‘To Be Someone Radiant’ by Fr. James Brent, O.P., also linked below, is posted here with permission and gratitude. The paper covers complex questions in Catholic teaching on human sexuality in light of purity, self-gift, wisdom, and its effusive radiance. While challenging, it is a deeply refreshing, clear, and positive proposal, and reveals a hidden beauty anchored in mercy. Set aside thirty minutes this week for this guest post. It stands apart, on higher ground.
Wisdom, joy, radiance — none of these words will make the cover of trending magazines, or the latest scandal ridden headlines. Overstimulated, saturated, worried, and confused voices are heard around the globe, in an endless heart-rending chant emerging from the depths of discontent. A panoramic scan of this horizon of pleading reveals the deep need for precisely those things that the seemingly endless modern search for pleasure has failed to provide.
Culturally, perceived happiness usually revolves around ‘limitless freedom’ of sexual expression. This daily proposal unleashes a cycle of broken boundaries that ever more deeply leaves one trapped and unsatisfied. Here, more is not more — it is always less.
The unnamed treasure is happiness. And truth be told, the road that truly leads there is narrow and untried. Beyond the sacrifice it demands is joy, elusive, like a well-guarded secret garden of delights, yet unfound.
As a great paradox, the Christian and specifically Catholic approach to purity is generally taken to be limiting and constraining. ‘You shall not do, think, be…’ are the operative words — or so we are told, very wrongly. The nature of the human person, however, transcends this myopic approach, and the counter proposal does surprise.
As light cannot be a contained in box, nor can purity be diminished to rules and regulations, pre-scripted against specific behaviors or actions or thoughts. The beauty of purity is that it is diffusive, radiant, unlimited, and boundless in its orientation to the good and true — to happiness. While purity applies concretely to complex questions of human sexuality, it likewise radically shatters the preconceived notions of liberty, freedom, gift, love and happiness that the culture we live in offers us. For every ‘do’ the culture proposes, purity inclines us to ‘do more’: love more, give more, receive more, see more, feel more, because we are capable of better, stronger, truer, longer, eternal love. We are made for purity — to radiate joy in love — to touch glory. We are naturally made to be radically radiant.
The challenge is to confront and honestly know our weakness and woundedness. From the scars of time and pleasure seeking labor, from pampering every instinct and fleeing sacrifice — fleeing wisdom and missing joy — behind every pursued pseudo-freedom, there is a far more wise and liberating proposal. For once, the road is clear, and we are given the chance to pause and discover what it might be like ‘To Be Someone Radiant’.
This is the third and final post on the theme of Purity for Incarnation and Modernity. For prior posts see ‘Why Purity’ and ‘Power of Attraction’.
You may contact Maria Grizzetti at firstname.lastname@example.org