinefelter Syndrome XXY "male" Catholic extremist pundits should also be banned from their own marriages. And God gave women 450 natural abortifacients that include coffee, alcohol, ginger and Jerusalem's RU-486-like Queen Ann's Lace weed that Jesus never condemned because he saw how it saved wives from death- and divorce-causing childbirth fistulas. Also, Pope Paul VI who wrote the mother-killing Humanae Vitae should have been hung at Nuremburg for funding the grisly genocide of a MILLION Serb Christian Orthodox "heretics" in WWII. Google Vatican Bank Claims for the Nazi truth about Paul VI! -- Heil Mary

  12. Dear "clist,"

    Down Syndrome* is also a "disorder" (otherwise, why would 90% of Down Syndrome children now be aborted? It is people who choose to abort "disordered" human beings who do not see all human beings as a gift. I know someone who was going to abort her baby girl because they could see on the ultrasound that she was missing one finger. A Mom whose daughter was born without a forearm talked her out of it.) Intersex people are also a gift as are ALL people. To say something is "disordered" is not a value judgment. Notice I didnt' say the PERSON was disordered, but rather somethign about the person. We are ALL disordered in myriad ways. It's what we do with those "disorders," and even our "orderedness" that matters.
    Wikipedia has an interesting entry for the meaning of "syndrome"

  13. Dear "Anonymous" (the "opposite of Edith"),

    Thanks for your post. I'm sorry for what your mother did to you--how horrible!
    You provided lots of interesting factoids that I wasn't aware of (about AIS, "twinning," etc.).
    I think what you're saying demonstrates several things: 1) Women WERE gravely abused by the Church (this was addressed in another TOB talk) in the sense that they were told to be available 24/7/365 to their husbands, and the husbands were given a pass to act as out-of-control animals. (On second thought--not even! Animals follow instinctive self-control when it comes to sex!) I say "were," because in the past women actually listened to the Church and tried to be heroically (martyrs, sometimes, really!) obedient no matter what. Now women just do whatever they think best. But let us also remember that before artificial contraception became readily available, all women were in the same boat more or less: getting pregnant, having babies, going with the flow of nature.... 2) We think we can do God/nature better in matters where we shouldn't interfere. 3) TOB and HV and NFP are THE MOST totally pro-woman stance possible, and DEMAND SELF-CONTROL of men. If we do not understand this, and we ALLOW MEN to behave like animals (and men themselves step up to bat like REAL MEN--and THEY ARE, believe it or not!!!)--then we are going to see TOB and HV and NFP as the WORST thing for women. It's pretty much an either/or, polar opposite points of view. There really is no middle ground on this. Why not? Because it's so crucial that we get this RIGHT. Everything rests on this. Life itself, literally, rests on this. The future of society, civilization, the family, happiness, etc., rests on our getting this right.

  14. Anonymous1:03 AM

    Men who don't get it from their wives get it on the side AS MY DAD DID. Has it occurred to you that maybe women want sex also? NFP insults couples just to indulge MOTHER-KILLING, CHILD-RAPING PRIESTS. WOMEN ARE BETTER OFF AS CHERISHED "SEX OBJECTS" THAN DESPISED, CHILDBIRTH-INCONTINENT BROOD MARES FOR PEDOPHILE PRIESTS who thank these fools by ANNULLING THEIR MARRIAGES. If God didn't want women using contraception, he/she/it/they wouldn't have given them 450 abortifacients like coffee. Would you go to a restaurant to practice anorexia?? Marital chastity is PERVERSION and denial of effective contraception is criminal Munchausen by Proxy medical abuse and MATRICIDE. TOB is pedophile priest FRAUD. Your denial of the PRACTICAL, SAFE middle ground is MEDICAL MALPRACTICE AND CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING PIMPING. The worst child sex trafficking occurs in the NFP-only Catholic Philippines. Shame on you for putting pious pedophiles above women, children, and madly in love husbands. The blessed day is coming when NFP pushers get arrested for matricide and child sex trafficking.

  15. Anonymous7:10 PM

    I cannot believe that anyone actually listens to a priest who is not married and gives advise regarding marriage. I wouldn't go to a grocery store to receive information on car repair! I am personally sick to death of hearing the same old stuff from the same old people who have nothing new to say. You can call it what you like, but really the message is the same - stay married or God gets pissed. Well, my parents were married for 63 years and they shouldn't have stayed married for o63 minutes! I hated every minute of the time I lived with them. They were miserable. I wouldn't have near the problems I have faced in my life if they were have admitted their mistakes, gotten a divorce, and become happy single people. Children who get married too soon should be told to rethink their "giving" to their spouse??? Isn't it just possible that they were impulsive teenagers who never should have gotten married in the first place??? I would like to actually see research used by the Catholic Church to substantiate their position that gays are made and not born. If the medical community cannot arrive at that conclusion, how does the Catholic Church?

    Also, having read that nonsense about Sarah Palin and Hillary Rodham Clincon, I want to go punch the author. What a superficial and skewed recitation. I simply cannot abide these people who hold Palin up like some kind of role model when she is a liar and just like every other politician being critized is just looking for a chance to complain. How about stay in office, solve the problems in your state, and finish your job? Instead, she takes $400,000 speaking engagements! Yeah, I want a role model like her for my daughters - I'll take Hillary any time!