Fr. Thomas Loya
Human sexuality must be lived out in a liturgical and mystical context, through the sacraments and gestures of worship and prayer, says an Eastern Catholic priest.
"Human sexuality is what makes us like God," said Father Thomas Loya, co-founder of the Tabor Life Institute. "That's what makes it so powerful."
Loya called the bedroom "the sanctuary of the human race."
"What goes on in the bedroom determines the rise and fall of civilization," he told a retreat for university students in Ottawa March 3.
"The bedroom is the one place you want the pope, where you want God," he said. Instead God has been kicked out, as if something dark and dirty is going on in there.
Loya's Tabor Life Institute uses the insights of Blessed John Paul II's Theology of the Body, Christian mysticism and Eastern Christianity.
Pope John Paul spoke of the need for the Church to "breathe with both lungs" in speaking of the riches of the Eastern churches, he said.
"The modern Western world has a particular hole in its soul, a wound, a yearning," Loya said. "That particular yearning can best be answered by the riches of the Eastern churches."
The Eastern churches offer a sacramental, liturgical world view that lives in the mystical, he said. "Life is mystery; it is not 'either/or' or bi-polar."
Loya illustrated his talk with the story from the Book of Tobit about how Tobias enters the bridal chamber of Sarah, who has had tried to consummate marriage with seven men previously who had all dropped dead due to the presence of a demon in the chamber.
The Angel Raphael tells Tobias to put some liver of a fish he had caught into the incense and the burning stench would drive the demon away.
Then, when Tobias entered into bed with his wife, he arose and said, "My love, get up. Let us pray and beg our Lord to have mercy and bring us deliverance."
"He got out of bed and looked at his wife as Adam looked at Eve before the Fall, sacramentally and without lust," Loya said. "And he offers his life back to God in praise and thanksgiving."
After that they consummate the marriage. They understood that sexual relations are sacramental. "That is the difference," Loya said.
In a marriage relationship, the husband ought to have the same relationship to his wife as that of the priest to the tabernacle," he said. He must approach his wife with reverence, as a sacred space.
The girls are told, "You do not allow anyone to approach you or marry you unless he approaches you as the priest approaches the tabernacle."
Boys are told, "Your job is to approach and see womanhood and eventually your bride, whether a woman or the Church, in the same way a priest approaches the Holy of Holies."