Category Archives: Uncategorized

Give Me a Hug, Bro.

This work has reached the exceptional level
merit score received from other writers at FanStory
subtitle = Two brothers, two views of God and sex

by Aaron Milavec

Author Tools:  Edit This Promote This My Portfolio Registered

The author has placed a warning on this post for sexual content.

My father had two sons.  The first he named “Aaron.”  The second he named “Kevin.”

They loved each other fiercely.  They distrusted each other entirely when it came to God and sex.   They had two opposing views of love and romance as well.

Kevin always had a certain insecurity because he was always #2.  Hence, he was prone to compete with his older brother in almost everything.  When it came to climbing trees, using a sling shot, hitting a home run, Aaron always exceeded Kevin.  Aaron tried to encourage Kevin, “Don’t take it so hard, Kevin.  In three years, you will be doing all the things I do and more.  Just wait and see.”

But Kevin was not consoled.  He urgently needed to be #1, and it grieved him that he was not able to do so.  But, then, God heard his prayer, and Kevin, just after his marriage, finally found an arena wherein he could excel over his brother.  Kevin became a “Providentialist.”

“A Providentialist,” he was proud to remind me just about every time we met, “is someone who does not practice any form of birth control—not even Natural Family Planning (NFP) that is permitted by the Catholic Church. This person simply trusts God to give him and his wife as many children as God wants for them—no more, and no less.”

It made me sad to see my brother swallowing the doctrine of the Catholic bishops hook, line, and sinker.  His position would fit well in the 12th century, but it was patently absurd today.  So the next time that Kevin boasted of being a Providentialist, I said to my brother in a very quiet voice, “What kind of father would say, ‘My first child was born with a cleft lip.[i]  God must have known what he was doing; hence, as a Providentialist, I will accept this as God’s will and not interfere’”?

On the second occasion of his boasting, I said this: “What kind of father would say, ‘My second child was born with myopic vision.  God must have known what he was doing; hence, as a Providentialist, I will accept this as God’s will and not interfere’”?

On the third occasion, I said this: “What kind of father would say, ‘My third child was born with chickenpox.[ii]  God must have known what he was doing; hence, as a Providentialist, I will accept this as God’s will and not interfere’”?

My brother was visible shaken every time I said these things. I was raining on his parade.  On one of these occasions, he grew furious and blurted out bitterly, “You are always winning.  You can’t even let me win an argument from time to time.  I hate you!”

There, he finally said it. His rage had boiled over. I stayed absolutely silent. I calmly looked straight into his eyes, gave him a big smile, and said in a whisper, “Even when you’re wrong, I still love you.”  Then, I hugged him and held him in my embrace.  This disarming gesture caught him completely off guard.  As I held him, I could feel his pent-up rage dissipating like the end of a thunderstorm.  Hot tears spilled out of his eyes and fell upon my neck.

We never talked about this.  Neither of us had the right words to say about such an unprecedented event.  If fact, looking back, I would say that something powerfully changed between us.  Words would have only banalized the power of that unique event.

After that event, I realized that I had no interest in upsetting Kevin’s core beliefs.  He had a right to his beliefs, just as I had a right to mine.  Every man puts his life and his future on the line when he confesses his beliefs about God and love.  That’s the way things are.  No two men handle this in the same way.

I clearly saw the flaws in my brother’s beliefs; but, upon reflection, I realized that I was blind to the flaws in my own beliefs.  Kevin claimed that he saw the flaws in my beliefs, but, at the same time, he was afraid to listen to me for fear that I might sow some doubt in his mind.  As Michael Polanyi taught me, “Every belief works in the eyes of the believer”

Even when it comes to deciding when to have sex with his wife, how could Kevin decide whether God wanted them to have sex every day of the week or just on certain days (e.g., on Sundays or on birthdays).  Does this matter?  It sure does!  If Kevin insists that God is totally in change, then God must be seen as exerting his control over the process (how often to have sex) in order for him to better control the outcomes (how many children are conceived).  If God had no rules regarding the frequency of sex, therefore, it must be supposed that even God wanted each set of parents to come to their own decisions as to when and how often they had sex.

The same thing holds for the position of the partners during ejaculation.  Since God has no rules regarding the advantageous and disadvantageous position of the partners during the time of ejaculation, it must be supposed that even God wants each set of parents to come to their own decisions in this matter. What decisions they implement, however, necessarily has the effect of either increasing or decreasing the probability of conception.  Thus God cannot be said to be the sole determiner of when a conception takes place.

Kevin maintains that he wants to place his family planning entirely in the hands of God.  To maintain this illusion, he has to abandon all attempts to keep track of his wife’s fertility cycle. Furthermore, he and his wife need to have intercourse at random times using random positions so as to convince themselves that they are not trying to influence the outcome.

But what if God is not in the business of doing family planning for those who fail to take the time and effort to do it for themselves?  Then my brother’s family is cooked!  He is like a man who takes his hands off the steering wheel because he believes that God will take over the driving of his car.  This would invite unwanted accidents to happen. God, after all, does not have a driver’s license, and he has no record of being a safe driver.  So one cannot count on God to do something that he is not prepared to do.  Because of this, I am afraid for Kevin’s future.  This is a reckless way to live.  This invites unwanted accidents.

Even Pope Francis would agree with me.  In 2015, he visited the Philippines and met with the bishops there.  The bishops were taking a tough stand against the government’s new Protective Health Law of 2012 that permits clinics and hospitals to make contraceptives available for the first time.  Prior to this, only NFP was allowed.  The bishops tried to invalidate this Law, but the Supreme Court upheld its legality. At the time of the Pope’s visit, the bishops were busy conducting seminars that were designed to prepare Catholic health care workers to defy the government on the grounds that “on the basis of conscience . . . a health worker is not obliged [to make contraceptive available] and may refuse to refer a patient to anyone else from where the contraceptives may be obtained.”

Pope Francis was not happy with the initiatives of these bishops.  On the plane trip back to the Vatican, Pope Francis held his usual press conference.  “Catholics,” the pope said, “should be speaking of responsible parenthood.”  “How do we do this?” Francis asked. “With dialogue,” he said.  “Each person with his pastor seeks [for him/herself] how to do that responsible parenthood.”

“God gives you [Catholics] methods to be responsible,” he continued. “Some think that — excuse the word — that in order to be good Catholics we have to be [breeding] like rabbits. No [way].” (

I just love it when Pope Francis breaks free of all the stuffy papal etiquette that surrounds his office.  I broke out laughing when I read that he was associating “good Catholics” and “breeding like rabbits.”  He was right on target, to be sure.  Most Catholics in my generation routinely associate the “holiness of parents” with “the size of their family.”

I was tempted to tell my brother of this papal interview.  In discussing this with my wife, she cautioned me saying, “Don’t you think that Kevin is suffering enough with the realization that he is a dying breed and that even his own children will someday be laughing at him behind his back whenever he begins one of his rants about being a ‘Providentialist’?”  I agreed with her entirely.

Some years later, Kevin was in a stable marriage, and his wife had just birthed his second daughter.  I, meanwhile, had discovered the love of my life and, our daughter, Jessica, was thriving in kindergarten.  In this period, I decided to write out my philosophy of living and loving.  This was so satisfying that I decided to write a letter to my brother in the hope that we might be able to discover some common understanding of God and love.  Here is my very first letter to my brother:

Dear Kevin,

When my wife and I together decided to go off contraceptives, we checked her vaginal mucus each night and, when it got slippery, we knew this was the beginning of the fertile segment of her menstrual cycle.  That night, we had a very long and very delightful sexual exchange  because together we imagined that we were creating (with God’s help) our future daughter.

The next three nights were the same.  The great sex that was our constant gift to each other was there, but now it was infused with a special urgency because we were anticipating our future daughter. . . .  We fucked like rabbits throughout the night.  We laughed and played and kissed for hours. This was like the unrestrained sexual ecstasies that we had for the first two weeks after our wedding. . . .  It was glorious.

But we were mistaken.  A conception did not take place. And don’t you dare ever trying to tell me that God was punishing us because we had used contraceptives for four years in order to allow Linda to finish her studies and to get a firm foothold in her profession.

So, when our daughter was not conceived, we were not in the least bit discouraged. In discussing this with our friends, they told us that “this was not unusual.”  So when the sign of the slippery mucus came again on the following month, we rushed into our marital orgy just as we did in the first month.  It came upon us with the naturalness of dew falling off of the morning leaves.  Again, we felt our future daughter was palpably there with us, and we loved her along with loving each other nonstop.

But again no conception took place.  After six months, we suspected that something was not quite right, so we consulted a specialist in fertility studies. We didn’t do a novena or have Masses said for our intention because we were fully aware that God was on our side and that he wanted us to have a daughter as much as we did.

The medical expert told us that we both were “marginally fertile.”  Hence, we continued our monthly orgies of sex for two full years.  Near the end of the second year, the vision of our daughter had grown dim.  In its place, our love making now was drenched in tears of pain and loss.  Good sex, believe it or not, can mix with tears that heal memories and mend wounds that life imposes on those who love God.  I wonder whether you have ever known good sex mixed with bitter tears.  If so, I’d enjoy hearing your story.

Then it happened.  We did not get pregnant.  No.  But the love that we had so faithfully generated for our future daughter had mysteriously moved a complete stranger from Guatemala who had crossed the Rio Grande and was being detained by the INS awaiting deportation to beg my friend Margaret a special favor: “I’m pregnant.  I need to find a couple in the USA who would take me in and love my baby.”

And so Margaret called me in the middle of the night and told me her “good news.”  She was like the angel who said, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10). And so we gave Zoila the residency rights that she needed, and she gave us the beloved daughter, Jessica, that we were ready to love even more than a child conceived within our own flesh. Who could have anticipated such an amazing story that left all of us blessed.

Your beloved brother, Aaron

When Kevin had digested my letter, he responded in only twenty-five words:

You took the short route, Aaron.  If you had faithfully entrusted your future to God as I did, he would have performed an even greater miracle for you.

I wanted to shout back,

Hey, bro.  You don’t get it.  God did perform the “greater miracle” when Zoila came to live with us. . . .  In any case, despite all our differences, I still love you.  Give me a hug, bro!

The Limits of Christian Forgiveness


When I was a young child, the story of salvation given to me by the Ursuline nuns at Holy Cross Grade School in Euclid, Ohio, was something so simple, so compelling, and so wonderful.  Adam sinned and we inherited the consequences: God’s grace dried up and the gates of heaven were sealed shut.  For thousands of years, people were dying, but no one was able to get into heaven.  Everyone was waiting for God to send a redeemer.  Then, Jesus finally arrived and died for our sins on the cross.  And, as my Baltimore Catechism so clearly demonstrated, at the moment that Jesus died on the cross, there, way up in the clouds, the gates of heaven were again being opened.  Finally the souls of all the good people who had died could enter into heaven and be with God for all eternity.


While the Catholic Church has not officially endorsed any specific soteriology,[i] the most popular by far is the theology whereby God forgives all sins due to the merits of Christ’s passion on the cross.


During my eight years at Holy Cross Grade School in Euclid, Ohio, I recall vividly how we knelt on the wood floor next to our benches every morning and faced the large crucifix above the blackboard as we recited our morning prayers.  On Fridays in Lent, we were herded into the church and confronted with an even more vivid reminder of

10th Station of the Cross: Jesus is stripped of his garments

the drama of our salvation.  The Stations of the Cross consisted in fourteen graphically depicted sufferings of Jesus, which covered the sidewalls of Holy Cross Church.  At the beginning of each station, Fr. McMonigle, vested in his somber black cope, called out in a loud voice, “We adore thee, O Christ, and we bless thee.”  All of us children then dropped to our knees and answered in a deafening chorus, “Because by thy holy cross thou hast redeemed the world!”


The Limits of Forgiveness


Should the thousands of young women humiliated, raped, and savagely murdered in the Jewish wars (66-70 and 135-136 CE) or in the recent wars in Bosnia[ii] (1992-1996) be told that they must learn to kiss and embrace their perpetrators when the new age dawns?  Should the young men cut down in wars–especially those who died crying in pain as they slowly suffocated in their own blood–be told, at the time of the resurrection of the dead, that all wars were good and all wars were justified because everyone fought for what seemed to them a just cause and everyone was expected to follow orders?  Should those who spent their lives “weighing down with toil the oppressed” (Did. 5:2) and those who served as “advocates of the rich” (Did. 5:2) be granted equal and ready forgiveness along with their victims?  The members of the Didache would not have thought so.


Dostoevsky, in his Brothers Karamazov, tested his own objections to the fanciful preaching that Jesus “can forgive everyone for everything because he himself shed his innocent blood for everyone and for everything” (2.5.4) in the character of Ivan.  Faced with the innocent suffering of children, Ivan objects to the notion that Jesus (or anyone else for that matter) had the right to forgive, either now or at the final judgment, the torture inflicted on children.  Ivan provides Alyosha, his brother, many graphic examples culled from the daily newspaper.  One such tale he narrates is the following:

A little girl of five was abused by her parents, “descent and most respectable people, well educated and cultured. . . .”  Those educated parents subjected that poor little five-year-old to every conceivable torture.  They beat her, whipped her, kicked her till she was black and blue, all for no reason.  Finally, they thought of the ultimate punishment; they shut her up all night in the outside privy, in the cold and the frost, because she wet herself at night (as if a five-year-old, sleeping soundly like an angel, could excuse herself in time)‑-for this, they smeared her face with her excrement and forced her to eat it, and it was her mother, her mother who did this to her!  And that mother slept unconcernedly at night, oblivious to the sobs of the poor child shut up in that foul place!  Can you understand such a thing: that small child, unable even to comprehend what is being done to her, in the dark and the cold of that foul place, beating her little panting breast with her tiny fists, sobbing, weeping humble tears of bloodstained innocence, praying to “Dear Father God” to protect her. . . (2.5.4).

Only a pious, romanticized Christianity that mindlessly rhapsodizes about the unbounded love of God but has never felt the broken bodies and broken lives of the innocent victims of torture, of racial degradation, of systemic injustice would propose that everyone, no matter how heinous their crimes, need merely cry out for mercy in the face of the divine fire threatening to utterly destroy them and expect to be saved by Jesus.

The Jewish survivors of the Shoah (wrongfully called “the Holocaust”) are much more on target when it comes to the issue of forgiveness:

  • (a) No one can forgive on behalf of another;
  • (b) No one ought to forgive unless there is teshuvah (“turning around” and repudiation of past crimes);
  • (c) Finally, even when forgives comes, there is an obligation never to forget the past lest such crimes be repeated.

The survivors of rape, incest, torture, spousal abuse, and of systemic injustice are likewise today wisely counseled to hold on to their rage since only by embracing it to its depth can they be healing of their victimization (see #12a).

For the innocent victims, there might arrive a moment for forgiveness, but this forgiveness cannot come too early or too late, neither can it be given too promiscuously or too parsimoniously‑-otherwise the very justice of God would be mocked.  If God is not committed to bring justice and to insure that “the gentle . . . inherit the earth” (Did. 3:7), then the entire community of the Didache would have to become a subversive organization bent upon devising means to bring justice in the face of a false god unwilling or unable to protect the victims of this world from the exploiters and abusers.

When the victims of the Shoah are raised from the dead and called by their heavenly Father to enter into his Kingdom that has finally arrived on the face of this earth, they will never go in if they see that God has chosen Nazi guards to hand out the invitations and to form orderly lines among the masses rushing to enter into Paradise. Accordingly it might rightly be said that only someone who has been unjustly victimized or someone who has wiped away the hot tears of those who have been victimized would be capable of discerning the thin raw echo of victimization that runs through the Didache and the Gospels.


Jesus’ Atoning Death and Solidarity With Victims


More than one scholar has noted that the Didache makes no reference to the efficacy of Jesus’ death in God’s plan of salvation.  For that matter, the Didache likewise refrains from casting any positive light upon suffering as such.  This may strike many Christians as curious since most Christians have become accustomed to accept the efficacy of Jesus’ suffering on the Roman cross as imbued with God’s mysterious plan of salvation.  Hence this issue deserves some consideration.  I frame my considerations within two test cases: (a) the suffering-death of my own mother; (b) the suffering-death of a million Jewish mothers.


The Suffering-Death of my Mother


By way of beginning, consider the following reflections upon suffering that my mother read from her prayer book while her pastor, Fr. McMonigle, was quietly reciting the Latin prayers that constituted the “Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”  I specifically chose her prayer book because she used this during the seven years when she was bursting with health and during the last seven months of 1946 when her body was being eaten away by an inoperable cancer.

  • “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. . . ” (Mt 5:5, 10-12).
  • By sufferings we become like to Christ and His blessed Mother, our Lady of Sorrows. Suffering was the lot of all the saints.  Suffering is very meritorious.  Suffering intensifies our love of God.  Suffering has a refining influence upon our character. . . .
  • Suffering is conducive to sanctity, for every sorrow, every trial, can be turned into a blessing. . . . Ignatius Loyola says: “If the Lord send you great tribulations, it is an evidence that he has great designs upon you, and that he wills that you become a saint. . . .”
  • “The Son of God,” says St. Theresa, “has accomplished our salvation by the means of sufferings; He would by this teach us that there is no means more proper to glorify God and to sanctify our souls than to suffer” (My Prayer Book: 84-88).


Recently some Christian women have become alarmed by the distorted piety found in prayer books like the one used by my mother.  Joanne Carlson Brown and Rebecca Parker stepped back from the sentiments named above and concluded that “Christianity [such as this] is an abusive theology that glorifies suffering” (cited in Heyward:384).  They accordingly tried to discover the source of this distorted theology fixated upon suffering:

Is it any wonder that there is so much abuse in modern society when the predominant image or theology of the culture is [a celebration] of “divine child abuse”–God the Father demanding and carrying out the suffering and death of his own son? (cited in Heyward:384).

Struggling to retain both their faith in God and their solidarity with victims, Brown and Parker ended up affirming categorically that “suffering is never redemptive and suffering cannot be redeemed” (cited in Heyward:384).


The great lie: “God loved your mother so much.”


At the time of my mother’s death, a pious aunt whom I greatly admired tried to console me by saying that, “God loved your mother so much that he took her early to be with him in heaven.”  As I pondered her words in the days follow the funeral, I discovered that her words upset me more and more. “How could God love my mother so much and, at the same time, to love me so little?”  Even as a little boy, I knew that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was transported, body and soul, into Heaven. “Why did God take my mother away from me?  He already had his own mother with him in Heaven. I, on the other hand, was very much in need of my mother.”

From that day forward, I slowly began to realize that God was not the “nice Guy” that everyone made him out to be.  I stopped praying to God entirely.  All my prayers were addressed to Mary and to my Mom in Heaven.

As a teenager, I realized that, for seven months, my mother suffered terribly before she died.  It was then that I slowly came to the understand that my aunt did not understand God at all.  Considering the terrible way that my mother slowly died, it was impossible for my aunt to say that “God loved your mother so much. . . .”  My logic was heart-rending and true: “When you love someone, you take care of them.  My God, as it turned out, did not take care of me.  He did not love me, and, he did not really love my Mom either.”

Even as a boy of eight, I sensed that I was moving into uncharted and dangerous territory.  I was confused. I was upset.[iii]  I felt cheated.  I felt abandoned.  My Baltimore Catechism had these words: “God made us to know him, to love him, and to serve him in order to be [after death] eternally happy with him in Heaven.”  The truth is that I wanted to go to Heaven solely in order to be with my Mom again.  I knew that she would immediately understand my “distrust” of God and that she would be able “to fix it.”  Until then, I had no interest in ever being alone with God.  If God could not patiently wait for another ten years—the years when I most needed my Mom—then why could I trust him to be remotely capable of making me “eternally happy”?  God failed me “big time” in 1946 and some future happiness “with him” seemed very unattractive and very unlikely. My Mom and the Virgin Mary knew what I needed; my God, on the other hand, appeared to me to be entirely clueless!

This darkness of the soul overshadowed me for the next eight years. Then, at the age of sixteen, the veil was lifted.  “God does not kill people because he wants to bring them (early) to Heaven.”

When I recall the events surrounding my mother’s death today, I notice how unprotected I was when it came to digesting the awful implications of my aunt’s remark.  I also came to realize how sensitive and thoughtful Christians can sometimes say dreadfully toxic things when faced with the enormity of the loss experienced by survivors.


A Million Jewish Mothers Die


Just to see how far some Christians have gone in order to extend the mystique of suffering, consider the responses made by highly educated Catholics to the extermination of the six million Jews during the Shoah (also referred to as “the Holocaust”).  Cardinal John O’Connor, acting as the Catholic Archbishop of New York, had this to say as part of his reflections upon visiting Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Israel:

The crucifixion and its enormous power continue mystically and spiritually in this world in our day and will continue to the end of time.  Christ . . . continues to suffer in his Body, the Church. . . . And this suffering has a purpose and an effect, as does ours if we conjoin it with his, if we “offer it up”. . . .  [Consequently] if the suffering of the crucifixion was infinitely redemptive, the suffering of the Holocaust, potentially conjoined with it, is incalculably redemptive (47-48).

Archbishop O’Connor was seemingly horrified by the mountain of shoes that were removed from the feet of mothers and children destined for the furnaces of the extermination camps.  Mesmerized by the infinite redemptive suffering of Christ, Archbishop O’Connor undoubtedly thought he was honoring the suffering within the Nazi concentration camps when he associated their sufferings as being redemptive in a way analogous to the sufferings of Jesus.  Many survivors of the death camps and their relatives (see Jacobs: 52-55) were neither flattered nor consoled by the Archbishop’s crude attempt to extend a Christian atonement theology to cover the enormity of evil involved in their loss.  The protesting Jews didn’t mind that Archbishop O’Connor wanted to sugar-coat the sufferings of one Jew (Jesus); but they were totally livid when he tried to take his warped Christian theology and to use it to sugar-coat the Nazi campaign that brought about the death of a million Jewish mothers.

Sorry to say, even John Paul II has flirted with applying a mystique of suffering to the Shoah.  When addressing the Jews of Warsaw on 14 June 1987, he spoke as follows:

We believe in the purifying power of suffering.  The more atrocious the suffering, the greater the purification.  The more painful the experiences, the greater the hope. . . (cited in Jacobs:53).

A year later, while visiting Mauthausen Concentration Camp, the Pope further observed that “the Jews [killed here] enriched the world by their suffering, and their death was like a grain that must fall into the earth in order to bear fruit, in the words of Jesus who brings salvation” (cited in Jacobs:53).

Such language is confusing and/or outright blasphemous in the ears of most Jews.  Does a Jewish father whose daughter has been conscripted to provide sexual favors to the German troops in the front lines tell his daughter that her suffering will purify her love, purify her body, purify anything?  Does a Jewish mother tell her little son who is about to be separated from her and to die a slow starvation in the transport trains that the more painful the experience, the greater hope he ought to have?  Hope for what?  Even popes, one can see, sometimes make silly and injurious remarks when they are blinded by an unexamined and unreflective doctrine that seemingly inflates the benefits of the sufferings of Christ.

The truth is that Golgotha and Auschwitz do have a common thread of interpretation but this has nothing to do with a distorted mysticism of suffering or with the forgiveness of the guilty due to the death of the innocent.  The common thread is that any system or person systematically dehumanizing others and using prolonged torture and slow starvation to make his/her point is acting cruelly and inhumanely.  Inflicting torture cannot be sugar-coated.  The screaming victims cannot be imagined as gaining for themselves or for others some mysterious benefit in this world or in the next.  One can only say that the torture should never have happened and that the survivors stand as a witness to the depth of sin in the world.  As for God, we should never even hint that God would encourage, allow, or make use of torture.  Rather, we can only say that this kind of stuff makes God cringe and to avert his eyes such that the torture victims themselves cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”


Edward Schillebeeckx, in his two-volume investigation on Christology, came to this same conclusion after investigation the whole gamut of biblical references pertaining to the suffering and death of Jesus.  By way of reflecting upon his findings, he wrote:

God and suffering are diametrically opposed. . . .  We can accept that there are certain forms of suffering that enrich our humanity. . . .  However, there is an excess of suffering and evil in our history. . . .  There is too much unmerited and senseless suffering. . . .  But in that case we cannot look for a divine reason for the death of Jesus either.  Therefore, first of all, we have to say that we are not redeemed thanks to the death of Jesus but despite it (1980:695; See also 724f, 729).


There is neither the time nor the place to develop how Schillebeeckx moves through the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures in order to arrive at this stark and unexpected conclusion.  It suffices, for our purpose here, to note that the Didache deliberately refrains from making any positive gesture toward the crucifixion of Jesus whatsoever.  My hunch is that the framers of the Didache, like contemporary Jews and like the young boy who lost his only mother, are repulsed by any notion of God that glosses over and makes torture acceptable.  Whether it is Jews being tortured by medical experiments in the camps, or Jesus tortured on a Roman cross deliberately designed to humiliate and prolong death, or the case of a young mother tortured by the cancer eating her body‑-there is no divine reason for any of these.  God cries out with the victim and tears his garments in grief as he does so.  Any other God cannot be said to be in solidarity with victims.


God Tears his Garments and Grieves for Jesus’ Death


The closer that one examines the passion narratives, the more remote the Christian theology of atonement becomes.  According to this theology, Jesus’ death on the cross is the brightest moment in salvation history.  According to the Synoptics, however, it is the darkest: “From the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour” (Mt 27:45 and par.).  At the moment of Jesus’ death, my childhood catechism presents the imagined image of the Gates of Heaven being thrown open after having been locked ever since the sin of Adam and Eve.  According to the Synoptics, however, it is the temple veil that is rent in two “from top to bottom” (Mt 27:51 and par.).  In most instances, this rending of the veil has been interpreted to signal that the crime of the priests is so grievous that God abandons the holy of holies‑-tearing through the temple veil as he exits.  Such an interpretation fails to take into account that the disciples of Jesus in Jerusalem went to the temple daily to pray and to teach (Acts 2:46, Acts 3:1, Acts 5:42).  Seemingly they have not the slightest hint that the temple has been vacated; they pray and teach in the temple and experience the closeness to God as usual.

Other scholars have suggested that this tearing “originally represented Jesus’ death” and later became a “supernatural portent of Jesus’ deity” (Gundry 1994:575).  But what sense does it make to represent Jesus’ death symbolically when, in actual fact, the event itself, with all its gory details, had just been carefully narrated?  The Letter to the Hebrews makes an oblique reference to “the new and living way that he opened for us through the [temple] curtain” (Heb 10:20), but it would be risky to transpose the theology of Hebrews back into the Synoptics.

Following a suggestion of David Daube (23-26), a Jewish scholar, here is an interpretation that Christians have been prone to overlook:

One has to be aware of the modes of expressing grief then current among the Jewish people.  When a father of Jesus’ day would hear of the death of a son, he would invariably rend his garment by grabbing it at the neck and tearing it from top to bottom [see, e.g., Gn 27:34, Job 1:20, b. Moed Qatqan 25a, b. Menahot 48a].  This is precisely the gesture suggested by the particulars of Matthew’s text: “The veil of the Temple as torn in two from top to bottom” (27:51).  In truth, God is Spirit.  Symbolically, however, the presence of God within the holy of holies was rendered secure from prying eyes by the veil that surrounded that place.  As such, the veil conceals the “nakedness” of God.  It is this “garment” that [the] grief-stricken Father of Jesus tears from top to bottom when he hears the final death-cry of his beloved son.  Even for the Father, therefore, the death of Jesus is bitter tragedy and heartfelt grief (Milavec 1982:57).

This should provide my readers with a point of departure for reeducating ourselves how to distinguish various kinds of suffering, how to recapture our rage and indignation at the suffering of the innocent, and how to wrest the message and death of Jesus from being a soft-headed plea for submitting to evil and forgiving enemies under any and all circumstances.



[i].Soteriology seeks to make sense of how God offers salvation to his/her people.  Jesus and his immediate disciples anticipated the coming of God from heaven to gather the Jewish exiles and to establish his kingdom on earth.  The Church Fathers preferred to think that the divine Logos had become human in order to establish that humans could, by successive stages, attain to that divinization to which they were destined by God.  During the medieval period, Christians were preoccupied with sin‑-Adam failed God in the Garden and accordingly, all his children were conceived in sin and destined for eternal damnation.  Jesus, the Son of God, however, became human such that a human could make complete satisfaction by his death on the cross for all the sins of the world.  Whether God is envisioned as bringing the kingdom or as restoring human access to divinization or as providing satisfaction for sins makes a big difference in how God is understood and how Jesus relates to God and to our salvation.  Interested readers might read Karen Armstrong, A History of God (New York: Ballantine Books, 1993).

[ii] During the Bosnian war, 50,000 Bosnian women faced gang rapes and forced impregnation in what became known as “rape camps.” Today there are 2,000-4,000 children born out of that war. The children born following these rapes are neither Serbian nor Bosnian; they are invisible. Now, as adults, they struggle to cope with the past and its consequences. Moreover, any hint of their existence in public life is reduced to a faltering silence.

In support of the ethnic cleansing strategy engineered by the Serbian authorities, genocidal rapes aimed to “plant the seed of Serbs in Bosnia” and produce little “Chetniks.” Also, it intended to prevent the captives and their families from returning to the region. A whole system was constructed – villages transformed into rape camps, gynecologists were on shift, and to avoid miscarriages and abortions, women were released only in advanced pregnancy.

[iii] What I felt at the age of eight was “raw anger.”  I couldn’t say this out loud, of course.  I was raised as a “nice boy.”  If someone does something nasty, one immediately thinks of getting ready to forgive.  No one was talking about times when it was permitted (nay, even necessary) to be “angry with God.”  Being a “nice boy,” I was raised only to “love God.”  So, my own rigorous religious formation refused to give me permission to be “angry with God.”  Thus, I was entrapped and crippled in the web of my own beloved faith tradition.

Film review of “Women Talking” –The Limits of Forgiveness

Just watched “Women Talking.”  This is the most moving film that I’ve seen in the last five years.  I come away feeling the “outrage” of asking these women to forgive the guilty men.  As one of the women so rightly puts it, “No way is it possible for me to forgive those men.  Even if it means being condemned to hell for an eternity.”
Quotes from the film:
The elders told us it [the unexplained pregnancies] was the work of ghosts or satan. Or that we were lying to get attention. or that it was an act of wild female imagination.

We were given two days to forgive the attackers before they returned. If we did not forgive them, we would be ordered to leave the colony and be denied entry to the kingdom of heaven.

It is part of our faith to forgive. We have always forgiven those who have wronged us; why not now?

I cannot forgive them. I can never forgive them.

We have been preyed upon like animals. We should respond like animals.

Just leave with the rest of the “do nothing” women.

Women Talking Movie Quotes

Where I come from, where your mother comes from, we didn’t talk about our bodies. So when something like this happened, there was no language for it.

In that gaping silence was the real horror.

Why did my feet keep moving forward when hers couldn’t?

Perhaps we need to know more about what we are fighting to achieve rather than what we are fighting to destroy.

We’re women without a voice.

All we have is our dreams, so of course we are dreamers.

We know that we must protect our children, regardless of who is guilty.

Are you saying the attackers are as much victims as the victims of the attacks?

None of us have ever asked the men for anything, not a single thing.

Sometimes I think people laugh as hard as they’d like to cry.

How would you feel if, for your entire life, it didn’t matter how you thought?

When we liberate ourselves, we will have to ask ourselves who we are.

I love it. Isn’t that strange?

I won’t speak of it or anything else ever again.

I want to help, and I don’t know how.

Time will heal. Our freedom and safety are the ultimate goals, and it is men who prevent us from achieving those goals.

One day, I’d like to hear that from someone who should be saying it.

If I were married, I wouldn’t be myself. So the person you loved would be gone.

They made us disbelieve ourselves. That was worse than…

If God is a loving god, then he will forgive us himself.

I will destroy any living thing that harms my child. I will tear it limb from limb. I will desecrate its body and burn it alive.

I will become a murderer if I stay.

Women Talking Movie Quotes
Here is a review:
Published Dec. 22, 2022  Updated March 6, 2023
Women Talking
NYT Critic’s Pick
Directed by Sarah Polley
1h 44m

Every so often, “Women Talking” lets its attention wander away from its main concern (which is, as you might have guessed, women talking) to observe the hands of girls as they draw pictures, play complicated clapping and string-figure games or braid one another’s hair into intricate plaits. The grace and discipline of those activities, and the creativity they express, are woven into the film itself, which seems plain-spoken almost to the point of artlessness and turns out to be as layered and whorled as a hand-woven tapestry.

The women are members of an agrarian religious community that has kept its distance from modernity. An outsider’s pickup truck blasting the Monkees’ “Daydream Believer” is one of a handful of signs that this movie, directed by Sarah Polley from a novel by Miriam Toews, takes place anywhere near the present.

Toews’s book was suggested by actual events that took place from 2005 to 2009 at a Mennonite colony in Bolivia, but the film version doesn’t specify a location. That vagueness reflects both the universality of the story’s themes and what the women know of the secular world, which is very little. Though many of them can recite the Bible from memory, they haven’t been taught to read and write.

Their educations have been minimal, but their wisdom, acquired through farm and household labor, child-rearing, prayer and intuition, is vast. Or at least sufficient to spur the emergence of a powerful and sophisticated collective political consciousness. How they arrive at a clear understanding of their oppression and potential liberation is the film’s subject, a source of suspense, emotion and inspiration.

What the women are talking about is what some of the men in the colony have done to them. Or maybe not quite that: They all know that a large number of their husbands, brothers, relatives and neighbors have been sneaking into the bedrooms of women and girls at night, equipped with a spray used to tranquilize livestock, and raping their unconscious victims. A few flashbacks to the aftermaths of some of the attacks are sufficient to convey their horror. Now that the colony’s elders have admitted the problem and the secular authorities have gotten involved, the question is how to respond.

While most of the men are away, bailing the accused perpetrators out of jail, a group of women meets in a hayloft to hash out a course of action. The women of the community have already voted in a referendum offering three choices: do nothing — forgive, forget and hope for the best; stay and fight; or leave. The first option having been soundly rejected, they settle in to debate the other two, arguing the relative merits of exit and voice.

Many of the participants favor exit, but “Women Talking,” as its title suggests, is mostly voice — a weave of voices in varying arrangements of harmony and dissonance. The calmest and most measured, but also in some ways the most passionate and principled, belongs to Ona (Rooney Mara), who is pregnant. Salome (Claire Foy) and Mariche (Jessie Buckley), two mothers of young children, provide antiphonal chords of anger. Both are victims of male violence, but they often turn their rage on each other. Two older women, Greta (Sheila McCarthy) and Agata (Judith Ivey), offer sympathy, perspective and occasional grandma jokes, though the necessary spark of mischief comes from the younger generation, boisterously represented by Liv McNeil, Michelle McLeod and Kate Hallett.

There’s also a man in the barn, whose job is to take the minutes of the meeting. His name is August, and he’s played with appropriate sensitivity by Ben Whishaw. In the book, he is also the narrator, but Polley has replaced him with a woman whom it might be a spoiler to name, leaving August as a reminder that while not all men are monsters to women, every man is implicated in the arrangements of power that enable the monstrosity.

But the movie isn’t about the men. They are a blank that it’s easy enough to fill in, a set of facts implied in the words and silences of the women. Away from their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons, the main characters experience a comfort that is clearly familiar, and a freedom that feels new. Their personalities peek out from behind the scrim of their defined, taken-for-granted roles.

“Women Talking” compels you to think about their plight, but it also invites you to enjoy their company. It seems contrary to Polley’s democratic method to single out performances for praise, but I found myself coming back to the wit that percolates underneath Foy’s ferocity, the deep sorrow behind McCarthy’s patience, Ivey’s beatitude, Hallett’s rambunctious high humor, Frances McDormand’s heartbreaking silence and August Winter’s unaffected dignity as a gender-nonconforming character named Melvin.

And also the poetry of Polley’s images (shot by Luc Montpellier), which show the beauty of life in the colony. Following Toews — and the women themselves, whose faith informs their rebellion — Polley takes the religious life of the colony seriously, refusing to treat it as exotic or outlandish. The point of leaving isn’t to reject belief, but to reestablish it on a firmer, more coherent moral basis, to imagine “a new colony” of trust and safety.

That idea is by definition Utopian, and also consistent with the radical Christian tradition that the existing colony represents. The root of Protestantism, after all, is protest — against arbitrary and unaccountable authority in the name of a higher truth. “Women Talking” reawakens that idea and applies it, with precision and passion, to our own time and circumstances. The women don’t want pity or revenge. They want a better world. Why not listen?

Please add your own reflections below. 

Preparing for an ecstatic mutuality in sexual bonding

Dear Brother,

I expect you and Amy are having a good time preparing for your wedding.  I am looking forward to your wedding.

I want you and Amy to have a life-long sexual adventure that is infinity and beyond amazing!  So, even though you have not invited me, I am going to tell you what has been my own successful practice of amazing love-making and let you decide whether any of this applies to you and Amy.

#1 After the wedding, my wife and I spent an entire week alone.  We were sexually hungry for each other, and we wanted to give ourselves over to exchanging life-stories (What was the scariest moment in your life? Etc.) while naked together.  After each story exchange, we’d make love.  It was the most delicious week of my entire life.  For each meal, one of us would be blind-folded and the other would gently and carefully do the feeding.  After supper, we’d watch a favorite love movie.  My favorite was “Shakespeare in Love.” For my wife, Yimou Zhang’s “The Road Home.”  Then we’d make love again pretending we were the lovers in the film.  Sometimes, we never finished a film because we were so sexually excited that we would stop the film in order to do our role-playing.  At night, we slept together totally naked.  Generally we made love spontaneously in the middle of the night.

All in all, we made love five to eight times each day.  We kept a love journal that recorded the words, the feelings, the ecstasy of each new day.  We did not share our journals until our first anniversary.


#2 If you have not been sexually intimate already, I would suggest that you begin, already at this time, to pass through the stages of intimacy that will prepare you for an awesome sexual love life.  How so?

2a. I would strongly suggest that you would not plan to have sex with penetration on the night of your wedding.  Why so?  Because you will be unable to do so without anxiety and fear.  Because you will not be totally comfortable with touching each other.  Because you will not know what your partner needs to get bodily and spiritually aroused.

2b. For my wife and I, we spent six months discovering each other’s body, exchanging body massages, taking showers together, and sleeping together naked before we had our first orgasm.  You, given your special skills, could do this in one month.

2c. The practice of taking showers together was very satisfying and very important.  Our first shower together was in almost complete darkness.  Only a small candle was in the bathroom.  My Beloved decided when this would take place.  I wanted to give her the initiative and to tell her in the most graphic way possible, “I will never make love to you until you are entirely ready.”  The near-total darkness served to expand our sense of touch.  It also helped to overcome any shame that either of us might have felt with respect to being naked=vulnerable.  Here is what I wrote:

I turn on the tap and a generous flow of hot water shoots out of the shower head.  In a short time, the shower stall is filled with steam. I begin by letting my Beloved soak in the hot water and steam.  Then I cut the water and rub shampoo into her hair.  I overdo the shampoo so that there is plenty of soap suds left over to rub over her face and upper body.  There is no washcloth, so I use my strong hands to generously rub the soap into all the pores and crevices and to especially savor the soft roundness of her breasts and the firmness of her buttocks. Before I wash a new part of her body, I plant some kisses on that part first.  Her silent smile indicates that she likes this.

During all this time, my Beloved closes her eyes.  This helps her to relish the experience or to keep the soap from stinging her eyes.  Hearing her soft moans of delight inclines me to believe that the former option was true.  When I’m done, I turn on the hot water again and completely wash away all the soap.

Then it’s her turn to do me.  She follows my general pattern.  She turns off the hot spray and then generously shampoos my hair and begins to work down my body.  She is gentle where it is important to be gentle and rough where it is important to be rough.  When finished she soaks me and herself for five solid minutes in the spray of hot water and steam.  It’s lovely to be touched by her and, even more lovely, to be able to touch her body without any inhibitions.

Then we step out of the shower stall, and I grab a towel and rub her hair dry and then, with a fresh towel, I dry every part of her body, even the secret places between her toes.  She giggles when I recite “One little piggy went to market. . . .”  Then, with the two thin remaining towels, she dries my body with the same care and thoroughness that I gave her.

2d.  On the sixth day, we began sleeping together with pajamas.  It took a few nights to find a position where we could both fall asleep while touching.  We found that spooning each other (as shown in pic) worked best.  As the nights continued, we gradually moved toward sleeping naked.  We gave ourselves a period for sensual touching and for sensual kissing.  After three weeks, this included touching/massaging sex organs and kissing on the lips.


#3 Massage: After getting comfortable with nudity and touching, the time is ripe for exchanging massages. Go find a video, “How to give a massage,” on the internet.  <>  Giving and receiving a massage is very beneficial because it gives the opportunity to discover tickle spots and tender spots.  Be spontaneous.  Use hair brushes to gently scratch the skin.  Slap the skin with an open hand.   Kiss, lick, bite.  Give some safety words: red = stop; yellow = this makes me uncomfortable; green = Oh, I would like more of this.   These three feedback words will become useful to signal to your partner what you are experiencing.

Gradually give some attention to the sexual organs.  Explore various ways of touching.  Then go to kissing, licking, sucking.  Discover what gives your partner pleasure!  Gradually move toward sexual arousal and orgasm.  This is a very important phase.  Since your partner is inactive, you get to decide how and when to pleasure him/her.  The ideal would be to arrive at the point where Amy can have an orgasm using only Lionel’s fingers and lips.  Amie, meanwhile, can discover how to advance toward your sexual arousal.

This is a foundational life-long achievement.  Most couples rush into sex and, in so doing, their sexuality takes on fixed patterns wherein the initiation of sex play usually always begins with the more assertive member—usually the man.  This is not a very satisfying situation in the long run.

Shakira Funny GIF - Shakira Funny Erotic GIFsA sensitive man wants to experience the sexual tiger in his wife.  He wants her to be sympathetic and cooperative, but not all the time. He wants her to be fierce at times.

Here is the poem I wrote that captures this:

I am surely not like those other men
who like their women to be tamed.

I want to preserve your wild side
and to shiver at your incessant growls.

I want you to wrestle naked with me
and to unleash your unbounded fury.

I don’t want you to always be a gentle lover,
but to seize and ripe out my heart sometimes.

I want to bleed when you squeeze me
and pull me apart and suck my bones.

I want to heal only when you bind my wounds,
and anoint my body with your aromatic juices.

I want to cry with you and laugh with you once a day
and to make silly faces and tickle you on Saturdays.

I am surely not like those other men
who like their women to be tamed.


There is a second reason why I wanted to give my Beloved an orgasm every time before my own.  A woman normally approaches love-making more organically and slowly.  On most occasions, she requires 15-20 of playful give and take before her vaginal canal is fully lubricated with her sweet juices.  A man, meanwhile, can prepare himself for penetration in three to five minutes.  If he rushes into penetration, he loses out in two ways: (a) he leaves his partner behind and she is unable (after his ejaculation) to catch up; and (b) he never acquires the patience and excitement of allowing his penis to rise and fall, to rise and fall, to rise and fall, in such a way as to enable him, after a half-hour, to experience an explosive orgasm that causes his whole body from the top of his head to his toes to shudder in sexual ecstasy WITH his partner.

Soyalerios Rawr GIF - Soyalerios Rawr Sexy GIFsWhen I, as a man, have guaranteed my Beloved the time and care to become a sexual tiger, she rewards me by arousing me WAY BEYOND MY EXPECTATIONS.


The rest of this is borrowed from another website.

Understand and always remember that sex is an act to be enjoyed. So I always take time to arouse her. I understand that penetration is just one of the sexual acts. There are many other exciting things that can be done to make her climax back-to-back. This is my way of doing it. This is the way I have always used. So it definitely works. In most of the situations, if used effectively & with imagination, your woman will surely have at least 3 or 4 pre-penetration orgasms and then she can have few more with penetration. The great thing about this way is that this will give her so many orgasms even before the act of penetration.

For me, being a man, female orgasm is as important as my own orgasm if not more. Also it makes my beloved so wild that she would return the pleasure in all the wild ways, without me asking for it. So I take penetration as just a final technique to give my beloved her final orgasm and I always use this outline that works for me every time.

#1 Start Arousing Her Mind & Having Foreplay with her

Start arousing her Mind even before you meet. Build the thrill. The more thrilled she is, the easier it is to give her multiple orgasms. Below texts are to let your imagination go wild –

“I have got something planned for later, and I think you will like it” “I don’t like sitting in office, when I could be doing things with you”, “I had the wildest dream last night”, ” Why can’t I just be lying beside you in bed instead of studying/working… 🙁”, “if I were there with you, I would have….” (this works like charm)

#2 Foreplay is super crucial.

Kiss Make Out GIF - Kiss Make Out Make Love GIFsMake out with her so good that she feels like a gorgeous princess.  Being a man you have to communicate how much you CRAVE every inch of her body by your hungry actions. Body language should clearly communicate your craving for her. Never let her relax from this moment onwards.  Be really really hungry for her, and make it absolutely clear to her how much you crave to be intimate with her.

#3 Take it slow.  Build the mutual craving.

Lips Touch GIF - Lips Touch Ttaa GIFsMake out with her. Take time. Take it slow. Build the energy. Build the craving. Build the sexual tension. Use sounds, touches, squeezes, words till she disengages and tells you “Let’s go to my car”, “let’s go to your room” or “Let’s go to some place quiet”

#4 Undress her gradually.

As you undress her gradually, keep licking & kissing the skin that gets revealed as you peal away her clothing.  Allow her to do the same for you (if this is her desire).

#5 Start with kissing, licking, nibbling her ears.

Couple Passionate GIF - Couple Passionate Romantic GIFs

#6 Suck on her nipples.

#7 Lick her stomach. Lick around her navel.


[When you begin licking between her legs, go ever so slowly when your tongue reaches out and touches her clitoris for the first time.  Be ready.  Her whole body might jump at the first contact.  If it does,  go down a few centimeters,  wet your tongue, and begin approaching more slowly.  Do this until she is totally comfortable with the pleasure she feels when your tongue plays with her clitoris.  This will work magic for her.  She will imagine you making slow contact with her clitoris a dozen times each day.  Her imagination will get her own juices flowing.  And every part of her body will be feeling an infinite gratitude for you as “the one and only man who knows how to make love to me down to the core of my being.”]

Lick and suck her pussy and clit & Give her first few orgasms with your tongue and sucking her clitoris.

And you will soon feel her squirm, twitch, moan, arch her back and fall back as you artfully bring her to the edge of her first orgasm.  Hold her hand.   Guide her slowly over the edge.   Read her bodily signals.  After she climaxes, reassure her that “Oh, I love the way your body responds to me.  But, this is just the beginning of our journey together.  My love for you is boundless. ”

If needed, you may need to pin her on the bed to keep her still.  [Keep in mind that you may be the first person who brings her such deep and loving pleasure with just your tongue.]  If needed, use some force to prevent her from pushing you away.  [Remember that she’s pushing you away because her pleasure is so new, so intense, so ecstatic.  If your Beloved is disorientated or afraid of this experience, go back to holding her and kissing her and ask her very quietly, “Help me understand what you have been feeling as I make love to you.”]

On the other hand, she might push your head onto her pussy, then trust me she really enjoys what you are doing and all you have to do is to continue doing that and soon she will have amazing back-to-back orgasms.   If this happens, then proceed to #8.  If it does not happen,  then hold her, kiss her, and reassure her that “the journey to mutual sexual enjoyment will come gradually and progressively.”

#8 Finger-Feel Her Sweetly

She deserves this as she will be super wet already with all the licking she’s received and, when she is totally comfortable with you,  then she will be so excited to give herself to you and to trust you completely and to have orgasmed a few times already.

Make sure you have neat manicured fingers and trimmed nails till the flesh of your finger is above the nail line. Feel her lips gently. Move your fingers along the edges of her lips

Once she starts to ooze so good, Insert one finger slowly and gently into her vagina [as shown in the pic above]. Curve it up with palm upward and feel for the soft, furry roof 3-5 cm. inside her vagina.  [This is the G-spot.] Take your time. Always be alert to her reactions. Now start moving the fingers as if you are calling someone near. Use one finger, then if she is comfortable use 2 fingers.

As you pick up your fingering pace, she might have a few more orgasms there and might even squirt.   If not, go  back to licking her lower lips and clitoris, to give her more pleasure while gently rubbing her G-spot as well.  This works like magic to bring her progressively toward convulsing orgasms.

#9 Tickle her G-spot until she orgasms a few more times.

Continue Fingering her fast till she chums again and even squirts. Feel her arch up, squelch, scream, shiver, shake and even squirt her juices. Watch her reactions before she cums and better still before she squirts. If your position allows reach out, lean and suck her nipples and bite her neck. See how it is done.

[Very few men and even fewer women have had any experience with squirting.  At first, one might be inclined to think that this is a form of peeing.  It isn’t.  When you have your first experience, you’ll see that the water in squirting has no odor and it is completely sterile; hence, you can rub your face in it and even drink it.  Needless to say, if one or both partners think “squirting” is peeing, then they will be ashamed and want to prevent it.   So, it’s best not to even think of squirting during the early phase of love-making.  If it happens, welcome it!  It is part of the natural release that comes with intense and prolonged love-making.  Hence, don’t make the mistake of trying to produce it.  It will come slowly and naturally. ]

#10  Now you’re ready to introduce your penis.

[Here is something that I have never done myself, namely, to allow my Beloved to make love to me and to bring my penis into play as she sees fit.  Just as I have used steps #1 to #9 by way of giving priority to the sexual satisfaction of my Beloved, it seems fitting to allow my Beloved to take charge of when and how she wishes to make love to me.  This is the magic step that none of the sex manuals promote.  I, on the other hand, would not want to imagine myself as doing anything but this.  I want to be conquered by my tiger!]

[Once your Beloved trusts you completely.  Once she knows that her pleasure comes first.  Then she will step out of the shadows from time to time and become the fierce tiger that takes over and gives direction to your sex life.  Look out!  This is the moment that you have been waiting for.  No need for me to even try to describe it, because every tiger has her own time and her own magic powers.  Get ready to be overwhelmed!  But don’t ever make the mistake of asking about this.  Let it come when she’s ready to make it come.]










Go for it, Brother!  Let her become your Tiger!  Get ready to celebrate an infinity of Love together.  Surprise her and surprise yourself.


Short history of Baptism

by Emma Martin  (Source)


Sacred Scripture indicates that Jesus and his disciples performed Baptisms (John 3: 22), yet in saying that Baptizing did not play a major part in Jesus’ own earthly ministry. Significance lies in the fact that there is biblical evidence that Baptism quickly became a central ritual of the Christian community almost immediately following Jesus’ death. In fact, the two key historical events that were most formative in the church’s understanding of Christian initiation were Jesus’ death and resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

The earliest rites of initiation, water baptism by submersion and the laying of hands, together sacramentalised these two historical events in one act of Baptism.

The public’s assent of faith marked the entrance into the Paschal Mystery (one of the central concepts of Christian faith relating to the history of salvation (7)) and experience of the Spirit. In the sacrament of Baptism this action is what was celebrated by the convert and community, as it was believed that meaningful faith could not be private, it was public and it was communal (7). Baptism celebrated this reality.

It is important that we are able to see this early development of Baptism in it’s proper context. It clearly was an expression of the life of the Church (6). It was a sacrament of initiation. As the church grew and developed in its first few centuries, the process of initiation also expanded to include what we now refer to as the Catechumenate, a faith journey undertaken by both candidate (catechumen) and community (5). This journey often spanning years clearly demonstrated that initiation was a process. Early in Church practice the Baptism of a convert (by this time a rich rite including the imposition of hands and an anointing) was immediately followed by the celebration of the Eucharist, the principle worship of the Church (5). Since Baptism was obviously associated with conversion, it was therefore administered primarily to adults for the first two or three centuries. When whole households were converted, and received into the Church, children were included in this rite (5).

Encouraging the delay of Baptism in the early Church was the harsh penitential discipline. The Early Church believed at that time that one had only two opportunities to receive the sacramental sign of forgiveness: Baptism and the reception of Penance after Baptism (5). In the fourth and fifth centuries Baptism underwent some of the most dramatic changes, as a result of a blend of theological insight and historical circumstance. Before this time Baptism was understood as a sacrament of adult conversion, the convert celebrated reconciliation with God and liberation from sin (4). It was Saint Augustine who emphasized the notion of baptismal liberation from sin and took the understanding of the Sacrament in a new direction, Augustine emphasized the reality of original sin and the resulting necessity for the grace of baptismal cleansing. Prior to this, people had little reason to fear for the salvation of their unbaptized children (5).  With this new theology, and the high rate of infant mortality, parents began to appeal to their bishop for the immediate baptism of their children. By the fifth century infant baptism had become the common practice. It should also be remembered that by this time the empire had become predominantly Christian, adult conversion and baptism was de-emphasized because there were few unbaptized adults left (5).

While infant baptism is the most common practice in the Church today, the new Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, restored at the Second Vatican Council, offers us a more ancient vision of the Sacrament. It reminds us of the biblical connection between personal conversion and communal initiation, and it restores the ancient unity of the three presently distinct Sacraments of Initiation- Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist (5).

By maintaining the validity of infant baptism, while also pointing to the vision of the adult catechumenate, the Church powerfully communicates the degree to which initiation should be viewed as a lifelong process worthy of such diverse sacramental expression (4).

Whether the Baptism conferred with the formula «We baptize you. . . .» is valid?

RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS by the  Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the validity of Baptism conferred with the formula
«We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit»


First question: Whether the Baptism conferred with the formula «We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit» is valid?

Second question: Whether those persons for whom baptism was celebrated with this formula must be baptized in forma absoluta?


To the first question: Negative.

To the second question: Affirmative.

The Supreme Pontiff Francis, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, On June 8, 2020, approved these Responses and ordered their publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 24, 2020, on the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist.

Luis F. Card. Ladaria, S.I.

✠ Giacomo Morandi
Titular Archbishop of Cerveteri

* * *

on the modification of the sacramental formula of Baptism

Recently there have been celebrations of the Sacrament of Baptism administered with the words: “In the name of the father and of the mother, of the godfather and of the godmother, of the grandparents, of the family members, of the friends, in the name of the community we baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. Apparently, the deliberate modification of the sacramental formula was introduced to emphasize the communitarian significance of Baptism, in order to express the participation of the family and of those present, and to avoid the idea of the concentration of a sacred power in the priest to the detriment of the parents and the community that the formula in the Rituale Romano might seem to imply[1]. With debatable pastoral motives[2], here resurfaces the ancient temptation to substitute for the formula handed down by Tradition other texts judged more suitable. In this regard, St. Thomas Aquinas had already asked himself the question “utrum plures possint simul baptizare unum et eundem” to which he had replied negatively, insofar as this practice is contrary to the nature of the minister[3].

The Second Vatican Council states that: “when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes”[4]. The affirmation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, inspired by a text of Saint Augustine[5], wants to return the sacramental celebration to the presence of Christ, not only in the sense that he infuses his virtus to give it efficacy, but above all to indicate that the Lord has the principal role in the event being celebrated.

When celebrating a Sacrament, the Church in fact functions as the Body that acts inseparably from its Head, since it is Christ the Head who acts in the ecclesial Body generated by him in the Paschal mystery[6]. The doctrine of the divine institution of the Sacraments, solemnly affirmed by the Council of Trent[7], thus sees its natural development and authentic interpretation in the above-mentioned affirmation of Sacrosanctum Concilium. The two Councils are therefore in harmony in declaring that they do not have the authority to subject the seven sacraments to the action of the Church. The Sacraments, in fact, inasmuch as they were instituted by Jesus Christ, are entrusted to the Church to be preserved by her. It is evident here that although the Church is constituted by the Holy Spirit, who is the interpreter of the Word of God, and can, to a certain extent, determine the rites which express the sacramental grace offered by Christ, does not establish the very foundations of her existence: the Word of God and the saving acts of Christ.

It is therefore understandable that in the course of the centuries the Church has safeguarded the form of the celebration of the Sacraments, above all in those elements to which Scripture attests and that make it possible to recognize with absolute clarity the gesture of Christ in the ritual action of the Church. The Second Vatican Council has likewise established that no one “even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority”[8]. Modifying on one’s own initiative the form of the celebration of a Sacrament does not constitute simply a liturgical abuse, like the transgression of a positive norm, but a vulnus inflicted upon the ecclesial communion and the identifiability of Christ’s action, and in the most grave cases rendering invalid the Sacrament itself, because the nature of the ministerial action requires the transmission with fidelity of that which has been received (cf. 1 Cor 15:3).

In the celebration of the Sacraments, in fact, the subject is the Church, the Body of Christ together with its Head, that manifests itself in the concrete gathered assembly[9]. Such an assembly therefore acts ministerially – not collegially – because no group can make itself Church, but becomes Church in virtue of a call that cannot arise from within the assembly itself. The minister is therefore the sign-presence of Him who gathers, and is at the same time the locus of the communion of every liturgical assembly with the whole Church. In other words the minister is the visible sign that the Sacrament is not subject to an arbitrary action of individuals or of the community, and that it pertains to the Universal Church.

In this light must be understood the tridentine injunction concerning the necessity of the minister to at least have the intention to do that which the Church does[10]. The intention therefore cannot remain only at the interior level, with the risk of subjective distractions, but must be expressed in the exterior action constituted by the use of the matter and form of the Sacrament. Such an action cannot but manifest the communion between that which the minister accomplishes in the celebration of each individual sacrament with that which the Church enacts in communion with the action of Christ himself: It is therefore fundamental that the sacramental action may not be achieved in its own name, but in the person of Christ who acts in his Church, and in the name of the Church.

Therefore, in the specific case of the Sacrament of Baptism, not only does the minister not have the authority to modify the sacramental formula to his own liking, for the reasons of a christological and ecclesiological nature already articulated, but neither can he even declare that he is acting on behalf of the parents, godparents, relatives or friends, nor in the name of the assembly gathered for the celebration, because he acts insofar as he is the sign-presence of the same Christ that is enacted in the ritual gesture of the Church. When the minister says “I baptize you…” he does not speak as a functionary who carries out a role entrusted to him, but he enacts ministerially the sign-presence of Christ, who acts in his Body to give his grace and to make the concrete liturgical assembly a manifestation of “the real nature of the true Church”[11], insofar as “liturgical services are not private functions, but are celebrations of the Church, which is the ‘sacrament of unity,’ namely the holy people united and ordered under their bishops”[12].

Moreover, to modify the sacramental formula implies a lack of an understanding of the very nature of the ecclesial ministry that is always at the service of God and his people and not the exercise of a power that goes so far as to manipulate what has been entrusted to the Church in an act that pertains to the Tradition. Therefore, in every minister of Baptism, there must not only be a deeply rooted knowledge of the obligation to act in ecclesial communion, but also the same conviction that Saint Augustine attributes to the Precursor, which “was to be a certain peculiarity in Christ, such that, although many ministers, be they righteous or unrighteous, should baptize, the virtue of Baptism would be attributed to Him alone on whom the dove descended, and of whom it was said: ‘It is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit’ (Jn 1:33)”. Therefore, Augustine comments: “Peter may baptize, but this is He that baptizes; Paul may baptize, yet this is He that baptizes; Judas may baptize, still this is He that baptizes»[13].  [Source]


[1] In reality, a careful analysis of the Rite of Baptism of Children shows that in the celebration the parents, godparents and the entire community are called to play an active role, a true liturgical office (cf. Rituale Romanum ex Decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum auctoritate Pauli PP. VI promulgatum, Ordo Baptismi Parvulorum, Praenotanda, nn. 4-7), which according to the conciliar provisions, however, requires that “each person, minister or layman, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy” (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 28).

[2] Often the recourse to pastoral motivation masks, even unconsciously, a subjective deviation and a manipulative will. Already in the last century Romano Guardini recalled that if in personal prayer the believer can follow the impulse of the heart, in liturgical action “he must open himself to a different kind of impulse which comes from a more powerful source: namely, the heart of the Church which beats through the ages. Here it does not matter what personal tastes are, what wants he may have, or what particular cares occupy his mind…” (R. Guardini, Vorschule des Betens, Einsiedeln/Zürich, 19482, p. 258; Eng. trans.: The Art of Praying, Manchester, NH, 1985, 176).

[3] Summa Theologiae, III, q. 67, a. 6 c.

[4] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7.

[5] S. Augustinus, In Evangelium Ioannis tractatus, VI, 7.

[6] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, 5.

[7] Cf. DH 1601.

[8] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22 § 3.

[9] Cf. Catechismus Catholicae Ecclesiae, n. 1140: “Tota communitas, corpus Christi suo Capiti unitum, celebrat” and 1141: “Celebrans congregatio communitas est baptizatorum”.

[10] Cf. DH 1611.

[11] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, 2.

[12] Ibid., 26.

[13] S. Augustinus, In Evangelium Ioannis tractatus, VI, 7.

[00923-EN.01] [Original text: Italian]



3. If your response is personal in nature and you want to share your personal story, then you are very welcome here.

If you want to affirm what someone has posted, please do so.

If you need to challenge someone’s personal story, then begin by telling us how your religious journey took you down another path.

If you are angry because someone does not believe and act as you do, then simply write, “I am angry.  I wish you could be like me.”  [No threats.  No put downs.  No infallible pronouncements.  No lies.]

If you have personally been moved by what someone has shared, then you might write, “I’m gratified/challenged/edified by your words.” or “Please tell me how your were changed by your story.”


Here is the place where you can reply to and discuss my article, “Whatever Happened to Hell and Going to Heaven?”

In order to classify your reply and to place it in a place where it will get my best attention, I ask you to do the following:

1. If your response is short and sweet (under 50 words), then post it below.

2. If your response is academic and over 60 words, then post it here.

3. If your response is personal in nature and you want to share your personal story, then post it here.