Our identity as male and female is not simply a side effect of being human. It is not an unfortunate consequence of being a creature, but rather it is the means by which we participate in the triune life of God. At its heart, the gift of our sexuality is how we express love, and this expression of love goes beyond its physical expression in marriage.
One of the most important features of love is being drawn out of ourselves; it is about existing for the other, both God and other human beings. Great things have been written about love, and I do not want to pretend like this statement succinctly defines and captures the essence of this profound mystery. Rather, it is one feature of love, one that I thing needs to be emphasized.
Connected with this being drawn out of ourselves is the dimension of self-forgetting. In love, we learn to focus less on ourselves and more on the other. Every vocation participates in this self-forgetting. For married couples, it is made concrete by the mutual self-donation of love’s physical expression. John Paul II wrote eloquently on the richness and beauty of marital love and how it images the exchange of love possessed by the three persons of the Trinity.
Sexuality finds its foundation in the Trinity. Our complementarity finds it pattern and model in the exchange of God with God. The Father pours himself out in love towards the Son. The Son receives everything as pure gift, and that love constitutes the Holy Spirit. This is also the model and pattern of authentic prayer. Thus we see the connection between prayer and sexuality.
Prayer slowly becomes immersed in this aspect of love, namely self-forgetting. As we grow in prayer, our prayer constantly draws us out of ourselves. We become more concerned with God and with neighbor.
When of the most interesting descriptions I heard about St. Anthony of the Desert was that in his solitude and isolation from the world, he carried everything and everyone with him in his prayer. I pray that one day people will say the same thing about us.