One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one
another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, "Which
commandment is the first of all?" Jesus answered, "The
first is, "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one;
you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all
your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'
The second is this, "You shall love your neighbour as
yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Then
the scribe said to him, "You are right, Teacher; you have truly
said that "he is one, and besides him there is no other'; and
"to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding,
and with all the strength,' and "to love one's neighbour as
oneself,'—this is much more important than all whole burnt
offerings and sacrifices." When Jesus saw that he answered
wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of
God." After that no one dared to ask him any question.
Since we are created in the image and likeness of God, all aspects
of our humanity are sacred, including our sexuality. Human beings
are made for relationship, seeking intimacy through friendship,
family and romantic relationship.
Anchor Concepts: Common
Good, Human Dignity,
- HUMAN DIGNITY
- COMMUNITY AND THE COMMON GOOD
- THEOLOGY OF THE BODY
Created Male and Female
Ten God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according
to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the
wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps
upon the earth." So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God
blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply,
and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish
of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing
that moves upon the earth."
Genesis 1: 26-30
You it was created my inmost self, you put me together in my mother’s
womb, I praise you that I have been so wonderfully made; your works
are wonderful .
Song of Songs
Psalm 139: 13-14
The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine,
your anointing oils are fragrant,
your name is perfume poured out;
therefore the maidens love you.
Draw me after you, let us make haste.
The king has brought me into his chambers.
We will exult and rejoice in you;
we will extol your love more than wine;
rightly do they love you.
I am black and beautiful,
O daughters of Jerusalem,
like the tents of Kedar,
like the curtains of Solomon.
Do not gaze at me because I am dark,
because the sun has gazed on me.
My mother’s sons were angry with me;
they made me keeper of the vineyards,
but my own vineyard I have not kept!
Tell me, you whom my soul loves,
where you pasture your flock,
where you make it lie down at noon;
for why should I be like one who is veiled
beside the flocks of your companions?
If you do not know,
O fairest among women,
follow the tracks of the flock,
and pasture your kids
beside the shepherds’ tents.
I compare you, my love,
to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots.
Your cheeks are comely with ornaments,
your neck with strings of jewels.
We will make you ornaments of gold,
studded with silver.
While the king was on his couch,
my nard gave forth its fragrance.
My beloved is to me a bag of myrrh
that lies between my breasts.
My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms
in the vineyards of En-gedi.
Ah, you are beautiful, my love;
ah, you are beautiful;
your eyes are doves.
Ah, you are beautiful, my beloved,
Our couch is green;
the beams of our house are cedar,
our rafters are pine.
I am a rose of Sharon,
Created by God
a lily of the valleys.
As a lily among brambles,
so is my love among maidens.
As an apple tree among the trees of the wood,
so is my beloved among young men.
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
and his intention towards me was love.
Sustain me with raisins,
refresh me with apples;
for I am faint with love.
O that his left hand were under my head,
and that his right hand embraced me!
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles or the wild does:
do not stir up or awaken love
until it is ready!
The voice of my beloved!
Look, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Look, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
looking through the lattice.
My beloved speaks and says to me:
‘Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtle-dove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away.
O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
in the covert of the cliff,
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.
Catch us the foxes,
the little foxes,
that ruin the vineyards—
for our vineyards are in blossom.’
My beloved is mine and I am his;
he pastures his flock among the lilies.
Until the day breathes
and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle
or a young stag on the cleft mountains.
Upon my bed at night
I sought him whom my soul loves;
I sought him, but found him not;
I called him, but he gave no answer.
‘I will rise now and go about the city,
in the streets and in the squares;
I will seek him whom my soul loves.’
I sought him, but found him not.
The sentinels found me,
as they went about in the city.
‘Have you seen him whom my soul loves?’
Scarcely had I passed them,
when I found him whom my soul loves.
I held him, and would not let him go
until I brought him into my mother’s house,
and into the chamber of her that conceived me.
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles or the wild does:
do not stir up or awaken love
until it is ready!
What is that coming up from the wilderness,
like a column of smoke,
perfumed with myrrh and frankincense,
with all the fragrant powders of the merchant?
Look, it is the litter of Solomon!
Around it are sixty mighty men
of the mighty men of Israel,
all equipped with swords
and expert in war,
each with his sword at his thigh
because of alarms by night.
King Solomon made himself a palanquin
from the wood of Lebanon.
He made its posts of silver,
its back of gold, its seat of purple;
its interior was inlaid with love.
Daughters of Jerusalem,
Look, O daughters of Zion,
at King Solomon,
at the crown with which his mother crowned him
on the day of his wedding,
on the day of the gladness of his heart
Song of Songs 1-3
"The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God,
the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all
your strength.' The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour
as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
Mark 12: 29-31
Husband and wife
"Have you not read that the one who made them at the
beginning "made them male and female,' and said, "For
this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined
to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they
are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined
together, let no one separate."
Matthew 19: 4-6
Love does no wrong
"He who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law.
The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You
shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,'
and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, ‘You
shall love your neighbour as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a
neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."
Romans 13: 8-10
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but
do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if
I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have
love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I
hand over my body so that I may boast,
* but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love
is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It
does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures
all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come
to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it
will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only
in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an
end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a
child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an
end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then
we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know
fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and
love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13
Be Imitators of God
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and
live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant
offering and sacrifice to God. But fornication and impurity of any
kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper
among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar
talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that
no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an
idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Ephesians 5: 1-5
Documents of Vatican II
The People Of God
11 Finally, Christian spouses, in virtue
of the sacrament of Matrimony, whereby they signify and partake of
the mystery of that unity and fruitful love which exists between Christ
and His Church,(108) help each other to attain to holiness in their
married life and in the rearing and education of their children. By
reason of their state and rank in life they have their own special
gift among the people of God.(109) (7*) From the wedlock of Christians
there comes the family, in which new citizens of human society are
born, who by the grace of the Holy Spirit received in baptism are
made children of God, thus perpetuating the people of God through
the centuries. The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In
it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers
of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the
vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care
vocation to a sacred state.
Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constituion on the Church
(For complete citation see Appendix
PROFOUNDLY CHANGED CONDITIONS
5 Today's spiritual agitation and the
changing conditions of life are part of a broader and deeper revolution.
As a result of the latter, intellectual formation is ever increasingly
based on the mathematical and natural sciences and on those dealing
with man himself, while in the practical order the technology which
stems from these sciences takes on mounting importance.
This scientific spirit has a new kind of impact on the cultural
sphere and on modes of thought. Technology is now transforming the
face of the earth, and is already trying to master outer space.
To a certain extent, the human intellect is also broadening its
dominion over time: over the past by means of historical knowledge;
over the future, by the art of projecting and by planning.
Advances in biology, psychology, and the social sciences not only
bring men hope of improved self-knowledge; in conjunction with technical
methods, they are helping men exert direct influence on the life
of social groups.
Gaudium et Spes, Pastoral Constitution
on the Church in The Modern World
(For complete citation see Appendix
THE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY
48 The intimate partnership of married
life and love has been established by the Creator and qualified
by His laws, and is rooted in the jugal covenant of irrevocable
personal consent. Hence by that human act whereby spouses mutually
bestow and accept each other a relationship arises which by divine
will and in the eyes of society too is a lasting one. For the good
of the spouses and their off-springs as well as of society, the
existence of the sacred bond no longer depends on human decisions
alone. For, God Himself is the author of matrimony, endowed as it
is with various benefits and purposes. All of these have a very
decisive bearing on the continuation of the human race, on the personal
development and eternal destiny of the individual members of a family,
and on the dignity, stability, peace and prosperity of the family
itself and of human society as a whole. By their very nature, the
institution of matrimony itself and conjugal love are ordained for
the procreation and education of children, and find in them their
ultimate crown. Thus a man and a woman, who by their compact of
conjugal love "are no longer two, but one flesh" (Matt.
19:ff), render mutual help and service to each other through an
intimate union of their persons and of their actions. Through this
union they experience the meaning of their oneness and attain to
it with growing perfection day by day. As a mutual gift of two persons,
this intimate union and the good of the children impose total fidelity
on the spouses and argue for an unbreakable oneness between them.
Christ the Lord abundantly blessed this many-faceted love, welling
up as it does from the fountain of divine love and structured as
it is on the model of His union with His Church. For as God of old
made Himself present to His people through a covenant of love and
fidelity, so now the Savior of men and the Spouse of the Church
comes into the lives of married Christians through the sacrament
of matrimony. He abides with them thereafter so that just as He
loved the Church and handed Himself over on her behalf, the spouses
may love each other with perpetual fidelity through mutual self-bestowal.
Authentic married love is caught up into divine love and is governed
and enriched by Christ's redeeming power and the saving activity
of the Church, so that this love may lead the spouses to God with
powerful effect and may aid and strengthen them in sublime office
of being a father or a mother. For this reason Christian spouses
have a special sacrament by which they are fortified and receive
a kind of consecration in the duties and dignity of their state.
By virtue of this sacrament, as spouses fulfil their conjugal and
family obligation, they are penetrated with the spirit of Christ,
which suffuses their whole lives with faith, hope and charity. Thus
they increasingly advance the perfection of their own personalities,
as well as their mutual sanctification, and hence contribute jointly
to the glory of God.
As a result, with their parents leading the way by example and
family Prayer, children and indeed everyone gathered around the
family hearth will find a readier path to human maturity, salvation
and holiness. Graced with the dignity and office of fatherhood and
motherhood, parents will energetically acquit themselves of a duty
which devolves primarily on them, namely education and especially
As living members of the family, children contribute in their
own way to making their parents holy. For they will respond to the
kindness of their parents with sentiments of gratitude, with love
and trust. They will stand by them as children should when hardships
overtake their parents and old age brings its loneliness. Widowhood,
accepted bravely as a continuation of the marriage vocation, should
be esteemed by all. Families too will share their spiritual riches
generously with other families. Thus the Christian family, which
springs from marriage as a reflection of the loving covenant uniting
Christ with the Church, and as a participation in that covenant,
will manifest to all men Christ's living presence in the world,
and the genuine nature of the Church. This the family will do by
the mutual love of the spouses, by their generous fruitfulness,
their solidarity and faithfulness, and by the loving way in which
all members of the family assist one another.
Gaudium et Spes, Pastoral Constitution
on the Church in The Modern World
(For complete citation see Appendix
Catechism of the Catholic Church
THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT
You shall not commit adultery.
You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery."
But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has
already committed adultery with her in his heart.
I. "Male and Female He Created Them . . ."
In God's Own Image
2331 "God is love and in himself he lives
a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race
in his own image . . ., God inscribed in the humanity of man and
woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of
love and communion."
"God created man in his own image . . . male and female he
created them"; He blessed them and said, "Be fruitful
and multiply"; "When God created man, he made him in the
likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed
them and named them Man when they were created."
(For complete citation see Appendix
Educational Guidance in Human Love: Outlines for Sex Education
Sexuality is a fundamental component of personality, one
of its modes of being, of manifestation, of communicating with others,
of feeling, of expressing and of living human love. Therefore it
is an integral part of the development of the personality and of
its educative process: " It is, in fact, from sex that the
human person receives the characteristics which, on the biological,
psychological and spiritual levels, make that person a man or a
woman, and thereby largely condition his or her progress towards
maturity and insertion into society ".
TASK OF THE SCHOOL WITH REGARD TO SEX EDUCATION
69 It being understood from what has been
said on the primary duty of the family, the role of the school should
be that of assisting and completing the work of parents, furnishing
children and adolescents with an evaluation of " sexuality
as value and task of the whole person, created male and female in
the image of God ".
70 Interpersonal dialogue required by sex education,
tends to kindle in the pupil an interior disposition suited to motivating
and guiding personal behaviour. Such a point of view is strictly
connected to the values inspired by the concept of life. Sex education
is not reducible to simple teaching material, nor to theoretical
knowledge alone, nor does it consist of a programme to be carried
out progressively, but it has a specific objective in view: that
affective maturation of the pupil, of self control, and of correct
behaviour in social relationships.
71 The school can contribute to the realisation
of this objective in various ways. All matters can offer an opportunity
to treat themes in their relation to sexuality; the teacher will
do so always in a positive key and with great delicacy, concretely
evaluating the opportunity and the methods. Individual sex education
always retains prior value and can not be entrusted indiscriminately
to just any member of the school community. In fact, as will be
specified in what follows, as well as right judgement, sense of
responsibility, professional competence, affective and decent maturity,
this education requires from the teacher outstanding sensitivity
in initiating the child and adolescent in the problems of love and
life without disturbing their psychological development.
72 Also, though the teacher possess the necessary
qualities for sex education in groups, it is necessary always to
consider the concrete situation of such groups. This applies above
all in mixed groups, since these require special precautions. In
each case, the responsible authorities must examine with parents
the propriety of proceeding in such a manner. Given the complexity
of the problem, it is good to reserve for the pupil a time for personal
dialogue in order to accommodate the seeking of advice or clarification
- which a natural sense of decency would not allow to arise in front
of others. Only a strict collaboration between the school and the
family will be able to guarantee an advantageous exchange of experience
between parents and teachers for the good of the pupils.(52) It
is the responsibility of Bishops, taking account of school legislation
and local circumstances, to establish guidelines for sex education
in groups, above all if they are mixed.
73 It can sometimes happen that particular events
in the life of the school render a timely intervention necessary.
In such cases, the school authorities, in accordance with the principle
of collaboration, will contact parents interested in agreeing on
an appropriate solution.
74 Persons particularly suited by competence
and balance, and who enjoy the trust of parents, can be invited
to hold private conversations with pupils to help them to develop
their affective maturity and to give the right balance in their
social relationships. Such interventions in personal guidance belong
in particular to the more difficult cases, at least when the gravity
of the situation makes necessary recourse to a specialist in the
75 The formation and development of an harmonious
personality require a peaceful atmosphere, fruitful understanding,
reciprocal trust and collaboration between persons in charge. It
is obtained with mutual respect for the specific competence of the
various members of the educational staff, their responsibilities
and the choice of the differentiated means at their disposal.
For complete text go to http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_19831101_sexual-education_en.html
Educational Guidance in Human Love: Outlines for Sex Education,
Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, Rome, 1983
Other Church Documents
Original Unity of Man and Woman, Pope John Paul II, GENERAL
Wednesday 7 November 1979
The Unity and Indissolubility of Marriage
For some time now preparations have been going on for the
next ordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will take
place in Rome in autumn of next year. The theme of the Synod, "The
role of the Christian family," concentrates our attention on
this community of human and Christian life, which has been fundamental
from the beginning. The Lord Jesus used precisely this expression
"from the beginning" in the talk about marriage, reported
in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark. We wish to raise the
question what this word "beginning" means. We also wish
to clarify why Christ referred to the "beginning" on that
occasion and, therefore, we propose a more precise analysis of the
relative text of Holy Scripture.
During the talk with the Pharisees, who asked him the question
about the indissolubility of marriage, Jesus Christ referred twice
to the "beginning." The talk took place in the following
"And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, 'Is
it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?' He answered, 'Have
you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them
male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his
father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become
one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore
God has joined together, let not man put asunder.' They said to
him, 'Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce,
and to put her away?' He said to them, 'For your hardness of heart
Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning
it was not so"' (Mt 19:3ff., cf. also Mk
Christ did not accept the discussion at the level at which his
interlocutors tried to introduce it. In a certain sense he did not
approve of the dimension that they tried to give the problem. He
avoided getting caught up in juridico-casuistical controversies.
On the contrary, he referred twice to "the beginning."
Acting in this way, he made a clear reference to the relative words
in Genesis, which his interlocutors too knew by heart. From those
words of the ancient revelation, Christ drew the conclusion and
the talk ended.
Therefore, "the beginning" means that which Genesis
speaks about. Christ quoted Genesis 1:27 in summary form: "In
the beginning the Creator made them male and female." The original
passage reads textually as follows: "God created man in his
own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he
created them." Subsequently, the Master referred to Genesis
2:24: "Therefore, a man leaves his father and his mother and
cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh." Quoting these
words almost in full, Christ gave them an even more explicit normative
meaning (since it could be supported that in Genesis they express
de facto statements: "leaves...cleaves...they become
one flesh"). The normative meaning is plausible since Christ
did not confine himself only to the quotation itself, but added:
"So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God
has joined together, let not man put asunder." That "let
not man put asunder" is decisive. In the light of these words
of Christ, Genesis 2:24 sets forth the principle of the unity and
indissolubility of marriage as the very content of the Word of God,
expressed in the most ancient revelation.
It could be maintained at this point that the problem is exhausted,
that Jesus Christ's words confirm the eternal law formulated and
set up by God from "the beginning" as the creation of
man. It might also seem that the Master, confirming this original
law of the Creator, did nothing but establish exclusively his own
normative meaning, referring to the authority itself of the first
Legislator. However, that significant expression "from the
beginning," repeated twice, clearly induced his interlocutors
to reflect on the way in which man was formed in the mystery of
creation, precisely as "male and female," in order to
understand correctly the normative sense of the words of Genesis.
This is no less valid for the people of today than for those of
that time. Therefore, in the present study, considering all this,
we must put ourselves precisely in the position of Christ's interlocutors
During the following Wednesday reflections at the general audiences,
we will try, as Christ's interlocutors today, to dwell at greater
length on St. Matthew's words (19:3ff.). To respond to the indication,
inserted in them by Christ, we will try to penetrate toward that
"beginning," to which he referred in such a significant
way. Thus we will follow from a distance the great work which participants
in the forthcoming Synod of Bishops are undertaking on this subject
just now. Together with them, numerous groups of pastors and laymen
are taking part in it, feeling especially responsible with regard
to the role which Christ assigned to marriage and the Christian
family, the role that he has always given, and still gives in our
age, in the modem world.
The cycle of reflections we are beginning today, with the intention
of continuing it during the following Wednesday meetings, also has
the purpose, among other things, of accompanying from afar the work
of preparation for the Synod. However, it will not touch its subject
directly, but will turn our attention to the deep roots from which
this subject springs.
For complete text go to http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/audiences/catechesis_genesis/documents/hf_jp-ii_aud_19791107_en.html
The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which
married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator.
It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it
sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships.
The fulfillment of this duty has always posed problems to the
conscience of married people, but the recent course of human society
and the concomitant changes have provoked new questions. The Church
cannot ignore these questions, for they concern matters intimately
connected with the life and happiness of human beings.
PROBLEM AND COMPETENCY OF THE MAGISTERIUM
2 The changes that have taken place are
of considerable importance and varied in nature. In the first place
there is the rapid increase in population which has made many fear
that world population is going to grow faster than available resources,
with the consequence that many families and developing countries
would be faced with greater hardships. This can easily induce public
authorities to be tempted to take even harsher measures to avert
this danger. There is also the fact that not only working and housing
conditions but the greater demands made both in the economic and
educational field pose a living situation in which it is frequently
difficult these days to provide properly for a large family.
Also noteworthy is a new understanding of the dignity of woman
and her place in society, of the value of conjugal love in marriage
and the relationship of conjugal acts to this love.
But the most remarkable development of all is to be seen in man's
stupendous progress in the domination and rational organization
of the forces of nature to the point that he is endeavoring to extend
this control over every aspect of his own life—over his body,
over his mind and emotions, over his social life, and even over
the laws that regulate the transmission of life.
Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI, 1968
For complete text go to
Jesus Christ, the true light that enlightens everyone
1 Called to salvation through faith in
Jesus Christ, "the true light that enlightens everyone"
(Jn 1:9), people become "light in the Lord" and
"children of light" (Eph 5:8), and are made holy
by "obedience to the truth" (1 Pet 1:22).
This obedience is not always easy. As a result of that mysterious
original sin, committed at the prompting of Satan, the one who is
"a liar and the father of lies" (Jn 8:44), man
is constantly tempted to turn his gaze away from the living and
true God in order to direct it towards idols (cf. 1 Thes 1:9), exchanging
"the truth about God for a lie" (Rom 1:25). Man's capacity
to know the truth is also darkened, and his will to submit to it
is weakened. Thus, giving himself over to relativism and scepticism
(cf. Jn 18:38), he goes off in search of an illusory freedom
apart from truth itself.
But no darkness of error or of sin can totally take away from
man the light of God the Creator. In the depths of his heart there
always remains a yearning for absolute truth and a thirst to attain
full knowledge of it. This is eloquently proved by man's tireless
search for knowledge in all fields. It is proved even more by his
search for the meaning of life. The development of science
and technology, this splendid testimony of the human capacity for
understanding and for perseverance, does not free humanity from
the obligation to ask the ultimate religious questions. Rather,
it spurs us on to face the most painful and decisive of struggles,
those of the heart and of the moral conscience.
For complete text go to
The Diversity of Vocations
47 At a time in history like the present,
special attention must also be given to the pastoral care of
the family, particularly when this fundamental institution
is experiencing a radical and widespread crisis. In the Christian
view of marriage, the relationship between a man and a woman —
a mutual and total bond, unique and indissoluble — is part
of God's original plan, obscured throughout history by our "hardness
of heart", but which Christ came to restore to its pristine
splendour, disclosing what had been God's will "from the beginning"
(Mt 19:8). Raised to the dignity of a Sacrament, marriage
expresses the "great mystery" of Christ's nuptial love
for his Church (cf. Eph 5:32).
On this point the Church cannot yield to cultural pressures, no
matter how widespread and even militant they may be. Instead, it
is necessary to ensure that through an ever more complete Gospel
formation Christian families show convincingly that it is possible
to live marriage fully in keeping with God's plan and with the true
good of the human person — of the spouses, and of the children
who are more fragile. Families themselves must become increasingly
conscious of the care due to children, and play an active role in
the Church and in society in safeguarding their rights.
Apostolic Letter , Novo Millennio
Ineunte, Pope John Paul II, 2000
In a time when there is little reverence for the image of God
in the human person, we are summoned to care for human life with
an ultimate respect.
This Moment of Promise . Ontario
Conference of Catholic Bishops
Intimacy and Sexuality -
A Letter to Catholic Secondary Students in Ontario
from the Roman Catholic Bishops of Ontario
A teacher from one of our Catholic secondary schools told us this
story. A visitor was coming to talk to a Grade 10 class about chastity.
Before the arrival of the visitor, the teacher discussed the topic
and any questions the students might have. One student had a suggestion:
"Why don't you just write DON'T on the chalkboard, and then
we can skip the lecture."
We are not here to lecture you. Together with your parents and
teachers, we want you to know that we believe in you. We appreciate
your idealism, openness, energy, capacity for friendship, loyalty,
humour, and spirit of adventure. These are great strengths. We believe
in your fundamental goodness and your desire to grow toward full
Christian maturity. In our eyes, as in the eyes of God, each one
of you is sacred.
We have chosen to write to you about intimacy and sexuality for
several reasons. Firs, and most important is the respect and care
we have for you. Also, we know how important relationships are in
your daily lives. Finally, we believe that some of the messages
you are receiving about intimacy and human sexuality are both false
and harmful. You deserve the truth and we want to speak honestly
to you. We hope you will accept our letter in this spirit.
For complete text go to
Keynote Address: Sylvia Pegis Santin, October 4, 2003
Creating Fully Alive
The task of presenting an overview of Fully Alive involves
a journey back in time. In 1984 I attended my first meeting of the
OCCB Editorial Board, the group that was working toward creating
a Family Life program for the Catholic schools of Ontario. At the
time, I was working part-time for the Archdiocese of Toronto, and
still functioning as a consultant to several private schools, assessing
children with learning and behavioural difficulties. I did not realize
it then, but that 1984 meeting, now almost 20 years ago, marked
a change in my life, and the beginning of a long involvement in
the world of Catholic education, and more specifically, Catholic
Family Life Education.
The final texts of the Fully Alive series were published
in 1992, more than ten years ago. I consider the years spent working
on the program a significant part of my life, not only as a professional,
but also as a person. The entire process of creating the series
was an extraordinary experience and opportunity, difficult at times,
as all major projects are, but one I would not change.
(For complete text see Appendix
Theological Foundations of Fully Alive
Archbishop Marcel Gervais
The first pages of the Bible make clear that the Lord God
intended “the man and the woman” to be his representatives
in creation (Genesis I). This high calling is expressed by the fact
that they are made in his image and likeness. Just as human rulers
place images of themselves in countries over which they have dominion,
so the Lord God places his image – the man and the woman –
over his dominion, which is all creation. As the image of God, men
and women play the double role of representing the lordship of God
to all creation, and of summing up in themselves all creation, from
rocks to angels, before God. In order to redeem all creation, the
Son of God therefore chose to unite himself to our nature, rather
than to the purely spiritual creatures, the angels (Hebrews 2:5ff).
Our Catholic tradition finds even more meaning in the “image
of God” in which we are made. For the purposes of our program
we will highlight three aspects of this rich heritage.
1 It is of the nature of God to love.
To love is to see what is good and to want to be one with it. God
is love and he sees the goodness of creation and wants to unite
it to himself eternally. Created in his image, we too are called
to love, to see what is good, and to want to be one with it. To
love him, we must first see that he is good, and that his commands
are good and to be obeyed.
The Lord God also asks to be loved; it is his first commandment
to us. We are like him in this too, for we are also made to be loved.
‘We are healed by knowing his love for us in Jesus Christ,
and by every Godlike act of love we receive from others.
2 It is of the nature of God to know,to
recognize, and to understand. All things are known
by him and each of us is known through and through by him, and loved.
We are like him in this as well; we are created with the faculty
to know, to recognize, and to understand. Limited as it is by our
finite nature, our ability to know is nonetheless truly god-like.
But the Lord also wants to be known; all creation and
all of saving history are filled with his self-revelation. We are
known by God, but we are also meant to be known by other human beings.
We cannot be truly ourselves, made in his likeness, unless we engage
in the normal process of self-revelation.
3 It is of the nature of God to create and
support life. Here, too, we are created like him. We are called
by him to multiply, “to fill the earth,” and to manage
it in such a way that it supports life.
Our duty, our destiny, and our greatest dignity is to know and
love God. We are also called to know others and to be known by them,
to love others and to be loved by them. And we are like God for
we share in his power to create and support life. These three dimensions
of creation in the “image and likeness” of God animate
As the ancient prayer expresses it, “we have been wonderfully
created, and even more wonderfully redeemed.” In Christ Jesus,
our Redeemer, we find the perfect “image of God” (Colossians
1:15). In him we find our pattern of loving, knowing, and supporting
human life. It is with him as our model that we strive to work out
our salvation. And there is much work to do, for as wonderfully
created as we are, we are subject to the effects of sin and it is
only with the help of God’s grace in Christ that we can begin
in this world to enter into the “fullness of life” that
the Lord Jesus promised us (John 10:10).
Sin entered the world and its profoundest effects are recorded
in the first pages of Sacred Scripture (Genesis 3-11). Some of the
effects of original sin directly threaten our calling to be the
“images of God.”
The first effect of original sin recorded by the Scriptures is
the shame that our first parents experienced before God and each
other (Genesis 3). They hid. They hid because they could no longer
see good in themselves: they hid because they could no longer fully
see that God was good. They were ashamed of being human, ashamed
of their genitals, which would create other human beings. Just as
the ability to see goodness is the basis of love, the inability
to see goodness is the basis of hate.
We are constantly dealing with this effect of original sin in
our lives. The overcoming of it is an unending, life-long work.
The inclination to see ugliness rather than beauty in ourselves
is always present. The grace of Baptism removes all objective basis
for thinking we are worth little, but to the extent that we have
yet to believe we are loved, to that extent the sense of ugliness
inside rules our lives. We desperately need to know the love of
God revealed in Jesus! How profoundly we need to know that the Lord
sees us and sees great goodness and beauty in us, even we sinners
(Romans 5:8). Knowledge of the commandments of God and the guidance
of the Church are certainly needed; but no knowledge of these can
make up for a lack of knowledge of being loved by God and by other
Imagine two teenagers: both have clearly been taught that the
Lord expects chastity of them; one has the self-confidence born
of the mature love of parents; the other is starved for affection
and attention. Which of the two is more likely to be guided by God’s
law concerning chastity?
We know that each of these young people needs to have the knowledge
of God’s law; we know that the stronger as well as the weaker
will derive strength and guidance from the law, and will be able
to resist many temptations because of the grace of knowing the Lord’s
will. However, human experience teaches us that the person who has
the confidence born of being loved will more readily resist temptations.
Fully Alive will do what it can to help our children know
the love of God for them. It will lead our children to reflect on
and appreciate the love they receive from their parents, their family,
their friends, and others.
We are called to know and to be known; but we are, like Adam and
Eve, inclined to hide from God and each other. We fear the discovery
of the ugliness we harbour within. Our fear of intimacy springs
from original sin, and blocks dialogue, communication, and self-revelation.
It can create a prison of the heart and soul, and leave one full
of compressed, compacted negative thoughts and feelings that fester
as they are repressed. In the extreme, some seek release in violence,
alcohol, drugs, sexual addictions, and even suicide. If the ability
to reveal oneself is not developed no amount of instruction condemning
these things will put an end to them.
This effect of original sin ruins more marriages than any other
cause. The refusal of intimacy isolates spouses from each other
and turns the act of marriage into sex with a stranger. The two
remain two and do not become one, and the “communion of life”
essential to marriage becomes impossible.
Self revelation is first learned at home. But Fully Alive
can help students by encouraging them to express themselves
to their parents, family, friends, and responsible adults.
We are also called to be creative and supportive of life. The
effect of sin on the way we accept the original blessing, “be
fruitful and multiply,” is quite terrifying. For an alarmingly
large and growing number of people, fertility is a curse and sterility
a blessing. Society has been plagued with this attitude many times
in history, but usually only among the upper classes. Now it is
reaching into the masses with an almost genocidal force. Abortion
is the most criminal expression of this anti-fertility mentality.
In response, Fully Alive will present fertility as a blessing
from God; it will speak of things sexual primarily in connection
with the wonder of procreation; and it will promote a sense of awe
and respect for new life from the moment of conception.
The anti-life disease has an equally deadly companion: the twisted
conviction that sexual pleasure is an absolute right for anyone,
no matter what their status in life. Sexually transmitted diseases
may make people more cautious; but this caution is not changing
the attitude that sexual pleasure is an unconditional right.
Fully Alive will teach our children that the Lord of Creation
has restricted genital sexual activity to marriage; all other sexual
activity is against his will.
Along with these expressions of sin, there is, of course, the
perennial tendency to selfishness. The catechetical program will
deal more thoroughly and consistently with this inclination, but
Fully Alive will
take every opportunity to promote the virtue of self-giving
essential to any Christian view of love, especially in its relation
There is, however, another excess taking form, one that has appeared
many times in history and has been condemned each time by the Church
(for example, Manichaeism, Albigensianism, Catharism, Jansenism).
In reaction to the sexual permissiveness of our times, some people
are beginning to revert to a form of sex-hatred that, if left unchecked,
would bring back the heresy of seeing the body and sexuality as
evil, something to be hidden and buried entirely.
To counteract this negative tendency, our children must be
given, as early as possible in the home, a positive sense of the
dignity of their bodies, their sexuality, and their sexual and reproductive
parts. Fully Alive will help parents in accomplishing
this task, and will also support them in preparing their children
to accept puberty and the changes this brings about as God-given
gifts involving new responsibilities.
Catechetics and Fully Alive
Fully Alive is intended to supplement but
not to replace the catechetical program. It is a religious program,
but not the religion program. Fully Alive presumes
a complete catechetical program and is designed on the basis that
there will be at least four religion classes for every one in family
life. Fully Alive is directed throughout by Catholic teaching,
and many truths of faith and morals will be called upon as needed
in the program; but none of these will receive the complete treatment
that belongs to the catechetical program.
Our times demand that a special effort be made to support parents
in forming their children for a life of chastity and fidelity. If
we had to reduce the goals of Fully Alive to one phrase,
it would be “education for chastity” (Familiaris
Consortio, 37). Chastity is the virtue that governs our sexuality
according to the will of God. But our sexuality is an integral part
of every person. To prepare youngsters for chastity is to tend to
their whole person, their view of themselves, their maleness and
femaleness, and their relationships and responsibilities to others.
Pope John Paul II describes in a few words what our family life
program wants to assist parents in doing:
Remote preparation [for marriage or celibate life] begins in early
childhood, in that wise family training which leads children to
discover themselves as being endowed with a rich and complex psychology
and with a particular personality with its own strengths and weaknesses.
It is the period when esteem for authentic human values is instilled,
both in interpersonal and social relationships, with all that this
signifies for the formation of character, for the control and right
use of one’s inclinations, for the manner of regarding and
meeting people of the opposite sex, and so on. Also necessary, especially
for Christians, is solid spiritual and catechetical formation…(Familiaris
This paragraph admirably expresses what Fully Alive sets
out to do: to support “that wise family training”; to
help children “discover themselves as being endowed …
with a particular personality with its own strengths and weaknesses”;
to promote “authentic human values in interpersonal and social
relationships”; to encourage “control and right use
of one’s inclinations”; to foster “the right manner
of regarding and meeting people of the opposite sex.”
Fully Alive, along with the catechetical program, should
help our children to understand the dignity of their calling in
Christ. Together our parents and teachers become partners in giving
our children the vision of God, which is revealed in Christ Jesus,
the Word made flesh, to the greater glory of God.
"The glory of God is man and woman fully alive, but life
for them consists in seeing God revealed in his Word."
(St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV.20.7.)
The first duty of love is to listen.
Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech,
and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew
Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows into
wave, and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you, there
can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me. To see reality--not
as we expect it to be but as it is--is to see that unless we live
for each other and in and through each other, we do not really live
very satisfactorily; that there can really be life only where there
really is, in just this sense, love.
(Carl) Frederick Buechner
An act of love, a voluntary taking on oneself of some of the pain
of the world, increases the courage and love and hope of all.
It is with our passions, as it is with fire and water, they are
good servants but bad masters.
In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet
Perhaps the feelings that we experience when we are in love represent
a normal state. Being in love shows a person who he should be.
If you see good in people, you radiate a harmonious loving energy
which uplifts those who are around you. If you can maintain this
habit, this energy will turn into a steady flow of love.
The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical
substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.
There is no remedy for love but to love more.
Henry David Thoreau
Immature love says: 'I love you because I need you.' Mature love
says 'I need you because I love you.
Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides
and gravity, shall harness for God the energies of love. Then for
the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered
Teilhard de Chardin
The official web site of the Vatican contains an impressive
collection of materials with a useful internal search engine.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
The official web site of the CCCB contains extensive
documentation, including recent media releases and publications,
with a wide variety of useful links to other Church and Catholic
organizations' web sites.
Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops
The official web site of the OCCB contains extensive
resources from the Catholic Bishops of Ontario as well as useful
links to other Church and Catholic organizations' web sites. The
Conference's jurisdiction over Ontario Catholic schools makes this
site particularly relevant.
Educational Guidance in Human Love http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_19831101_sexual-education_en.html
A foundational document outlining a rationale for a
collaborative approach between parents and teachers in sex education.
The clearest mandate for bishops to develop family life education
programmes can be found here.
Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops
Extensive resources from the Ontario Conference of
Catholic Bishops on marriage and the family.
Canadian Bishops: Family Matters
Family Matters, a publication of Canadian Conference
of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Organization for Life and Family,
uses a question and answer format to clearly outline the Catholic
church’s teaching on marriage and family.
Catholic Organization for Life and Family
Catholic Organization for Life and Family contains
statements on current issues related to sexuality, marriage and
Ontario Bishops: Intimacy and Sexuality
An excellent publication written for high school students
that outlines the church's teaching on sexuality and intimacy, described
in relational terms. Written in 1994, it still stands up as a very
useful introduction to sexuality, relationship and chastity.
Family Life Education: Fully Alive
An outline of the Fully Alive programme to provide
Single Parent Families
Another publication of the Catholic Organization for
Life and Family that is addressed to single parent families.
Human Sexuality:'Wonderful Gift' and 'Awesome Responsibility'
An overview of Church teaching based on the U.S. bishops'
1990 document, Human Sexuality: A Catholic Perspective for Education
and Lifelong Learning by Richard Sparks, C.S.P.
The bishops' document was written primarily to assist parents
and religious educators, providing them with sound Christian guidelines
for sexuality education. This Catholic Update, written by a Catholic
moral theologian quite familiar with the document and its contents,
is a summary of the bishops' major points. "This document,"
they say, "is offered as our contribution to the ongoing discussion
about what it means to be mature sexual persons—physically,
psychologically, socially and spiritually whole.... We have presented
a positive and hopeful Christian vision of what it means to be sexual
and to be chaste" ( Human Sexuality, 6, 83).
United States Catholic Conference: Issues
in Sexuality and Family
Great site for ordering publications on human sexuality
and various related issues including these related topics: AIDS,
Children, Domestic Abuse, Homosexuality, Marriage, Sexual Abuse,
Violence, Women, Youth, Young Adults. Some publications are available
The Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute
The Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute
is dedicated to helping enhance Catholic research and communications
in the area of bioethics in a way that would be of service to Canadians
generally. The CCBI stresses the need for a proactive approach to
bioethics by Catholics, academically credible research, and stronger
links across the country among academics, clinical ethicists, and
workers in health and pastoral care. The CCBI officially opened
on November 16, 2002, with the support of many Canadian bishops,
national Catholic lay organizations and academics from across the
Do No Harm
Do No Harm is a web site sponsored by The Coalition
of Americans for Research Ethics and is dedicated to providing current
information, news and resources around stem cell research. The group’s
stated objectives are: to advance the development of medical treatments
and therapies that do not require the destruction of human life,
including the human embryo; to educate and inform public policy
makers and the general public regarding these ethically acceptable
and medically promising areas of research and treatment; and to
support continuation of federal laws prohibiting the federal funding
of research that requires the destruction of human life, including
the human embryo.
Human Life And Genetic Testing
A thoughtful publication on issues related to human
life and genetic testing.
Institute For Catholic Education: Course Profiles
Institute for Catholic education provides links to
course profiles in high school Religious Education. All courses
from grades 9 to 12 include learning expectations related to family
life education which incorporate learning related to the family
life themes of personhood, relationships and sexuality.
Gateway Site for Church and Theological Documents
This site offers links to a wide variety of documents
and articles by both Catholic Church officials and theologians.
Resources for Catholic Teachers
Here you will discover links to a wide variety of Catholic
resources from a variety of perspectives for teachers is available
at this site.
The Vanier Institute of the Family
The Vanier Institute of the Family
, established in 1965 under the patronage of Their Excellencies
Governor-General Georges P. Vanier and Madame Pauline Vanier, is
a national, charitable organization dedicated to promoting the well-being
of Canadian families. It is governed by a volunteer board with regional
representation from across Canada. This site offers a variety of
resources on a wide range of issues impacting on the Canadian family,
many based on the most recent research available.
Christopher West - Pope John Paul II's Theology of the
Christopher West's recent work has focused on making
more accessible Pope John Paul II Theology of the Body. Christopher
West teaches the theology of the body at St. John Vianney Theological
Seminary in Denver and at the John Paul II Institute for Studies
on Marriage and Family in Melbourne, Australia. This site offers
a series of articles that will begin to unpack for you this important
body of Pope John Paul II's teaching.
Health Canada's web site puts you
in touch with useful information and resources provided by the federal
government. Catholic teachers should be aware that not all of the
perspectives and advice presented on the web site are consistent
with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Ontario Ministry of Health
The Ontario Ministry of Health provides a wide range
of information on topics related to sexual health, including this
page regarding Sexually Transmitted Diseases. For other links visit
Catholic teachers should be aware that not all of the perspectives
and advice presented on these web sites are consistent with the
teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Some material may have to
be modified for classroom use.
Sexuality and U
Sexuality and U i s a web site maintained
by The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. While
its claim to be the ultimate Canadian web site devoted to sexuality
education and information may be somewhat overstated, it nonetheless
provides up to date research and statistical information relevant
to sexual education in Canada. Catholic teachers should be aware
that not all of the perspectives and advice presented on the web
site are consistent with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church
and should therefore be modified for classroom use.
UNAIDS The Joint United Nations Programme
on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS, is the main advocate for global action on the
epidemic. It leads, strengthens and supports an expanded response
aimed at preventing transmission of HIV, providing care and support,
reducing the vulnerability of individuals and communities to HIV/AIDS,
and alleviating the impact of the epidemic. Catholic teachers should
be aware that not all of the perspectives and advice presented on
the web site are consistent with the teachings of the Roman Catholic
Church. Some material may have to be modified for classroom use.
Links to Ontario Catholic
Believer Formed in the Catholic Faith Community who:
Speaks the language of life... "recognizing that life is an
unearned gift and that a person entrusted with life does not
own it but that one is called to protect and cherish it." (Witnesses
Understands that one's purpose or call in life comes from God
and strives to discern and live out this call throughout life's
|A Caring Family
Relates to family members in a loving, compassionate and respectful
Recognizes human intimacy and sexuality as God given gifts,
to be used as the creator intended
Values and honours the important role of the family in society
Values and nurtures opportunities for family prayer
Ministers to the family, school, parish, and wider community
Personal and Group Reflections
1. In my teaching experience, what are the issues in relationship
and sexuality that I found most difficult to deal with?
2. How confident am I in presenting the Church's teachings
on these subjects?
3. What do I need to do in order to increase my own
understanding of the Church's teachings around human sexuality?
1. We share experiences and challenges related to teaching
aspects of relationship and sexuality.
2. What resources do I find helpful when teaching these subjects?