Ines San Martin writes in Crux about a new Family Life resource: “Amid the frenzy of World Youth Day, which gathered millions of young people in Krakow, Poland at the end of July, the Pontifical Council for the Family, headed by Italian Archbishop Vicenzo Paglia, launched a website with materials both for [secondary] students and educators called “The Meeting Point, project for affective and sexual formation.”
During youth, this task of affective-sexual education enables us to love in a true and human way, open to an even deeper communion, which is communion with God. It establishes the personal qualities that will allow us to have this experience of love, laying the foundations of the reality of the life of the person, as a motor driving the edification of a full, great life that is capable of building true relationships by making the love of God present in flesh and in humanity.
To this end, years ago, the Subcommittee of the Family and the Defense of Life of the Spanish Episcopal Conference began the preparation of these units of affective-sexual education, in order to help adolescents and youth understand the logic of the love which enshrines itself in them, and to develop the capacities, abilities, competencies, habits, and virtues that constitute the grammar of love, so that they may attain the beauty and goodness of the vocation to love that is inscribed in their hearts. Many experts have collaborated on this project, and we are grateful for the generosity, expertise and experience that they have placed at the service of this work.
Since the family is the natural ethos where we learn to love, it is precisely to families that we wish to offer this project. We have sought to help them, to place at their service a tool which might permit them to carry out the precious task of teaching their children so as to enable them to fully live out their vocation to love in its diverse forms, according to the plan that God has reserved for each one of them: in future families, in consecrated life, in priestly ministry, in contemplative life, in the offering of themselves as missionaries…
Additionally, we are conscious of the fact that families are assisted by the school and by the parish community in this educative task. For this reason, this work is organized in six didactic units adapted to the curricular plan of religion classes in the ESO (Spain), so that it may be introduced into the corresponding curricular dynamic. This material may also be employed in different ways in parish catechesis, faith education for adolescents and youth, preparation for the reception of the sacrament of confirmation, etc.
God, origin and destiny of humanity. This is the first step on the itinerary that our youth are going to complete. They will learn to look at themselves, and to define themselves as persons based on the observation, amazement and experience of themselves. They will come to know and guide their intelligence, will, desires, affections, and spirituality. They will accept their own body and recognize it as an expression of them as a person, where the origin and destiny of every man and woman is inscribed.
- The most important questions about the meaning of love and of one’s own being.
- The condition of creature with reference to God.
- The condition of child, as a fundamental condition of every human being.
- Every human being is unique and unrepeatable.
- The human being, composed of spiritual soul and material body.
- Growth and maturation of the body.
- The twofold condition of the human body: we have a body and we are a body.
- The body as expression of my person: the discovery of the meaning of one’s own life through the body.
- The discovery of the objective language inherent in the human body.
- The discovery of the human body as the body of a person, essentially oriented toward love.
- The body, indispensable element of human love.
- The body as the place of insertion and expression of one’s own identity.
- Puberty as a path of personal and social maturation, oriented toward personal fullness. Personal fullness consists of arriving to the knowledge of how to love and be loved
The meeting with the other, with “YOU”, helps our youth to get to know themselves better and to secure their identity.
They will learn to recognize that sexuality speaks of a difference: man and woman, which conditions the whole person.
Our affective dimension is also determined by sexuality. They will learn to recognize their affections and to direct them towards the order of love.
- The creative design of God: “Male and female he created them”.
- The twofold realization of the human person: man and woman. The duality of the sexes.
- The differences between man and woman in all the dimensions that configure them. Similarity and difference between man and woman. Difference understood as complementarity.
- Anthropological conceptions that separate sexuality from the person.
- The nature of desire in sexuality. Analysis of human sexual attraction. Affectivity and sexuality. The sexual difference understood as richness rather than isolation.
- The human being’s fundamental orientation toward love, including his/her sexuality.
- The problems of love: individualism, hedonism, materialism, dualism, sentimentalism.
- The characteristics of true love: patient, mature, prudent, communicative, exclusive, tending toward eternity.
- Analysis and definition of affectivity. The fundamentally good nature of the passions. The importance of affections in life.
- The role of freedom in affectivity and sexuality: freedom to perfect the capacity to love, to increase dignity and to preserve intimacy. Knowing how to say “no”.
- The necessary recuperation of modesty.
- The integration of sexuality and affectivity into one’s life project. Analysis of situations of risk.
- First loves.
The third step is to reflect with the youth on freedom.
The ME and YOU that enter into a relationship can do this in different ways thanks to the fact that we have been endowed with freedom. The history of each person still remains to be written.
This freedom has been given to us as a gift. It must be nourished, formed and ripened, so that, when we bring it into play, we may know how to make our lives and the lives of others more beautiful, since it is in Love, in the image of our Creator, that we find ‘True Freedom’.
- The freedom of man, design of God the Creator.
- Freedom as the capacity to dispose of oneself and decide one’s own destiny through his actions.
- Freedom oriented toward the fullness of the communion of love with God.
- Moral freedom: freedom as susceptible to growth. It grows in the measure in which it is used in order to fulfill the truest desires; it decreases when it is inclined to satiate desires that cannot be ordered toward the moral good.
- Freedom oriented toward the communion of persons. The corruption of the idea of freedom: when God and other people are understood as limits to my freedom.
- The free disposition to donate oneself to the other, as a condition that makes love possible.
- The will, oriented toward the attainment of the good. God, absolute Good.
- Essential elements for a good disposition of one’s freedom: assertiveness, good spirits, anticipation, counsel of experienced people, hope in the fight.
- The family, place in which we learn to put our freedom at the service of the gift and of love.
In this step it is important for the youth to recognize the transcendence of good choices.
We will help them to delve into the difficulty of choosing what is best for them, and discuss how sin wounds the heart.
They will learn to recognize these wounds and the tools to prevent them, which are grace and the virtues.
The good news is that these wounds are not incurable. God, in His Son Jesus Christ, is the doctor capable of healing our wounds with the best medicine: love.
- The order and fundamental value of Creation. The intrinsic finality of Creation and of human persons.
- Unhappiness or the decay of the intrinsic finality of Creation and of human persons as consequences of disorder and dis-integration. Enslaved freedom, fundamental factor of disorder and dis-integration.
- The recuperation of the order of life and its profound meaning. The insufficiency of one’s own light and reason to recuperate the order and meaning of life.
- The integration of sexuality depends on the discovery of the true light, capable of illuminating my life. Darkness as the incapacity to integrate my sexuality, which forms part of me. The immediate effect of the darkness that dwells in me is that of not viewing the person in an integral way, and it can lead to reductive visions of the person: pansexualism, hedonism, suppression of modesty, separation between love and sexuality or between love and procreation.
- Chastity understood as a light capable of enabling me to love in an integral way.
- Reasons for the destructive consequences of lovelessness: love, ultimate end of all my capacities. The dangers of hardness of heart. Improperly-oriented forms of love: narcissism, auto-eroticism, masturbation.
- Analysis of one’s own experience of love: where do I put my love? What ends up destroying me?
- Remedies for lovelessness: purity, modesty, intimacy.
- Happiness as fullness of love in the soul. Human love shaped by the life of God: charity. The blessedness of the pure of heart. Christ: a good doctor, a good teacher.
- The virtues, motors of a life that is directed toward fulfillment. The distinction between values and virtues. Definition of virtue. The virtues as a means in order not to succumb. The effects of virtue.
- Cardinal virtues, theological virtues.
- Need for grace for the acquisition of the virtues.
- Sin as rejection of the gift of God. Consequences of sin for one’s own holiness and freedom.
This unit delves into the moral dimension of the person. It presents morality to the youth as a help along the way, rather than a burden.
They will come to recognize the moral dimension as a constitutive part of themselves, and to see how their acts have consequences for themselves and for others, since their acts can either be morally good or morally evil.
They will walk along the path of the value of life and human dignity.
- What does the world offer me? Analysis of the mentality and modus vivendi that predominate in society today.
- The morality in my heart: the moral fact in me.
- The sources of morality: analysis of the integrative elements of the moral act: object, end, intention and circumstances. The morally good act. Why doesn’t the end justify the means?
- Where do I look for the greater good? Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, source of life in abundance.
- The loss of one’s own dignity and life.
- The end does not justify the means.
- What am I seeking with my actions?
- Do my actions have consequences?
- I am a child: right or gift?
- Can I lose my dignity? My life?
- “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10).
- The dignity of the human person. Analysis and definition. Current threats against human dignity: culture of death vs. culture of life. Need for the sense of God to recover lost dignity.
- The family, sanctuary of life.
The last step of this itinerary is that of discovering love as a personal vocation, as the answer to a call.
The youth will come to recognize love as a path with different stages, and to know that there is no rush in reaching the finish line. What is important is to arrive there without skipping over any part of the path, and to recognize when love is true.
Love, which is personal, is made concrete in marriage, and for this reason courtship is a bridge on the path of love toward the mutual donation of oneself in marriage. Priesthood and the consecrated life are also a personal response to this first love.
- The need to learn to love. The fundamental human vocation to love.
- The discovery of a prior love: creatures of God, who is love, who loves, who creates out of love, who calls his creatures to love.
- The paths that lead to true love: loving oneself; the family, school of love; the loving encounter with God.
- Two ways of self-donation: virginity and marriage.
- The specific nature of friendship, attraction, falling in love and true love. Knowing how to differentiate and recognize them.
- Courtship: its meaning and finality. Chastity in courtship. Analysis of premarital relations.
- The nature proper to the conjugal union: personal act, entails the action of two people who act in a motivational and intentional reciprocity, colored by a unique reciprocal pleasure.
- The two significances of the conjugal act: unitive and procreative.
- Marriage: conjugal love is a committed love. Marriage as a vocation to love and as a sacrament.
- Unity in body and soul.
- The bonding of the corporeal dimension and the affective dimension in sexual expressions.