I should have destroyed them. Who needs them? What good are they going to do the world? I had painted them; wasn’t that enough? No, it wasn’t enough. They had to be moved into the public arena. You communicate in the public arena; everything else is puerile and cowardly.
-My Name is Asher Lev
Dante’s Francesca and Paolo, falling for the same old story, and ending just exactly where you imagine.
The devil’s best lies are almost entirely true.
God made sex, and it’s one of my favorite things. I was designed for it, among other things, and I’m good at it. At least, I’m pretty sure I will be. Because, I’ve gotten close to it, and I know how to move, and what sounds to make, and what to hold onto, and what to say to let him know he’s doing everything just how I want it. I know how to do all of that because God made me knowing it. No one had to tell me how; I knew it even when I didn’t know I knew it. I was built for it, built to give it all, to make it all, for the man I love, for the man who loves me, who, just by being what he is, opens up all the strange wildness I’ve kept tucked out of even my own sight. He has opened me to a part of me I didn’t know, helped me to be more who I am than I’ve ever been, and the most natural thing in the world is to give him my whole self—the core of myself— that I only know because of what he’s done for me, what he’s given to me.
God calls us to complete surrender, to a surrender of generous love, to a giving over of ourselves to something outside of ourselves. And in that surrender, that going out of ourselves, He tells us we’ll find more joy than we’ve known in anything in our whole lives. We’ll find ourselves—lose ourselves—in ecstasy. So now I’m going to go show this man, this man who is not my husband, how utterly I love him; I am going to surrender my innermost self to him and accept his outpouring of love for me. God designed us to give love, to make love, and now we will.
Right. Why wait, after all? We know we’re going to be married. It’s the one Sacrament that lovers give to one another, rather than receiving from God’s ordained. All of that grace is already here, surrounding us, flowing back and forth between us. This will make us whole, this will make us holy. So say the murmuring voices, and they’re absolutely right. It will make us truly ourselves. Ninety-nine percent exactly right. . . . And then, they add, there is no need to wait. Simeon didn’t wait—never put in decades of patience to earn the right to say, “Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart.” And even if he did, that waiting made sense; this doesn’t. Did Mary really keep her secret quiet, wait eighteen years to say, “Whatsoever He tells you, do.”? And Jesus didn’t wait, or work, or suffer, to smash the gates of Hell. It all came easily, void of sacrifice, just like sex.
The devil is intimately acquainted with the truth. And he is a liar.
Contributing author: J.B. Toner