Sm,-Miss Barclay appears to have missed the essential point of my previous letters. Instruction of Catholic children in sexual matters by their parents (or by those in loco parentis) should have as its primary purpose the creation of the right attitude of mind and will towards the instinctive sexual urges that God has implanted in every human being.
This "right attitude" (which is fostered by training of the will as well as by instruction on sex) becomes, by God's grace. the supernatural virtue of purity or, more exactly, chastity. It is part of the total consecration of oneself, body as well as soul, to God. whether we are called to live in the single slate, the state of consecrated virginity, or the married state.
Sex, in those redeemed by Christ, is itself something sacred: our bodies are really the temples e the Holy Ghost.
That is why the Church insists that the rightful place of sex teaching is in religious education, that is why she condemns a purely naturalistic approach to it. and that is why I continue to maintain that tw far the best method of giving Catholic boys and girls the information they need to have is to link it up with the mystery of the Incarnation.
The reason for doing this lies a good deal deeper than the provision of a framework within which to give the teaching without embarrassment or emotional upset in teacher or taught. Christ lives in every baptised person in the state of grace and through them, a member of the Mystical Body. He continues the work of the Incarnation in the world.
Sexuality should be orientated nutwards• towards God from the start. not inwards towards the self, The seeds of an unhealthy introspection arc all too easily sown bs the latter method. It should be remembered that the specific malice of every form of misuse of sex is that it is selfish and selfcentred.
Miss Barclay's "plain teaching" is by no means too difficult. hut you must know where it is likely to lead and you must take into account the nature and the ultimate destiny of those you are teaching.
Original sin is not a positive thing, inherited like a physical defect. We are born deprived of the Divine life which Adam possessed along with other gifts. But after our baptism we are exalted more than Adam ever was.
God does not indeed restore the lesser gifts such as freedom from death and sickness, the infused knowledge and the perfect harmony between body and soul. but. through the Incarnation, He gave mankind "life more abundantly".
This we receive at our baptism when, in St. Paul's beautiful phrase. we are " taken up into Christ." Our Lady received it at the moment of her conception.
Who the "saints and spiritual writers" are and what the "tradition" is to which Miss Barclay appeals in her plea for a "sensitive reserve" concerning the Virgin Birth I do not know. i prefer to teach the Gospel with all its implications, not a watered-down version.
And I continue to find the most valid expression of traditional devotion to Our Lady in the Liturgy of the Church with its explicit references to the physical facts of her Immaculate Conception and her Divine Maternity and in sane, sound, popular prayers such as the Angelus.
(Fr.) T. A. McGoldrick University Catholic Chaplaincy. 49 Bedford St. North, Liverpool 7.
Fr. McGoldrick also writes:
YOUR correspondent "X.Y.Z." seems to infer that I am under the impression that Catholic parents generally are instructing their children -adequately in sex. But in my very first letter (April 3) I sought to find the reason why. in my experience, the vast majority remain completely silent.
In view of the fact that two Popes and the entire Hierarchy of England. Wales. and Scotland have insisted that sex education is part of religious training and is primarily the duty of parents. I supported the plea of Mr. Frank
McCombie that parents might be given some help in fulfilling this duty.
I suggested that our Catholic schools are the most suitable agency to organise the giving of this help to parents. Even if they did no more than to remind the parents of their individual ohligation and to suggest suitable aid books for those who feel they need such help, much would have been achieved. And, for parents who are not inclined to read, why not have occasional parent-teacher conferences?
There is no shortage of suitable books, written specifically for Catholics. As has been already mentioned. the C.T.S. publish an extremely simple booklet "Sex Instruction in the Home" by a priest-teacher, the Rev. Aidan Pickering, M.A., while the whole question of training younger children is admirably dealt with in "Sex and Innocence" by the Rev. Jerome O'Hea, ST. (Mercier Press). I would endorse Mr. Muddiman's recommendation of Pr. Sattler's hook.
Like "Teacher of Biology" I deplore "the furtive conversation and spreading of incorrect facts about sex which goes on in so many schools" but I am still more than sceptical about the value of biological class teaching or of special talks about the physiology of sex. given in public, as an antidote. I see too much all around I me of the results of such teaching ' as given in non-Catholic schools.
If Catholic parents will do as "Teacher of Biology" desires and "lay the foundation of early sex education" there will be no need for special class teaching on "the facts of life". Collective instruction involving such matters should only be given to those already prepared for it by private instruction.
The trouble, basically, is that the present generation of parents are not giving their children sexenlightenment because, in most eases, they did not receive it from their own parents. "We got on all right without it", expresses a point of view which is all too common; or (worse) "they get to know anyhow".
This completely ignores the impact on our civilisation of increasing urbanisation, declining moral standards. "sexy" reading matter, entertainments, advertisements, and other stimulants of the imagina tion. 0 u r popular Sunday press, for instance, is a disgrace to any civilised country in this, respect.
The only answer to all this is a positive training in the virture of purity. Sex education is a very necessary part of such a training and parents must be brought to see their duty and helped to perform it if they wish to see their children pass "from the unconscious purity of infancy to the triumphant purity of adolescence". The matter is urgent and will brook no delay.