In his homily on January 15, 2012, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York gave a sermon that got a lot of attention. At the beginning of his homily he said, “I’m going to preach about sex!” Now…hopefully we have your attention!
In a reflection of that Sunday’s second reading from the first Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, Archbishop Dolan told the congregation that “chastity and purity is the virtue by which we integrate God’s wisdom about the joy, the beauty, the responsibility and the nobility of sexual love.” He said that human sexual love should have the same characteristics as divine love – that it should be forever, faithful, and life-giving. “Thus, the Lord intends that sexual love occur ONLY within the life-long, life-giving, faithful loving bond between a man and a woman in marriage.”
The soon-to-be cardinal admitted that he had to force himself to preach on this topic even though it made him uncomfortable, and asked publicly, “why are we reluctant to extol the magnificent virtues of chastity and purity?” Dolan said that those virtues are “hugely ignored” because they are countercultural. Anyone who tries to live out those virtues can expect temptations and ridicule. “The one who, with God’s grace and mercy, tries his or her best to be pure and chaste, is often thought of not as a hero…but as a freak in our culture today.”
The archbishop proposes that we Catholics try to regain the upper ground on chastity and purity; to recapture the true meaning of sexual love and re-present it to ourselves and to a world that has, very sadly, reduced sexual love to the cultures most popular contact sport.