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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

Can you explain something about the theological meaning of the orgasm, especially the female orgasm? What does this sort of intense pleasure have to do with a holy life? I’ve never found a good answer to this—priests (and women laity I’ve spoken with) seem clueless, and feminists have their own political agenda.

Outline of the Answer
• A Reproductive-related Experience
• The Orgasm as a Signifier
• The Spiritual Surrender to God
• The Immaculate Conception of Mary

 
In the purely physiological sense, the orgasm is a reproductive-related experience. By means of the male orgasm the semen is injected into the female body, and the convulsions and fluid emissions of the female orgasm assist the fertilization process by directing the sperm further into the cervix. Note that the male orgasm is necessary for conception, whereas the female orgasm assists, but is not necessary for, conception.

 
The Orgasm as a Signifier

The theological meaning of all this can be understood when we acknowledge the orgasm as a signifier; that is, something whose meaning lies not in its own being but in that to which it points. For example, a traffic signal light has its meaning not in the metal and glass of its structure but in what it signifies; that is, it is a signal—a sign—that directs traffic to stop and go. Thus the orgasm has its theological meaning in something to which it points, something far more profound than physical pleasure itself.

The physiological orgasm encompasses a yearning for a release of physical tension and an abandonment of the self to raw pleasure, and consequently to demonic influence. In contrast, the theological meaning of the orgasm can be found in what the physiological yearning and abandonment points to, or signifies, beyond itself; that is, it points to God’s intention that there be an act of supreme yearning and surrender to the divine at the very moment that a child is being conceived.

In other words, when the man and the woman, in the act of conception, experience an ecstatic yearning for and surrender to God (rather than to raw physical pleasure), they assist the new soul’s ultimate yearning for and surrender to God.

Thus it is a great tragedy of the modern world—lost as it is in apostasy—that many men and women today seek physical pleasure merely for the sake of physical pleasure and thereby open themselves to the demonic realm of grave sin.

It’s also a tragedy that many children today are conceived in an act of mere physiological lust, an act stripped of any sense of the divine and therefore devoid of a holy blessing. And it’s just as much a tragedy when a child is conceived by artificial means, such as with surrogate mothers, or with sperm or egg donors.

Children conceived in lust or in contempt for the divine are spiritually crippled right from conception and have to undergo intense psychological ordeals in order to find their way to their true “home,” that place in their heart where the thought of surrendering their entire being to God does not seem alien and repulsive to them.

Thus says the LORD:
Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings,
who seeks his strength in flesh,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.

—Jeremiah 17:5

 
The Spiritual Surrender to God

Now, must a woman experience a physiological orgasm during conception in order to have a spiritually healthy baby? Well, no, because the real issue here is the parents’ surrender to God—a surrender in the heart—as they, bound by the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, engage in the procreative act.

Remember, as I said earlier, that the male orgasm is necessary for conception. As such, it became governed by the process of circumcision—the surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis—following the Promise to Abraham. For Abraham, the physical act of circumcision—that is, the missing foreskin—signified a process by which the obedience to divine will—an obedience that was missing from life in a state of sin—could be reestablished.

But, with the advent of the New Covenant in Christ, the signified replaced the signifier: circumcision of the heart—a profound surrender of one’s being to God through Christ, the completion of the Promise—became the path to salvation and replaced a mere physical, surgical act. The meaning of circumcision of the heart, therefore, is found not in a missing piece of skin but in the absence of a will to commit sin.

Thus circumcision, whether in its initial physical form or in its final spiritual form, points to the spiritual obligations of the male orgasm as it is directed away from physiological lust and into service to the holy.

Consequently, the female orgasm has more significance than the male orgasm. Not being necessary for conception, the female orgasm points to something more necessary than circumcision, something not missing but something additional: the necessity of a supreme surrender of the physical to the spiritual and to a supreme yearning for the holy.

Hence, that which in the physiological realm requires physiological surrender points to something that, in the spiritual realm, requires spiritual surrender.

Thus we attain the almost ironic conclusion to the point: the woman’s sexual capacity for a pleasure that is “not necessary” unveils the holy capacity for mystical ecstasy which in turn engenders the holy desire for virginity as well as the holy abstinence from non-reproductive sexual pleasure.

Now, some individuals try to claim that women are “second class citizens” in the eyes of the Church. But the truth is just the opposite. Women have a singularly high value—and therefore deserve the protection of respect and modesty—because they can point to a supreme surrender, just like the Blessed Virgin herself did.

 
The Immaculate Conception of Mary

The act of supreme yearning and surrender to the divine has been expressed in beautiful theological precision by the Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich in her vision of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Mary was conceived in a moment of ecstasy between Anne and Joachim—an ecstasy surpassing any physiological sign, an ecstasy without lust, an ecstasy without sin. 

  

The Life of Jesus ChristI saw Joachim and Anne embrace each other in ecstasy. They were surrounded by hosts of angels, some floating over them carrying a luminous tower like that which we see in pictures of the Litany of Loretto. The tower vanished between Joachim and Anne, both of whom were encompassed by brilliant light and glory. At the same moment, the heavens above them opened, and I saw the joy of the Most Holy Trinity and of the angels over the Conception of Mary. Both Joachim and Anne were in a supernatural state. I learned that, at the moment at which they embraced and the light shone around them, the Immaculate Conception of Mary was accomplished. I was also told that Mary was conceived just as conception would have been effected, were it not for the fall of man.[1]

  

Read some of Jesus’ teachings about sexuality as
revealed to Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich

 

Who wrote this web page?
 

Notes

1. The Life of Jesus Christ and Biblical Revelations of the Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich. Volume One, pp. 137–138. Text in public domain. Page citation from the edition by TAN Books and Publishers, Inc.

 


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