This article was originally published in the Spring 2015 edition of our Quarterly Newsletter.
My own personal life and public ministry was permanently transformed for the good the day I discovered and took seriously the “Theology of the Body” of the great St. John Paul II. It was for me the “missing piece” in the mostly good theological training I had received and, it seemed to me (and still does), the most compelling response to the crisis of sexuality in our contemporary culture. What a remarkable gift it is! The Lord gave the Church exactly what she needed in these confusing times – an authentically biblical vision of love and sexuality that is inspiring, ennobling of the human person, and deeply prophetic.
Since that day I have also been an ardent promoter of the speaker and author that ‘lit the fuse’ of the blessed explosion that this theology brought about in my life – Christopher West. Over the years I have eagerly gobbled up most everything he has written and became familiar with the general thrust of his presentations. To be honest, I felt as though I had more-or-less mastered the material and didn’t need to read every new publication. So I expected nothing further in the “revolutionary” line when I picked up one of his latest books entitled Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing. I was wrong. This book was as delightful and thought-provoking as it was surprising. In fact, I would say that it is one of the best books of popular theology I have ever read. It captured me from the first page.
Many years ago I was moved by a passage in the “Symposium” by Plato which spoke of his students sitting around and wondering about the meaning of their longings. What are these deep “aches” in the human heart that nothing in this world can satiate? Why are they there and what do they mean? This book brought me full circle with more than ‘wonderings’, but with deeply satisfying answers. One quote that seems to capture the heart of the book is this one: “despite all the widespread impressions to the contrary, we must impress this truth upon our souls and allow it to settle into our bones: Christianity is the religion of desire and its saints are the ones who have had the courage to open all their desires for love and union to the Love and Union that alone can satisfy: ‘mystical marriage’ … with God”. The repressive stoicism of the past and the licentious addictions in vogue today are both bankrupt. But there is a better way. A much better way! And that’s what Christopher West helps us discover. Do yourself, and someone you care about, a favour: read it, meditate on it, and then pass it on to a friend.
Fr. Scott McCaig, CC is the General Superior of the Companions of the Cross.