Rorate Caeli

Mysticism, Sex, and Justification for Sin: A Rediscovered 1998 Publication by Victor Manuel Fernández — Full text of chapters 7-9

[Warning: Explicit Material]

In 1998, Victor Manuel Fernández published a book entitled La Pasión Mística: espiritualidad y sensualidad ["Mystical Passion: Spirituality and Sensuality"] (Ediciones Dabar). Like the related book Heal Me With Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing (by its author's admission, written apparently as a high school guide), this book of blasphemous nearly pornographic interpretations of the mystics and their spiritual experiences of ecstasy seemed to have disappeared, to have been forgotten and unmentioned — until now, when people who have the good of the Church at heart discovered the text and now make it available in its entirety (PDF download in Spanish here). The most scabrous chapters are 7, 8, and 9, which are given below, in full, in English translation (emphases added).

In chapter 6, Fernández dared to add a testimony of a 16-year-old girl who revealed to him her “erotical mystical experience” with Jesus:

I [VMF] am going to try to describe, with my poor words, an experience of love, a passionate encounter with Jesus told to me by a sixteen-year-old teenager. “I caress your face, Jesus, and I reach your mouth. [...] I caress your lips, and in an unprecedented impulse of tenderness you allow me to kiss them softly. [...] Then I caress your delicate legs, which seem to me perfectly sculpted columns, full of strength and vitality. I caress them, I kiss them...”. (p. 59; 61-62).

Information about this 1998 text is being simultaneously published on Catholic sites around the world, to make it evident that the DDF is in the hands of a person who not only is theologically incompetent (as is by now evident to all embarrassed observers), but has also spent far too much of his free time thinking about the pelvic region. One wonders how he obtained his grainy descriptions of sexual experiences: even if we do not think the worst, we feel distaste that a priest would talk with others about their intimate experiences in graphic detail.

That the same author was the ghostwriter of Amoris Laetitia (as demonstrated here; see also here) and the principal drafter of the responses to recent Dubia and of Fiducia Supplicans should surprise exactly no one. Indeed, the text reads at times like some of the pseudo-mystical justifications given by Fr Rupnik and other sexual abusers for their actions.

[N.B. The Argentinian blog "Caminante Wanderer" has published a three-page summary of this book and its implications for moral theology: a PDF translation of that article may be found here.]

From Victor Manuel Fernández's "Mystical Passion: Spirituality and Sensuality" (1998).

Male and Female Orgasm

At this point, we ask ourselves, if this mystical experience, in which the entire being is taken by God, if this kind of “mystical orgasm”, is experienced by each person according to his or her sexuality. That is, if the man experiences it as a man and the woman in a feminine way. For that, let us first see how men and women experience orgasm, and what the difference is between a male orgasm and a female orgasm.

Normally, a woman considers sex without love very unsatisfying, and she needs adequate conditions to feel sexually aroused (this is less common among men). She is less attracted than a man to watching photos containing violent sexual scenes, orgies images, etc.

This does not mean that she feels less aroused by hardcore pornography, but rather that she enjoys and values this less; and, in some cases, it causes her to fear.

She enjoys caresses and kisses more, and she needs the man to play a little before penetrating her. But he, in short, is more interested in the vagina than the clitoris.

At the time of orgasm, he usually makes aggressive grunts; she, instead, makes childish babblings or sighs.

Let’s not forget that women have a rich venous plexus around the vagina, which maintains a good blood flow after orgasm. That’s why she is usually insatiable. She needs to release the pelvic congestion, and when this does not happen, after orgasm she may want more. The woman requires more time, more dedication. She needs the man to give her something extra after he has achieved his own satisfaction. But he normally releases himself well in the ejaculation and remains satisfied and exhausted. He finishes, and moves on to something else, as if he were left empty inside. After ejaculation he wants to rest or seeks repose elsewhere. She, on the other hand, remains fixed, in a mixture of rest and joy needing the attentive company of the loved one. When the man reaches climax, his interest in her falls sharply, he is exhausted, while she needs him more than ever. Before ejaculation he makes a great effort, and in the process towards orgasm he is more and more the master of the situation, until there comes a point where she yields completely, stops being master of herself and loses consciousness of her freedom. That is why the woman, deep down, is afraid of total possession and does not always easily accept that self-giving. She has a dark respect for male power and is disturbed by violent pornography.

The man, who permanently produces sperm, is more capable of enjoying a variety of women, while the woman, who produces few eggs and only in a certain period, values safe intimacy more. She puts everything into each child gestated in her body, while he can fertilize hundreds of more wombs.

But let’s not forget that on a hormonal and psychological level there is no pure male or pure female.

Let us now ask ourselves if these particularities of men and women in orgasm also occur in some way in the mystical relationship with God.

We could say that the woman, because she is more receptive, is also more willing to let herself be taken by God. She is more open to religious experience. That may be why women predominate in churches.

But said in this way, we would be affirming that the mystical experience is characteristically feminine, and that it would be forbidden to markedly masculine characters. And this precise question forces us to rethink what it is that we call masculine, and whether we should really identify the masculine with the active tendency that seeks to possess women. Do we not know situations in which a highly feminine woman is capable of completely possessing and dominating a man? Pope John Paul II, in his document on the dignity of women, notes a kind of “superiority” of women due to their ability to contain and sustain men:

The moral and spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way… The moral force of women draws strength from this awareness and this entrusting… This awareness and this fundamental vocation speak to women of the dignity which they receive from God himself, and this makes them “strong” and strengthens their vocation… (the “perfect woman”) becomes an irreplaceable support and source of spiritual strength for other people, who perceive the great energies of her spirit. (Mulieris Dignitatem, 30, d.f).

Jean Boudrillard maintained that man created his institutions and his power to counteract the superior original powers of the woman, particularly her fertility, her strength of intuition and seduction, and her perseverance. So, it does not seem well-founded to affirm that the man is the one who dominates, the one who holds the reins.

But let’s say that God has infinite power and supernatural creativity, so that he can adapt himself to the psychology of each particular human being and can give any person a loving experience, an encounter with him that takes the person completely, in body and soul, without violating the inclinations of her feminine or his masculine psychology. But an attitude of receptivity will always be required. In fact, in all true human love (relationship), it is required that both, each in his or her own way, be receptive. If the man is not receptive and only wants to be active and dominant, he cannot fully experience the richness of love. So, God uses that receptive aspect, which is not lacking in men, to give him the experience of his love. In fact, every man has experienced what it is like to be receptive and dependent on another person, when he remained serene in the arms of his mother. On the other hand, it may also happen that the woman, out of fear, denies her receptive attitude and resists divine love. Thus, let us say once again that everyone who wishes to have a completely happy experience of divine love, should ask God for the grace to allow himself to be loved. In fact, Carlo Carretto, a man with markedly masculine characteristics, tells us that in his most wonderful encounter with God, he felt like a confident little girl, which he did not find bothering or contrary to his deepest inclinations, but rather sweet and marvelous:

At twenty-three years old, when God burst into me with his Spirit, my relationship with him completely changed my life... God intervened as a lover. At first, it seemed like something so beautiful and so warm that I looked at it as a sentimental presumption... I feared I was falling prey to cheap romanticism... But it wasn’t like that. The intimacy that he gave me was so true, so strong, that it left traces, and he left them where doubt was not possible... I will never forget the irruption of his Spirit in me. It was really the emergence of a crazy lover, who asked me to respond to him with all my madness... Then I understood by experience that each one of us, even if he is a male, God calls as if he were a female. When I am at home with him, I snuggle next to him like a little girl who expects everything from him and without pretending to know everything... The entire spirituality of the biblical man is femininity: receptivity, availability, waiting, desire for smallness, service, adoration... For some reason women are most willing to what is religious (He buscado y he encontrado, Bs. As., 1985, 59-61.70).

But let us say, more precisely, that in the mystical experience God touches the most intimate center of love and pleasure, a center where it does not matter much whether we are male or female. And in that center, we are all receptive and live an experience in which we are not fully masters of ourselves. For this reason, scientists usually say that the differences between men and women are experienced in the stage prior to orgasm, but not so much in the orgasm itself, where the differences between the feminine and the masculine are no longer so clear and seem to disappear.

Thus, we can say that in the mystical experience what God touches is a loving center on which the human being can only depend. Because the human being is not an omnipotent god, but a creature, and this is why the most intimate part of his reality is dependence, it is “receiving” being, it is living from God even if he ignores him, it is drinking from his spring of life. And for this very reason, in the mystical experience the eminently active one is God. The creature, whether male or female, delights in depending completely on the loving God, in “letting himself be loved” by him confidently. This is precisely the great spiritual step.

Obviously, there may be certain secondary characteristics showing that the male experiences it in a different way than the female, but that does not change the essence of the experience, where both the man and the woman are fundamentally receptive. And only because they accept to receive from him, to depend on his loving impulse, can they also feel active, can they feel that they participate personally and creatively in that experience of love. At the same time, they experience that divine touch without feeling forced, because God’s grace has the divine power to make us accept his initiative of love with total freedom.

The Road to Orgasm

Everything we have seen shows us that God is not the enemy of our happiness, that he does not mutilate our capacity to love, because he is love, passionate love, love that does good, that liberates, that heals.

But we can ask ourselves if we are all called to a passionate experience of God, like those had by the mystics we have mentioned before.

First, we have to say that everything depends on what God wants to give to each person. We can never demand that God give himself to us in one way or another, because, if we cannot demand from anyone that he adapt to all our desires, and we cannot force anyone to love us in a special way, much less God. On the other hand, we can see that God has always given his love in very different ways. Some saints began to have inebriating experiences of God shortly after their conversion, or at the same conversion; others, like Saint Teresa of Ávila, achieved these experiences after many years of spiritual dryness. Saint Therese of Lisieux, although she felt tenderly loved by God, never had very “sensual” experiences of his love, and it seems that she only achieved an overflowing and passionate joy at the moment of her death, when her face was transfigured and she said her last words: “I love you, oh my God, I love you!”

However, we also have to say that, if that loving and passionate experience of the presence of God is something fulfilling, something that wonderfully harmonizes and calms our affectivity and our sensuality, then we all have at least the right to desire it. If this passionate experience of God frees our psychology from so many feelings of dissatisfaction, from so many wounds that we have received due to lack of love, then we have the right to desire that God grant us that liberating experience. If we know that our wounded and unsatisfied affectivity often leads us to cause harm to others, to not give ourselves with joy in the service of others, then it is licit for us to be attracted by that experience of God that would allow us to be more available, more serene, more generous, less concerned with ourselves.

That said, not everything has been said. Because we believe that God takes into account the path we try to make, and wants us to be personally involved in our path of liberation. The initiative is always from his grace; but once he has given it to us, he takes us so seriously that he allows us to contribute something of ourselves so that that grace reaches every corner of our being. For example, if someone is sick because he holds a grudge in his heart, a lack of forgiveness towards his father, then it seems that the mere fact of asking God for forgiveness and receiving his grace is not enough to free him from those wounds that condition him. It requires what is called “cooperation” with the received grace, an “adequate” prayer.

An adequate prayer is more than praying an Our Father asking God to free me from my illness. It is a prayer where I try to heal, with the grace of God, the root of my illness, that lack of forgiveness that I have towards my father, for example.

So, every day I ask God for the grace to be able to understand and forgive my father. And if I notice that I really don’t even want to forgive him, then for a while I ask God for the grace to “want” to forgive him. And in that mysterious combination of the initiative of his grace and my poor attempts, the moment will come when the sincere desire for forgiveness spontaneously arises in me, and then a strong impulse to give that forgiveness, to say at least inside of me: “Dad, I forgive you and I thank you because you gave me life.”

Once that forgiveness is given, it is very possible that many things will begin to be resolved, that the illness will become more bearable and perhaps will be cured. We see then that there is a more adequate “way” of saying a prayer, which facilitates the work of grace in some dimension of my being where it has not yet arrived.

The same can happen in my experience of God’s love. It may be that my experience of God is true, although I experience it in the midst of emotional aridity. It may be that God purifies me through this self-giving without feelings or passion, and that my faith be very deep. But, if at the same time my emotions are not healthy, that means that this experience is not enough. For example, if it is not enough for me to be faithful to my wife, or to be happy in my marriage, or to live my celibacy with joy, or to work with enthusiasm, or to treat others well, it means that the way I am finding God is still very poor.

I can, therefore, ask myself if I am not fleeing, for different reasons, from the love of God; if there is not something inside me that leads me to resist the love of God, to distrust him, etc.

Then, I can begin to ask him every day that he give me his grace to offer him that fear, to throw myself into his arms, to let Him enter where I do not allow him to do so.

Someone might think that it would be really better now to enjoy this short life and, in any case, leave that experience of divine love for after death, since we will have all eternity for that. But that is absurd if we think that every creature, every beautiful thing in this world, no matter how precious it may be, is only a pale reflection of the infinite beauty of God. He alone is beautiful, and other things are beautiful only to the extent that they receive some beauty from that infinite source that is God. Therefore, all the attractions of this world should elevate us, from now on, to the encounter with the divine source, to drink from that inexhaustible wellspring of good and beauty. To do otherwise would be like spending eighty years smelling the aroma of delicious food rather than sitting down at a table and happily enjoying it. But, furthermore, waiting for death to have the experience of God goes against the logic of love. No person truly in love would be capable of spending eighty years trying other pleasures and leaving the wonderful embrace of the beloved for later. Such a person simply would not stand the waiting, those years would seem eternal, and all the other beauties would never leave him satisfied, they would only awaken more and more his thirst to embrace her. The same happens with those who have tasted divine love, such as Saint Augustine, Saint Francis of Assisi, etc.

That does not mean that God will soon give me the experience of Angela of Foligno or the wounds of Saint Francis of Assisi. He will give me what my heart is needing and what he freely wants to give me. There are also temperaments that are naturally better predisposed to this type of experiences and others that are less predisposed. But it is very possible that, by following an adequate path, we can all have a fuller experience of the love of God, an experience that heals our sick affectivity, our injured emotionality, that makes us more joyful in our daily dedication, that makes us freer and happier.

But this does not necessarily mean that this joyful experience of divine love, if I achieve it, will free me from all my psychological weaknesses. It does not mean, for example, that a homosexual will necessarily stop being homosexual. Let us remember that God’s grace can coexist with weaknesses and even with sins, when there is a very strong conditioning. In those cases, the person can do things that are objectively sinful, without being guilty, and without losing the grace of God or the experience of his love. Let’s see how the Catechism of the Catholic Church says this:

Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors (CCC 1735).

There may be a religious sister who has to make great sacrifices to be faithful to her virginity, because her psychology has some strong conditioning in that order, and yet, at the same time, she has a beautiful, very authentic experience of the love of God, which makes her happy.

Let us finally say that, in order to achieve a joyful and passionate experience of divine love, there is an extremely important cooperation: the acts of love for our brothers. Every generous act, every loving service we provide to others, assures us that our experience of God is on the right track. This is what the Bible says:

He who loves his brother walks in the light and does not stumble. But he who does not love his brother is in darkness, he walks in darkness, he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has left him blind (1 Jn 2,10-11).

Furthermore, every sincere act of love for our brother opens our heart, softens it and liberates it from selfishness. And thus, the heart is better disposed to let itself be loved by God.

This is why Saint Bonaventure said that works of mercy facilitate divine contemplation and prepare us to fully love God:

There is a certain action that, together with contemplation, does not prevent it, but rather makes it easier, such as works of mercy and piety (IV Sent., 37,1, 3, ad 6).

Whoever wants to be a perfect lover of God must train himself above all in love for his neighbor (III Sent., 27, 2, 4).

In that sense, it is good to note that, when the Bible speaks of God as a husband, it does not refer to the Lord as husband of the heart of each human being, but as husband of his People, or husband of the Church (Hos 2 ,21-25; Eph 5,25; Rev 21,2-3). That means that I can only make an authentic and passionate experience of God’s love if I feel part of his People, if I join his Church, if I do not isolate myself or separate myself from others.

God in the Couple’s Orgasm

So far, we have talked about the possibility of reaching a kind of fulfilling orgasm in our relationship with God, which does not imply so much physical alterations, but simply that God manages to touch the soul-corporeal center of pleasure, so that a satisfaction that encompasses the entire person is experienced. This leads us to another important consequence: it invites us to discover that, if God can be present at that level of our existence, he can also be present when two human beings love each other and reach orgasm; and that orgasm, experienced in the presence of God, can also be a sublime act of worship to God.

This is indubitable if we start from a basic assumption: God loves man’s happiness, therefore, it is also an act of worship to God to experience a moment of happiness.

Some texts from the Bible confirm this truth:

There is no greater happiness for a man than to eat and drink and enjoy himself in the midst of his fatigues. I see that this also comes from the hand of God, because whoever eats and drinks has this from God (Ecc 2:24-25).

Let every man eat and drink and enjoy himself in the midst of his worries. That is a gift from God (Ecc 11:8).

Son, treat yourself well with what you have... Do not deprive yourself of having a good day, do not fail to satisfy any legitimate desire (Sir 14,11.14).

We thus see that pleasure is also something religious, because “it is a gift from God.” Therefore, he who is able to enjoy the presence of God, can more easily be aware of God’s love, and thus open himself to loving others. He who is not able to enjoy the pleasures of life, because he does not love or accept himself, will hardly be able to generously love others. This is why the Bible says:

He who is bad to himself cannot be good to anyone. He does not find contentment in the midst of treasures. No one is worse than he who tortures himself (Sir 14:5-6).

We can, therefore, say that we are pleasing God and worshiping him when we are able to enjoy the small and legitimate pleasures of life. So, we don’t have to flee or hide from God when we enjoy, because it is he who “created all things for us to enjoy” (1 Tim 6:17). Let’s read, for example, the Bible’s praise of wine:

Wine is like life for man, if you drink it with measure. What is life for he who does not have wine, which has been created for the joy of men? It is joy of the heart and contentment of the soul... (Sir 31:27-28).

All this can also be said of sexual pleasure, which has been created by God for the happiness of man. For this reason, in the Bible itself we find praise for the woman’s body, such as the following:

How beautiful you are, how charming, oh love, oh daughter of delights! Your waist is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like clusters. Therefore, I have already said, I will climb the palm tree and take those clusters
(Song 7:79).

Furthermore, sexual pleasure has a particular nobility above the other pleasures of the body, because sexual pleasure is experienced by two, it is shared, and it can be a wonderful expression of love. But precisely for this reason, sexual pleasure can lose all its beauty when it is only a search for personal satisfaction and the other person is not taken into account, when the other is used only for each one’s personal benefit.

The thing is that a human being is not a plate of food or a glass of wine. He or she is sacred, and cannot be used, but must be an object of love.

When sexual pleasure is achieved in an act of love, when those who make love are two people who love each other, who accompany each other, who help each other, who have decided before God to share everything forever and despite everything, then sexual pleasure is also an act of worship to God, who loves the happiness of those who love each other. In that encounter of love, each person does not seek his or her own pleasure at all costs but treats the other with a delicacy and tenderness that reflects divine love, seeking that the other also enjoys as much as possible and be immensely happy. Thus, the pleasure of orgasm becomes a preview of the wonderful festival of love that is heaven. Because there is nothing that anticipates heaven better than an act of charity.

We must say, therefore, that God does not like the attitude of certain falsely spiritual people who permanently deny sexual relations to their spouse, with the excuse that they seek a more “perfect” love. Because it is precisely the sexual union, as an expression of love, that best manifests the love of the spouses, that which best protects it and that which makes it grow the most. The Second Vatican Council already said this:

Such love, merging the human with the divine, leads the spouses to a free and mutual gift of themselves, a gift providing itself by gentle affection and by deed, such love pervades the whole of their lives… This love is uniquely expressed and perfected through the appropriate enterprise of matrimony. (Gaudium et Spes, 49).

Sexual pleasure does not hinder spirituality or contemplation, because if the sexual union is an act of love, it does nothing more than open the heart, and thus facilitate the contemplation of God. Saint Bonaventure already said that “no one reaches contemplation if he does not train himself in love for others” (III S., 27, 2, 4; IV S, 37, 1, 3, ad 6), and according to Saint Thomas Aquinas “human affection expands with pleasure” (Summa Th., I-IIae, 31, 3).

It was the Greek mentality that negatively influenced Christianity
, transmitting a certain contempt for the body. The Greeks did not have an understanding of man as unitary as that of the Bible; rather, they understood man as consisting of two “parts,” the soul and the body. For this reason, they easily went from exalting the body to showing total contempt for it. If they were dedicated to the body, the body was everything; if they dedicated themselves to spiritual things, they despised everything that had to do with the body. When this Greek mentality influenced Christianity, it produced the idea that to be more “spiritual” it was necessary to despise the body. However, we know that the worst sins, such as pride or hatred, are not exactly sins that have to do with the body; they are rather “spiritual”; and we also know that the body also intervenes in the greatest works of love and dedication.

Obviously, we do not want to say that everything that has to do with the body is holy, because a couple can take away from sex its most precious purpose, and lovers can become just two egomaniacs who masturbate each other. Furthermore, sex should only be a part of the couple’s life, a pleasant way to express love and make each other happy; sex for sex’s sake is a way of remaining in adolescence and a lack of maturity. Sex just for sex’s sake is in fact the most common form of sexuality for the adolescent person who masturbates, because in masturbation he achieves pleasure and escapes from commitment to the other, he protects himself from others and does not give anything of himself. In this way, he remains linked to his parents and does not break away from the family shell. The same thing happens to those who constantly change partners and thus escape emotional commitment. And that is, ultimately, what publicity proposes: adorning one’s own body and surrounding it with impressive things in order to obtain objects of pleasure; this is how the body is stripped of its dignity as an instrument and expression of love.

For sex not to be just a way of using and consuming each other, it is essential that the couple have other concerns and, above all, that mutual love opens up to seek together the happiness of others. Fighting together for something, getting out of the suffocating confinement of both, prevents pleasure from getting sick or dying, because this way the heart keeps itself open. In fact, in the Christian image of God, the love between God the Father and his Son is necessarily opened to a third person, the Holy Spirit. Therefore, all authentic love of a couple, source of the best pleasures, is open to others. The pleasure that not only produces a momentary release, but also plans and gives happiness, is the one that is united with love, and love is true holiness.

So united is pleasure with holiness that, according to Saint Thomas, if man were free from sin there would be much more pleasure in sexual intercourse
(Summa Th., 1, 98, 2).

Therefore, according to Saint Thomas, sexual intercourse in marriage is no longer a “permissible sin”, as some Church Fathers used to say, but it can also be a meritorious act, which makes the perfection of a human being grow in the eyes of God. It is interesting to discover how in other religions there is also a deep appreciation of sexual pleasure. Danielou, based on an analysis of Shaivism, makes the following reflection:

Joy is a reflection of the state of perfection, of the divine state. For an instant man forgets his interests, his problems, his duties, and participates in the feeling of happiness that is his true nature, his immortal nature... We reach inner perfection a thousand times more easily — says this very ancient religion—by the experience of the joy of the bodies than through austerities. From erotic union to mystical union there is only one step easy to make (La sculpture érotique, Paris 1973,15).

And a venerable Egyptian theologian of the 15th century gave the following praise to God: Praise be to Allah, who establishes penises as hard and straight as spears to wage war on vaginas (Al Sonuouti).

Let us not forget that human sexuality is part of God’s most perfect work, that of the last day, when God, upon contemplating what he did, “saw that it was very good” (Gen 1:31).

To separate God from pleasure is to give up living a liberating experience of divine love. Wanting to hide from God when we experience pleasure, like that woman who used to hide the crucifix when she had intercourse with her husband, is believing in a false God who, instead of helping us to live, becomes a persecutor who hates our joy.

Just as an artist can offer to God, with immense tenderness, a wonderful work of art that he has managed to create, so too a couple can give to God a beautiful act of love in which they are able to overflow with pleasure and gratitude, making each other happy. God also enjoys with us; he is the most wonderful of poets, because their inspiration is also a reflection of the sublime poetry of God.

For some reason, when poets can no longer find words to talk about the excess of their love, they use words with a high religious content. For example, the word “grace” is one of the most sacred terms in Christian theology, because it expresses the completely gratuitous love of God, which cannot be deserved or bought with anything, which can only be received as a divine gift. When Pablo Neruda wanted to talk about what the body of his beloved woman meant to him, he had to use that word:

Body of my woman,
I will persist in your grace.
My thirst, my unlimited desire... (Poem 1)