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Archive for January, 2015

The conjugal act has a unique dignity above and beyond almost any other human act. It is not just a natural action. It can also be sacred. This, of course, is not to be understood in some esoteric far eastern spiritualist sense. Rather, it is that which completes the bond of matrimony as an indissoluble union. It is also an image of the mystical union of the soul (the beloved) with Jesus Christ (the Lover), a union brought about through the reception of the Most Holy Eucharist at Mass. Concerning sex, many fall into the error that as long as two people are married “anything goes”. This is most certainly not the case. In the sexual union of man and woman there is supposed to be a complete and total giving on one’s self to the other in both body and soul. Unfortunately, there are many (who quite strongly believe they are not doing this) that abuse this marital act by engaging in sexual actions that turn their partner into an object for their own self-gratification. When we commit liturgical abuses (whether the one committing them knows them to be abuses or not) we are turning Christ into an object for our own gratification in the very act at which we should be entering into deepest union with Him.

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Recently, I have┬ábecome taken with Hugh of St. Victor. The Victorines were among the great theological and spiritual powerhouses in the 12th century, and HuHugh of St. Victorgh’s teaching is the foundation for this. They laid much of the groundwork on which the scholasticism of the 13th century was founded. Hugh during his lifetime and for the next two centuries was no little known figure. So great and well-respected was Hugh of St. Victor that more than 100 years after his death the great doctor, St. Bonaventure, said, “Anselm [of Canterbury] excels in reasoning; Bernard [of Clairvaux] in preaching; Richard [of St. Victor] in contemplating; but Hugh [of St. Victor] at all three.” Despite all of this, however, we surprisingly know very little about him. The place of his birth and where he was raised is not known with real certainty. There is almost nothing known of his life and background before coming to the Abbey of St. Victor in Paris. What is truly incredible is that we also know very little about his life after he came to Paris.

I could not help, but be struck by the similarity to Our Lady in all of this. There is no greater woman who has ever lived, and no woman who has had such influence on the world as she has. Yet we no almost nothing about her life. However, we do know a great deal about our Blessed Mother’s work which is two-fold: (1) bringing our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, into the world, and (2) directing all to Him. This is also the case with Hugh of St. Victor. We may know very little about him, but we do know a great deal about his work, a work which is much like our Blessed Mother’s. Hugh in his teaching and writing sought always to praise the Holy Trinity, deepen our understanding of the Son’s work of redemption, and shed light on a sure path for our being united with God and attaining a state greater than that of Adam and Eve before the Fall. Of Hugh and Mary both, we may say, “God alone! All that is known of me is not for me, but for God alone.”

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