Human Sexuality and Psycho-Sexual Development

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For the past two days, we took time to reflect and share on the issue of sexuality. Again, we were blessed to have one of our group participants as the resource person: Sr. Milagros Sandoval from the Philippines South. She shared with us from her rich experience in accompaniment both in formation and retreat ministry, as well as from the background of her studies on sexuality, which she has further integrated with spirituality.

Where and how to begin in talking about sexuality? Sr. Mila drew our attention to the etymology of the word sexuality. It comes from Latin “secare”, which literally means to be cut off and disconnected from the whole. In an instance, she brought us in touch with our own humanness and the inherent longing for wholeness and connection that we all experience from the very beginning of our lives. We all also carry within us a relational energy to overcome incompleteness and to connect. Precisely this is our sexuality, or, as Sr. Mila repeatedly put it, our “sexual energy”.  We experience this energy in many ways: in caring and reaching out to others, in physical sensations, in emotional experiences, in relationships, in our commitment, and in our ministry.  

Sr. Mila continuously demonstrated how sexuality affects all areas of our life, and cannot be restricted only to genital expressions. She also traced the journey of psycho-sexual development from early childhood to adulthood, with all the physical and psychological components that accompany it. She repeatedly stressed that certain sensations and behaviors can be very “normal” at one stage in life, but inappropriate at another stage. As she openly and naturally used words which are connected to sexuality, she also encouraged us to do the same, especially in formation ministry.

There are many ways, in which we can channel our sexual energy. For us – consecrated women – and for the formandee we accompany, the challenge is to integrate our sexuality into our commitment to vowed life. Sr. Mila named four particular tasks in the process of integration: first, to grow in deeper awareness of being a separate self; second, to make responsible choices and to face the consequences of these choices; third, to develop creativity and generativity; and, fourth, to increase our capacity for intimacy.

We also had a look at the issue of sexual abuses, as we may encounter victims of sexual abuse in our institutions, ministries, and formandee. Sr. Mila shared with us the different forms of sexual abuse, as well as the warning signs and preventive steps.

Sexual energy is supposed to connect us. If we do not express it in mature and appropriate ways, we become disconnected from ourselves, from others and especially from God. However, if we integrate it, it becomes a source of life for us and others. How does sexuality in “full bloom” look like? Sr. Mila ended her presentation in a meditative manner, with some examples. One of these stands for all: “Sexuality is in full bloom in any person – man, woman, or child – who in a moment of service, affection, love, friendship, creativity, joy or compassion is, for the moment, so caught up in what is beyond him or her that for that instant his or her separateness from others is overcome….”

 

 

 

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